Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pentagon Says National Guard Isn't Cut out for Crime Fighting

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pentagon Says National Guard Isn't Cut out for Crime Fighting

Article excerpt

The Pentagon didn't like the District of Columbia's idea of enlisting National Guard troops as urban crime fighters - and it isn't looking for any other new civil missions either.

President Bill Clinton rejected on Monday Washington Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly's request that he give her the same power that governors have to call out the Guard.

Clinton said he would support asking Congress to change the law to give Kelly that authority, but in the meantime her idea of using the Guard for police work is dead.

Kelly's request highlights a broader debate under way: Is it time to commit the Guard to new civil missions, and are citizen soldiers suited to law enforcement?

The Defense Department thinks not, on both counts.

"I would be concerned about it if it went beyond" the traditional role of the Guard as a backup to active-duty troops in wartime, a force to respond to civil disorder and natural disasters, and a supplement to counter-drug forces, said Deborah Lee, the assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs. …

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