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What if? The U.S. Falls to a Surprise Coup/Takeover. How do the Armed Forces React?

Discussion in 'History & Military Discussion' started by the atom, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. the atom

    the atom SV's Resident Bad Boy

    Location:
    Comfortably numb
    A radical, but previously marginalized political faction has in a surprise move executed a perfect coup and seized total and complete control of the U.S. government, along with all intelligence and law enforcement agencies and continental military HQs (i.e. the Pentagon, NORAD). Everybody currently at the highest levels of the U.S. Armed Forces and all branches who failed to pledge loyalty to the new government are imprisoned and/or executed.

    How would the various continental and overseas branches of the U.S. armed forces realistically react? Would they be willing to retake the country, and if so would they still be able to do without unified leadership? Would they fall in line? Or would their allegiances be divided?
     
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  2. More details? Is it only the national government and national law enforcement agencies that fell to this coup or did they somehow overthrew all 50 states governments and took over the 50 states military and law enforcement agencies as well?
     
  3. the atom

    the atom SV's Resident Bad Boy

    Location:
    Comfortably numb
    National.
     
  4. Guessmyname

    Guessmyname Tea-Powered Biscuit-Eater Commission Artist

    Bewildered confusion, mostly?

    If the coup was small enough, I'd honestly expect the home-team army to counter-coup instead to restore the previous government. Having the head of the army in your pocket is worth only as much as the rest of the army listens to them. Enough subordination amongst the lower ranks will shatter their authority anyway.

    By my understanding though (specifically, reading the Dictator's Handbook and CCPGrey's 'Rules for Rulers' video), coups only succeed if the army lets them, so for sake of argument lets assume they already have enough backing at-home to get away with this. Even then I can't see America just sitting around going 'welp we just got coup'd' though, there'd be a civil war for sure. At that point, I'd probably expect the overseas forces to return for supplies if nothing else; in the middle of a civil war at home I'd highly doubt keeping the overseas forces tipped up is on the logistical to-do list for either side. Depends where the Navy falls, since they'd be doing the supplying/transfering.

    Seriously though, an America in that kind of position / able to wind up in that position is too different from present America to really predict in any meaningful way. You have to pretty weak to suffer successful coups; in that scenario, they may not have any overseas forces at all anyway.
     
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  5. the atom

    the atom SV's Resident Bad Boy

    Location:
    Comfortably numb
    How do they manage this if there's nobody there to coordinate their actions or feed them information?
     
  6. Guessmyname

    Guessmyname Tea-Powered Biscuit-Eater Commission Artist

    ...I mean, if it's literally a coup taking over Washington DC, I'd kind of expect that to be on the news. As for coordination, this is the communication age; the internet, the radio, take your pick. It's really not possible for an armed coup to take over a government quietly, and people are inevitably going to hear about it and go 'gee, is this good/bad for me and should I do something about it?'. Take a look at Turkey, for example.
     
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  7. DonBosco

    DonBosco Dread Lord of the Luddites

    All glory to the O-6.
     
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  8. Volt Cruelerz

    Volt Cruelerz Software Engineer Hoosier in Florida

    Location:
    Florida
    Bewilderment, mostly. It'll probably take a couple days for a proper reaction, but I can't see people just willfully submitting to a new government like that. In general, I figure the highest remaining naval officers would eventually take command of the situation and order the ground forces to counter-coup while supporting them.

    Also, you can't just handwave taking over all of law enforcement. That just... No. It's so distributed that you could never take over it without triggering civil war first. Coups work when you kick out the old government and the military lets you. To take control of something so sprawling as law enforcement, you'd have to launch a full fledged civil war.
     
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  9. the atom

    the atom SV's Resident Bad Boy

    Location:
    Comfortably numb
    ...What do you think you just read?:confused:

    How does CNN compensate for a command structure? How does the media replace the ability of military units to gather and disseminate intelligence on friendly and enemy dispositions?
    I specifically said national law enforcement.
    You're talking about the officer corps right? How do they figure out who is in charge?
     
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  10. ussnimitz1968

    ussnimitz1968 Not an Actual Servicemember

    So this theoretical scenario is just the 2016 US Presidential election, ok.

    I don't really know if they would be able to unify or even have the firepower to "take back" the US. Not to mention they'd have to know a very bloody civil war with some extreme firepower (even non-nuclear) would be a disaster and potentially rack up millions of casualties.

    In all seriousness and joking of the election aside, what you described really is a nightmare scenario. It very well could be a repeat of the 1933 German election just on US soil - in other words, the overseas deployed forces may be forced to welcome their new Nazi overlords at gunpoint in preference to the greatest loss of American life in the country's entire history.

    This is assuming that I'm reading the OP right with the in-turn assumption that 100% of domestically deployed forces are loyal to the new despots.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  11. National police forces which means most of the country's police forces are not under their control as most US police forces exist under the sole authority of the states not the national government.

    They'd likely figure out who is in charge that would likely by seniority who is the most senior ranking general and admiral. Beyond that many states have state command centers for use by national guard or their state guard forces as I understand and there are likely regionally US command centers that could be used to coordinate forces.

    Another things is what is keeping lets say the governors of Virginia and Maryland from sending military forces to put down this coup or loyalist US military forces in both states moving rapidly to kill this coup?
     
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  12. the atom

    the atom SV's Resident Bad Boy

    Location:
    Comfortably numb
     
  13. ussnimitz1968

    ussnimitz1968 Not an Actual Servicemember

    Yeah I don't think there's going to be a lot of dissent after that.
     
  14. Except when you come right down to it as far as I can tell the Coup and their forces would only control the city of DC, the Pentagon and NORAD a few other sites and literally nothing else because they didn't bother trying taking control of anything else during this imagined coup and on top of that only the highest level generals and admirals(the ones who would be in DC and the pentagon) were killed or turned traitor so most of the general officer staff is intact and all the state governments are untouched.

    That doesn't exactly scream successful control of the country or even the military to me.
     
  15. Chumbeque

    Chumbeque

    Location:
    Chile
    Unless the Coupers have complete support of the majority of the armed forces it will fail amusingly fast. You simply can't pull a move like this without support of the military.
     
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  16. DonBosco

    DonBosco Dread Lord of the Luddites

    They don't need to do it except on an adhoc basis; heck, the only thing that they actually need to do is have one officer with initiative drive a column up to DC and put the coupers against the wall.
     
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  17. HeavyArmor

    HeavyArmor Trust me, I'm an Engineer

    Location:
    Malaysia
    Just what kind of firepower are the coup faction backing their words with? armed militias? or unconventional weapons?
     
  18. Volt Cruelerz

    Volt Cruelerz Software Engineer Hoosier in Florida

    Location:
    Florida
    Also worth question how much, if any, control they gain of the nuclear arsenal.
     
  19. So basically, all high level leaders in the United States are replaced with people none of their subordinates have any reason to be loyal to. Some people will follow orders, but not enough to keep things from falling apart. The result is widespread chaos as the United States loses the ability to organize itself. Effectively everyone stops paying taxes because no one trusts the government anymore. Eventually counterattacks might be made by leaders who are actually well known and have popular support, but the damage has been done. It's questionable if the USA can ever return to normal depending on how exactly everyone reacts.
     
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  20. the atom

    the atom SV's Resident Bad Boy

    Location:
    Comfortably numb
    Hm...I'll say for the sake of argument that they have a lightly armed division strength paramilitary force backing them up. For whatever reason their buildup went totally unnoticed.
     
  21. HeavyArmor

    HeavyArmor Trust me, I'm an Engineer

    Location:
    Malaysia
    One light infantry division, and you want to start a coup? Even Horus knews better to muster a force at least equal to those who are going to oppose you before starting your actual coup.

    To do that in real life united states, bring in at least couple hundreds of strike mission UCAVs, whlist render the Armed forces' drone fleet inoperatable.
     
  22. ussnimitz1968

    ussnimitz1968 Not an Actual Servicemember

    I'm glad you brought it up because it points out exactly what's problematic with this scenario. Give the usurpers too little advantage and they get curbstomped immediately; give them too much and you pretty much have what happened if Hitler or Stalin took over the world? Because of how the division of power works in the US there isn't a lot of in-between to tease out an interesting scenario (and this is by design, specifically because we like the idea of if there's going to be usurpers they're going to be horrendously curb-stomped so hopefully we don't have to worry about a Nazi political takeover '33-style scenario).
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
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  23. DonBosco

    DonBosco Dread Lord of the Luddites

    Alright, so they are now no longer grossly outnumbered by the police forces available in the capitol itself and they might actually survive long enough for the military to finish driving in to put them against the wall.
     
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  24. That begs the question: how bloody would a modern US civil war be?
     
  25. A true civil war? It would be a be a bloody war possibly with millions or even tens of millions troops on both sides raging across one of the largest countries in the world and I would be surprised if at minimum the death toll wasn't in the tens of millions by the time it was over I would be deeply surprised.

    Beyond that the US is a major source of food exports and food aid to many countries around that world, food that would most likely be cut off in the event of a civil war and its one of the pillars of the global economy which means the entire world economy would likely be thrown into chaos.
     
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