Surviving SHTF: Understanding the Military and Police’s Role in a WROL Situation

There’s always a lot of talk about how we will survive following an SHTF event. What we should store, how much ammo we need, how we filter water, how we should secure our homes, and on and on.

But what about the government? Won’t they still be around after SHTF? Won’t the military still be around to keep everyone under control? Would the police go home and not come back?

Those are all good questions we don’t consider often enough. Let’s look at the police and military and consider how they may react after an SHTF event hits.

The Traditional SHTF Scenario, an All Out Free For All

I feel two different types of situations 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, a catastrophic viral outbreak, or anything else that would cause an SHTF. How we got here doesn’t 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 the rule of law).

The Military and Police During WROL

Many people who haven’t served in the military, or had a lot of exposure to them, think they are robots, 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 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 an SHTF kicks off, they will be just as concerned about their families as you are.

They don’t have time to help if you call for help or run out to lock down the streets to stop rioters.

I don’t think the military will have much impact if something truly life-altering happens.

Those that live on base may retreat 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 actions in any official capacity will be almost non-existent.

What Would Lead to EROL?

These events could be a gradual decline brought about by widespread social unrest and rioting or 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 will see the SHTF event coming and take what it sees as an appropriate action to protect the country’s population. This will likely lead to EROL (the enhanced rule of law).


EROL is the exact opposite of what many think 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 the only way it 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 few things you could expect in an EROL. In EROL, 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 change other than the occasional roving checkpoint or convoy passing through.

Would the Police and Military Go Along With EROL?

This 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 initially. 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 will 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 comes after it’s been implemented for an extended period.

The Real Dangers of EROL

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 could stop any widespread violence, and the country could 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 rare. This means that now that we are going back in the right direction, we may never recover the rights 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 will see them as the “enemy.” The more often their buddies are injured by rioters, the more they spit on by protesters, the more they’re hated by the public in the streets and the media, and the more likely they are to use violence in response to civilians.

Look at the police forces in major cities. Many have seen the public as the “enemy” for decades. Imagine what it would be like in an SHTF environment. This 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 an SHTF, or do you start taking away people’s rights in an attempt to keep some order? It’s a difficult question that I sincerely hope we never have to answer.

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