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Many people dismiss the idea it is at all possible for the US population to resist our modern military when discussing the 2nd amendment- this only plays into the hands of people who would like to be tyrants for a revolt thought to be impossible is a revolt that does not occur. Now I can’t blame people (too much) for this thought as its been drummed into their heads for a long time and unless someone has been in the military or researched asymmetrical warfare they likely are only surmising what they can based on the US’s history against other modern militaries. Of course this is an apples to oranges comparison as asymmetrical warfare is never about the meeting of modern military forces – rather its more akin to fighting as we are seeing in Afghanistan and saw in Vietnam.
First of all lets understand what armed revolution meant when it occurred on these shores. Technically it was secession not revolution since we wanted to leave not overthrow the King – but hey that word has a bad rap so why bother being accurate when we talk about history. We can clearly see they understood the risks they were undertaking signing the Declaration of Independence when it was said “We must all hang together or we shall certainly all hang separately.” and they understood the moral reasoning for their leaving and left a reminder to all people ” But when a long train of abuses and usurpation’s, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
The “revolutionaries” at the time were pitted against the worlds most formidable military ever assembled with a powerful navy to back it up. Understand that we had exactly 0 military naval vessels at the time, no army, no currency, and hoped that farmers and fur trappers would be able to repel a formally trained, paid, and issue military that was the envy of the world along with their hired Hessian troops.
Lost freaking cause right? No and we didn’t even have access to the source of Britain’s production and we did it all with popular support of about 20% of the population with about 3% actually taking up arms. Hrmm…that little? Yup – that little support and mobilized soldiers against a military whose political leaders, production and longest lines of supply were untouchable while it used troops with no moral connection to the people. I would also point out I am not discounting France’s involvement in funding us and providing Naval cover and blockade without which we would have either lost or drug it out for far longer. Thanks Ben.
Ok so what would a modern revolution or secession movement have going for it aside from the availability and familiarity of the US citizen with arms (the whole “well regulated” part of the 2nd amendment which means well equipped and trained or “in good working order”):
1. Prior military training of the population.
Almost 10% of our population has served or is serving in the military so has a command of modern field tactics, operation and is familiar with the equipment and processes of war. Understanding this it is easy to see why the most popular rifle in the US is the AR-15 the civilian version of the M-16 which has been the standard military rifle since Vietnam. This allows the quick training of the citizens who do not have prior training. There is a huge difference in the survivability of units of all green troops and those with mostly green troops with seasoned veterans alongside.
2. Ability to directly attack supply and means of production.
Since the US military supplies itself with goods and services that originate within our border it is easy to both monkey wrench supply, seize, or destroy it. The factory across town that makes MRE’s (or uniforms, or ammo, or spare tank treads or…), the shipment of medical supplies on the interstate (or fuel, or ammo, or food, or personnel, or…) are easy to intercept or destroy.
This means more than limiting the supply of goods needed to support an army; it means taking away troops from “frontline” positions in order to guard every shipment of any good needed. This is a massive undertaking and one that has not been needed in the US since maybe the war of 1812. It also induces a huge stress factor on troops as supply itself would a dodgy prospect even while on base.
Understand that the main advantage the US held in both world wars was its ability to produce while not having to worry about its production centers being attacked. We could manufacture and transport in complete safety bombs, tanks, firearms, ammunition, clothing, propellers, and everything else within our borders until it left our shores. Could Germany, Japan, Italy, China, or the UK ever say that? No.
3. The enemy has a strong moral connection with the people.
Unlike the British who looked down on colonials or their Hessian mercenaries – the US military at many levels (and especially at command level) looks extremely unfavorably on being used against US populations (Posse Comitatus aside). The average soldier did not sign up to go to war against other Americans (and our shared identity is very strong in this nation). Sure, many units will go along with orders initially but the drag on morale will be extreme over time and this leads to desertion, which will likely lead to impression or as we call it: the draft – which will decrease morale further and turn existing loyalists away from engagement despite propaganda.
While units will be deployed away from their area of recruitment they will still have to go home to dinner and holidays with individuals who will grill them on their treatment of their fellow Americans – shop in stores where their actions are unpopular and face widespread public protests.
4. Payment or lack of it.
A revolution in the US would crash the dollar as OPEC pulled the linkage of the dollar to buying oil (or we would force them with our military to continue to accept it which would further weaken the ability to project security at home).
Soldiers get paid shit but at least they can spend it – how long would it take Steve to worry more about Suzie and the kid back home who can’t buy anything with his pay than he is about going down main street America and shooting at ex military and the town police force? Sure legal tender laws will be enforced in heavily military controlled areas with price controls causing shortages and a huge surge in black market activities trading in precious metals and barter. This further stress the population against the government mandating businesses accept valueless paper.
5. Military doctrine.
Current military doctrine (and by current we mean post Cold War) is to be funded and manned to be able to fight two conflicts in two different regions in theaters roughly the size of Texas. This doctrine also depends on the support of National Guard, Reserve, and civilian contractors in order to operate – any one of which may currently be housing many individuals sympathetic or working for the rebellion – if the entire NG or Reserve unit isn’t totally supporting the effort or has been raided for its supplies. Disrupt this chain and the stressors on the active military increase again.
6. Asymmetrical warfare aka “Guerrilla” tactics.
Our military (though slowly adapting) is built with the Cold War idea of meeting another modern military in head to head fighting with conventional front lines. This is absolutely not how a war on home soil would be fought. First of all – exactly where would there be “front lines”? In what direction and at whom would artillery face? The development down the block where one family of partisans was known to operate from – the other development five times as large in another direction where statistically there are 10 partisans – or the empty warehouses in another direction that could be used as manufacturing bases which we would investigate if we could spare the manpower? What about all those heavy bombers…going to bomb Boise because its under rebel control…exactly how many more will take up arms after we do that and destroy our own infrastructure these are hard if not impossible questions to answer. Most of the hardware our military has will be absolutely useless if not counter-productive and that’s when it has the supplies to operate.
Our military will be facing small and highly mobile units harassing and attacking them all over and with no large organization and little modern communication they will be almost impossible to predict. Add in that each organization will be utilizing its own strategic, logistic, and tactical plans sorting out patterns will be a dizzying job which means predictions will be almost useless aside from “that looks good to attack so we should protect it”. These forces and both their maneuverability and ability to dissolve back into the population will make hard responses almost impossible.
Those few are simple but powerful reasons why such a movement would likely be much more successful than people initially believe and why it’s less likely to be politically viable. There are others to be sure such as the irrelevance of our main deterrent on our own soil (nuclear force), the logistics of bases and distance to major population centers, the availability of type of arms common in America and the average combat ranges and armor used…but those are more detailed studies.