Imagine Tea Party extremists seizing control of a South Carolina town and the Army being sent in to crush the rebellion. This farcical vision is now part of the discussion in professional military circles.

At issue is an article in the respected Small Wars Journal titled “Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A ‘Vision’ of the Future.” It was written by retired Army Col. Kevin Benson of the Army’s University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and Jennifer Weber, a Civil War expert at the University of Kansas. It posits an “extremist militia motivated by the goals of the ‘tea party’ movement” seizing control of Darlington, S.C., in 2016, “occupying City Hall, disbanding the city council and placing the mayor under house arrest.” The rebels set up checkpoints on Interstate 95 and Interstate 20 looking for illegal aliens. It’s a cartoonish and needlessly provocative scenario.

The scenario presented in Small Wars Journal isn’t a literary device but an operational lay-down intended to present the rationale and mechanisms for Americans to fight Americans. Col. Benson and Ms. Weber contend, “Army officers are professionally obligated to consider the conduct of operations on U.S. soil.” This is a dark, pessimistic and wrongheaded view of what military leaders should spend their time studying.