It is a scenario that all preppers ponder and fear: a major disaster or incident has resulted in a situation where law and order have broken down, one where the professional protectors and watchmen that keep our enemies at bay and criminal elements under close watch lose their cohesion or direction and stop functioning as an effective deterrent against the one true social law: the Law of the Jungle.
I am talking of course about a scenario known in prepper parlance as a Without Rule of Law situation, or WROL in shorthand.
A WROL situation is in many ways the worst of conceivable outcomes for preppers since the danger from criminals, opportunists and other rogue elements of society will be that much more unfettered since their chances of being arrested and imprisoned will drop drastically.
This means that your average good guys and gals will be facing far more threat from these same elements. Preparing to meet and escape from the danger posed by the nastiest of two-legged predators, our fellow man, is a core concept of prepping and needs no explanation.
But the scenario above begs the question: just what will the police and military be doing during this time? What will have become of them? I will try to provide some insight into a few possible outcomes and how they might affect your plans in this article.
No Cavalry Coming
The military and, more germane to our concerns, police forces at all levels serve to protect our country and society by functioning as a powerful deterrent for bad guys, be they foreign foes or domestic criminals and troublemakers.
It is the chance that a criminal might be caught and arrested and subsequently tossed behind bars that will suppress or prevent some illicit acts. It is the possibility that our soldiers and sailors will show up with mayhem on their mission statement that keeps would-be enemies of the U.S. in line and at bay.
This is not to say that it is always 100% effective, or that cops and soldiers don’t go out and apply boots directly to asses that need a good kicking. But the numbers don’t lie: are there enough cops to collar and corral every, single criminal, and prevent every crime? No, and if there were on either count we’d have no crime!
Is the threat of military retaliation, even by a military as professional, advanced and mighty as the United States’ enough of a threat to prevent every attack against our soil or interests? Of course not, as we have painfully learned time and again from highly motivated or belligerent actors.
But, overall, they do a damn fine job, and you can tell since we all live (most of us anyway) in one of the most peaceful and prosperous countries on earth. Crimes are petty, minor or isolated in most places, with serious crime occurring only in isolated or sporadic instances or in rare “black swan” events that result in an eruption of criminal action.
But put on your thinking cap and sharpen your pencil. Take a few moments and write down the biggest outbreaks of criminal activity that were both widespread and long lasting. Notice anything common about these incidents?
That’s right: anywhere crime is truly rife and perpetuated is a place where there is little to no effective rule of law, meaning all the many cogs, gears and flywheels of the criminal justice system have ceased turning and believe me the predacious elements in society will notice. With little or nothing left to fear from law enforcement, the scumbags and cutthroats will run wild.
One need only look at the L.A. riots of 1992, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in and the Ferguson unrest in 2014 to begin to see what kind of widespread criminal activity could take place in the shadow of an even worse disaster.
But in both of these situations, police and even military forces (in the form of the National Guard) were present, just severely outmanned and in some cases outgunned by a factional populace galvanized and motivated enough to throw down with the forces of law and order.
Just how much worse might it be if they were effectively absent entirely?
What Could Cause a WROL Situation?
It is important to clarify precisely what a WROL situation is. It is not necessarily a “huge disaster=widespread criminality” thing. Some historical examples like the L.A. riots above spawned from a comparatively tiny incident (as bad as it was); no supervolcano, EMP strike or global war needed.
All that is necessary for a WROL situation to exist in a given area is for law enforcement and government forces to lose effective influence and control over an area. This can happen in any one of several ways, some of them major, isolated events, and others a combination of multiple, smaller ones.
There can even effectively be a WROL situation on an ongoing, micro-scale in some major urban centers where the police in essence do not go. Call it the Narrows, the bad end of town or the wrong side of the tracks, most major population centers have a borough or two where police response and presence is spotty to non-existent.
Believe it or not, one of the most common causes of WROL is a simple re-tasking or reallocation of available forces leaving a given area high and dry in a time of need. Face it, there are only so many “uniforms” to go around, and if commanders are forced to “clamp off” a trouble area with what personnel they have you can bet they will do it in such a way that either protects the most people and/or keep the command structure (internal and external) safe.
If that means that Joe Q. Public, prepper extraordinaire and the rest of the citizens on Any St., Hometown, USA have to fend for themselves, so be it.
Another potential cause of loss of law and order could be desertion or no-call, no-shows on the force when it is time to clock in and go to work. Cops and soldiers are still human beings, and a terrible enough situation could see more than a few cut bait and head off to take care of their own families and affairs.
While this is a far greater concern for locally based personnel in any area affected by a major event than those who are “bused in” to assist, it does happen.
Scaling up to events that are regional or national in scope that cause a significant loss of life, the command structure of a police force or military unit (up to and including the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch) could see its forces so disrupted that they cannot effectively organize and deploy, becoming mission incapable.
It might not matter that much of the rank and file are alive and unscathed; if no one is answering the radio, phone or doling out orders, morale and cohesion will crumble.
An unmotivated, sporadic presence is almost as good as no presence at all to criminals, and they will respond accordingly.
What Will LEOs and Military Personnel Be Doing During WROL Circumstances?
It depends on how bad things are, how broad the scope of the event, how many personnel are left ready and able to serve and how disrupted or intact their chain of command is.
The variables are many, and their interplay is complex, but as best as I have been able to ascertain by historical precedent and serious conversations with associates serving on the Thin Blue Line and in various branches of the military, the following basic scenarios will serve as a useful guide.
Major but Localized Event, Relatively Low Intensity, Little Loss of Life
This type of event, ala the aforementioned L.A. riots will be one most likely to see law enforcement suspended or abandoned in some areas in pursuit of a bigger picture goal. Be it the tactical or strategic analysis, no matter, the brass has made the call to cordon or pull back their forces, leaving entire blocks, boroughs or even communities up a creek.
Make no mistake, they will in all probability return when their ranks are swelled by reinforcements or the situation has subsided enough to give them an opening.
In essence, this is a decision versus a condition, and can be more reliably predicted than other more severe outcomes. This is of little consequence for those left to the mercy of predators during this time as you will be 100% on your own and a positive outcome is not guaranteed.
Large bands of criminals will be formed or already formed and ready to depart on their deplorable expedition as soon as word reaches them.
Consider the legendary “roof Koreans” who gallantly and desperately defended their shops and very lives against the pillaging hordes during the L.A. riots, or the trapped and isolated citizens who by choice or chance had to skip evacuating ahead of hurricane Katrina and were left in a drowned dystopia to fend for themselves.
In both circumstances “help” in the form of police or military personnel was often not far away geographically, but they could not or would not attempt to reach them.
Near Regional Event, Moderate Intensity, Significant Loss of Life
Whatever form it takes, something big has happened and the powers that be will be scrambling to allocate the forces they can muster to contain the worst of the damage and prevent more of it.
Focus will be on governmental (command and control) centers, major industrial centers, and other places of major import to the continuance and function of society writ large.
It is at this level that local desertions may occur depending on how badly impacted a given community is, and furthermore local forces might be mustered and ordered to areas outside of their normal jurisdiction or beat in support of greater objectives.
A reduced or cursory amount of personnel may be left behind in an effort to maintain a normal level of law and order, and depending on the situation and dynamics in these places this could see an effective end to rule of law.
The only good news in a time like this is that federal resources and attention will be sharply directed towards such an event, and you can expect the eventual influx of personnel from other regions, agencies and neighboring states.
This takes time, and depending on the severity of the event and efficacy of the intra-agency coordinators this could be a long wait. If you live in an area without much “big picture” worth, you might be waiting quite a while.
Again, a situation where law enforcement and military command structures are largely intact, just disrupted or focused elsewhere.
Regional or National Event, Severe Intensity, Major Loss of Life
It is here that things well and truly begin to fall apart. An event of such ferocity and magnitude has resulted in major casualties, both civilian and otherwise.
You can count on the majority of law enforcement and military personnel being tasked only to areas hardest hit and in greatest need. Areas that do not make this grade will be “triaged” and left to fend for themselves with no discernible time table for the reappearance of significant and institutionalized law enforcement.
At this level, desertions and no-shows will be more significant, and will casualties among the ranks, including potentially senior commanders. This will further result in disruption and uncertainty and contribute to a loss of effective presence.
Some smaller communities may see their integral local police forces or even National Guard units effectively rendered incapable of mustering a significant presence to deter criminal activity.
This situation is still classed as recoverable, but will be a severe test of both citizenry, the government at all levels and of course the peacekeepers themselves. If you live in a place with significant organized criminal activity already, buckle up, as you can expect them to expand and actively consolidate their holdings.
Your best bet for protection will be escape, or being part of an organized group that can present significant counterforce proportional to the threat. Otherwise expect looting and pillaging or at best extortion and “protection” offers from the malcontents.
Individual service members who are cut off from higher command or desert their posts (whatever their reasons) may try to do the best the best they can to help their local communities, but the effectiveness of a disjointed response of this type can only be speculated upon.
National or Global Event, Catastrophic Intensity, Extreme Loss of Life
This is planning at the fringes, and only theoretical. Most local and many state level agencies and units will be rendered ineffective from the get go. Casualties will be many and indiscriminate with those affecting significant portions of the command structure only fracturing already battered groups more.
Even national and global agencies will be left reeling as they try to contain their own damage and come to grips with the scale and scope of the event.
It is now that the stuff of nightmares issues forth. The Law of the Jungle will exert control at once with Need and Greed being the twin arbiters of right and wrong.
What personnel that do survive badly affected regions will likely hang up their uniforms figuratively if not literally, the world and society being remade in a blink or at the crashing finale of a slow-building sequence of unfortunate events.
One unique and unsettling potentiality is the chance that surviving units who are isolated, unsupervised and effectively orphaned, either from the destruction of their parent agency or command or the complete lack of communication with those further up the ladder than themselves may go rogue for good reasons or bad.
It is not impossible to see a National Guard unit or division of state police setting up a local cordon of protection. It is also not hard to imagine a unit of heavily armed, trained and aggressive soldiers or enforcers taking up arms and using their skills to carve out their own kingdom and looting to their heart’s content.
Before you lambast me for such a suggestion, remind yourself that history furnishes ample proof that those who are sworn to protect society and countrymen have and will perpetrate terrible crimes, and are themselves just people, capable of all the good and bad that entails.
Raising your hand for an oath and donning a nice uniform does not necessarily extinguish the blackness lurking in someone’s heart. Ultimately, homo homini lupus est- man is a wolf to man.
In such an occurrence, should you live through it, you will experience a wild and lawless time not seen in America and much of the First World for more than a century and a half. Only your wits, skills and more than a ration of luck will see you survive.
Any time society is going without the rule of law there will be ample opportunity for criminals to take advantage. Knowing something about how local and regional law enforcement will react to such instances will give you an edge when it comes to making short and long term plans.
A short stretch of a few days or a week without uniformed cops sending the riffraff scurrying is a far different trip than months or more of no organized formal policing. Instead of thinking of police and military presence as an on or off affair, learn under what circumstances you can expect to survive WROL and when you can expect it to return.
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35 thoughts on “What will police/military do in a WROL situation?”
Sir Rourke: Govt. will take action! That is a given. People will be ‘pressed’ by those in authority… also a given. Trouble will erupt like a fire in a pool of gasolne. You can wave a lit flare over it… and until you happen to run the flame through a wisp of vapor you have no problem… Citical Mass must be met before trouble erupts. Like the breeze over the pool of gas. I see ‘Govt.’ waving the flame all .. over. Like Barney Fife… they just gotta wanna gunna use that bullet in thier front pocket.
I submit this opinion based on a great time in two riots in L.A., call out with the Ninth Marines for the 1968 riots, one in Toledo in 79, one small race riot in 2008 and a two week police and firemen’s strike …. and a really nice time at a Govt. funded get togeather in So. E. Asia. Those are the ones I attended… how many have we all watched real time or later that evenng on the 6 o’clock news? Govt. dosen’t want that sort of thing on the news…. I don’t care to be the subject in some ‘file’ footage on CNN… Such a pity that the Govt. will…. wave the flare around so much gasoline.
My thoughts exactly. More importantly, however, is that we will welcome Martial Law initially due to the crime and violence. The problem will be getting rid of it when we no longer need it.
Having spent time in the military and knowing an abnormally large amount of police officers I might have a different opinion then most. I know a lot of soldiers that would go A.W.O.L if this happened bc they no longer trust there government to make solid and morally sound decisions. I also think that most soldiers that did stay would absolutely not fire on unarmed civilians unless there own life was in great danger. As far as if the government started going door to door picking up civilian guns the majority of the Military wouldn’t follow that order.
If you’re a police officer try not to take this personal. Civilian law enforcement is a different story. I believe that police officers are trained to the level that they are required to do their day to day job. But the training that most police officers go through these days is not geared to this kind of event. They are not trained to deal with stress like soldiers are. Most have never had to fire there weapon in a life threatening scenario. Most haven’t even had to draw there weapon. Because of their inexperience in Combat situations I don’t believe they will be able to react without thinking out of shear fear. That all being said I think a large amount of them will also go A.W.O.L but it might be for a different reason. If you look back to hurricane Katrina and do some research you will see that almost half the police force went A.W.O.L. this happened bc the situation got so bad that they felt that protecting there family was more important and i don’t really blame them for feeling that way.
i met 2 guys that where ex swat cops that doing body guard work and both of em said from THEY know of from being in the military and as cops that THEY thought both would NEVER turn there weapons on americans unless it was kill or be killed
per conversation with a recently discharged vet friend, 90% won’t even show up. he claims the troops are tired of deploying, just going thru the motions now. at home station, even worse. he thinks most will defect back home if they have family. that said, the officer corp that i’ve talked to say “orders are orders”. when i retired 2 years ago, too many would follow orders w/out question as they were taught. from what i personally see when i visit my former troops, they are in no mood to go house to house in america. the cops i talk to, pretty much the same. family first, though you always have that tackleberry guy. i think hillary will call out the un troops. of course if they fight like they did in bosnia, my grandson can hold them off w/ his bb gun.
Like all the rest of us, Military and LEOs will ally with wherever the resources are that will keep them fed, watered, secure, and happy. If the govt is smart, they plan on provisioning enough military and law enforcement in a SHTF situation to keep their loyalty.
It is then a matter of simple economics. If you don’t have anything to offer the enforcers that would persuade them to abandon their lifeline, then don’t expect them to suddenly turn on their providers. Morals and ideals won’t feed kids. You might get a few who would consider it, but the vast majority will do what they are told by whoever keeps their bellies full.
Thats a good question, one that I have kicked around with several people, especially my son who is career military. I, as retired law enforcement and a responder to hurricanes etc, have seen both LEO’s and military “jump” for the chance to become heavy handed and push their “authority” beyond what is normal…that is if there is a norm. I would suspect that you WILL see older members of these agency’s stay the course for the Consitiution, protection of their familys and community. There will be a lot of the younger individuals who do not have what I call, “life experience”, continue to follow orders no matter what they are. I often feel a sense of responsibility for this, as my “generation” was mix in the attitude that our kids can do no wrong. Of course you still will have the “entitlement generations”..NOTE: I say generations. We have 3 and 4 generations of entitlement freeks out there..”You owe me”. Let’s face it. It will not be easy, lines in the sand will be drawn, tested and unfortunately, people will suffer the ultimate price. Yes..we are in one hell of a fix…Pray for the right answers, right people and common sense, IF that is still applicable. BE SAFE
We already saw this happen on a limited basis in New Orleans after Katrina. In my opinion police and military will fire on out of control groups or mobs. The real question is will they fire on armed law abiding Citizens? I don’t know.
The biggest problem being that most of the population doesn’t really know what the Constitution says and that spills over to our police and military. Most Veterans and police I know will be that armed citizen. So the biggest question mark is and will be; what will stupid do?
True liberal believers, will fire on you and that I’m sure of.
I would do my job until I could no longer do it for whatever reason, but would I fire on fellow citizens. The short answer is “Yes” if you are threatening my community, and family. We have a duty to protect those we serve; I would also enlist citizens to help maintain order. It would be impossible to maintain order without support of the community. So just like normal times where LEO have to use deadly force to protect themselves or a third party so would be the case in WROL. Now what I mean by doing my job is maintaining the peace as best I could, because it would be silly to think that we would be out writing traffic tickets in WROL. So our jobs would be limited to certain types of enforcement much like they are during any disaster. If the disaster was nationwide the response would still be local because the federal government does not have the means to deal with such an event no matter what people on the fringe think. Remember LE and the military only make up less than 1% of the U.S. population. There are also over 36000 different local, county, state, tribal, and federal LE agencies in this country. We currently do not work well together as it is now, so do you really think that would improve in WROL. The bottom line is we need the support of the people to do our jobs.
In my opinion, law enforcement will do what the can and perform how they have been trained to. The problem will lie in the fact that there are not nearly enough law enforcement officers to do the job (even when things are calm).
On the subject of military, it all depends on what they are called to do. Most people think of the National Guard or active military deploying to maintain or restore order. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of our military is not trained in crowd control, they are trained for combat. I expect this will result in an excessively violent reaction to any riot/looting type situation. Our military is highly competent and in a general sense a highly moral group of organizations and individuals. They will not stand idly by when people are doing the “wrong” thing. I do not think they will violently respond to peaceful protesters, but if people start throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at them, the response could get ugly.
I do not think the military would actively suppress political dissent, or oppress the general population. I do beleive they would support the government if people became so foolish as to start a revolt. You can expect a response from the military to be decisive. They are not in the buisness of loosing, and thier teamwork is the best in the world.
In any regard, these are my two cents
They will follow orders. See the experiments done by psychologists testing this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
Here’s another one: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2008/12/19/in-repeat-of-milgrams-electric-shock-experiment-people-still-pull-the-lever/ Let’s hope that our military/police will be prepared to expect something like this. If they are expecting it, perhaps they will be better prepared to deal with it. But if they did refuse, what would happen to them? That is probably one of the motivating factors to follow orders.
When I joined the military I already knew what my responsibility was and what I would do in “questionable” situations; I was going to obey orders anddo my job. It is impossible for individual soldiers to parse every order, question every motive and apply personal “peace time civilian” morals to situations where inaction may mean defeat of a nation or death of your fellow soldiers. Knowing ahead of time that propaganda would be used to dissuade me from doing my duty and that it is impossible for the grunt in the field to know the value or necessity of a specific action to the overall mission I would follow orders. The only exception would be that I would not kill a baby or child in cold blood and I would not follow a rogue leader. I would advocate for following proper procedures and following regulations but in general I woud follow my superior officers and NCO’s. An army cannot function otherwise.
As this relates to martial law very little changes. Anyone preventing a soldier or policeman from doing their legitimate job must be stopped, arrested, held, etc. and, yes, even shot. How could you restore order and protect the public otherwise??? When you see the pictures o the Rodney King riots and innocent civilians being killed and maimed don’t you wish there had been a police power there to stop it?? And if they were there wouldn’t they have had to use deadly force? So the difference is as simple as this; if the police (or military in the event of martial law) are doing the correct and legal thing then we most likely would all support it. If on the other hand they police or military do the wrong thing then they should be charged with a crime and tried in court.
I agree with some and disagree with others on this scenario and perhaps I have a different spin for others to consider. I believe there will be a minority of LEOs and military that will blindly follow orders and do whatever they are told to whomever they are directed to act against even if that included firing upon fellow American citizens. There are power hungry psychopaths, sadists, and delusional pseudo-patriots in all walks of life, including Law Enforcement and the military.
However, I do not think this represents the majority of our LEO and military communities. Most will just want to get home and protect their own families, friends, and communities to the best of their abilities and to the maximum extent of their training. Having spent 21 years in the military myself, I am 100% certain this is what I would do and I truly believe most would do the same.
This is where the twist comes in. THos that are running our country into the ground know this too. They are probably all too aware that the vast majority of the population, federal, state and local law enforcement, and total force military (Active, Reserve, and Guard) will not go along with this and cannot be counted on to further their lust for power and dominance over American citizens. So what do they do? I suggest that the only reliable forces that would enforce anti-Constitutional rules and would not hesitate to fire upon American citizens (including Patriotic LEO and military forces) would be foreign forces. Or rather, UN or NATO forces “invited” into the US by a globalist, power-hungry government. A case of getting someone else to do the dirty work you can’t find people in your ranks to do. Mercenaries. Guns-for-Hire. Call them what you will.
I realize this may sound conspiratorial but think about it, who else could be counted on to coldly enforce martial law, confiscate personal weapons, and potentially fire upon lawfully armed or unarmed American’s?
Anyway, this is a theory. Agree or disagree if you will. I do however firmly believe that a ruling class that is only interested in retaining power and status will use whatever resources they have at their disposal to maintain their position, even of that means selling their souls to the devil himself.
Sorry. Just noticed a few typos but I think you get the idea.
There is no doubt in my mind that for a long while, most groups of Law Enforcement Officers will conform, as will soldiers. Far more than we would like to ever admit. The whole issue will be presented as it was to the officers during Katrina, and the various authority figures will be told that to return to a Rule Of Law situation, drastic measures must be taken, and that everything will be restored afterwards (which we know is a lie). The standard grunt in the military has no real appreciation for what lies before him, and he will follow orders, being told that it’s a localized situation, and that the target is a rare exception. As he rolls down that road, he will continue to believe that it’s just getting worse, and that he needs to hold fast to what he is told.
I’m beginning to think that the hippies did have it right… Question Authority.
The folks who think the military/police will not fire on citizens are making one huge assumption. They are assuming that the military/police will know the truth regarding the situation. It is possible and even probable that thegovernment will LIE to the military/police (and anyone else, including the media) in order to get compliance. The truth is not always obvious. They may think they are firing on “bad guys” when actually they are not. Just a thought.
Rourke, I was trained to follow orders but at the same time I was also trained to disobey orders if they were not following military guidelines. The military has rules and regulations for just this reason. If you have reasonable doubt about your given orders then you need to follow up your chain of command and deal with it that way. As a trained military leader I would not and could not ask or expect my fellow soldiers to follow a command that involved firing on another American. That being said if that fellow American started firing at me I would turn around and shoot his ass dead.
I think we will see many service members leave their posts if it comes down to being asked to kill or interrogate an American citizen. As for taking their weapons it breaks the constitution of the United States and there for can not be a valid command. The military also has to operate within the confines of the Constitution. Law enforcement officers on the other hand I am not to sure of. You do have some cops that have an attitude of ” I have a badge and therefore I am the Law” and also others that just like to screw with people for fun. I have a tendency to have my doubts about law enforcement because of the excessive force I have seen them use on many occasions. If you want examples just go to YouTube and there a several hundred examples to watch.
The reaction to any attempted martial law will differ from governmental organization to private organization (contractors), county to county, city to city, block to block, etc. Metro areas have a different reality than rural or suburban areas. And the reasons for the martial will dictate the publics’ behavior. Godzilla showing up is different than the cartels taking over a boarder town, or an earthquake tearing LA down, NO and Katrina…
All the federal cops I know and have discussed it with said they wouldn’t and couldn’t (logistically speaking) confiscate guns. Most of the city cops I know don’t even live in the same city they work in, so I think they will go home to protect theirs, with their service weapons and forced multipliers, no doubt.
How many presidential administrations have spun intelligence or just made shit up to use violence against criminal organizations to legitimate government? So falsifying intelligence on American citizens can’t be off the table if not already happening.
It has been false flags that have lured us into foreign wars of the past. Domestic war is next. And with tools like the NDAA, they just put it on paper that you are a terrorist, and they can do whatever they want and don’t have to provide any documentation afterward because that is now classified intel. And with the use of drones increasing, there will be less and less people to involve to do evil bidding with cameras, mics, and precision guided missiles.
“Individuals are at risk of dying.” and “There’s nothing more important than the preservation of human life.” These are two bad cliches used just before the New Orleans Police department started stealing guns citizens and killing them.
I think, if it becomes a MAJOR SHTF scenario, that the real problem will occur 1 or 2 weeks after the collapse of the food delivery system.
At that point, I think you will see local politicians or police try to lay claim to whatever ‘goods’ or foodstuffs they can get, any way they can get it. They will be indiscriminate, unless you are one of their ‘insider’ friends. You will see them in large numbers going door to door demanding to search your homes, barns, sheds, outbuildings and such for anything they can get. It has happened in other areas of the world, and it WILL happen here.
If you are prepared, but they aren’t, you will be a target. You will be called a ‘hoarder’, then deprived of your stuff for their benefit. You better have a way to keep a low profile, be off the main lines they will be travelling, and have a sure way of keeping what you have worked for out of the hands of the ‘authorities’.
How you think about what may happen, what you plan for in advance, will determine your outcome and chances of survival. If they come, ‘under authority of’ whoever, will you submit? Will you let them just steal your chances of survival?
Or, will you have a ‘reliable backup system’? Let them find a bit of a cache of food or ammo or . . . , let them steal it (under protest), and yet still be secure?
Think now. Survive in the future. Be ready, as much as you can. You never know what the ‘authorities’ will do under pressure, though we have seen many examples – both good and bad.
I would like to slightly amend the topic as stated from the two groups (Police & Military) to three groups. The reasoning behind this is that there is a third group “that is neither fish nor fowl” in that the National Guard is neither fully military nor fully law enforcement though they at times fulfill both roles. When activated federally, National Guardsmen become a military force and (per Posse Comitatus) not permitted to enforce law within the boundaries of the US. However, the National Guard is typically NOT federally activated and as such falls under the command of the Governor of the State. Under the Governor, the National Guard can be utilized for law enforcement in either that state or in another state if invited by that state’s Governor.
Breaking it down
In a true WROL situation, I believe that civilian law enforcement will be short lived and enforcement by remaining LE’s possibly quite possibly brutal. This is NOT a reflection of law enforcement officers but rather the situation. I believe that many, if not most of civilian law enforcement will go AWOL for several reasons.
1. Family. Law enforcement officers are more likely to be married and have a family who are used to seeing them daily. Family members are not “taken care of” and safe inside a military base. While there is some support base for law enforcement families, it is not very much.
2. Food/Supplies. Civilian law enforcement will be under the same need for food as the rest of the civilian population. I’m unaware of any police departments stockpiling food. Even if they did, I’m quite sure that the city/county/town/etc would consider it fair game for the rest of the employees. Most police departments do not even have adequate supplies of ammunition on hand.
3. There is no requirement for law enforcement to actually go out and enforce the law or protect the civilian population. This means conserving their resources (IE. men & equipment) by placing officers in a spot to do the greatest good (that usually means protecting the municipality’s interests).
4. Support. The majority of Law enforcement officers are not set up, equipped or trained for extended deployments. They are set for 10-12 hr shifts. Short emergencies can change this, but it becomes impossible for extended deployments. Law enforcement agencies are NOT set up to support: meals/food, medical, housing, water procurement, supplies, ammunition drops, etc. Individual officers must provide all this themselves in addition to their “duty work.” Medical response for them is incumbent on entirely separate organizations. Also many of those organizations will also be AWOL due to individual safety concerns and the same issues that face LEOs.
5. Discipline. While law enforcement has discipline, it is not to the degree of military discipline. It is primarily the discipline of the individual, not the group.
6. Cohesion. Law enforcement is primarily made up of individual officers. With the exception of specialized teams (SWAT/NARC Raids/etc), LEOs must function independently. Training is primarily that of the individual and occasionally with a single partner. Training beyond that of a second officer is usually non-existent or practiced so seldom that it remains useless. There is a reason that tactical teams train often together. While LEOs may work with the same people on their shifts often, it is not the same as the cohesiveness found in groups that train exclusively and often.
In contrast, the Military is an entirely different animal.
1. Family. Family members are used to their military member leaving for long periods of time. As such, both formal and informal support groups are already in place to help families “left behind.” The Military devotes extensive resources to support their military’s families.
2. Food. The Military stockpiles food PERIOD. It is for their exclusive use PERIOD. They stockpile weapons, ammunition, medical gear, clothing, blankets, forks, spoons, EVERYTHING! And the best way to maintain continuity of Government is to control the supplies.
3. There is still no requirement for the Military to protect you or enforce the laws. But there is a requirement for them to maintain the Continuity of Government at pretty much all costs (and that entails a lot of areas and leaves a lot of wiggle room to do what you want).
4. Support. The military has support down pat. Not only do they stockpile everything, but they have the equipment and manpower in place with the organization to get needed materials to the soldier in the field. The closest the modern military soldier comes to having to procure and prepare food is when opening an MRE in the field. Facilities are set up by other military personnel to equip them with medical, housing, sanitation, maintenance, etc.
5. Discipline. Discipline is enforced by the group in much of the military complex. When in doubt, orders are usually followed. There is usually no worry of being sued civilly or even criminally.
6. Cohesion. The military STARTS by breaking the individual down to make them a part of the unit. They live, eat, work, play, fight, bleed and die together.
While I hope that many will either go AWOL or refuse to follow an order if given an illegal order, I believe that many will remain. At least enough that the remaining ones will still be a significant force to be reckoned with.
The National Guard is in a class all by itself. They have many of the assets of the Military listed above. While many may not respond to the order to appear because they are concerned for their family. Many will. In addition, they are empowered by their State’s Governor to legally operate within their state. While their Supplies and Support are not as great as the Military (when not activated Federally), they are still set up better than any other civilian organization. Unit Cohesion is usually not as firm when initially activated, but it can be developed and strengthened quickly (just getting back into practice).
As for my initial comment about the possibility of LEOs enforcement becoming possibly quite possibly brutal, I believe that this will primarily happen in smaller locals. Possibly strengthened by civilian posses or community groups. With smaller resources and fewer man-power, the safer response is typically a stronger one. Remember, in a WROL, it is unlikely that there are going to be working jails. So remaining LEOs will have to enforce their own brand of “frontier justice” in order to have any law at all. Face it, there aren’t going to be many DUI check points operating. And using a “triage” of what calls to answer….I suspect only serious issues will be dealt with. Backup will become non existent without community support (posses). It therefore becomes highly likely that in order to “go home alive” after a call, an attitude of “shoot first, shoot often” becomes a way of dealing with much.
Much will depend on individual strengths and weaknesses. But in a real WROL, it becomes one of survival first, law second (or even a distant fifth!!!)
I believe that the active duty military could be sent to any given city and perform Martial Law as ordered to quell riots, protect key infrastructure (hospital, fire departments, shopping malls, etc). I believe that they would react with whatever force necessary to protect themselves. Active Duty soldiers would not be worrying about the safety of their dependents if they were living securely on post. They would not recognize the people causing the social unrest. I think that the National Guard would be different story. They have a greater chance of knowing folks in the unruly crowd, as they are in many cases from the same area that they are protecting. Also, many National Guard troops would not be in the ranks. First, NG soldiers that hold civilian jobs as police, firemen, EMTs and even prison guards are not always used in state emergencies. Their civilian occupation trumps their Guard duty. Second, they would be more likely to neglect their duty to secure their home and protect their families. Remember, the Active Duty troops are already in uniform awaiting orders. NG soldiers must go to the armory to draw their weapons, then fan out from there. Too often, we look at social unrest just through our own eyes, as law abiding citizens. If you try to take the mindset of the real folks who riot, loot, rob, kill (the 1992 LA vermin), you may understand why Martial Law is directed. From our computer keyboards, it is easy for us to say that we would NEVER fire on fellow American citizens, no matter who ordered us to. Trust me, it is an entirely different story facing an unruly mob. When I watch the violence erupting at these “Occupy Wall Street” rallies, I wonder how the police (who are trained to deal with riots) contain themselves. Try to picture yourself outnumbered 10 to 1, projectiles flying at you, hundreds of violent protesters yelling obscene gestures about you and your family, spitting and throwing shit at you, gunshots muffled by the noise of the crowd, etc. And then, the cop or soldier next to you goes down from a flying brick. There is a hole in the line as the crowd breaks through. You are desperate not to let the rioters get into your perimeter, cutting you off from the security of the group and surrounding you. Most folks would fire their weapons. I know that I would. My heart is beating a mile a minute now, just thinking about it. Now, I am NOT trying to justify Martial Law! I am just saying that we cannot make moral judgments on the level of force authorized or the constitutionality of using the military against the populous. I have said it before: I fear one ATF agent standing at my door ASKING for my guns more than 50 robbers around my house plotting to steal them. From what I have seen of previous riots and social unrest, I’m confident that I would be blasting away. I say that as a retired Army First Sergeant with over 30 years of service.
1. Katrina demonstrated that cops, most army plus ANG, and mercenaries will attack Americans.
2. Only a few ANG objected to clearly illegal orders after Katrina.
3. The U.S. Army has already war gamed armed rebellion against the federal government several times. I have not seen the full report on any of the games, but the results in all cases have allegedly been the same: American rebels defeat the U.S. military. Even in scenarios where nuclear strikes are (notionally) used against rebellious population centers. I suspect the butcher bill is a bit higher in the nuke scenarios.
I didn’t real all the comments but I will tell you now. The police and the military will do what is expected of them by their superiors. I know we all want to think that they will rebel against doing something morally repugnant but human history and scientific experiment says differently. I would point out Germany in WWII, Cambodia, My Lai, the prisoner/guard experiment, the “learning through electro shock” experiment test and I could go on with a hundred or more examples that most of you should be familiar with but I don’t think I need to. There will be some individuals who will not go along but they will quickly be replaced with someone who will obey the orders. Those committing repellant acts will suffer with their guilt but they WILL do what is commanded of them just as most of the people here that voice an opposing opinion would also do despite any protests they may voice today. If anyone wishes to argue my view, I’ll respond but I suppose Ive already said enough to get me in trouble. You better hope you have the right leaders in office but you won’t know until SHTF.
Per your instructions Rourke the ENTIRE COUNTRY IS WITHOUT POWER? In that case I think all bets are off. Nothing like that has ever happened in modern history where a large and powerful country is brought to it’s knees quickly from coast to coast.
That scenario is not a short lived or localized natural disaster, that’s basically Armageddon. I think most local Law Enforcement would try to go home to take care of their own families. Military people might not be able to do that because they are spread all over the country. Some Military would probably rally behind a high ranking leader they know and trust and do whatever he tells them to.
Honestly, in that scenario where the ENTIRE country is without power, I hate to put this in print but I would probably shoot anyone trying to disarm me.
I’ve spent 9 years total in the Army and 35 yrs as a civilian LEO. My son is a currently serving Sr. NCO. We’ve discussed this several times over the years. It is my belief that many LEOs and about 20% of the armed forces would, in fact, turn on the American people.
Cops need their paychecks. They have car payments, house payments, CC payments etc. There have been many examples of LEOs brutalizing citizens, abusing their authority, “bending the law” to justify their belief that citizens are composed of three type: Assholes, dummies and good guys. Unfortunately, they have already turned in many instances.
Ultimately, what will determine the outcome is when enough military/LEO’s realize that their families are at greater risk by they being on the gov’t side than if they stand with the people. I’m not real optimistic. There will be casualties on both sides.
Upon reading some of the responses about how some believe the military and law enforcement would just walk away from their duty in a WROL. I find this belief just odd, even during Katrina a lot of NOPD officers stayed on even though the mayor fled and some of their fellow officers went off the reservation. I challenge these people who make such off the wall claim about the military to show me a time in our country’s history where this has happened on any large scale or heck even at a platoon level for that matter. We fought a civil war for God sake and Americans lined up to kill each other. I just do not see it happening with the military on a large scale. Will some go AWOL sure they do it now, but will entire units just disappear into the night, I do not think so. I think the troops will follow order just like they do now because that is what they are trained to do. A private is not going to stand up and say “general I think your wrong and I am leaving”. I think a firing squad will be ordered for that private, just as we did up until the end of World War II. So while it is a fun and an interesting exercise I do not see it happening short of an asteroid strike or worldwide virus that takes out 80% of the population.
I’m a three tour Navy Nam vet as well as a retired police chief and LEO firearms instructor, who worked SWAT for eight years. I do not think that the police in this country will fire on American citizens but there will be exceptions depending on the location and the individual circumstances. In the less free, more regimented, socialistic areas of the country the likelihood is great that the cops will overreact and forget their oath with a resulting loss of civilian life.
It depends on what we are talking about…
If it is a nation wide issue, then I think the police will initially comply (for a few days and weeks) and some military (mostly weekend warriors) will comply, but as things get worse, the police will go awol, and the remaining troops won’t be sufficient to maintain anything more than a government foot hold focused on essential areas (i.e. not my back yard). In a nation wide event America will find that most of its troop strength is abroad and that what is left, along with the police will be ineffective in dealing with the break down of the rule of law. I agree that many of our actual fighting men (overseas) would not obey illegal laws, plus by the time they are PCSed back stateside many would desert just because their family needed them…
In contrast, a localized event is bad news, because the resources of the whole country could be brought to bear. Especially when the Government continues to have resources and the perceived power to “fix” things I worry that many of the troops and police, like many of our citizens, believe that the ends justify the means…
If Fuel shipments stopped coming, Miltary and Civil Law enforcement would be powerless. The Military would unable to move troops and equipment necessary to restore order. Its likley that the gov’t would be forced to abandon much of the country to fend for themselves, and used its few resources to secure strategic interests. Foriegn powers may use the opportunity to seize control of vital US interests (ie oil fields in the Middle East and Africa). It might be the majority of US miltary assets will be forced to remain deployment overseas to prevent loss of control in strategic forieign assets. If the entire US grid is down, then the fuel stops, Fuel distribute absolutely relies on electricity. Not just to run the fuel pumps at the local gas station, but to power the pumps in the pipelines, and run the refineries. No Power means no more fuel!
Consider after Katrina hit, it was many days before the Federal gov’t brought in resources. If the entire country is in a grid down, I can’t imagine how the would be able to moblize on a large scale. Especially since a large amount of military assets are already deployed in the Middle East, and would take weeks to reach America if the gov’t choose to pull out immediately. Consider the time it would take to load the equipment on ships and sail them half way around the world, and even if they arrived, how would they get fuel transported to non-coastal regions? Perhaps they would be able to transport fuel barges up rivers, and use trucks to transport tankers, but it will extremely difficult to move fuel trucks when the streets are flooded with refugees, and damaged roads and other issues surrounding chaos.
Another significant risk in a major grid down scenario is the 120+ nuclear sites with spend fuel pools that need power 7/24/365 to prevent a release of radioactive materials into the environment. Nuclear sites only store 5 days of fuel onsite for cooling the SFP’s. After that, the water starts boiling away leading to exposed fuel rods in 48 to 96 hours. The SPF would be worse than 120 Nukes going off because they will release far more radioactive material. Nukes have kilograms of radioactive materials. A SFP has kilotons of radioactive material. I would worry less about the LEO and military, and much more about those SPFs. Perhaps your downwind of one!
There is also a risk that transportation routes will be deliberately destroyed to contain mass in major urban cities from speading from the countryside. I could see state and local officials choosing to blow up bridges to prevent their regions or towns from getting flooded by refugees fleeing major population centers. As in Katrina, LEOs set up road blocks to prevent refugees from entering there towns. I don’t see the Federal gov’t or military coming to aid refugees. Although I doubt blowing up bridges would stop the wave after wave of refugees fleeing cities, perhaps delay them. They would find away, even if that means swimming across rivers, or simply walking around the barrier. If you live in the Suburbs, your biggest issue after the Spent Fuel pools is the golden horde from the big cities. These people will be hungry and desperate, and they will risk their own lives to acquire food, water and shelter anyway they can. They will be armed and extremely dangerous and a few dozen LEOs in the area will not have the resources to hold them off, especially when the pour into the countryside to avoid roadblocks or other attempts to prevent entry. People will want to leave the cities quickly after a grid down. Fires will breakout caused by arson, looting, vandalism. The Stench from waste will quickly drive people way, espically during warm weather. Lack of water and food will also be a strong driver for people to leave.
Then there is the risk of a nuclear attack by foreign powers. Both China and Russia as well as smaller countries may use the opportunity to attack the mainland of the USA so they can remove the US as a global power. The best time to attack an enemy is when they have already fallen down. They may even choose to team up against America. Their interest will not be to come to the aid of the US, but use every means available to remove American global power from the planet.
Next on the list is pandemics. Without access to clean water, food, and medical services, its very likely regional pandemics will break out in a few weeks to a couple of months after the event. Recall there are people always people sick with contagious diseases that are treated with antibiotics and medical services. The lost of these resources will quickly release these diseases and they will spread rapidly in dense population centers. Lack of clean water and poor nutrition will weaken immune systems, leading to high infection rates. Refugees carrying contagions will transport diseases outside of the major cities.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. On a scale 100 to 1, I rate the potential actions of Military and LEO as 1, the least thing to worry about. Worry about the top issues I discussed.
As a 27 year military veteran I can assure you that we train all our servicemen and women to only accept lawful orders. There are legitimate and lawful reasons to use the military within the US. The most important thing is to elect civilian leadership that doesn’t streeeeeetch the definition of what is lawful. Stretching the definition of what is lawful will confuse some and there are opportunists in every formation…but every soldier, sailor, airman and marine is taught how to refuse the unlawful order.
After reading every single comment & post above as well as what I have seen & experienced in my life (so far), I feel the need to say that I beleive all of you are right (for the most part).
As many of you have stated, much of a person’s actions & reactions greatly depend on the situation/senario, location, weather conditions, etc…
But I do believe there will always be “those that do” & “those that don’t”, as well as those that just try to “hermitize & defend” (hide & make sure that they & their families stay safe & survive). I come from a long line of military/law enforcement and know for a fact that WTSHTF, some will become brutal & caotic, some will become skiddish cowards & kill anything or anyone that moves just to save his own skin, some will stand their ground, and some will even call it quits and end thier own lives so as not to have to endure the troubles & hardships ahead. Some will even sacrifice their entire family along with their own.
So, what do I think the military/Gvt./LEO as well as the civilian population will do?
1. Declare Martial Law
2. Resist Martial Law
3. Kill, murder, die
5. Aid & Assist (help others)
6. Protect what is theirs
7. Unlawfuly take (steal)
8. Willingly give
9. Try to be a modern day “Robin Hood” (take & give)
10. Run, hide, evade, freak-out
11. Turn to God-showing faith (and some will turn from God-losing faith)
But most of all. . . SURVIVE
Then in the aftermath of all the caos & turmoil, when things (and people) calm down, most of them (if not all) will try to rebuild their lives and restore some sort of order & semblence as they once knew. All the-while, trying to let “FREEDOM RING”.
As a retired Army Master Sergent I say shame on those who think our soldiers would turn on their own. Our military members not only take a professional oath but a personal moral one as well. Soldiers are trained to follow lawful orders, but those orders better have a basis in morality. The men and woman who choose to stand in harms way for this country do so for many reasons but I insure you its not to attack their own people. Your military is trained by a cadre of senior NCOs who themselves have come up thru the ranks and lead by both technical expertise as well as moral character. Less than one half of one percent of the U.S. population ever serves in the military, the rest I like to call them the 99.5 percent so their knowledge of how our fine young patriots are taught and lead is not obtained from first hand experience but sadly from second and third party sources such as the people from fantasy land like Hollywood and of course our unbiased media. This is the time in our country that we should spend more time questioning politicians not patriots. God Bless
I guess I ruffled your feather their 3rdman, we or I should say I are not talking about illegal actions taken by a very small few. Atrocities will happen in war which are never to be condoned. I think your missing the point and that being idea that the U.S. military would be use to repress the American population. Would our troops fire upon hostile individuals or groups to protect a civilian population, you bet they will Thanks for the links you provided. I am very familiar with many of these events as well as most professional soldiers, we study them while learning the law of land warfare. Oh by the way to answer your question, I served in the U.S. Army for over 20 years in Special Ops. and Military Intel. What branch of service did you say you served in. God Bless and Rangers Lead the Way…..
“As a retired Army Master Sergent I say shame on those who think our soldiers would turn on their own. Our military members not only take a professional oath but a personal moral one as well. Soldiers are trained to follow lawful orders, but those orders better have a basis in morality”
It is amazing everyone who every served was Spec Ops these day. Which makes me wonder because you do not even know how to spell “Sergeant”. I guess you can be whoever you want to be from behind a keyboard on the internet. If you were then great, but the fact remains we have a lot of criminal acts committed by military personnel. Heck Dan posted a link that said the DOD said there were approximately 19,000 sexual assaults committed by Military personnel in 2010 alone. My ruffled feathers come from you saying shame on is and your blanket statement about morals and following lawful order. My point was to indicate that fact was not an accurate statement. If you were Spec Ops than you may even remember the SF guy stealing weapons from the armory and throwing them over the fence at Fort Bragg, moral and legal issue there. The fact is there are currently approximately 2300 military prisoners in military prisons or in care of FBP. These do not include any military personnel that received a less than honorable discharge as their only punishment.
What does make our military so exceptional is it chain of command to civilian authority. Unlike a lot of the world we have never had to worry about a military takeover of the government. As for the service it is over 3 generations and I currently have a son in law serving in the Marine Corps. I have a love for the military but I do not let that cloud my view of the facts. The fact is we have problems is every sector of society and the military and law enforcement in no exception. Law Enforcement has had its share of civil rights violation issues but I am not aware of any mass murder incidents committed by LE in this country. As for my current role in life I am LE and again “Yes” I would fire on American citizens if they present a threat that I believe would lead to serious bodily injury or death to a 3rd party, my family, or myself. They have to meet these elements, no exceptions on my part or on the part of the officers I know and have worked with. The fact is we do know that some elements of the military will based on their history up to division level.
From General Pattons’s diary dated January 4, 1945
“The Eleventh Armored is very green and took unnecessary losses to no effect. There were also some unfortunate incidents in the shooting of prisoners. I hope we can conceal this.”
So much for morals “unfortunate incidents” and “I hope we can conceal this”
Also this will be my last post on the topic to avoid this become anymore of a pissing match, but if you like you can contact me via my blog and I can link you to someone who can verify your SF claim.