April 24, 1995
About one in four U.S. Marines would be willing to fire upon American citizens in a government gun confiscation program, according to the results of a survey undertaken nearly a year ago at a Marine Corps base in southern California.
In addition, more that four out of five of the Marines surveyed indicated they would be willing to “participate in missions under a U.S. National Emergency Police Force.”
The SPOTLIGHT has been provided the results to the survey contained in a master’s degree thesis, reportedly undertaken by a student at the Naval -More-Postgraduate School at Monterey, California, to determine “unit cohesion” when soldiers are assigned to “non-traditional missions.”
Few stories published in The SPOTLIGHT have created such a stir as when it was revealed in this newspaper’s July 25, 1994 issue that the survey had been taken at the Marine base.
On May 10, 1994, the survey was undertaken by Navy Lt Cmdr. Ernest G Cunningham, purportedly as research for his thesis, Peacekeeping and UN Operational Control: A Study of Their Effect on Unit Cohesion, at the Marine base, located on the southeast corner of the Mojave Desert, about 70 miles due east of San Bernadino, California, just east of Los Angeles.
Cunningham turned in the thesis for printing on March 20 and was graduated from the Postgraduate School on March 23, receiving his Master of Science in Manpower, Personnel and Training Analysis degree.
According to U.S. navy and Marine Corps officials, Cunningham administered the survey to 300 Marine veterans of the Persian Gulf War and the earlier invasion of Panama in the base auditorium.
He had the cooperation and permission of the base’s public affairs officer, But Cunningham did not have consent of the base commander, Brig. Gen. Russell H. Sutton. In fact, Sutton didn’t know about the survey until afterwards.
The results of the survey contained 46 questions dealing with the Marines” willingness to perform “non-traditional” missions.
Question 46, dealing with a gun confiscation scenario, jolted both the Marines and the Navy, as well as the Department of Defense, numerous members of the House and Senate and virtually every American concerned about the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the people’s right to keep and bear arms.”
This is how the question was posed to the Marines:
“The U.S. government declares a ban on the possession, sale, transportation, and transfer of all non-sporting firearms. A thirty day amnesty period is permitted for these firearms to be turned over to the local authorities. At the end of this period, a number of citizens groups refuse to turn over their firearms.
Consider the following statement: `I would fire upon U.S. citizens who refuse or resist confiscation of firearms banned by the U.S. government’.”
The question was then posed as to what degree the individual Marine agreed with the Statement.
According to the results given in Cunningham’s thesis, a total of 88 percent, or 264 Marines, responded to the question.
Of the 264 who responded, 26.34 percent, or 79 Marines, indicated they would be willing to “fire upon U.S. citizens.”
Of that total, 18.67 percent, or 56 Marines, indicated they “agree” with the statement, and 7.67 percent, or 23 Marines, indicated that they “strongly agree.”
A total of 61.66 percent, or 185, indicated that they were opposed to firing at citizens.
Of the total, 42.33 percent, or 127, indicated they “strongly disagree” and 19.33 percent, or 58, indicated they “disagree.”
In his thesis, Cunningham noted: “This particular question, unlike the others, elicited from 15.97 percent of the respondents with an opinion, either heavier pen or pencil marks on their response or written comments in the margin space. The responses to this scenario suggest that a complete unit breakdown could occur in a unit tasked to execute this mission,”
However, it becomes clear that a poll would be useful in determining which soldiers, and in this case Marines, would be willing to undertake such a mission, to fire upon U.S. citizens.”
In other words, if a commander asked the men of his unit to raise their hands in a simple poll, he could determine the position of such servicemen and those who responded in the affirmative could be talked for such a mission.
This is just one of the reasons the question, not to mention the fact that it was allowed to be asked, is obviously potentially dangerous.
In fact, several months before the survey was taken at Twenty-Nine Palms, The SPOTLIGHT, Modern Gun magazine and other publications revealed the question posed by Cunningham in his survey had been asked of members of a U.S. Seal (Sea-Air-Land) team.
In addition, despite Navy and Marine Corps denials, there have been dozens of reports, unconfirmed, that the survey has been given to other servicemen, as well as various federal law enforcement agents.
In fact, Cunningham notes: “If the results of this survey elicit concerns in the areas queried, then further studies are warranted. Perhaps, a random sample survey should be conducted to determine whether the results of this survey are valid for the entire Marine Corps and/or Army. Also, a survey could provide an indication of the volunteer pool that would seek service in units dedicated to, and specialized in, peacekeeping operations…”
Also of concern is the fact, as reported by Cunningham in his thesis, that 97.67 percent of the Marines responded to a question an overwhelming 85.33 percent in the affirmative-that they would be willing to “participate in missions under a U.S. National Emergency Police Force…”
“Furthermore,” Cunningham notes, “43 percent of the soldiers strongly agreed…
“Federal troops have been restricted from participation with local police authorities to quell domestic violence since the passage of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. That being the case, it was surprising that these soldiers seemed to not know the legal restrictions placed on them by the act.”
He also noted, however, that “In May 1992, 4,000 U.S. Army and Marine soldiers were ordered by President George Bush to augment city and county law enforcement and state National Guard during the riot in Los Angeles, California, following the Rodney King trial.
“Since 1981,” Cunningham states, “the majority of today’s All Volunteer Force has been exposed to and participated in an environment of expanding non-traditional missions when Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act of 1981. This act enabled the military to participate in the drug war. This cooperative alliance of military and civilian police efforts in the name of national security may have eroded the demarcation between civilian law enforcement and our military institution first established by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.”
The results of another question, No. 45, posed by the survey, indicates American soldiers are not eager to swear allegiance to the United Nations, although nearly on in four would do so.
Question 45 states:
“I would swear to the following code: `I am a United Nations fighting person. I serve in the forces which maintain world peace and every nation’s way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense’.”
A total of 69.33 percent, or 208 Marines of those surveyed, indicated that they disagreed, with 117, or 39 percent, indicating they strongly disagreed.
On the other hand, 71 Marines, or 23.66 percent, indicated they would be willing to swear such allegiance to the UN, with 19, or 6.33 percent indicating they were strongly in favor of doing so.
“For thousands of years,” Cunningham notes in his thesis, “military organizations have required their soldiers to swear to some form of code or allegiance. A code provides a standard for the soldiers to live up to and, in many cases, to die for. A code can be a powerful tool for establishing and sustaining unit cohesion. But what if the mission a soldier is assigned to perform counters or confuses the code he has sworn to uphold? Question 45 was presented to determine if the soldiers would swear to such a code.”
No one knows if the American personnel traveling in the helicopter shot down over Iraq by friendly fire” in April 1994 would have sworn allegiance to such a code. Yet, Vice President Albert Gore stated that these Americans “died in the service of the United Nations.”
“It is patently clear,” a retired high-ranking Army officer told The SPOTLIGHT, “That this survey raises some very serious issues, not the least of which is that U.S. servicemen are not being properly educated as to the limits of their service in the civilian sector. This is most dangerous, and, I should think, the Congress has an obligation to the people to take a careful look at this, not to mention the people at the Pentagon.”