Aliens Invade: When Does the Military "Take Over"?

I rewatched the original War of the Worlds tonight, and one of the things I noticed about it (besides the fact that it’s better than the couch jumpers version) is that the military shows up almost immediately in the film. This made me wonder what would happen if there was an actual alien invasion. Certainly, National Guard troops would be activated and deployed immediately, but legally could they do the same with regular military forces?

I have a vague, possibly imagined, recollection that the regular military can “take over” only after martial law has been declared. In the case of an alien invasion, that would probably take about 15 minutes. 30 if it happened on a holiday.

Did this mean that martial law could never be implemented? No, the Court said. The President can declare martial law when circumstances warrant it: When the civil authority cannot operate, then martial law is not only constitutional, but would be necessary: “If, in foreign invasion or civil war, the courts are actually closed, and it is impossible to administer criminal justice according to law, then, on the theatre of active military operations, where war really prevails, there is a necessity to furnish a substitute for the civil authority, thus overthrown, to preserve the safety of the army and society; and as no power is left but the military, it is allowed to govern by martial rule until the laws can have their free course. As necessity creates the rule, so it limits its duration; for, if this government is continued after the courts are reinstated, it is a gross usurpation of power. Martial rule can never exist where the courts are open, and in the proper and unobstructed exercise of their jurisdiction. It is also confined to the locality of actual war.”

From here. The military would deploy against the invaders at once, but martial law would be a different issue entirely.

The military’s primary objective is to protect the nation from invasion. If the enemy has landed on your soil, then that’s where you fight it. Whe the Germans invaded Russia, there wasn’t any debate on whether the Red Army was allowed to fight on Russian ground.

America hasn’t fought a war on its own soil for so long that people forget that having troops fight at home is pretty normal. In fact, I’d say that on the average, 50% of all battles are fought on one’s own territory.

True, but the US has strict laws on the use of military forces, including when and where they may be used, and while they might all be ignored once it became obvious that the US was being overran by an enemy, before that, however, they’d still be followed. Comparing the USSR in WWII isn’t exactly helpful, since the Soviets had various parts of the Red Army controlling things in manners which the US has never allowed. Not to mention that one didn’t question Stalin and live very long.

Aw, come on 1942 wasn’t all that long ago.:wink:

Much more than that since most wars are civil wars.

In the case of the original War of the Worlds, that would rather be Martian law being declared.

[sub]And this was my silliest pun for this week.[/sub]

Would said invasion adversely affect Haliburton? :rolleyes:

As a (now retired and fat) military officer, on a battlefield, I am in command unless someone senior to me shows up. I do not take second place to the local police, mayor or whoever. My chain of command touches civil authority at the President/Secretary level.

While all of you debate the terrestrial political ramificatons, the aliens have successfuly taken control.


… and have declared Martian Law.

WIthout bothering to do even a whit of research, it seems obvious and unquestionable that regular military forces would be summarily deployed in such a dire situation. Surely we can take for granted that ordinary formalities would be truncated – if not wholly waived and made null – in the case of an alien invasion on U.S. soil?

Heck, the U.S. military (among many others) would almost certainly be summarily deployed in the case of a bona fide hostile alien invasion anywhere in the world.

I am in command
I am in command
I am in command

Well, at any rate that explains Alexander Haig.

I dub thee Sir Phobos, Knight of Mars, Beater of Ass.

See? This is why I need my AK47 and 10,000 rounds of armor-piercing ammo! :smiley:

I think you guys are misunderstanding or misinterpreting the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids the use of Federal troops in law enforcement, except for a few exceptions.

An alien invasion would certainly not fall under “law enforcement”, so I think that there would be no legal hurdles to deploying troops to fight domestically.

For repelling a Martian invasion, I’ll stick with my 1920’s style death ray, thank you. :smiley: