Amos touts Reserve law enforcement unit

Marine Corps Times

By James K. Sanborn - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Apr 15, 2011 17:31:56 EDT

The Marine Corps plans to stand up specialty Reserve battalions including one dedicated to law enforcement, said Commandant Gen. Jim Amos during a speech Friday in downtown Washington.

These units would help the Corps maintain a cadre of Marines with specialized skills that can be called upon in a time of crisis, Amos told guests at the 39th IFPA-Fletcher Conference on National Security Strategy and Policy.

As an example, he cited the need for police investigative skills, like those used in Anbar province, Iraq, beginning in 2003, to disband insurgent cells.

“We were trying to find who the bomb makers were. We were trying to find who the people were funneling people in … across the borders and into Anbar province to cause trouble,” he said. “We didn’t have the investigative kind of forensic skills sets in the Marine Corps to do that.”
Non-traditional fights against criminals and insurgents require a set of skills akin to those used by civilian officers fighting narcotics organizations in America’s largest cities, he said.

“We went out to a major metropolitan police department and said, can you help us?” Amos said. “Can you bring in some skills sets to help us do some investigation, networking? The kind of stuff you are doing if you are dealing in counter narcotics investigations. Who’s the kingpin and how’s the network built?”

The program was a wild success, Amos said. But Marine officials, who sought the help of private consultants the Los Angeles Police Department, began looking for an alternative. They found an answer in the Reserve.

“We began to realize we have 39,600 reservists. Out of that, there are a lot of policemen, and there are a lot of cops that are investigators,” Amos said. “… Now we are building in this Marine Corps … a law enforcement battalion,” Amos said. “Notice I didn’t call it a military police battalion — a law enforcement battalion. And it’s going to be made up of Reserve police officers and investigators, and we are going to have that as part of our Reserve force.”

Other niche ideas for reservists are also being kicked around, said Maj.

Gen. Darrell Moore, director of the Marine Corps Reserve Division at Manpower and Reserve Affairs in Quantico, Va.

Language skills and other specialties, such as explosive ordnance disposal, will continue to be part of the active-duty force. But the Reserve could play an increasingly important role in these areas, precisely because they are able to bring unique skill sets to the Corps that they learn and hone in their civilian jobs.

As Marines pull out of Afghanistan, the need for EOD techs will likely diminish, Amos said, but the skill will remain critical. The EOD community grew from about 400 in 2001 to about 750 today. With cost-cutting measures around the corner and a likely drawdown in Afghanistan, the active-duty community might take a cut, but a Reserve EOD battalion would allow the Marine Corps to maintain a large cadre of EOD techs that could be activated when needed.