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Masters-at-Arms may be called upon at any time to restore order in a variety of circumstances. These will range from unruly behavior of a group of sailors aboard ship to a major civil disturbance that has exceeded the control capabilities of civilian police and other authorities. MAs may also be required to control large groups of people as part of a disaster relief operation. In this chapter, we discuss the nature of crowds and their behavior. Then we discuss the composition and capability of a crowd control force-the personnel assigned to control the crowd. The principal techniques used in crowd control will also be examined.


LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Describe the role of the Attorney General and the Attorney General's senior representative regarding civil disturbances. Identify the executive agent in all matters pertaining to civil disturbances. Explain the purpose of intervention and two categories of intervention.

The Attorney General of the United States is responsible for coordinating all Federal Government activities relating to civil disturbances. When a civil disturbance is imminent or active and it appears that Federal assistance may be required, the Department of Justice may send an observer to that area to assess the situation and make appropriate recommendations. This representative is designated the Senior Representative of the Attorney General (SRAG). The SRAG is the coordinator of all Federal liaison with local civil authorities. One of the principal functions of the SRAG is to keep the Attorney General informed of all aspects of the situation.


The Secretary of the Army has been designated the Executive Agent for the Department of Defense in all matters pertaining to a civil disturbance. The Department of the Army has principal responsibility for coordinating the functions of all military services. However, the Navy may be called on to assist or to handle the task alone. DOD directive 3025.10 outlines the Navy's responsibilities during a civil disturbance.


The purpose of intervention in a civil disturbance is to restore order and to permit local authorities to function properly. Bloodshed and the destruction of property must be avoided, when possible, and the minimum amount of force necessary to accomplish the mission should be used. The local commander publishes rules for the local population until order is restored.

Intervention falls into two categories: military aid to civil authorities, and martial law. Martial law is actually a temporary Government function to restore order within a country or locality. In either situation, the duties of the Armed Forces are much the same. Rarely has our Government proclaimed martial law. Military aid to civil authority is preferred.


LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Describe collective behavior and list the two factors involved. Discuss collective behavior in crowds and define two types of crowds. Define a mob and its characteristic behavior. Explain four situations in which collective behavior relates to civil disturbances.

For the purpose of this chapter, the term collective behavior refers to the actions of a group of individuals in situations in which normal standards of conduct may not be practiced, such as in crowds, mobs, and civil disturbances.

Collective behavior involves both psychological and social factors, and some of these are evident in everyday life. People participate daily in group situations without designated social rank. But when these elements are combined and collective behavior takes on dramatic form, concerns are raised.

While collective behavior may appear to be spontaneous and unpredictable, it is not purely a matter of chance. There is invariably an underlying motivation

or goal for mob action or a civil disturbance. Now let's look at collective behavior in crowds, mobs, and civil disturbances.


The crowd is the most common form of collective behavior. A crowd is defined as a large number of persons temporarily congregated. Just as in all other forms of collective behavior, a crowd is more than just a collection of individuals. Simply being a part of a crowd affects an individual to some degree, causing him or her to act differently than when alone. For example, a very mild and submissive person may find courage within a crowd to commit acts that the person would be hesitant to attempt alone.

There are almost as many types of crowds as there are reasons for persons to assemble. The audience that assembles for a football game or gathers at an accident is a casual crowd. Individuals within this crowd probably have no common bonds other than the enjoyment or curiosity that the game or incident stimulates. There is also a planned crowd, one that assembles at the call of leaders to accomplish a purpose in which all members have an interest and purpose. Numbers enhance the probability of success.

Under normal circumstances when a crowd is orderly, is not violating any laws, and is not causing danger to life or property, it does not present a problem to authorities. But crowd violence usually results when people have grievances, either real or imagined. The crowd is led to believe that violence will achieve redress.


The extreme of crowd behavior is called a mob. A mob is a crowd whose members lose their concern for laws and authority and follow their leaders into unlawful and disruptive acts. Mob behavior is highly emotional, often unreasonable, and prone to violence. A mob can be developed from almost any crowd if proper conditions are present. The planned crowd lends itself to influence by its leadership, peaceful or otherwise. In fact, skillful agitators in today's society, through use of television, radio, and other communications media, can reach large portions of the population. The agitators incite individuals to unlawful acts without the need for a pre-formed crowd or direct personal contact with the crowd.

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