California: Iraq vets oversee anti-gang “surge” in Salinas

Since February, combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, acting in an ostensibly civilian and volunteer capacity, have been advising police in Salinas, Calif., on “counterinsurgency strategy” in the wake of deadly violence by mostly Central American street gangs in the city. “This is our surge,” said Mayor Dennis Donohue, who solicited the assistance from the elite Naval Postgraduate School, 20 miles away in Monterey. “When the public heard about this, they thought we were going to send the Navy SEALs into Salinas.”

In the space of 11 days this year, seven people were murdered in Salinas. Police said each killing—like the record 25 homicides in 2008—was related the gang warfare that this summer pushed the homicide rate in the city of 140,000 to three times that of Los Angeles.

“It’s a little laboratory,” said retired Col. Hy Rothstein, the former Army Special Forces career officer who heads the team of 15 faculty members and students from the Navy school. Rothstein, a veteran of counterinsurgency efforts in Colombia and Central America, notes the “significant overlap with how you deal with insurgencies and how you deal with cities that are under siege from gangs.” (Washington Post, Nov. 15)

See our last post on the police state in California.

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