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The Cop and the Soldier: An Entangling Alliance? The Posse Comitatus Act and the National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement.

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Strategy research project,

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The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 PCA has served as the main statutory bulwark against the intrusion of federal troops into the domestic law enforcement arena. No one has ever been charged with a violation of PCA however, it has served to constrain the activities of the military in providing support to civil authorities. During the Cold War, America fielded its first large, standing, professional military in peacetime. As the Cold War ended and perceptions of national security threats evolved, the PCA was amended to provide for a greater military role in domestic security and law enforcement. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relevance of PCA in the context of a post-Cold War National Security Strategy. The theory on the use and purpose of professional military forces is used to develop a paradigm on the use and purpose of American professional military forces. The end of the Cold War and the current state of military affairs in the US is unique in that the threat basis for the only large, professional standing Army in American history has dissolved. A perception exists among strategists of the idle presence of enormous capabilities which can address domestic and internal threats. It would appear that the National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement has opened the possibility of developing an entangling alliance between military forces oriented on external threats and police forces oriented on domestic security and law enforcement by coming closer and closer to crossing the line drawn by the PCA. Routine and recurring military support to civilian law enforcement agencies can involve a gradual assumption of civil roles for the military which might erode both its apolitical nature and its technical skill.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law

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