The key to building an effective military that we can afford: bring back the militia!

Summary:  Slowly realization spreads that we cannot afford our current military forces.  This forces us to consider new forms of organization.  In this, as in so many things, the Founders give us sound advice.  Militia can provide a key component of our military.

Going Back to the Future – Militia Model Could Cut U.S. Expenditures“, Ron Fogleman, DefenseNews, 16 January 2012 — Excerpt:

Throughout my career, I spoke frequently about the kind of defense America deserved — that is, a modern, balanced and ready force. … In its current form, the force has become unaffordable. … The big question is, how does the department reduce its budget and continue to provide a modern, balanced and ready defense when more than half of the budget is committed to personnel costs?

The all-volunteer force has provided the nation with the most capable and experienced force in our history. We need to preserve that capability; however, we cannot afford the imbalance of resources stemming from the size and composition of the force.

The answer to that question is right before us: We should return to our historic roots as a militia nation. …  we should return to the constitutional construct for our military and the days when we maintained a smaller standing military and a robust militia. … This concept worked well for our country for the better part of two centuries. … The fiscal environment and emerging threats demand it. To do otherwise is to allow the budget to drive the future capability in a way that fails to meet the needs of the nation.

This is a great idea, one whose time may come soon.  What kind of military does America need in a world with many nuclear power and few conventional threats (no superpower actively threatening to start WWIII, as the Soviet Union threatening Europe)?  A world in which foreign armies are usually stalemated or even defeated by local forces, so that imperial adventures are dangerous and unprofitable (see here for details)? A world in which we face many enemies, but find a global program of bombing and assassination only generates still more enemies?  Where growth and militarization of police and security services threaten our liberties?

Imagine a military composed of special operations units (training/support for allies; raids),   navy & air force (transport, firepower), marines (light expeditionary forces), army (a small core of heavy land forces), and militia (several levels of trained citizen-soldiers).  The first four are well-understood.  Here is a sketch of how militia might work for us, from September 2005.


Summary:  Militia might be our most reliable defense against fourth generation warfare (4GW).  They have deep roots in western history, and many of these advantages can work for America today.  Militia also are problematic for several reasons.  These issues must be considered when designing their recruitment, training, and organization. 


  1. Why militia?
  2. Strategic Implications
  3. The right tool for the right war
  4. History of the Militia
  5. An American militia for the 21st Century
  6. Role of an American Militia
  7. Who controls the Militia? What can Militia do for America?
  8. What can Militia do for America?
  9. Politics of Militia
  10. Militia as a Dangerous Innovation
  11. Militia as nucleus for vigilantes
  12. Private Military Companies (aka mercenaries, in a new form for the age of 4GW)
  13. Decline of the State
  14. Conclusions
  15. For more information

As a follow-up see Lawrence Korb of CAP and CDI advocates a militia, 4 June 2008.

(1)  Why militia?

{Click here to read this essay}

7 thoughts on “The key to building an effective military that we can afford: bring back the militia!”

  1. Fogleman was a good general, and he was not afraid to slaughter sacred cows, which is why he ended up resigning before his tenure as AF Chief of Staff was up.

    We already have a solid foundation for this idea in the Guard and Reserves.

  2. I’ve been wondering for a while why the US has an Army at all. It really needs only the Marine Corps.

    Perhaps it should retain the Army to guard Korea and Europe, but that’s about it.

    1. Finish these sentences, please:

      The United States needs to guard Korea because…

      The United States needs to guard Europe because…

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