The Smoke Eater For April 3, 2020

"Marshall Law" is not a thing.

A neighborhood watch sign in Chicago. Photo by Dominic Gwinn

Good afternoon, this is The Smoke Eater for Friday, April 03, 2020, and we're breaking the law.

Quick Hit

* Who the hell is “Marshall,” and why the hell does he have his own law? *

NOTE: I don't normally devote myself to one story, especially one where I'm likely to jump out over my skis, but I had make an exception today. The Smoker Eater is still mobile friendly, ad-free and supported by generous readers. If you want to be super awesome, tip me on Ko-Fi, or subscribe to my Patreon!

"Stop Trying To Make 'Fetch' Happen"

Over the last several days I've received messages and phone calls from friends and family who've been told by their friend's brother's cousin's former roommate that the president is going to enact "Marshall Law." I don't know who Marshall is, or what his law might be, but a casual glance at available data suggests rumors of martial law are a crock of shit that's been cooked up in a conspiracy fever swamp.

The U.S. Army has tapped the Individual Ready Reserve to serve on a volunteer basis, but the order from the Army's Human Resource Command only requested 10,000 former soldiers to put their old uniforms back on. DOD numbers for IRR members sit at 224,841, but many soldiers on IRR consider their military service over once they are switched from active duty to IRR.

In my personal experience, there's more people on IRR hitting happy hour than the gym. Additionally, many former service members suffer from diagnosed mental trauma due to their service.

Data from 2017 shows there were 1.3 million members on active duty, and 800,000 in the reserves. Governors in all 50 states are activating their national guard troops, and 22 states and two territories have approved the use of Dual-Status Commanders to help coordinate the respective state and federal responses. That means there's a guy (statistically speaking, it's probably a guy) acting as a manager so FEMA knows where to put a palate of medical supplies, then making sure those supplies get to the right hospitals.

The Military Times reports the overwhelming majority of missions guard troops are being used for are logistics and support. This includes setting up field hospitals, establishing testing and screening sites, staffing call centers for first responders, the transportation of medical professionals, supplies and PPE, and delivering food to communities. At the moment there's least 14,000 retired soldiers with varying medical specialties who've answered a call to "re-join the team" to help with relief efforts. Those are medics, anesthesiologists, critical care providers, and nurses. They're not infantry.

Presuming that all 1.3 million active duty personnel could be immediately recalled from whatever theater they're currently stationed in -- regardless of whether or not it's hostile or a hotzone -- back of the napkin math shows that's just over two million current and former military personnel who can be mobilized. If we're assuming military posts near major cities even had enough equipment, it's unlikely there is enough combat-ready military personnel that could suppress the riots that would break out were martial law declared.

In 2017 the population of Huston was about two million; Chicago had three million; Los Angeles had four million; and New York had more than eight million. Those numbers don't include the greater metropolitan areas either. It is within the realm of infinite possibilities that the situation in a city deteriorates at such an alarming rate that local authorities become overwhelmed, and a governor is forced to authorize the use of excessive force. What's less probable is the notion that a dusty Bradley fighting vehicle is dug out from the local armory so it can trundle up Central Park West or North Wabash to protect a Trump Tower.


OK, here's cute critter video: IT'S CAT ISLAND!

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