Police militarisation in the United States has seen some police forces in the US as heavily armed as army units anyway. So, why can’t the army help out?

Well, the thing is, they actually can, but under very specific and limited circumstances. It’s a common misconception by some that the US Armed forces cannot enforce the law under any circumstances. Under times of insurrection, armed revolt or extreme lawlessness. One example of this was how members of the 1st Marine Division, 7th Infantry Division and the California Army National Guard were drafted in to respond to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. The reason we rarely see the US Army help out with police work is because it is only under very extreme circumstances that they are actually legally allowed to restore order.

Why is it so difficult for the Army to help?

To answer this we have to look at how and why a soldier is trained the way they are compared to a Law Enforcement officer. A soldier is trained primarily to kill or maim to achieve an objective against an enemy of their country. A police officer is trained to maintain the law of their own country within their own country and with their fellow citizen. This means that killing must only be used when theirs or someone else’s life is under real and genuine threat.

From this we can deduce logically that generally a soldier, while still a soldier, cannot possibly understand the doctrine of “reasonable force” because the only force they know how to use is lethal. It therefore seems good sense to restrain military policing unless absolutely necessary. In the United States this is enshrined in the coupling of the Posse Commitatus Act and the Insurrection Act which herein set out the parameters needed for soldiers to be deployed to do police work.

From 2006 to 2007, it was actually a lot easier for the President to make use of the armed forces on US soil. An amendment to the Insurrection Act allowed the President to deploy federal troops in the case of a terrorist attack on domestic soil to restore law and order. However this was repealed the year after as it was seen that it was unnecessarily simple for the President to wield the power of the armed forces.

Why were these laws created?

The foundation of these laws come behind the inherent American fear of a tyrannical executive in control of the US Federal Army. It restricted the President’s ability to deploy US Troops (under the President’s control as Commander-In-Chief) on US Soil to a set of parameters. An example of the legislative branch, driven by a fear of the executive, limiting what it can do.

Furthermore, one element of the restrictions of Posse Comitatus is that for National Guardsmen, called up for active federal duty by the President, or federal US Troops to be deployed onto US soil the permission or request of the relevant state governor is required. Although this is not necessarily true in all cases, if a state is acting unconstitutionally, as was the case during the 1957 Little Rock school crisis, the President can use federal troops to enforce the constitution. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower did with the 101st Airborne Division.

It’s all a little complicated, isn’t it?

Well, yes. Nearly every single restriction of the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act has exceptions associated with it. But it serves a purpose. It serves the wider idea that the Armed forces of a liberal state should not intervene with Police work as a matter of routine. It serves to ensure that, without a good and proper reason, the executive cannot deploy the armed forces against US citizens. An underlying theme that is sustained across the US Constitution and statute book – that no individual branch should wield too much power without the consent o the other two branches.

What happens if soldiers are deployed illegally?

Well it can be assumed that any President who orders soldiers be deployed in violation of the two acts would be liable for impeachment. In regards to the soldiers, section 15 of the Posse Comitatus Act states:

“any person willfully violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or imprisonment not exceeding two years or by both such fine and imprisonment”

This was applied in 2009 when members of the U.S. Army military Police Corps were deployed to a town in Alabama in response to a murder spree. The Governor of Alabama did not request assistance nor did President Obama authorise their deployment, and as such the soldiers deployed were in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act and received ‘Administrative Actions’ against them.

26 COMMENTS

  1. The reality here is that in the US, the US Military is bound by the Posse Comitatus Act and The Insurrection Act of 1807 and Can’t deploy Federal Troops unless ordered by the US President. The only exception to the rule is the US Army National Guard and US Air National Guard that are under state Control and the Governor of the state. The only Military branch that is excluded from the Posse Comitatus Act and The Insurrection Act of 1807 is the United States Coast Guard and that is because they are a Dual Federal Law Enforcement and Military branch. The US Coast Guard enforces federal laws within its jurisdiction, even when operating as a service within the U.S. Navy. The Posse Comitatus clarifications emphasize supportive and technical assistance (e.g., use of facilities, vessels, and aircraft, as well as intelligence support, technological aid, and surveillance) while generally prohibiting direct participation of Department of Defense personnel in law enforcement (e.g., search, seizure, and arrests). For example, a U.S. Navy vessel may be used to track, follow, and stop a vessel suspected of drug smuggling, but the US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETs) embarked aboard the Navy vessel would perform the actual boarding and, if needed, arrest the suspect vessel’s crew.

  2. Well in a terrorist situation the U.S police simply don’t need the army’s help. As we have a finite amount of armed officers, unlike America?

  3. Well in a terrorist situation the U.S police simply don’t need the army’s help. As we have a finite amount of armed officers, unlike America.

  4. During the recent bout of statue destruction, a Texan chief of police put out a notice advising that, in Texas, citizens have the right to use firearms to protect third party property, so people destroying memorials shouldn’t expect any further warning. Antifa seem to have heeded the warning.

  5. Because it’s a technicality in the US. I have some American friends who proudly hold it up like it’s some invaluable defense against tyranny until I laugh and point out that their police force is tooled up like special forces and their national guard, who the rule doesn’t apply to, is bigger than most armies.

    • It’s more than a “technicality” Englishman. The Constitution is the heart of the Republic. It represents everything that is dear to Americans. Since you’re not American, and most likely English, you wouldn’t understand the freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution.
      Yes, police forces are well armed. We have very dangerous criminals in the US that have to dealt with specialized units, like SWAT. The “tools” they use are just evolutionary, better than what they carried in years past. Civilians can buy the same equipment; body armor, chest rigs, helmets, and yes….GUNS. That’s a real sticking point for you English. I have access to the same guns that police use. In fact the police sell their used guns at discounted prices. They’ve got good deals on Glocks and M&Ps.
      The National Guard comes in handy in natural disasters and the like. They are made up of people usually from the area they are activated and deployed in. They are usually activated by the governor of a state. Their roles are carefully defined and controlled.

  6. I’d say the US police forces are pretty good with lethal force whenever they fancy or if they simply don’t like your skin colour.

    The American obsession with guns is beyond retarded. They’re so worried about terrorists but they successfully off each other in record numbers every year.

    • Perhaps you should provide statistics. The calling police racist may sound good to your friends at university but in the real world. It makes you sound like a sheep waiting to be shorn or slaughtered as case may be. Take your Marxist SJW opinions and put them where the sun doesn’t shine.
      Mine and my countrymens obsession of guns is pragmatic. Your obsession with denying the right to self-defense is denying essential liberty.
      “Extremism in the name of liberty is never a vice.”- Sen. Barry Goldwater.

      • Elliott – Whetehr it is racism I don’t know but the fact remains and is proven often that a black person in the USA is 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed than a white person. White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/?utm_term=.8f461841ddfc

        I hope those statistics are good enough to at least make the point. So your personal and childish abuse towards be02ese is just that – childish. And consider this: US POlice in the first 3 months of this year shot more people than every UK Police Force did in the last 20 years. And no please do not peddle the NRA crap about us having more violent crime. we don’t. And that is despite us classifying more crime as ‘violent’.

        Now to your point Americans usually make when trying to defend their indefensible addiction to guns. It is only ‘pragmatic’ because it is a self feeding prophesy of fear. If there were no guns you wouldn’t need them. As we and our Police do not. But you maintained your 2nd Amendment long after its sell by date and it is now abused by the NRA and others to promote gun ownership. And yet in that Amendment it only supports militia raising arms (do correct me if I am wrong) by saying:
        “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”

        Of course it copied the UK Bill of Rights from the 1600s which we repealed when it became pointless. We still maintained the right to self defence and if necessary to kill people in that aim. People with registered arms can use them in self defence. But we are sensible enough to realise that if you flood the population with guns more people will be killed. Night follows day. So where is your ‘essential liberty’ when you in the States are 35 times more likely to be shot and killed than I am in the UK. That is some liberty! Defenceless? No we just don’t feel the need create a situation where we have to carry shooters to protect ourselves from others … err .. carrying shooters!

        And anyway with our Parliamentary Monarchy and a non political Head of State we have no need of militias either. Any ‘tyrannical’ Parliament will be prorogued by Her Majesty and a General Election called thus returning democratic power to the people in a peaceful way.

        Oh and the fact you quoted that racist, segregationist, KKK supporting fruitcake Barry Goldwater just holed your argument below the waterline. Only in ‘MURICAAA’ would such an abomination of a man find election to the Senate.

        • You do realize that Barry Goldwater was from Arizona and from the Libertarian wing of the Republican Party. So a little hard to make a case for him being a KKK supporting segregationist is a little rich. His opinion on the Civil Rights Act of 64 was that it would lead to quotas, continued racial resentment, and diminishing the independence of both individuals and state governments. Considering he also was throughout his Senatorial career one of the most fervent supporters of NATO. I find it yet again another example of it doesn’t matter how much an American does for Europe or the UK he will be disrespected.
          On statistics of use of force 13% of the population that also commits 52-53% of the murder in a given year. Go check the FBI unified crime report for the DOJ. Kinda ups the chances of being shot by the police. As everybody’s daddy used to say,”Play stupid games win stupid prizes.”

          Your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is not shared by the Supreme Court of the United States in multiple rulings. See the Founders in their wisdom inserted a comma separating Militia from ,”the right of the people to keep and bear arms,shall not be infringed. This the Supreme Court decided meant a individual right. Especially when combined with the Founders own statements in other documents. The difference between the 1600 UK Bill of Rights and the US Bill of Rights is the Constitution and Attached Bill of Rights in the US has muscle. It is not a Bill of We Promise you can trust us, that can be removed by one act of parliament. If the 2nd Amendment were antiquated then 2/3 of the states would have saw the need to change it. If you think a elected government cannot act in a tyrannical and totalitarian way your quite deluded. On another note enjoy the acid attacks, meat cleavers, machetes, grooming gangs, bombs, and trucks of peace but hey at least they don’t have guns. Oh wait that’s right the criminals still do. The only guns confiscated were from people dumb enough to register them and believe the government when they said there would be no confiscation.

          Trying to convince a man born in a Republic of the superiority of monarchy constitutional or otherwise is a losing proposition. The idea of hereditary political power is going to be found antiquated and elitist.

          • Elliott – Goldwater was a racist. Period. And his support for NATO was based on his alliance with the US arms industry more than a love of Europe. So yes I will disrespect him but you of course have to play the victim and distort it to make out its us ‘Europeans’ being disrespectful to ‘MURICAAA’. Goldwater was not America! We realise you Yanks do a lot. But we also know to our cost you do diddley squat that isn’t in your sole interest. Which I actually respect and I wish we were as insular sometimes.

            Yes we have violent idiots here in the UK as you do in the USA. I never denied that. The difference is it is harder for them here to shoot dozens of people and children in schools. Here is a little statistic for you:
            For every US one soldier killed in Afghanistan 13 children were killed by Americans using guns in the USA.

            I am not sure I would try and defend that but I am sure you will.

            You then of course peddle the exaggerated view we have ‘machetes’ on every street (one such attack), that ‘acid attacks’ are happening every lunchtime and endless bombs. You are either deluded, poorly informed or just an idiot. You choose.

            And yes bombs: Well we did have 30 years of IRA bombs that killed thousands of people and did far more damage than any Islamic idiot will ever do courtesy of NORAID funding for the IRA in the USA. (I won’t give you a lecture on why we have Islamic Militants as I suspect your American short attention span won’t last that long). But we stuck it through those 30 years and won. As we did the Blitzkreig in WWII. Its something we do

            And I was not trying to convince you of anything let alone the superiority of our Monarchy (which it is). And which by the way actually has NO political power at all. Again are you deluded, poorly informed or an idiot? Again you choose. I was simply pointing out that however badly a Parliament is it can be peacefully removed and a new Parliament elected by the people making ‘militias’ unnecessary. And by inference a 2nd Amendment if we had such an abomination.

            And lastly don’t say it can’t be repealed because you had Prohibition in your 18th Amendment and that was repealed. Some might say the 18th killed fewer people than the 2nd. The problem is you are incapable of getting rid of guns because a) the NRA would go to war and b) everyone would say ‘After you first!’. As I said a self fulfilling prophesy of fear.

          • Well aware of the monarchy’s lack of power. You are the one who brought it up. Just as I am aware of the fact you held them up as an example of a non political head of state.
            Won after those thirty years? With political apparatachiks letting assainsans and murders out of prison. While attempting to imprison the soldiers they themselves or their party’s put in those positions. Allowing the Republic of Ireland through out the Troubles escape any true retribution while supporting terrorist activities at the UN and providing the IRA a safe haven. Allowing political parties whose sole rationale for existing is dissolution of your Nation. I would really hate to see losing if this is winning.

          • Elliott – You said:
            “The idea of hereditary political power …”
            So you are now contradicting yourself in your attempts to extricate from your blunder.

            Now I know the concept is foreign to an American but we didn’t actually believe bombing the [email protected] out of Dublin, removing their Taoiseach and President and then invading Eire was actually a very constructive way of removing the IRA from the equation. Now if you want a further lecture on the Good Friday Agreement I can surely offer one. I probably have more personal knowledge than you will ever have Old Son so you may want to back your truck out of this right now as well.

            But you see all that was your attempt to divert attention away from the central discussion – Guns, Police and the consequent unnecessary death toll in US civilian society. I see you couldn’t defend that cruel statistic of 13 CHILDREN killed by Americans with guns for every ONE US soldier killed in Afghan. When did all your guns stop the events in San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Columbine or these other 191 incidents in just 17 years of this Century just involving guns and students?
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States#21st_century

            And you want an American view?
            https://youtu.be/O0f_nFKVoyQ

            OK so its wiki and the YT was from 2015 but they make the point which is guns didn’t stop it. They were the cause. And it is utterly indefensible.

            Quote:
            “Allowing political parties whose sole rationale for existing is dissolution of your Nation. I would really hate to see losing if this is winning”
            Now again I know its a foreign concept in 21st century Trump USA but we have, since 1215, believed in Freedom of Expression and Association amongst other inalienable rights. So the fact that I despise Sinn Fein or I think the SNP are bunch of hypocrites and I think Plaid Cymru has a lost argument I defend totally their rights to make their case and especially when they achieve an electoral mandate. We DID win because we dragged the likes of Sinn Fein into the political and democratic process rather than the bomb and the Armalite and saved lives in that process. We are now a lot safer than when you people were sending your Dollars to fund a bunch of IRA murdering bastards kill and maim thousands of British and Irish citizens and we had to watch the likes of Kennedy smile when they did.

        • @ Chris Holy flipping pancakes! Here we go again. Every time guns are brought up you English go apeshit. I swear if you ever go near a gun you’d have a meltdown.

          Let’s get this out of the way first: Do not lecture Americans on their Constitutional rights. Okay. You English were very good at lecturing Americans so much that we decided to go to war with you and gain our independence. We do whatever the hell we want. If you don’t like it eat shit.

          Now onto the other BS you wrote.
          For the record most people killed by cops are white and hispanics. The media highlights the shootings of blacks because it fits their left wing race narratives. Washington Post has an agenda. Guess which one?

          “US POlice in the first 3 months of this year shot more people than every UK Police Force did in the last 20 years.”

          Are you talking about the “POlice” or the police? Listen Brit. The US has over 324 million people compared to your 65 million. The USA is 37.92 times larger in geographic size than the UK for Pete’s sake. It has a very diverse demographic of people and cultures. Much, much more than the UKs. We border Mexico and the rest of Central and Southern America. Those countries, like Mexico, has some of the highest crime on Earth. Mexico has a Cartel war ongoing. Those same Cartels operate in the US. Other Central American gangs work inside the US. They along with the other homegrown gangs and organized crime orgs are responsible for the a lot of the violence in the US. There is a drug war in the US that fuels the violence. Our culture is far different than the UK. So don’t compare the two countries. It’s like comparing a 18 wheeler to a Kia.

          “Now to your point Americans usually make when trying to defend their indefensible addiction to guns. It is only ‘pragmatic’ because it is a self feeding prophesy of fear. If there were no guns you wouldn’t need them.”

          Wat???????

          “But you maintained your 2nd Amendment long after its sell by date and it is now abused by the NRA and others to promote gun ownership. And yet in that Amendment it only supports militia raising arms (do correct me if I am wrong) by saying:
          “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”

          The Bill of Rights are not expired you dumb brit. Those rights mean everything to Americans. We have rights you don’t have. The 2nd Amendment helps protect the right of the INDIVIDUAL to arm themselves. This is supported by Supreme Court and just about every American, minus liberal nuts. People own guns not because the NRA makes them, it’s because they want to own them and can. There are between 100 to 150 million gun owners in the US. Most don’t commit crime. Most are not members of the NRA, but they support the 2nd Amendment. Like myself.

          “Of course it copied the UK Bill of Rights from the 1600s which we repealed when it became pointless.”

          And there’s your problem…….you have no Bill of Rights.

          “We still maintained the right to self defence and if necessary to kill people in that aim. People with registered arms can use them in self defence.”

          Like hell you do. In England you own guns for self defense. It’s not lawful. If you tell the police, ‘I want to own guns to protect myself’, you’d never get a FAC. The rules are very strict on how guns can be used in the UK. If by chance you do shoot someone in self defense….God help you. The courts would have a field day with you.

          “So where is your ‘essential liberty’ when you in the States are 35 times more likely to be shot and killed than I am in the UK.”

          You don’t have to worry about brit. You live in the fucking UK!

          “That is some liberty! Defenceless? No we just don’t feel the need create a situation where we have to carry shooters to protect ourselves from others … err .. carrying shooters!”

          Huh??

          “And anyway with our Parliamentary Monarchy and a non political Head of State we have no need of militias either. Any ‘tyrannical’ Parliament will be prorogued by Her Majesty and a General Election called thus returning democratic power to the people in a peaceful way.”

          Well good luck with that. LOL
          History teaches different.

      • Elliott……Well Stated, most shootings are not done by the police, its the liberal obozo media that makes it look like it, they make criminals who have engaged the police look like innocent school boys, peoples heads are buried in their ass ! Long live the second Amendment !!!

      • First of all I must say that I don’t think extremism can be justified in any form, whatever the cause. However I think that something which is overlooked and never questioned is that “America” is always quoted by the press and official organisations as being out of control compared to other countries (for instance the UK) but they never take in to account that the U.S. comprises of 50 states and if we take a look at the E.U. (something akin to the U.S. in its structure) and which has 28 member states, the numbers immediately look somewhat different. In the U.S. in 2015, figures state that 990 people were killed by U.S. police where as in Germany only 10 were reported killed. So, if we take that 10 and times it by 28 we already have 280 (only an estimated average of course) so it already doesn’t look so great. Then if we adjust that figure to (hypothetically) show how Europe would look if it had 50 states it brings that number rocketing up to a staggering 500! Now bear in mind that in most of the E.U. it is illegal to own pistols and rifles and definitely assault rifles and therefore the likelihood of police attending firearms incidents is much, much lower (in theory at least), it seems that Europe is not as civilised as we would have the rest of the world think. In my humble opinion, a society where the sale and use of firearms is strict and well regulated can be as safe, if not safer than a society where all weapons have been confiscated. The type of firearm available to an individual should be commensurate to its use. Also as we see here in the UK, the banning of weapons simply forces their sales underground. Furthermore, if individuals are trained to use them correctly they could terminate situations which would otherwise result in greater loss of life. Finally, I do believe that here in the UK we have some of the finest and most cautious firearms officers in the world and I respect them greatly, along with their unarmed colleagues.

  7. The Posse Comitatus Act which was passed in 1878 and signed by President Hayes was part of the deal that made him president. It was designed to ensure that Reconstruction governments could not be imposed on the southern states by military occupation. In exchange the Southern Democrats would break with the Northern part of the party and make him president.

    It is not a technicality. It is what keeps a politician from trying to turn the Army into the big green policeman. The NG can’t be called unless under very special circumstances without the permission of their respective states.
    Yes Eisenhower used an exemption to send the 101st Airborne into Little Rock, but that was mainly because if he had tried to summon Arkansas Guard against its governor and legislature. There would have been no guarantee the Guard wouldn’t have gunned down the FBI and Marshals.

  8. Elliot, first off I’m not at university. I’m 32.

    I don’t need to provide stats, the news speaks for itself fella. There is absolutely no reason at all for anyone to own an assault rifle, they also don’t need a semi automatic pistol on their hip to visit the local Target.

    The reason countries like Japan, UK, Germany and many other don’t have a gun problem is because we don’t just hand them willy nilly at the local Walmart. We actually control and limit gun ownership……therefore we don’t go around shooting each other on a daily basis, and therefore we don’t need all of our police to be armed to the teeth.

    Now even if half your town arms themselves in the totally unrealistic event that the government sends in the troops…..you do realise these guys have Tanks and stealth bombers right? Your AR15, self righteousness and Confederate flag aren’t really a match.

    • Had you bothered to read the article or my own comment on the Poss Comitatus Act. Then you would realize any government that sent in quote, “Tanks and stealth bombers”, would have to have the permission of the state government. As the only troops capable of acting in that capacity are the National Guard who belong to their separate states. Barring that the Feds only have federal law enforcement personnel. Which by the way the States have the power to place under arrest if they violate state law.

      On you being 32. Well then put on your big boy pants and stop calling everyone a racist. You don’t have a gun problem but the acid, machete, and grooming gang problem is disturbing. So I might is the police in the UKs ability to at political behest sweep the grooming gangs under the rug. There by letting them continue to operate. No American police chief or precinct captain would accept those orders and in all likelihood you would find members if necessary shot while resisting arrest.

  9. David – The comments are entirely in context and actually not political. They are about the different societal and legislative ways the US can enforce their laws rr in the UK ‘Keep the Queen’s Peace’.

    The US has a propensity to use guns. We don’t. And that discussion is entirely relevant I would have thought?

    • If you have a problem with America and guns. What the fuck are you going to do about it?
      You shouldn’t say a damn thing about what freedoms Americans have. You have none.

  10. a lot of people losing the run of themselves here. Every police service is tooled up for any eventuality but most will have the military backup if needed. So as it is, few people in the world are not aware that the US can readily avail of military support for its police services in the event of civil disorder or other emergencies.

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