For some context, my world takes place in the year 2027, just close to a two decades ever since the Black Flu pandemic ripped across the human race and the zombies initiated the Great Collapse, leading to the fall of modern civilization. The US Government was able to somewhat survive and in 2009, under the leadership of President Obama, the surviving remnants of the federal government and US military liberated Washington, DC from both zombies as well as hostile militias, bandits, terrorists, etc. As of 2027, the District of Columbia has expanded in size and has a population of 810,000 people (might jack the number up to a million).

Anyway, now that you have some insight, here’s my military:

The United States Garrison (U.S.G.) also referred to as the U.S. Garrison and simply the Garrison, is the modern post-Black Flu incarnation of the old pre-Black Flu United States Armed Forces. Established on November 11th, 2010, the United States Garrison is by far the strongest, most powerful, advance, well trained, disciplined, and experienced military in all of North America (if not the entire Western Hemisphere) and is responsible for conducting land, aerial, naval, expeditionary, and amphibious warfare. The strength, power, experience, and iron discipline of the U.S. Garrison has made it the premier military of North America. Due to the numbers and resources that it possesses, the U.S. Garrison has spearheaded combat operations, peacekeeping missions, and humanitarian aid services throughout the East Coast while also working to diligently defend the District of Columbia from hostile invaders. The U.S. Garrison was created after President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Reorganization Act of 2010 (NDRA). The Garrison was formed under President Obama’s tenure due to the need to unify the scattered resources and manpower of the five branches of the old U.S. military in order to more strategically and productively utilize the limited resources available.


Total Number of Troopers: 75,000 Troopers

Active Duty: 62,216 Troopers

Reserves: 12,784 Troopers


The Garrison is under the administration of the Department of National Defense, which is led by the Secretary of National Defense (who answers to the President of the United States, who also serves as the Commander in Chief). The highest ranking and most senior commissioned Trooper in the Garrison is the Commander General, a five star general who also holds the command office of being the Commander of the Garrison. The Commander General is responsible for leading the Garrison in executing its missions as well as all operations handed to it, including leading, arming, recruiting, training, etc. the Troopers of the Garrison. The current Commander General is Commander General Adam Mars, a former Colonel in the United States Marine Corps before commissioning into the Garrison as a Brigadier General and later rose to command the Garrison Ground Force before being promoted to Commander General. The Garrison is headquartered in the Pentagon located in Alexandria, Virginia while it’s main operating base is Garrison Base Quantico, known as the “beating heart and muscles” of the entire Garrison and its operations.

The Garrison is divided into three main cohesive operating components each headed by a General (who reports to the Commander General). These three components of the Garrison act together in a combined arms fashion akin to a Marine Air-Ground Task Force/MAGTF that compliments one another when conducting operations. They are the following (NOTE: the reason why I’m using Marine Corps and Army unit organizational structure names for non-land warfare forces is for ease of organization and structure):

Garrison Ground Force/GARGROF (General)

• 1st Ground Corps (Lieutenant General, 35,984 Troopers)

1st Division (Major General, 10,000 Troopers)

2nd Division (Major General, 10,000 Troopers)

3rd Division (Major General, 10,000 Troopers)

1st Brigade (Reserves) (Brigadier General, 5,384 Troopers)

SPECIAL UNIT: United States Garrison Special Operations Command (SOCOM)

  • 5th Special Warfare Battalion (Colonel, 600 Troopers)

    • Echo “Titan” Company (Major, 200 Troopers)

    • India “Fire” Company (Major, 200 Troopers)

    • Zulu “Shadow” Company (Major, 200 Troopers)

Garrison Air Wing/GAW (General)

• 1st Air Division (Lieutenant General, 15,000 Troopers, 490 total aircraft)

1st Air Brigade (Brigadier General, 6,000 Troopers, 175 aircraft)

2nd Air Brigade (Brigadier General, 6,000 Troopers, 175 aircraft)

3rd Air Regiment (Reserves) (Brigadier General, 3,000 Troopers, 140 aircraft)

Garrison Naval Fleet/GARNAF (General)

• 1st Naval Corps (Lieutenant General, 24,016 Troopers, 55 total warships)

  • Fleet Flagship: USS Harry S. Truman

1st Naval Division (Major General, 12,590 Troopers, 19 warships)

  • Division Flagship: USS Essex

2nd Naval Brigade (Major General, 7,590 Troopers, 18 warships)

  • Brigadier Flagship: USS Iwo Jima

3rd Naval Regiment (Reserves) (Brigadier General, 3,836 Troopers, 18 warships)

  • Regimental Flagship: USS Green Bay

Public Agenda


• Defend the territory of the District of Columbia (and by virtue/in spirit, the United States) from all hostile threats, foreign and domestic

• Preserve and maintain law, order, peace, and stability within the District of Columbia

• Support and implement the national military policies and objectives of the United States

• Conduct humanitarian aid operations whenever possible

• Seize and defend strategic positions and assets critical to the defense of the District of Columbia

• Prepare and maintain naval and naval aviation assets in order to project naval strength across the seas and wage naval warfare

• Prepare and maintain aviation assets in order to conduct aerial warfare and maintain air supremacy

• Assist in reuniting the United States of America

• Execute such other duties as the President or Department of National Defense may direct



Individual Standard-Issue Weapons:

  • M16A5 rifle w/20-round straight-body magazines

  • M1911 (SNCOs and Officers-only)

  • M4A1 carbine w/30-round magazines (Special Operations Command/SOCOM-issued only)

  • SIG Sauer M17 pistol (Special Operations/SOCOM-issued only)

Crew-served Weapons:

-M249 SAW

  • M240 MG

  • M40A3 bolt action sniper rifle

  • M2010 sniper rifle

  • Mk 18 AWM

  • M110 SASS

  • Barrett M82A1

  • GAU-17 minigun

  • Soltam K6 120 mortar

  • M777 howitzer


M1 Abrams (450)

  • Bradley Fighting Vehicle (390)

  • Stryker APC (470)

  • LAV-25 (483)

  • AAV (280)

  • MRAP (320)

  • M1117 ASV (515)

  • M142 HIMARS (400)

  • M109 self-propelled howitzer (375)

  • M939 truck (915)

  • Landing Craft Air Cushion (12)

Total Ground Vehicle Assets: 4,180 Vehicles


Fixed-Wing Aviation Assets:

  • A-10 Thunderbolt (30)

  • AC-130 (4)

  • C-5 Galaxy (15)

  • C-17 Globemaster (20)

  • C-130J Hercules (25)

  • E-3G Sentry (3)

  • Boeing E-4 (3)

  • F-15 Strike Eagle (16)

  • F-16 Fighting Falcon (22)

  • F-22 Raptor (10)

  • KC-10 (6)

  • Boeing VC-747 (1)

  • F/A-18 Hornet (22)

  • AV-8B Harrier II (10)

  • F/A-18F Super Hornet (10)

  • Total Fixed-Wing Aviation Assets: 197 fix-winged aircraft

  • Rotary-Wing Aviation Assets:

  • UH-1N Huey (24)

  • Bell 412 (22)

  • MH-60T Jayhawk (20)

  • MH-65D Dolphin (15)

  • AH-1W SuperCobra (24)

  • CH53-E Super Stallion (26)

  • Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King (4)

  • Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk (5)

  • MH-6 Little Bird (35)

  • AH-64 Apache (25)

  • V-22 Osprey (30)

  • CH-47 Chinook (10)

  • Bell 206 (30)

  • Airbus Helicopter H125 (2)

Total Rotary-Wing Aviation Assets: 272 rotary-wing aircraft

Drone/Unmanned Aviation Assets:

  • Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk (15)

  • MQ-9 Reaper (6)

Total Drone Aviation Assets: 21 drones

Total Manned Aviation Assets: 469 manned aircraft

Total Aviation Assets: 490 aircraft


Critical Naval Assets:

  • USS Harry S. Truman (Nimitz-class aircraft carrier) (Fleet Flagship)

  • USS Lewis Chesty Puller (Lewis Chesty Puller-class battlecarrier)

  • USS Kurt Chew Een Lee (Lewis Chesty Puller-class battlecarrier)

  • USS Essex (Wasp-class Landing Helicopter Dock/LHD amphibious assault ship)

  • USS Iwo Jima (Wasp-class LHD amphibious assault ship)

  • USS Green Bay (San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock)

Fleet Assets:

  • Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer (20)

  • Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser (11)

  • Los Angeles-class attack submarine (3)

  • Cyclone-class patrol ship (9)

  • Legend-class Coast Guard cutter (4)

  • Hamilton-class Coast Guard cutter (2)

Total Naval Assets: 55 warships

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You lost me at "Zombies" $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Jun 29, 2020 at 15:46
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ How come that your army has (much) fewer reserve personnel than active personnel? Normally, it would be expected to have much larger reserve personnel than active personnel. People come of age, they get drafter into the army, serve their time, leave and continue with their lives. For example, Israel (population 9,000,000) has about 170,000 active personnel and 465,000 reserve personnel. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 29, 2020 at 15:47
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ ... And those twenty Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, eleven cruisers etc. are just unbelievable for a country of 1,000,000 people. There is no way that so few people can sustain the industry to maintain, let alone build, this mighty fleet. Just for one small problem, from where do they get the fuel for those ships? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 29, 2020 at 15:54
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ No: A population of 800,000 cannot pay and supply 75,000 Regulars, nor maintain that vast pile of equipment. Not even close. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Jun 29, 2020 at 15:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "A more realistic and believable naval force:" half a dozen coastal patrol boats and a dozen or so torpedo boats? That is, if such a small country can even manufacture torpedoes. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 29, 2020 at 17:25

3 Answers 3


There's a big difference between owning and operating

Owning? No problem.

I see two different questions here. The first is is it possible for the DC government to own this pile of military hardware? The answer is yes. We have room for all that hardware. The ships may have been at sea during the insurrection and out of reach of the enemy forces. One radio call could have gotten them to the greater DC area where they could drop anchor. I live in the District and we have enough runways between our civilian airports and military bases that we could park a whole bunch of aircraft. Between the National Guard armory, military bases, and law enforcement buildings, we could fit tons of other kinds of weaponry. Getting the stuff here and finding room to store it isn't a problem. After all, the United States already has places where we store ships and aircraft for decades at a time with minimal staffing. Davis-Monthan AFB (shown below) has 4,400 aircraft managed by the relatively small 309th AMARG.

Arizona aircraft boneyard

Operating? A problem

Here's the more important question: could a nation-state of fewer than one million residents support the deployment of this kind of firepower? The answer is a definitive no.

Let's start by looking at your aircraft carrier. RAND analyzed aircraft carrier maintenance cycles in real world conditions and found that carriers are only deployed 19% of the time (shown in green in the chart below). As RAND puts it, "These ships, which are among the most complex weapon systems the Navy operates, require continuous and regularly scheduled maintenance."

RAND Corporation analysis of aircraft carrier readiness cycles

Supporting force readiness is a big job. Check out the org chart for the 50,000-employee Naval Sea Systems Command. Your smaller navy won't need quite as many divisions, but you'll still need a lot of experts in different fields to support a nuclear carrier and other large ships.

NAVSEA org chart

Your aircraft and ground vehicles also require maintenance and support. According to this analysis, every flight hour of the F-35 could require 50 people-hours of maintenance. Bradleys and Abrams need less maintenance but you'll still require specialized mechanics and facilities to keep them operating.

Beyond the hands-on maintenance, repair, and training requirements, you'll also need to manufacture ammunition and replacement parts and you'll need fuel and electricity. I'm reminded of this answer to an unrelated question where the author listed all the industries you need just to build one rudimentary computer.

Realistically, 999,999 of my neighbors and I could support a handful of patrol boats, a few easy-to-maintain aircraft, and a number of heavy vehicles.

  • $\begingroup$ So what would a far more realistic and manageable number of individual ground, naval, and air assets be? $\endgroup$
    – user69268
    Jun 30, 2020 at 5:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @user69268 None. When you are just a million people, you don't have an army. You have at best 1,000 officers and you recruit a militia when is needed. $\endgroup$
    – Rekesoft
    Jun 30, 2020 at 11:01
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @user69268 Look up what the US currently owns and operates and divide that by about 300 to account for your smaller population, then divide that by another 10 to account for the fact that the US can't maintain a super-power style economy driven by international financial institutions and diversified industrialization. So... probably about 13 aircraft, 225 ground vehicles and a handful of small naval vessels. The size of your infantry corp is less affected by economic ruin so 5000 regulars + a decent sized militia force is reasonable. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jul 2, 2020 at 21:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The good news is that you will have tons of spare parts to work with; so, you may be able to fudge those numbers to be a bit bigger since you don't need to manufacture everything you are trying to maintain. Keep in mind, in a post apocalyptic world, a "super power" is a small fish in a very small pond. You don't need a lot of assets be the most powerful military left as long as everyone else is doing worse than you are. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jul 2, 2020 at 21:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ NAVSEA is mostly acquisition, but you're also not accounting for NAVFAC, NAVSUP, DLA, or the FRCs. $\endgroup$
    – fectin
    Feb 10, 2021 at 0:02

Make your nation bigger.

Clearly you love the military and all their sweet stuff. And you want what is essentially the US Military to be fighting they way they do now in a near future post apocalyptic environment. That is what you need to have! That is where your passion is.

To keep the sweet military you just need a bigger population. And fortunately you can have it. I think you are keen on DC too, so keep that. But expand their area of control to be much larger. Large enough to have a population that can support a standing army of the size that you want to work with.

An army with the stuff you list would have no trouble defending a reduced sized US. And you will want them to be battling equals: comparably armed warlord mini-nations, zombie hordes, kaiju - not rinkydink militias.

I do think it would be fun fiction to have your army own military assets they don't really know how to use or maintain. Having your tanks fall apart as you are trying to use them makes for exciting fiction.


LOGISTICAL HANDWAVIUM: This scenario requires a LOT of handwavium to justify, especially without adding some really extraordinary tech.

  • Assume the federal government has become an absolute dictatorship, complete command economy where the people are serving purely for the sake of preserving the federal government. Despite the fact the district could be concentrating on expanding the safe base around the city, expanding agriculture, etc, they are instead reaching out in an attempt to rebuild the federal government. Then assume the survivors they encounter are interested in supporting the federal government, instead of their village, city, and state.
  • Assume the federal government has built a giant series of military bases around DC prior to the apocalypse, since you don't have the economy to build them after. A MASSIVE buildup of equipment (especially maintenance equipment and spare parts reserves) were put here as some sort of political statement by a previous administration, ignoring the risk of nuclear attack and concentrating most of the equipment reserves of the old USA in and around DC.
  • Assume federal law or some sort of legal requirement by interfering state governments prior to the war caused a large number of defense contractors to produce their weapons in or near the capital. The engineering expertise to simplify and update equipment was concentrated here.
  • Assume Norfolk VA was the exclusive naval maintenance facility for the USA (possibly due to those same considerations) and that it survived completely intact from the apocalypse. This starting premise isn't too bad, as this is already the biggest naval base in the world.
  • Assume due to political reasons the USA assured critical infrastructure (smelting plants, etc) and HUGE strategic reserves in the immediate area of the capital, including thousands of tons of steel, millions of tons of surplus food, and millions of barrels of oil.
  • NOW: Idle 90% of this stuff as being impractical in an actual zombie apocalypse. You don't need most of the air power, and you don't need most of the sea power. Sure, it's there, but a cargo ship filled with soldiers will be a lot more useful than an aircraft carrier. Each one of these ships requires a huge crew. They would mostly get parked somewhere and used as bases and landing strips. I saw a game once where the USS Constitution was equipped with 50 cal machine guns and turned into a pirate ship. The modern equivalent would be more practical - sailing ships with engines for maneuvering, to minimize fuel consumption (modern ships are starting to look into similar options - it just proves what comes around goes around).
  • The scenario that justifies all this handwaving is if there was a conspiracy going on prior to the zombie apocalypse that knew it was coming, and prepared for it in advance. Personally, I wouldn't pick DC if I were a conspirator, but hey, why not? The conspiracy would be decades-long. Maybe someone WANTS the USA to become the only superpower, and a deeply authoritarian one, at that.Who knows the motives of conspirators? Sounds like a good back-story...
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "I am the senate." President Barack Obama. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jun 29, 2020 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ So what would a more realistic military look like in this scenario? $\endgroup$
    – user69268
    Jun 30, 2020 at 5:11
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Look to the model of many third-world countries for what the army would be like. It would be a lot of militias with basic weapons, a core of highly professional soldiers, and a sprinkling of really advanced stuff that seems out-of-place. You'd have access to advanced equipment, but keeping it going would be the kicker. You can maintain WW2-type equipment easily, and you'd convert your power over to alternative fuels that you have the energy to support. Electric armored humvees and fuel-cell APCs? This could be a question on it's own. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jun 30, 2020 at 20:13

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