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1998-03-20 11:16:07


Operation Rio: The Model for Urban Riot Control



Operation Rio is the name given to riot control techniques used by authorities in Rio de Janeiro. It is applied to the Los Angeles riot of 1992. Specifically, it has to do with the federalization of National Guard troops.

With the military's new emphasis on WMD -- weapons of mass destruction -- and the link between y2k and social disorder, Operation Rio becomes relevant.

This appears on the Web site of the Federation of American Scientists, Military Analysis.

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On the afternoon of 29 April 1992, the worst civil unrest since the riots of the 1960's erupted in the streets of Los Angeles. Forty-four people died, and hundreds of injuries occurred before order was restored. Property damage reached the billion-dollar mark because of rampaging looters and the thousands of fires that they set. The LA riots of 1992 were unquestionably the most costly civil disturbance in US history.

At 2230 on 29 April 1992, as part of the response to this disorder, the 3d Battalion, 160th Infantry (Mechanized), 40th Infantry Division, California National Guard, was ordered to mobilize. Between 2100 and 2400 the following day, all 3d Battalion companies deployed to their assigned areas. It was the first tactical battalion to be mobilized, the first to deploy to the streets of LA, and the last to redeploy.

Joint Task Force Los Angeles (JTF-LA) was formed following a Presidential Executive Order on the evening of 1 May. The Executive Order federalized units of the California National Guard (CAARNG) and authorized active military forces to assist in the restoration of law and order. JTF-LA formed and deployed within twenty-four hours, assembled from US Army and Marine forces. It operated in a unique domestic disturbance environment, while working with city, county, state, federal agencies and the CAARNG.


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