Missouri National Guard Labeled Civilian Protesters ‘Enemy Forces’

National Guard Defends Language as 'Generic'

Adding to the backlash from the bloody crackdown on public protests in Ferguson, Missouri last year, leaked international Missouri National Guard documents reveal that the Guard was officially referring to demonstrators as “enemy forces” in mission briefings.

Missouri Army Chief of Staff Col. David Boyle realized pretty early on how bad that looked and in a November 18 email urged officials to reduce the “public militarization perception” and avoid potentially inflammatory language.

Still, the National Guard is defending the label, with Captain John Quinn insisting it was “standard language” in “general military planning.” Capt. Quinn went on to insist that the National Guard would also consider inclement weather and heat potential threats.

Which underscores just what a blunder it was to use the term “enemy forces,” as despite Capt. Quinn’s protestation, presumably state National Guards do not, as a general rule, refer to tornadoes or thunderstorms as “enemy forces.”

The decision to label civilian protesters as “enemy forces” is deliberately provocative, and part of a policy throughout the Ferguson debacle of treating civil unrest and unfriendly media coverage as problems to be solved through military force of arms.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.