It’s often difficult to decide whether the Trump administration is more to be reviled for the sheer wrong-headedness and evil of its policies or for its complete incompetence in executing those policies.
While some would argue that we should be grateful for the inability of a corrupt regime to carry out its nefarious plans without screwing them up, others worry that the same incompetence undermines the smooth functioning of those parts of the government that are crucial to our day to day lives and result in the massive waste of taxpayer dollars.
A perfect example of the Trump administration’s gross failure to effectively execute its mission was exposed today when it was discovered that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — or ICE, as it is usually referred to — improperly redacted a crucial procurement document and accidentally exposed the location of a new training facility for its now-expanding Special Response Team that will be dedicated to “urban warfare” situations.
According to an article in Newsweek, ICE published an RFP valued at just under a million dollars, seeking “hyper-realistic training devices” that would include accurate simulations of homes, hotels and commercial buildings in Chicago and Arizona to prepare their teams for missions to abduct and detain their undocumented targets in a variety of densely populated areas.
ICE attempted to shield the location of the proposed new training facilities from public view by redacting that information in the document announcing its seeking of bids for the project but failed to do so in a way that prevented anyone from reversing the redaction and exposing the location for everyone to see.
Thus, Newsweek’s reporters were able to simply copy and paste the document into a word processor and remove the black lines covering up the relevant info.
What they discovered was that the facility would be constructed at the Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs’ Tactical Operations Complex in Fort Benning, Georgia, a U.S. Army base normally used to train soldiers for combat, and would expand that base by up to 50 additional buildings.
“A Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) vehicle will be competed among GSA Federal Supply Schedule holders for additional training buildings and interior/exterior outfitting in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 20,” the ICE RFP says in an unredacted portion of the document. “OFTP plans to expand the Training Site at Ft. Benning to include up to 50 additional buildings and add additional U.S. city layouts and designs,” the partially redacted portion continues.
The new training facility for the agency will be designed to include, “at a minimum,” a “multitude of basic, intermediate and hyper-realistic training devices, a tactical training warehouse, classroom facilities, and vehicle assault training area,” the document specifies.
It sounds like a theme park for a budding SS force that the Nazis would be proud of.
The procurement request stresses the importance of creating an extremely realistic simulation of the urban environments that it expects its Special Response Teams to be operating within, calling hyper-realism “a critical component to this acquisition as the details provide essential information that must be acknowledged, processed and acted upon to minimize risk to our Special Agents, Deportation Officers and SRT operators during high-risk search and arrest warrants, fugitive operations, undercover operations, hostage rescue, gang operations, etc.”
“For example, details like the number of dishes left on the table, toys in the yard, lighting, furniture, etc. all provide clues that allow our agents and officers to infer vital information that directly affects their safety and the potential resolution or outcome in the scenario,” it continues. “Learning to process this information quickly to identify whether there are children present, or how many people are currently in the structure is a necessary skill developed in training.”
ICE details how a Defense Science Board task force “found that the probability of being a causualty (sic) decreases significantly after the first few ‘decisive combats’. These hyper-realistic devices will allow the teams to have those experiences in real-world conditions without the real-world casualties,” the agency explains.
Of course, providing this detail to the public can also help the targets of ICE enforcement operations take measures to counteract the agency’s attempts at training since being forewarned of its tactics is tantamount to being forearmed.
According to ICE Division Chief Bert Medina, the agency intends to use the new facilities to train “experienced law enforcement personnel in the use of force and existing weapons in application of force.”
“In addition, we provide law enforcement instructors [with] the skills and abilities to teach use of force and defensive techniques with and without weapons so they can prepare ICE officers on the front lines of federal law enforcement to perform their duties safely and in accordance with standards,” Medina said.
Perhaps they should consider training ICE staff on the proper use of the computer software that enables them to redact documents on a non-reversible basis before they move on to the more advanced training involving weapons and combat. Or better yet, get rid of their urban warfare teams entirely.
At least in this instance, the agency’s incompetence allows the public a clearer view of ICE’s intentions moving forward. That their plans include urban combat missions should be worrying to every city-dweller in the country.
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Original reporting by Chantal Da Silva at Newsweek.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.