Marines Invade Oakland

Revolutionary Worker #998, March 14, 1999

From March 15-18, 6,000 U.S. Marines and sailors will invade the Bay Area in an exercise named "Urban Warrior." It is a huge operation designed to improve the ability of the U.S. military to suppress urban populations both overseas and in the U.S. The Marines say this exercise will strengthen their ability to wage "the wars of the future" and they claim this will help them to be able to "deliver humanitarian aid."

Many in the Bay Area do not support an improved U.S. military ability to suppress people in urban areas. And many do not appreciate being used as targets for U.S. wars of the future.

A Coalition Against Urban Warrior has been formed in Oakland that includes anti-war veterans groups, church groups, chapters of the American Federation of Teachers and the American Friends Service Committee, Berkeley CopWatch, the Grey Panthers, the Middle East Children's Alliance, the Peace & Freedom Party, and the Oakland Tenants Union.

A similar coalition has also been formed in the nearby Monterey area--which will also be targeted in Operation Urban Warrior.

A fact sheet put out by members of the Oakland coalition says, "Make no mistake about it: `Urban Warrior,' as its name states, is meant to control urban populations by the use of force. It can be used to do this outside and within the U.S." S. Brian Willson, co-chairman of Veterans for Peace in Monterey, states that the Marines "are simply using terrorism as a new pretext for intervention."

The Oakland Coalition held a demonstration of 150 at Oakland City Hall against the Marine's "Urban Warrior" operation on February 23. Further protests are being planned against the Marine landings in both Monterey and Oakland. By contrast, Oakland's newly elected Mayor Jerry Brown--who postured as a progressive before his election--has embraced the Marine invasion.

Marine Invasion

On March 15, some 400 Marines are scheduled to leave an aircraft carrier in the San Francisco Bay, board amphibious landing craft and helicopters, and come ashore at the former Naval Air Station near northwest Oakland. They will then be transported to the opposite end of Oakland to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, where several days of combat exercises will take place.

During the operation, the Marines will use humvees and armored personnel carriers firing blanks. Hovercraft and Harrier jets, as well as Sea Knight, Cobra and Huey helicopters, five Navy ships and the Marine's newest carrier, the Bonhomme Richard, will also be part of the exercises. An exposition will also be held to promote the Marines.

The Marines are also conducting similar exercises to the south, in the Monterey Bay area. There, on March 13, 500 Marines will storm ashore to conduct an "anti-terrorist" exercise.

"We will eliminate the terrorist threat and we will simulate the release of biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction," said a Marine spokesperson. This exercise will also be backed by an aircraft carrier, a cruiser, a destroyer and two amphibious ships.

During "Urban Warrior" the Marines will reportedly practice cooperation and information-sharing with local police departments.

U.S. Fears of Urban Warfare in the Next Century

"By the year 2025, 70 percent of the world's population will live in coastal urban environments, and 70 percent of the nation's capitals and 70 percent of nuclear reactors are also located in those kinds of areas."

Lt. Col. Gary Schenkel,
San Francisco Examiner February 24

"The Marine Corps' top minds foresee a majority of the conflicts and other military interventions in the future taking place in the canyons and peaks of urban terrain, perhaps the most difficult and chaotic region to overcome."

Marine Information Packet
on Urban Warrior

The "Urban Warrior" exercises are part of a major effort by the Marines to refine U.S. military strategy for a increasingly urbanized world that remains highly polarized between a handful of imperialist powers and billions of oppressed people around the world.

The Pentagon wants the Marines ready to invade and "pacify" major cities--including the large, sprawling Third World metropolises. A Marine information packet on Urban Warrior states, "Our potential enemies also have a role in choosing where we fight. These enemies--having watched Desert Storm on CNN--know they cannot engage the United States with conventional methods. These potential foes view cities as a way to limit the technological advantages of the American military. They understand that cities--with their complex and large number of civilian non-combatants--place limits on our technological superiority and especially our use of firepower."

The Urban Warrior exercises were designed by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab in Quantico, Virginia to test U.S. military technologies and refine combat tactics for "urban environments." According to the Marines' official exercises are the first time that urban combat doctrines have been re-examined since World War 2.

"Current doctrine calls for avoiding fighting in cities altogether," a Marine handout states. "When combat in cities cannot be avoided, the standard tactic has been to shell the city and then send in the infantry with as much fire support as possible. While this method was suitable in past conflicts, it was costly in terms of human life and property. This approach will not be suitable in the future."

The U.S. military expects to confront situations where target cities contain property and facilities that are valuable for the U.S. According to Lt. Gen. John Rhodes (Jane's Defense Weekly's, February 4, 1998) the answer is to use Military Operation in Urban Terrain (MOUT) tactics such as "thrust," "penetration," and "swarm." In their coming Bay Area exercise, the Marines will test new technologies for warfare, including supposedly "non-lethal weapons" like foam and remote-controlled drones that can "drop smoke and pepper spray for crowd control."

Warfare Inside the U.S.

The U.S. military admits openly that they are also planning for military warfare within U.S. borders. General C.C. Krulack, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, writes in the Examiner (Jan. 17) that Marine "deployments may well be in support of our own cities in response to possible terrorist acts in the future." This same General Krulack was closely associated with a major CIA domestic campaign that spread disinformation through media news services.

Marine documents on "Urban Warrior" include photos of New York, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego and Miami. These documents do not contain pictures of Los Angeles--but the Pentagon certainly remembers that in 1992 the authorities of the U.S. lost control of Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country, during a mass rebellion over the police brutalization of Rodney King.

Police forces across the U.S. already widely use military weapons, military training, and military-style operations--and describe their "missions" in military terms like the "war on drugs" and "the war on gangs." At the same time, the U.S. military itself is being used for "domestic" operations in ways not seen since the last wars with Native Peoples in the 1890s--in particular, the U.S. military has been given an unprecedented "domestic police role" on the U.S./Mexico border. Last month, President Clinton recommended putting the military command in charge during domestic "terrorism" emergencies.

In their book Non-Lethal Weapons: A Fatal Attraction?, Nick Lewis and Steven Schofield report that the Clinton administration has an approach to technology and industry that assumes "dual use" for both military and police. According to Lewis and Schofield, a 1994 memorandum of understanding between the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice "led to a programme of research run by DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] on technologies that could provide non-lethal applications for the DoD's Operations Other Than War and for the Department of Justice's civil security requirements, such as riot control, or the breaking of sieges."

The War for Public Opinion

"We've got to recondition our populace again, so that a soldier practicing for a seen as a regular and necessary thing."

U.S. Army strategist

The U.S. military wants to create an atmosphere in which their military interventions are supported. In fact, these operations are targeted at the people both in the U.S. and around the world. Why should people support that? Why should people allow them to improve their skills, test their weapons, refine their communications with the cops and practice the invasion and suppression of the people?

It is very positive that people are mobilizing to confront these practice invasions in the Bay Area--and expose the sinister purposes of such operations. It is also revealing that the U.S. military feels compelled to carry out such war preparations. As Chairman Avakian has pointed out, some people may not think revolution is possible, but the rulers of the U.S. clearly do.

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