Everything we do as a nation is based on some sort of legal platform, perception, or actual law. And in warfare–being an extention of politics–this is especially true. From U.S. foreign relations, to intelligence activity, to all the fuzzy low intensity shit (IO, FID, etc.) between that stuff and actual visceral kinetic combat, the rule of law dictates every ROE and COA. (Or should.)
Even down at the manuever level, Operational Law is a thing. And you can bet your ass that the average combat commander is accessing his JAG officers in a completely different way than you saw in shit like A Few Good Men. Some of you may have even been around for more than one Law of Land Warfare brief, and/or had to sign a phonebook-thick stack of legal shit before you went out and did whatever it was you went out and did.
Well, the good news here is that we ain’t diggin’ into those weeds this go-round. We’re only going to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) this subject and cover the bare bones of what each relevant Title of the U.S. Code covers; what it means. So next time you hear or read about ‘Title 10 this’ or ‘Title 32 that’ you can have some relative idea what the hell someone just said.
Oh, this is only relevant for U.S. readers. Sorry foreigners. We love you, but ‘Merica.
In physical form, this shit looks like an old school set of encyclopediae. Best avoided unless you have insomnia, or have found yourself on either shit end of mil/gov legal action. It is officially known as the Code of Laws of the United States, and it’s sometimes abbreviated as U.S.C. It contains all of the general federal statutes, compiled in 52 Titles, and is published every six years by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel on the House of Representatives and the Government Printing Office. Updates are repubbed annually.
Don’t worry, we ain’t covering all 52 of those suckers. I said “relevant”…which most of this shit absolutely is not. We’ll hit each numerically.
This is what we call the “khakis and polos” Title. Outlines the role of government organization and employees (civil servants). It also decides which Mondays you’ll be off for the ever popular Federal Holidays.
Title 5 falls in three parts. The Agencies Generally, Civil Service Functions and Responsibilities, and Employees (further broken down into chapters covering pay scales and schedules, work hours and days, and holidays).
So, for this site’s context, this Title covers Civil Service and Civil Servants.
Domestic Security; the Tacticool Title. This Title breaks down into five chapters:
- Homeland Security Organization
- National Emergency Management
- Security and Accountability for Every Port
- Transportation Security
- Border Infrastructure and Technology Modernization
So…this Title is relevant since most of its covered agencies have managed to inconvenience/enrage more U.S. Citizens than any other Title.
Armed Forces. The single most relevant Title on this list, with regards to what we cover on this site. By a long margin. Title 10 covers the roles, responsibilities, and organization of the Department of Defense, as well as each of the individual services.
There are five Subtitles:
- A – General Military Law, and UCMJ (look it up, all service members love this shit)
- B – Army
- C – Navy and USMC (Gee…why are they under the same subtitle?)
- D – USAF
- E – Reserve Component (but not National Guard)
When anyone in uniform goes anywhere or does anything that falls under the legalities of “war shit” or “contingency stuff” they fall under Title 10.
Coasties. Covers the roles and responsibilities of the United States Coast Guard. Breaks down into two Parts:
- I – Regular Coast Guard
- II – Coast Guard Reserve and Auxiliary
This is why people don’t call them Armed Forces. They are armed, and technically a force…but they don’t fall under Title 10. (There are exceptions to this, with lots of attached legal paperwork. Actually…there are exceptions to ALL of this. But that’s not my lane with this article.)
Foreign Relations. Very relevant to the SF types lurking around. Since some of that “fuzzy shit” I mentioned above falls squarely into this Title. This Title technically hashes out the role of foreign relations and intercourse. So…ahem…you can see why I like it so much.
There are 86 Chapters to this Title. And I damn sure am not going to list them all. Most of them are not at all relevant to what we generally do here (like Chapter 86 itself, real scorcher). So, I’ll hit some of the highlights, and you peppy readers can go out and clock them all.
- Chapter 6 – Foreign Diplomatic and Consular Officers (and people *acting* like said Officers)
- Chapter 11 – Foreign Agents and Propaganda
- Chapters 14 and 14a – Foreign Service and Foreign Service Information Officers Corps
- Chapter 38 – Department of State
- Chapter 58 – Diplomatic Security
- Chapter 78 – Trafficking Victims Protection
- A whole shitload of region or topic specific Chapters.
Ah…the ol’ Weekend Warrior Title. Covers the roles and responsibilities of the National Guard. This one breaks down into several Chapters. Here are the good ones:
- 1 – National Guard Bureau Organization
- 3 – Personnel
- 5 – Training
- 9 – Homeland Defense Activities
Note here that when a Guardsman deploys or activates in any capacity for war or contingency, that Guardsman shifts from Title 32 to Title 10. (That right there falls under the “exceptions” I mentioned above.)
The Sneaks and Freaks Title. Covers the roles and responsibilities of War and National Defense in the prosecution of U.S. National Policy Objectives. Contains 43 Chapters. Most of them are pretty cool. A few are typical bureaucratic boredom. Others…well, others are like Chapter 7 – Interference With Homing Pigeons Owned by United States. Yeah.
High points for relevance here:
- Chapter 4 – Espionage
- Chapter 4b – Disclosure of Classified Information
- Chapter 13 – Insurrection
- Chapter 15 – National Security
- Chapter 23 – Internal Security (You should probably recognize here that there is a legal difference between this and the shit covered in Title 6…)
- Chapter 29 – National Defence Contracts
- Chapter 36 – Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
- Chapter 39 – Spoils of War
Lotta good stuff in there. You should check it out.
So. That was a crash course in this stuff. Like I said, the actual Code is volume*S* in length. And all very exciting. For example, although I wouldn’t typically advise it, one might be inclined to mix the subject matter of Title 27 with the subject matter listed in Title 33. Very common practice where I grew up. Fun for all.
As always, we at SOFREP in general–and I, in particular–aim to inform and entertain. The more you know, the less you carry. Enjoy.