What Happens to the Military and Police After SHTF?
There’s always a lot of talk about how we’re going to survive following a SHTF event. What we should store, how much ammo we need, how do we filter water, how should we secure our homes, and on and on. But what about the government? Won’t they still be here after SHTF? Won’t the military still be around to keep everyone under control? Would the police simply go home and not come back?
Those are all good questions that we don’t stop to consider often enough. Let’s take a look at the police and military and think about how they may react after a SHTF event hit.
WROL and EROL
There are two different types of situations that I feel will drive the reaction from local, state and federal government agencies. The first comes with a traditional style SHTF event. In this scenario, the world has ended as we know it. It may be because of an EMP, some kind of catastrophic viral outbreak or anything else you can think of that would cause a SHTF. How we got here doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the government has ceased to function as we know it, law enforcement isn’t coming when you dial 911 and so on.
This type of situation is probably what most people think of when we think about SHTF and what would probably lead to WROL (without rule of law).
Many people who haven’t served in the military, or had a lot of exposure to them, think they are robots, or slaves, or some other kind of human automaton that will blindly follow orders regardless of what those orders are. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. You really need to look past the uniform and see the person under it!
Military and police personnel have families and lives outside of their jobs. When a SHTF kicks off they’re going to be just as concerned about their families as you are. They aren’t going to have time to come help if you call for help, or go running out to lock down the streets to stop rioters.
I don’t think the military will have much of an impact if something truly life-altering happens. Those that live on base may retreat back within the gates and try to secure themselves there, but those that live downtown are going to go to their families. The same can be expected from the police.
When SHTF comes it really will be everyone for themselves. Police and military acting in any kind of official capacity will be almost non-existent.
These types of events could be something like a gradual decline brought about by widespread social unrest and rioting or even a slow financial collapse where the dollar is slowly devalued until a roll of toilet paper costs more than a night out at the movies with the family. In these situations, the government is going to see the SHTF event coming and take what it sees as an appropriate action to try to protect the population of the country. This will most likely lead to EROL (enhanced rule of law).
EROL is the exact opposite of what many of us think of when we imagine SHTF. Instead of there being no one to enforce laws, the military and police are enforcing a more aggressive form of law.
In this scenario, the government has tried to control a societal collapse in the only way that they really can, by implementing a police state. Armed law enforcement and military members on busy corners, military-style patrols on the streets, checkpoints and mandatory curfews are just a couple of the things you could expect in an EROL. In EROL the use of deadly force may even be authorized against curfew breakers.
The cities would have it the worst. A police and military presence would likely be visible around the clock.
The further you get from major population centers, the less impact you would see from EROL. Small towns may not see much of a change at all other than the occasional roving checkpoint or convoy passing through.
This obviously goes against everything that we believe in as Americans but it’s very likely to occur at the beginning stages of almost any SHTF event.
I believe an EROL would have a lot of buy-in from military and police personnel in the beginning. When the two options are to either keep the public under control and as safe as you can or let the country become a free for all, most are going to take the first option.
Leaders understand that their people would never go along with an order that involves widespread violence against the American people, so the chances of that occurring near the beginning of EROL is almost non-existent. My concern with EROL really comes after it’s been implemented for an extended period of time.
There are two major dangers that I see with EROL beyond the obvious.
The first comes during a best-case scenario. Imagine that the increased military and police presence were able to stop any widespread violence and the country was able to start moving in the right direction again.
When do you take the military and police off the streets? There’s no clear-cut answer to this question. When has a government ever given back rights after it has taken them from the public? If you look at history, the answer is sadly almost never. This means that now that we are going back in the right direction, we may never recover the rights that we had to forfeit. It’s a scary thought.
My worst fear comes from an extended EROL. In this scenario, there is no end in sight. The military and police presence hasn’t made anything better.
The longer the military is used to police the public, the more they’re going to see them as the “enemy”. The more often their buddies are injured by rioters, the more they’re spit on by protesters, the more they’re hated by the public in the streets and in the media, the more likely they are to use violence in response to civilians.
Look at the police forces in major cities. Many of them have seen the public as the “enemy” for decades. Imagine what it would be like in a SHTF environment. This sort of experience drives an “us and them” mentality that you would never want to see between civilians and the U.S. military!
Do you let America devolve into anarchy after a SHTF or do you start taking away people’s rights in an attempt to keep some kind of order? It’s a difficult question that I sincerely hope we never have to answer.