The Posse Comitatus Act: A Harmless Relic from the Post-Construction Era or a Legal Impediment to Transformation?

  • September 01, 2003
  • LTC Donald J Currier

The Secretary of Defense should seek repeal of The Posse Comitatus Act (PCA). This Act presents a formidable obstacle to our nation's flexibility and adaptability at a time when we face an unpredictable enemy with the proven capability of causing unforeseen catastrophic events. The difficulty in correctly interpreting and applying the Act causes widespread confusion at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of our military. Given that future events may call for the use of the military to assist civil authorities, a review of the efficacy of the PCA is in order. This monograph will document the historical context of the PCA, clearly explain the parameters of the law, and provide an analysis of the PCA's value in today's security environment. An analysis of the PCA will reveal that, although the policy goals behind the Act are generally sound and desirable, Congress could better implement their intent through other means.