Guns and Gear

No, FEMA is not creating a Brown Shirt Army

Mike Piccione Editor, Guns & Gear
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There is an email going around about the Federal Emergency Management Agency creating an army of 18-24 year old “Brown Shirts.” I received the email from two people who are both intelligent and respected people. It is based on an article that was written that is nothing more than hogwash.


According to the email “On September 13, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security graduated its first class of FEMA Corps first-responders. While the idea of having a volunteer force of tens of thousands of volunteers scattered across the country to aid in times of natural disasters sounds great, the details and timing of this new government army is somewhat curious, if not disturbing. DHS is raising an armed army.”

Then the email goes on to talk about these 18-24 year old graduates as a paid standing army for FEMA. It also shows pictures of FEMA response vehicles that look like military vehicles and questions why such vehicles are needed for disaster relief.

Of course the Hitler Youth are mentioned as a point of reference early on for the reader. Then there are unfounded correlations between a standing armed civilian army of young people, Hitler Youth, our government, martial law, military vehicles and anything else that will enable you to feel smart and patriotic for spotting a conspiracy in plain sight. Oh, and the email mentioned that these people are probably brainwashed.

Now the reader is hooked in. It must be true if it is a circulating email with all that information eh? You are left to conclude that the next time it storms Obama will unleash this army upon you and take you prisoner.

The Reality

The people: FEMA did graduate 231 people from its first FEMA Corps class. Yes, they will be paid for ten months to go into their community and help with disaster prep and relief. That’s it. Think of it as a paid internship for emergency responders. They are akin to FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and CERT teams are the responders you probably don’t know about.

The vehicles: Don’t confuse disaster relief with emergency management and response. FEMA is also tasked with Continuity of Government. That means when our East Coast is nuked they have to ensure we have a functional government able to respond to threats. They need serious vehicles to get to hot spots of all different types. FEMA is a lot more than getting you the food and water you did not store for yourself when you had the chance.


FEMA has been training civilians since 1985 for emergency disaster response. Why? During a major emergency first responders are overwhelmed and civilians are on the scene. So the logic behind the creation of these teams is; if civilians can be trained to respond until the pros get there we will have a better chance of keeping people alive. That makes complete sense.


CERT teams learn: emergency medical procedures, search and rescue, how to communicate to first responders, fire suppression and team operations.

There are three levels of CERT training. The first level is basic academic training, the second level qualifies you to command a disaster incident and the third qualifies you as a trainer. The training to become a Level ll CERT member encompasses about 40 hours over a period of a few months. There is both classroom and field training – and proper procedure is really stressed in the field training. CERT teams learn by doing and the training is first rate.

Never, not ever, are you encouraged to be an armed enforcer of the law let alone anything as nefarious as a Department of Homeland Security “Brown Shirt.”

How Do I Know This?

I’m a graduate of the CERT 41 class from the prestigious Fairfax County Virginia Fire & Rescue Academy. My rescue gear is always in my vehicle. I’ll pull your ass out of a bad situation and never expect a dime for saving you.

CERT training has enabled me to train with some of the best people in the SAR business (SAR is search and rescue for you neophytes). I was one of four Virginia non-emergency staff civilians to participate in Operation Capital Shield two years ago. OCS is one of the largest disaster response exercises in the country and you train with some of our elite SAR civilian and military units.

I have also graduated from the SAR course for the Washington, D.C. Metro Transit Police Authority. They are responsible for the DC area transportation system. This is a high value terrorist target in case you had any doubts and you will need as many trained people on the scene if it hits the fan. I’m ready to help you there too.

Let me also mention that I’m quite sure I have not been brainwashed to attack you on behalf of any government organization. Actually, I’m positive that won’t happen.


There is enough to be worried about in our world right now. So let me stress that FEMA training young men and women to know how to help in a disaster situation is a great thing to do. The ten months of the little pay they receive to go into communities to prepare for, and support disaster relief, is money well spent. The money is short term but the training lasts forever.

Given how people bash FEMA let’s give them credit for creating a network of responders that ask for nothing but the opportunity to save your life.

Ignore the BS rumors and emails that are only created to get you all ginned up. Don’t fall for it. Don’t get sucked in. Instead, get your CERT training and help your community when they need it most. The life you save might be your own.

Now let the comments begin. I’ll answer what I can for you and I’m expecting more than a few cracks about FEMA ensuring a functional Federal Government after a disaster. How about a functional Federal Government before a disaster? Hey, it’s not their job.

That’s me at my FEMA/CERT graduation with a couple of SAR legends.


Tags : email fema
Mike Piccione