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Old 03-16-2012, 08:16 PM
Flying Saucer Flying Saucer is offline
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So...why are there still soldiers in Penn Station?

Whenever I'm in NYC's Penn Station, I see soldiers, armed with rifles, both on the outside street level and standing guard inside, including in the area where the "jurisdiction" overlaps with the general New York City Subway.

I understand that military personnel acting as law enforcement is not a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. However, as far as I know -- and I'm a resident of NYC -- there are currently no alerts against trains in the area. In fact, I'm not sure there have ever been threats against trains.

(Penn Station, by the way, handles Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and MTA buses and subway trains).

It's been more than ten years since the September 11 attack. I don't see soldiers at the Met or the Natural History Museum. I don't see them around the Empire State Building. They weren't at the Prudential Center in Newark when the Nets took on the Houston Rockets.

I find it odd because police officers are also in Penn Station, and I can't figure out why they need the extra help. Surely NYPD has assault rifles?

Is the military there "just in case"? Do they have some kind of 20-year mandate? Has anyone, like the mayor, officially objected to them? Whenever I see them I feel like I'm in Israel or Russia or any other country ("good" or "bad") that has security forces. Our military and police are separate, which is an important part of our democracy. Seeing the soldiers disturbs me a little bit.
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  #2  
Old 03-16-2012, 09:10 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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They're part of JTF Empire Shield, a special task force whose mission is to stand ready to support civilian authorities in case of a homeland security incident. Many members of JTF Empire Shield end up serving overseas later on, but while in New York and on the task force they are formally a NY State Army or Air National Guard unit.

Here is a New York national guard PDF briefly talking about JTF Empire Shield.

It seems like while they engage in patrols and guard duty their primary responsibility is to train and stand as a vanguard readiness force to help provide services in case of a national disaster or another 9/11 style attack, JTF Empire Shield is designed to swell from the ~300 soldiers it normally maintains to ~2500 in case of a disaster. So the soldiers currently serving are basically just there to keep it as an active unit ready to be used and to receive new members on short notice.
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Old 03-17-2012, 03:58 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying Saucer View Post
Is the military there "just in case"? Do they have some kind of 20-year mandate? Has anyone, like the mayor, officially objected to them? Whenever I see them I feel like I'm in Israel or Russia or any other country ("good" or "bad") that has security forces. Our military and police are separate, which is an important part of our democracy. Seeing the soldiers disturbs me a little bit.
Nitpick - most of the soldier-looking guys you see doing these sort of duties abroad are actually Gendarmes . They're paramilitary troops that are subordinate to the police, not the military. It's a concept that doesn't exist in the United States.
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Old 03-17-2012, 08:24 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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When I flew into Charleston about two weeks after 9-11, there were camouflaged soldiers from the South Carolina National Guard carrying M-16s around the terminal. Very sobering.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:53 AM
Chessic Sense Chessic Sense is online now
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Originally Posted by Flying Saucer View Post
Seeing the soldiers disturbs me a little bit.
Why? Compare how many times you've been harrassed by the cops to how many times you've been harrassed by soldiers.
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Old 03-19-2012, 09:07 AM
The Road Rascal The Road Rascal is offline
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Originally Posted by Chessic Sense View Post
Why? Compare how many times you've been harrassed by the cops to how many times you've been harrassed by soldiers.
Seeing as military forces are traditionally used to fight enemies of the state, and police to preserve the peace, it is rather unnerving to see them mixed. Kind of makes you feel like you're in an occupied territory.

Plus, it's been my observation that the more heavily armed and "tactical" geared someone is, be they police or military, the ruder and more heavy handed they get when dealing with the people they are supposed to be protecting.
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Old 03-21-2012, 02:04 AM
Wizard One Wizard One is offline
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First, ARE they soldiers? DO they have US Army on their left breast pocket or thereabouts? If they are, they're STILL not US Army, but probably are New York National Guard.
Without further information on the topic, I cannot better consider the issue. But, there are NO US soldiers currently performing ANY duties inside of the continental US in an official capacity and less than none performing police duties within the continental US (aka CONUS).
A state governor can and should call up National Guard forces to protect his or her state, the US Army is HEAVILY limited, even during a war.
Frankly, if one were to investigate, in an invasive manner, I'm willing to bet the weapons are either totally unloaded or the rounds are taped over, preventing them from use, save when the tape was removed.
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Old 03-21-2012, 02:54 AM
obbn obbn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Road Rascal View Post
Seeing as military forces are traditionally used to fight enemies of the state, and police to preserve the peace, it is rather unnerving to see them mixed. Kind of makes you feel like you're in an occupied territory.

Plus, it's been my observation that the more heavily armed and "tactical" geared someone is, be they police or military, the ruder and more heavy handed they get when dealing with the people they are supposed to be protecting.
Hmmm, I have seen plenty of Army and National Guard soldiers in various locations across the US. Never once has one been rude, hostile or "heavy handed". In fact, I have experienced just the opposite. They have been professional and polite, especially to my curious children. Please elaborate on your experiences with the military and the injustice you have witnessed.

I will agree that your theory seems to hold true when it comes to LEO. The more firepower you seem to give your average cop and the more aggressive and self important he seems to become. But, I have never sensed that from members of the military.
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