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Posted: 6/14/2009 9:50:29 PM EST
Thought this was a pretty good read. Never read some of this stuff before that was not just a newspaper summary.


The 1992 Los Angeles Riots
Military Operations in Los Angeles, 1992
by Major General (Ret.) James D. Delk

Parts of Los Angeles can be extremely dangerous. The county had over 100,000 gang members and there were 771 gang-related homicides reported in 1991. It is not surprising that many police officers admit they "lost the streets" some years ago, with many neighborhoods in the city dominated by rival gangs. Drug deals are often conducted openly, without even a pretense of cover-up. Gunshots and fires routinely occur on a normal night in some of those neighborhoods, which are carefully avoided by most law-abiding citizens.

That was the environment when the Rodney King verdict was announced on April 29, 1992. Riots erupted, and shortly after 9:00 p.m., the first 2,000 California Army National Guard (CA ARNG) soldiers were requested by the governor. The call was not expected because the CA ARNG had repeatedly been assured they would not be needed for any disturbances resulting from the Rodney King verdict. As a consequence of those assurances, considerable riot control equipment had been loaned to other agencies. In spite of the no-waming start, there were 2,000 Guardsmen marshaled in Southern California armories within six hours.

Units were dispatched early in the afternoon of April 30th, based on informal requests by law enforcement leadership before formal tasking arrangements had been established. I later met with the sheriff, chief of police and commissioner of the California Highway Patrol in the sheriff's office. A situation report was provided by the chief of police, whose greatest immediate concern was for protection of firemen responding to numerous arson fires in the riot area. Several had already been wounded and many were refusing to leave their stations without escort. It was quickly agreed that the Highway Patrol would escort fire trucks, with ambulances later added to their mission. We agreed that the CA ARNG would handle all other missions. After a brief discussion, it was decided that all mission taskings would flow through the Sheriff's Emergency Operations Center where the sheriff, police and military would be co-located along with a representative of the State Office of Emergency Services.

Unlike Watts, a comparatively small neighborhood, these riots encompassed a huge area that stretched over 32 miles from the Hollywood Hills to Long Beach. Communications deteriorated when the troops were first sent in, as radios were ineffective due to built-up areas and the great distances involved, but were quickly reestablished using commercial and cellular phones.

Guardsmen were quickly committed into chaotic areas where there was considerable shooting, fires and looting. Guardsmen were then scattered throughout the affected area, often down to the fire team level. Thirty shooting incidents were reported in one night.

There was considerable risk taking, especially the first fewnights. Lock plates are required to be installed in M16 and M16A1 rifles to prevent automatic fire during civil disturbances. This is a comparatively complex process, requiring a trained armorer or maintenance contact team. We did not have time, so most soldiers were committed before the plates were installed.

Four serious incidents during the initial phase were particularly memorable. One involved two Guardsmen from an infantry battalion who rescued two girls from a convicted rapist. The other three were the only incidents involving gunfire. The first involved the 40th Military Police Company from the 40th Infantry Division (Mechanized), the first unit on the street. Members helped arrest an armed robber who twice turned his weapon on them. The robber surrendered after four rounds were fired, with no one injured.

The second shooting incident turned out to be by far the most important. A gang member had taunted Guardsmen from the division's support command, telling them he was coming back to kill them that night. This was a rather common threat, but this man was not kidding. He returned in his car after curfew and attempted to run them down. They jumped out of the way, but were not fast enough. One Guardsman was hit, but not seriously. The gang member drove off for a while before returning for his second attempt. When he refused to stop, the Guardsmen fired about 10 rounds at his tires in an attempt to stop him. When it was clear he was determined to run Guardsmen down, they finally used deadly force and killed him with one bullet in the. shoulder and two in the head.

Another felon caused the final shooting incident involving Guardsmen when he attempted vehicular homicide. He first hit a car and then ran down a police officer, breaking his leg. When the gang member refused to stop, two infantrymen each fired one round. The gang member then stopped with a serious wound in the buttocks and groin. It later turned out he was on felony probation from Florida for vehicular manslaughter.

Comparing fire discipline during these riots with earlier riots may be instructive. For instance, in the 1965 riots in Watts, there was considerable machine gun fire and great expenditure of ammunition from small arms through .50 caliber. Commanders during those riots, knowing the lock plates were not installed, had to rely on their noncommissioned officers to enforce fire discipline. The fact that only 20 rounds were fired in Los Angeles was an extraordinary demonstration of restraint and testament that trust was not misplaced.

Order was quickly restored. The response from citizens when the CA ARNG arrived in a neighborhood was immediate and gratifying. There was much applause and other visible signs of support, to include thumbs up and waving. Guardsmen had trouble spending money in local stores, even those that had been looted, as shopkeepers and eating-places refused to take money from them. Literally thousands of pizzas and other meals, soft drinks and cookies were delivered to Guardsmen by restaurants and individual citizens. Cards and letters of thanks from school children were delivered to various staging areas.

When law and order was reestablished, the streets were much safer than they had been prior to the riots. In Compton, for instance, the police told us the crime rate was down 70 percent. One elderly gentleman told us that his wife could walk to the market for the first time in over 20 years, While this response was gratifying, it also made it extremely difficult to remove the troops. The citizenry simply did not want to let us go, and the last troops did not leave until May 29th, precisely a month later, in a carefully phased withdrawal.

There were considerable discussions about the speed with which Guardsmen had responded to the emergency, an issue which continues to this day. No one doing the criticizing during the riots asked us what the standard is, though we know that the military has a standard for just about everything. In this case,good source is the Department of Defense Civil Disturbance (Garden Plot) Plan. The 7th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Ord, California, received orders to move at 0415 hours on May 1, 1992. The first chalk lifted off slightly over 12 hours later. The task force closed at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, about 25 hours after the start time. That is well within the standards described in Garden Plot. It is also helpful to note that the 82d Airborne Division's alert battalion is expected to have the first aircraft wheels up in 18 hours. Guardsmen were committed and on the streets before 18 hours had elapsed. As you can see, that was an extraordinarily fast response, especially when considering that the response was initiated without warning.

After law and order had been restored, Guardsmen heard that they had been federalized and Active Component soldiers and Marines were on the way to restore law and order. Feeling that their efforts were not recognized or appreciated, morale plummeted.

The joint task force commander, Major General Marvin L. Covault of the 7th Infantry Division, arrived shortly thereafter. He was briefed by the 40th Infantry Division and moved to the tactical operations center (TOC), established by his assault command post. His first act was to name MG Daniel J. Hernandez of the 40th Infantry Division as the Army Force commander, and placed his 2d Brigade under the operational control of General Hernandez. This immediately restored the morale of National Guardsmen. The Marine Force (MARFOR) made up the other portion of the joint task force. The MARFOR consisted of approximately 1,500 Marines from Camp Pendleton, CA, commanded by Brigadier General Marvin T. Hopgood, deputy commander of the 1st Marine Division. That task force staged out of Tustin Marine Corps Air Station. Although federalization adversely impacted in several ways, the Total Force under Covault never worked better. Most important of all, no troops were killed or seriously injured and no innocent civilians were injured by the soldiers.

Also, in retrospect, the current standards and training methodology used in the CA ARNG were overwhelmingly validated. There are many examples. The 40th Infantry Division's headquarters quickly went into action using lessons learned during BCTP (battle command training program) and WARFIGHTER exercises. Subordinate headquarters demonstrated their competence learned in Brigade/ Battalion Automated Simulation Exercise, Army Training Battle Simulation System and CAPSTONE-sponsored exercises.

If there is a secret to our success in Los Angeles, it is probably our young noncommissioned officers. We have been powering down for years in a consistent program involving at least the last four division commanders. This powering down was not designed for civil disturbances, but merely part of what the 40th Infantry Division considers battle focus. For instance, all noncommissioned officers in tactical operations centers throughout the division are expected to be able to brief. The payoff came during the riots. For example, one young sergeant with five other soldiers was responsible for an entire shopping center in Compton. Night after night, he and his soldiers exhibited unprecedented professionalism and restraint in spite of stress, fatigue and great provocation. Such soldiers were the real secret of success in Los Angeles, and we are extremely proud of them.

Link





Link Posted: 6/14/2009 9:54:40 PM EST
Look into the 1967 Detriot Riots, similar situation as 65 Watts but less well known. I dd a report for school, with an interview with a family who was there.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 9:59:17 PM EST
My uncle was one of the Guardsman to fire their weapon in the 2nd incident.

He doesn't think he got the kill.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 10:01:17 PM EST
"The second shooting incident turned out to be by far the most important. A gang member had taunted Guardsmen from the division's support command, telling them he was coming back to kill them that night. This was a rather common threat, but this man was not kidding. He returned in his car after curfew and attempted to run them down. They jumped out of the way, but were not fast enough. One Guardsman was hit, but not seriously. The gang member drove off for a while before returning for his second attempt. When he refused to stop, the Guardsmen fired about 10 rounds at his tires in an attempt to stop him. When it was clear he was determined to run Guardsmen down, they finally used deadly force and killed him with one bullet in the. shoulder and two in the head."


Good shoot.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 10:02:23 PM EST
I think is funny how crime dropped 70% with the Guard there. Gangs did not want to fuck with the military.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 10:05:18 PM EST
.mil doesn't put up the shit LEO's from the area will.

Especially not the weekend warriors.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 10:09:04 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/14/2009 10:11:12 PM EST by Charging_Handle]


"Alpha Six, Alpha Six, this is Alpha Two-Six! Napalm right on target! Estimate 100 looters are now crispy critters. Please advise the FAC to have the fast movers dump their remaining ordnance 100 meters further to the east on the next pass. More looters with TV sets in the open! How copy, over? "

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 10:10:33 PM EST
Originally Posted By Charging_Handle:
http://www.militarymuseum.org/Resources/LARiot3.jpg

Alpha Six, Alpha Six, this is Alpha Two-Six! Napalm right on target! Estimate 100 looters are now crispy critters. Please advise the FAC to have the fast movers dump their remaining ordnance 100 meters further to the east on the next pass. More looters with TV sets in the open, over!



I would have loved to see the look on the rioters faces if they rolled some tanks in there in '92.
Link Posted: 6/14/2009 10:29:10 PM EST
On a side note, my M1009 (Military Blazer) came out of the 40th Armored.

Wonder if they drove it around LA??

Link Posted: 6/14/2009 10:34:34 PM EST
During the Watts Riots, rioters were shooting at the CNG from behind cover located on rooftops. In those days, a lot of buildings in LA had cinder blocks in a kind of square-wave pattern at the top of the front facade. The rioters used those blocks for concealment and cover when they sniped at the CNG troops.

Finally, the CNG had enough and brought in Jeep mounted M2s. The .50 BMG had no problem penetrating the cinder blocks are taking care of the problem.
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 12:06:29 AM EST
HHC 1/185



Link Posted: 6/15/2009 12:30:53 AM EST

Originally Posted By marksman121:

I would have loved to see the look on the rioters faces if they rolled some tanks in there in '92.

Heh...

Probably the same as the look on the mayor's face when he got the bill for repairing streets fucked up by tank tracks...
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 12:45:00 AM EST
Originally Posted By Assault-Rifle-City:
.mil doesn't put up the shit LEO's from the area will.

Especially not the weekend warriors.


And this fart from your ass is based on what fantasy?
Link Posted: 6/15/2009 1:10:43 AM EST
There were considerable discussions about the speed with which Guardsmen had responded to the emergency, an issue which continues to this day. No one doing the criticizing during the riots asked us what the standard is, though we know that the military has a standard for just about everything. In this case,good source is the Department of Defense Civil Disturbance (Garden Plot) Plan. The 7th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Ord, California, received orders to move at 0415 hours on May 1, 1992.

Where are the Posse Comitatus boys? or are they still recovering from their fainting spells

There are a variety of ways to measure response time. I'm not sure that too many people can find too much fault depending on how they measure. When did the 7th actually get orders? did they know they were on any kind response list? So did they have a few days to start spinning up?, and did they start on some kind of unofficial warning order. This can give them a big jump if they get measured from the time Higher headquarters issues orders. Units in Op-Plans and Op-Orders know that they are on the list and if a contingency occurs in which they may have a part, they often get a few days in which the powers that be in DC fart around deciding what to do. Obviously, deciding to US Federal forces in Law Enforcement activities is going to take Congressional Approval (PCA) hence a few days knowing the orders are coming. And active duty units have everybody together and are already fully up and running in the C&C area.

The Guard (on the other hand) surprise, surprise, almost always have other jobs, and they also have a waiting period, but it is much shorter. The Mayor (dithers) and has to go to the County, Sheriff and/or the County Supervisors need to declare an emergency and ask the Governor, who then dithers a bit and finally contacts the State Adjutant General, who executes the requisite Op-Order and the phone calls start down the chain. That said almost everybody in the Guard knows it is coming, but you can't just up and leave work just because you know it is coming. The 7th is concentrated at Ft. Ord (closed by the way now), the First Watts (aka 40th Armored) is spread all over California, and it is going to take 12 to 24 hours for all of them to get contacted and arrive at the armories and saddle up.

Mobilizations drills are usually an exercise of the telephone tree. Getting everybody in person at the Armory isn't tried often. Mostly because of the pay issues and disruption of regular jobs. Problems active duty units need not worry about..

Also, most Guard MP units have another challenge, many of their members are also in a civilan LEO or similar job on the outside. Guess what , they are already called up at their regular job. So although the plans show X number of cops in City A and Y number of MPs in the 35th MP Company, if the 35th is a local unit, then some of the guys are getting planned twice. So in CA they try to bring in MP units from outside the area, less duplication, more time.



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