Cycle of Insurgency: The realities of “Martial Law” 3

By Justin King


Washington, DC (TFC) – The term “martial law” is thrown around so much that it seems to have lost its meaning. Martial law is military control of normal judicial functions. It doesn’t mean a curfew is in effect. It doesn’t mean the militarization of police. It requires military involvement. The threat of martial law is a cornerstone of many theories about designs for the United States.

Martial law will not occur in the United States. Period. The number of troops required to enact martial law is astronomical. In a recent article, the number of troops necessary to establish counter-insurgency operations in the United States was discussed.

“It took deployment numbers of 170,000 US troops to (fail to) pacify Iraq’s insurrection. That number doesn’t include coalition forces, allied Iraqi troops, or the massive number of military contractors that traveled to Iraq. Iraq has a population of about 33 million. The United States is almost 10 times that. If the Department of Defense deployed every single member of the Army and the Marines including the clerks, cooks, carpenters, truck drivers, and so on, it could only field about 750,000 troops. That’s about one million troops shy of the needed number to match the effectiveness of Iraq’s counter-insurgency operation.”

The number of troops necessary to maintain martial law would be exponentially larger. During counter-insurgency operations, the military merely has to target insurgents. Normal police functions are still conducted by civilian organizations. It’s impossible to provide a realistic estimation based on historical data because there has never been a martial law implementation on that scale. A best guess would be to simply add the number of current officers in the United States. That’s more than a million. So to attain a true martial law scenario in the United States, you’re talking about adding another million on top of the 1.7 million needed to control the inevitable insurgency. Almost three million boots on the ground. That’s about 400% of the total staff of the the Army and Marines. Even if the the military took every airman and sailor and used them on the ground, The needed numbers are double the entire manpower available to DOD. In short, martial law is simply not feasible with the current size of the US Military.