As so many activists seem to be whining about the military presence at the G20 protests in Pittsburgh last week, throwing around words like posse comitatus, it seemed as good a time as any to dredge up a little blast from the past – the U.S. Army after-action report on the Chicago riots of April 1968.
The history of that event is something I find personally and professionally fascinating, in no small part because it’s not hard to imagine how a similar outbreak of violence could quite easily happen again, in Chicago or elsewhere. (The riots were sparked, in part, by the assassination of a prominent African-American politician, if you get where I’m going with that.) Next time around, I highly doubt the street gangs are going to embrace enlightened self-interest and work to preserve “law and order” in their territory, but maybe I’m being excessively cynical.
Anyway, if you have any interest in looking at the kind of logistics required to mobilize five thousand soldiers domestically for riot-control operations, you might want to check out the Task Force Chicago after-action report (3.3MB PDF file)… and consider how many more soldiers would be needed to maintain order in today’s society.