Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Lots of new information on those "tanks"

An enterprising individual named David V. has been doing a lot of leg work to find out what was going on with those "tanks" that stopped at an LA peace protest last night. Here's what he's sent me so far:

1st e-mail:

Couple of things.

- I called the West LA station house. They say the tanks were indeed
there. So we can put an end to the 'Photoshop' claims.

- The watch commander corrected that those are not tanks because they
have no 'tracks'.

- The watch commander has no idea who the armored fighting vehicles
belong to.

- The watch commander has no idea who called them in.

- The watch commander suggested to me that perhaps the 'vehicles were
lost in getting back to the armory'

- I called the National Guard Armory on Federal. Lt. Jeff Kramer laughed
uncontrollably at this suggestion that these vehicles were there because
they were 'lost'. He also has no record of them having been there. I'm
still waiting on an email back from him.

I can't reply to diaries yet- just thought you'd want to know.

David V.

2nd e-mail:

No reply from the Lt. yet.

You might also add that when I asked the watch commander for an incident
log he said that there wasn't one.

3rd e-mail:

Just got this from the Lt.:

David,

These vehicles are called "LAVs" which is short for Light Armored Vehicles.
The California National Guard does have two of them but they are not (and
were not) anywhere near the Los Angeles area last night. One is in Northern
California and the other was not near LA. Most importantly, ours are painted
black and have a very specific mission that would not be employed in an
urban environment.

The Marine Corps has LAVs as does DEA and the Dept of Justice.  I cannot
imagine that the Marine Corps would send LAVs by themselves all the way from
Camp Pendleton or Twenty-Nine Palms (in the desert near Barstow) to Los
Angeles unless they had been officially called out to deal with an
emergency. This protest clearly was not that.

I cannot identify the people riding on the LAVs. They only appear to be
wearing generic vehicle crewman helmets that allow in-vehicle communication
and other non-specific (to military service) clothing.

I wish I could be of more help but that's all I can discern from the photo.

LTC Jeff Kramer

4th e-mail:

The DEA says "..no way. With reasonable certainty I can say they aren't
ours."

So that leaves the FBI and Marines. Calls are out.

5th e-mail:

The Marines at Pendleton say:

"Well that's the first I heard of that. We are not running any exercises
in State at this time. They could not have been ours."

Hmmmmmm. The FBI is all that's left.

So, exactly what was going on here still remains a mystery. Thanks a lot to David for tracking this stuff down. I'll relay more if I hear anything.

By the way, I know that technically these vehicles aren't considered "tanks" because they have wheels instead of tracks. But I am using the layman's definition of a tank which is a big, military style, iron plated vehicle, weighing several tons, with a big f*cking gun on the front and more than capable of crushing you if it drove over you.

The people on the receiving end of such a weapon would hardly to quibble over its technical name.

Update:

A commenter over at MyDD had this to say on this story:

I live next to the Fed Bldg.  Called the Times, got someone who basically didn't care. She thought it wasn't a big enough story for downtown to care to print it this morning.

So I called the Army Guard.  According to a sergeant I called at HQ 40th Inf. Div M Arty (which I assume means artillery) I was told they were NOT tanks, but Amphibious Personnel Carriers that were going to be part of a static display at the VA facility on Wilshire.  Why these APCs were in front of the Federal Bldg. is another matter, since the VA is on the other side of I405 from the Federal Bldg. and the APCs were headed east, away from the VA facility, not west, toward it. And there you have the "official" line from the Guard.

My opinion is that this was most likely an accidental meeting of two groups that should never get within half a mile of each other. I have seen no evidence that there was anything intentional about the appearance of these "tanks" (what is it with this political correctness when it comes to identifying military vehicles?)

A definitive explanation would still be nice. Let's not start throwing up the barricades quite yet.

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