America again needs a militia for defense

Summary: We face an expanding list of threats, natural and otherwise. We need new ways to prepare for them. In this, as in so many things, the Founders give us sound advice. Militia can provide a key component of our preparations for almost any threat. 

American Military Fist

History of the Militia, helping nations for a millennium

Militias have their origins deep in western history, back to the 7th Century Anglo-Saxon fyrd — with military service obligatory for every able-bodied freeman. Membership in the fyrd constituted one of the three “Common Burdens” owned to the King by landowners in 8th century England (plus repair of fortifications and bridges).

The Assize of Arms by Henry II of England (1181).

(1)  Whoever holds a knight’s fee must have a hauberk and helmet and shield and lance, and all knights should have as many hauberks and helmets and shields and lances as they have knights’ fees within their lordship.

(2)  Whichever free laymen who have chattels or rent of 16 marks should have a hauberk and helmet and shield and lance; whichever free layman has chattels or rent of 10 marks must have a light hauberk [aubergel], an iron cap and a lance.

(3)  Likewise all burgesses and the whole body of free men must have a gambeson [wambais], an iron cap and a lance.

(4)  To that end everyone must swear an oath before the Feast of St Hilary [Jan 13] that they will have these arms and will carry them faithfully for our lord king Henry, son of the Empress Matilda, and that he will be armed according to this order in allegiance to our lord king and his realm. ….

(10)  Also let justices cause to be said in every county through which they travel, if any does not have arms in accordance with this order, the king shall take his life and limbs and not only his land and chattels. …

Note the fourth section. Militias have an inherently problematic loyalty to the central Government. Unfortunately, having them swear an oath might not guarantee loyalty and obedience in today’s secular culture. Swear to whom in an atheist culture?

The history of militia in post-medieval Britain and later America has two themes. First, growing central control. Second, militias were seen as a “constitutional force” to guarantee liberty, as a counter-balance against the State’s standing army.

Militias have given great service to America. They were the only defense for Britain’s North America colonies. After the Revolution, militia formed the basis of America’s voluntary mobilization system. They provided the majority of defenders until after the Spanish-American War. For example, in the late 1850’s American had approximately 75 thousand uniformed militia – all self-financed. Drawn from a population of under 30 million, that’s equivalent to approximately 820 thousand today.

Other than the occasional war, our 19th Century militia served in much the same way as our present National Guard, providing valuable help during national disasters and civil disturbances. The modern National Guard was created with the Militia Act of 1903, replacing militia. But there is still a role for a militia.

Create an American militia for the 21st Century

Although few realize it, we have a militia today. From US Code: Title 10 – Armed Forces; Subtitle A – General Military Law; Part I – Organization and General Military Powers; Chapter 13 – The Militia (source here).

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are –

• the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
• the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

What does an “unorganized militia” look like? Their key characteristics …

  1. armed forces loyal to the State, under its central control, who have some training;
  2. part-time volunteers authorized to bear and use arms at the direction of the State;
  3. operating with some degree of self-organization and local control;
  4. drawn from and operating in a community, able to mobilize quickly when and as needed (like the Minute Men);
  5. a trained and armed force intermediate between the police and National Guard.

Twenty States already have militia, but most lack a meaningful role. Many police forces have “reserves” (e.g., New York City Police Department Auxiliary Police).  At the lower end, there are loosely organized training programs (e.g., FEMA’s CERT). The legal and historical framework exists to rebuilt militia into an effective tool for America, on a larger scale than any of these used today.

Properly used, militia have unique strengths.

Militia can defend the United States by mobilizing the strong social cohesion of our local communities. That is, defending their communities against natural disasters and civil unrest. As America becomes more diverse, with less social cohesion, bouts of civil unrest (so frequent in US history) will become more severe.

Militia are an intermediary measure: trained, local, and available in large numbers. The National Guard are a heavy-handed response, both “foreign” and military to a community. Police are too few – if their numbers are increased to handle peak demands, they tend to become either corrupt or intrusive during normal times (Proverbs 16:27: “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”). Militia are cheaper than either.

Militia are self-organizing to some degree (local volunteers under local leaders), although not self-supported or self-training.

If given concealed carry permits, militia put more trained and armed citizens on the streets.

When protecting their homes, militia can display resilience under horrific circumstances. Like that of the elderly and boys defending Berlin from the Russians in the closing days of WWII. They fought as determinedly as the Wehrmacht’s professionals did at Stalingrad (the standard for elite troops in the annals of world history).

Trusted by and familiar with their community, members of the militia can operate more effectively under many circumstances than National Guard units. They can be trusted by the community, with greater ability than strangers to use force when and to the degree necessary. That is, they have the ability to use appropriate force while retaining public confidence.

Militia are, of course, no panacea. They have weaknesses different from those of police and National Guard.

  1. Local organization and control inevitably creates wide variation in unit quality – and corruption.
  2. Standardization might prove difficult to achieve in key aspects, such as recruitment, doctrine, equipment, and training. Especially if militia are financed by local governments or their own members.
  3. Focus and seriousness often prove difficult to maintain in militia, as most unit will see little or no action. Nineteenth Century militia often degenerated into social clubs.
  4. They lack the training and experience of police and National Guard (although many will be veterans). Rivalries among the three groups can prove disastrous.

What can an American militia do during an emergency?

What will they do during an emergency? We already have local police, state police, National Guard, Federal law enforcement agencies (such as the FBI and ATF), State and Federal disaster response organizations (e.g. FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency), and even the Reserve and Regular military. Plus a host of international and non-governmental agencies. Their fast-response manpower could play a vital role (e.g., in a natural or man-made disaster).

Does it help to add another organization to this mix during a disaster? Militias need not have their own command and control hierarchy. They could be limited to providing manpower to work under the direction of other organizations. To the extent that militia include people with a wide range of skills (e.g., engineers, health care, construction), they could provide essential help. But in many situations, unskilled but disciplined manpower makes the difference.

The debate about the utility of militia goes back to the Revolution. Since George Washington, American army officers have believed that militia not directly under their control could not be relied upon in combat (somethings they were right, sometimes wrong). On the other hand, the National Guard of the Cold War era, equipped and trained for combat, proved unprepared to deal with the urban riots of the 1960’s. Militia provide a third tool for our leaders.

A militia consists of armed citizens, not police or soldiers. Restraint when using force is a discipline resulting from training and experience, both probably in short supply among militia. On the other hand, members of SWAT are highly trained, yet the large number of lawsuits proving excessive force shows the intractable nature of this problem.

Politics of Militia

Militia units have been and again could become important social and political groups, supporting goals unrelated to their stated purpose. Their leadership positions could become steppingstones for local politicians, or adornments for the résumés of prominent citizens. Local militias could become powerful political tools if organized upon ethnic, creed, or ideology lines.

To the extent they have any paid support staff, militia become opportunities for patronage – as does any large local operations. Their budgets would become rewards in the local, state, and national government contractor sweepstakes.

Like every other entity in America, we can expect militia to attract well-meaning social engineers seeking to train the New American Men and Women – and so become enmeshed in America’s racial-ethnic-gender battles. Effectiveness might become secondary to their Political Correctness. In strictly military terms, the ability to recruit and train – even unit cohesion – might suffer trade-offs vs. political and social constraints. Imagine the requirements for ethnic diversity and the proper role of women.

We might see the cruel logic of evolution in action. In an age of active 4GW, perhaps communities with good militias survive while other communities suffer.

Militia as nucleus for vigilantes

Armed forces of the State – military and police, both regular and reserve – are rigorously indoctrinated against “inappropriate” activities and loyalties. Governments also keep them under tight supervision and control. This will be more difficult to achieve with members of a militia. What that might mean in the context of American society?

A strong militia, like the best of the 19th Century, with quality volunteers and competent elected leaders, could be effective – but become controlled by its leaders and membership, independent of elected officials.  There are few precedents in American history for rebellion, but there is a long tradition of local citizen-run law enforcement. These kind of social activists are called vigilante committees (quite different than lone vigilantes).

The danger of vigilantism exists when we face threats that our national elites do not choose to recognize, let alone engage. During the 19th century, America’s leaders ignored the need for law and order on our large frontier, forcing people to act on their own. Canada learned from our sorry example, extending the reach of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other governing institutions as the frontier grew.

To mention just one of today’s so far unrecognized threats, note the flow of criminals, terrorists, and what we might call “undesirables” across our open borders. This occurs at considerable cost, mostly unreported in the national media, to those living on the border. In many inner cities crime is common and police are not trusted – ideal conditions for vigilante committees.

Also, major events might spark local forces to act to defend their community in the absence of or in defiance of instructions from the lawful higher authorities (there was some of this after Katrina hit New Orleans). The strong internal cohesion and ties to the local community that make militia effective can easily lead them into vigilantism.

Conclusions

Militia are an attractive tool, providing support during emergencies and as an alternative to the growth of police (both public and private). They allow fast and flexible response to a community’s crisis, without the cost and complexity of large-scale mobilization of police and Guard units. They can help communities become more resilient, and less dependent (in fact and psychology) on big distant government institutions.

They provide a new means to encourage civic involvement – a worthy goal by itself. We face unknown threats in the next decade. Inexpensive ways to help should be explored. Ron Fogleman (General, USAF, retired) made the case well in “Going Back to the Future” at Defense News , 16 January 2012 – “Militia Model Could Cut U.S. Expenditures.” Brilliant, frequented cited, but no longer online.

“In its current form, the force has become unaffordable…Nonetheless; our nation deserves a modern, balanced and ready defense. 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 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. …We need our collective senior military and civilian leaders to recognize there is a way back to a smaller active military and a larger militia posture. The fiscal environment and emerging threats demand it.”

Useful resources

Since WWII the National Guard has become more like a military than a militia. See “Demystifying the Citizen Soldier” by Raphael S. Cohen at RAND (2015).

Others have also proposed building a militia.

William Lind proposed a militia in his “Strategic Defense Initiative” (November 2004).

I first wrote about this in 2008.

Home Guard“ by Lawrence Korb, Democracy (Spring 2008). Korb is senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP) and a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information(CDI). He served as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan Administration. See my post about it.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See posts about Reforming America, about William Lind’s work, and especially these…

  1. We are alone in the defense of the Republic.
  2. Who can we trust to defend our liberty? Will our culture’s rot spread to the military?
  3. How can we arouse a passion to reform America in the hearts of our neighbors?
  4. Is grassroots organizing a snare or magic bullet for the reform of America?
The Minute Men: The First Fight
Available at Amazon.

About America’s early militia

The Minute Men: The First Fight

Myths and Realities of the American Revolution.
By John R. Galvin (General, US Army, retired).

From the publisher …

“The concept of the farmer and shopkeeper pulling rifles off pegs on the wall to fight the British has been the typical image of the American minuteman. The fact that he may have had military training and drilled – and that April 19, 1775 was not his first battle – usually goes unmentioned. Winner of the American Revolution Round Table Award, The Minute Men will be of keen interest to those curious about the true history of some of America’s first soldiers.”

43 thoughts on “America again needs a militia for defense”

  1. This post reminds me of the last lynching in California.

    “Let the sheriff handle the matter. He can appoint as many deputies as he wants; he has the power. I am not going to call the guard to protect the kidnapers who wilfully killed a fine boy like that. Let the law take its course.”

    — Governor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph, 23 Nov 1933 comments to reporters in Los Angeles

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooke_Hart

  2. I have the same question as I did for your post on this subject 10 years ago, why do we need these guys? Like, where’s the Germans?
    By the way, I’m not so sure I would sleep that soundly, if I had to rely on the Orinda Volunteers or the Danville Rifles for my security!

    1. Ruby,

      “I have the same question as I did for your post on this subject 10 years ago, why do we need these guys?”

      Did you read the post? It answers that in detail.

      “Like, where’s the Germans?”

      OK, you didn’t read the post.

      “I’m not so sure I would sleep that soundly, if I had to rely on the Orinda Volunteers or the Danville Rifles for my security!”

      Perhaps if you read the post you would sleep more soundly.

  3. Militias may work for an ethnically and religiously homogeneous population as the “founding” population was for the most part as the militia reflected a “nation”. It would work in Han China, 92% one ethnicity. the present population of the US, looked at nationally, seems unlikely to work. Some locales may well be sufficiently uniform ethnically/racially/religiously for local defense but local defense against what? Internet predation is the new predation.

    1. Steve,

      “the present population of the US, looked at nationally, seems unlikely to work.”

      Why? Many institutions are quite diverse, and work quite well. Police, fire, Boy Scouts, the US Army, etc.

      “but local defense against what?”

      Did you read the post? That was made quite clear.

    2. I believe that you are correct. Many would disagree that the diverse institutions that he cites function as well as he thinks they do.

      1. Mblanc,

        “Many would disagree that the diverse institutions that he cites function as well as he thinks they do.”

        Evidence? Just assertions about such things carry no weight, since without evidence they look like confessions of prejudice.

        I know many in the military, current and retired, and they don’t agree with you. I have over 15 years in Scouting, working as a volunteer leader at the unit and Council level, and don’t agree with you.

        Demographic diversity has advantages and weaknesses, depending on many factors. But I see no basis supporting your specific examples.

      2. Evidence? The police, fire departments, and the military are AA outfits, where standards have been lowered so that women and racial minorities can be admitted. Anyone who needs to be shown evidence of this is simply not paying (or refusing to pay) attention. Sailors can’t pilot their ships. What wars has the military won since 1945? Oh yeah, there was Grenada. And they did force Manuel Noriega to give himself up by blaring pop music at him nonstop. What they say is one thing. What they’ve accomplished is quite different. Cops stand and watch while Antifa attack citizens exercising their right to assemble. And the Boy Scouts are n the verge of bankruptcy.

      3. M Blanc,

        “Anyone who needs to be shown evidence of this is simply not paying (or refusing to pay) attention.”

        That’s what I thought. You can’t support your belief.

        “Sailors can’t pilot their ships.”

        You can’t just point to things and make up stories that flatter your prejudices. Propublica (and others) have explained what caused these accidents. As in this excerpt from their report:

        “Promising a “workforce for the 21st century,” Clark’s team tried out new training and staffing ideas, including a decision that officers no longer needed to attend months of classroom training to learn the intricacies of operating billion-dollar warships. Instead, aspiring Surface Warfare Officers, charged with everything from driving ships to launching missiles, could learn mostly at sea with the help of packets of CDs. The program was widely derided by sailors as “SWOS in a Box.” The efficiencies even included eliminating a requirement for ship captains to post lookouts on both sides of ships, a cut that would later prove crucial when the Fitzgerald’s crew failed to see a fast-closing cargo ship until it was too late.”

        “Oh yeah, there was Grenada.”

        I feel sorry for you. But I doubt that help is possible.

    1. Sven,

      Thanks for the link! I added that to the mention of existing militia.

      These are structurally different than the militia I and others propose. These are mini-National Guard units – top-down organized and run. Not community based, not volunteer forces, and (overall) seldom used. As the many reports cited on that Wikipedia page says, they are mostly purposeless – devoid of any useful strategy for their use.

  4. Swear to whom in an atheist culture?

    People now pray to themselves for themselves like President Underwood in “House of Cards.” I often wonder why the government makes officers take oaths to God to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. What if they follow through on the “…and domestic” part?

    To help your readers find the paragraph they missed:

    To mention just one of today’s so far unrecognized threats, note the flow of criminals, terrorists, and what we might call “undesirables” across our open borders. This occurs at considerable cost, mostly unreported in the national media, to those living on the border. In many inner cities crime is common and police are not trusted – ideal conditions for vigilante committees.

    One needs only to read Robert Bunker at the Small Wars Journal or read your local police blotter to see the threats from 4GW. Tucker Carlson describes the threats to Mendota police by MS-13 here. The frontiers have been pushed all the way to within tens of miles of the White House with modern 4th-generation threats. Americans have been raised mostly in the safety of a state with functioning institutions and police. This is rapidly coming to an end.

    Bill Lind has been writing about this quite a bit, even more recently. The truth is our own military is bottled up in its green zones even in the United States. Many service members won’t live close to their own duty station because of local 4GW threats from south of the border. This makes our overseas deployments and our MIC a joke.

    1. Bryce,

      My original post in 2008 extensively discussed the potential for 4GW threats in the US. The evidence of time has made me skeptical that is a serious threat to the US. That is, there is near-zero evidence for that. Europe, however, is a different story. Hence its omission from this post.

      “People now pray to themselves for themselves”

      Do you have any evidence that many people seriously do so? Rather, they have no such deep beliefs in a higher power. I was an arbitrator for 12 years. We joked that we should give ratings – like they do in the Olympics – rather than verdicts. People lie like rugs. This washes away the basis for our judicial system, making it a farce – like those in Latin America.

      “I often wonder why the government makes officers take oaths to God”

      This is a massive problem, too big for most people to see — perhaps devastating in its effects.

      1. Bryce Sharper

        Do you have any real data, or just a summary written for a tabloid rag? I went on the Bureau of Justice Statistics and couldn’t find any reports on long-term trends. I searched your site and found some references to Gallup polls telling us we’re safer. I’d like some real government reports, not reports on reports generated by empty-headed reporters and pollsters.

      2. Bryce,

        “Do you have any real data, or just a summary written for a tabloid rag?”

        I don’t usually do research on such obvious things, where the internet overflows with info on it. But just this once. I found the following in 20 seconds. Be sure to look at crime rates. Crime numbers are affected by population growth, making comparisons over long periods meaningless.

        Start with Wikipedia’s page on US crime. See the graphs. Follow the links given.

        2017 National Crime Victimization Report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics – From the summary:

        “From 1993 to 2017, the rate of violent victimization declined 74%, from 79.8 to 20.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. The survey indicated that the rate of violent victimization reported to police declined 73% during this period, from 33.8 to 9.2 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older.”

        Crime Trends Fact Sheet” by the DoJ (2017) – “While the rate of criminal victimization has decreased dramatically over the past 50 years, many in the general public believe crime rates have increased.” See the graphs.

        Recent Violent Crime Trends in the United States” by Nathan James of the Congressional Research Service, 20 June 2018. Excerpt from the summary:

        “At the national level, violent crime and homicide rates increased from 2014 to 2015 and again from 2015 to 2016, but both rates remain near historical lows. Violent crime and homicide rates for the 48 largest cities in the United States with available data generally followed national level trends, with some exceptions. For example, violent crime rates in cities of 500,000 999,999 people and 250,000 499,999 people decreased from 2014 to 2015, and the homicide rate in small cities of 50,000 99,999 people decreased from 2015 to 2016.”

  5. I think militias will have a role to play considering drug cartels following the migrants over the border alongside vicious gangs like ms-13

  6. Bryce Sharper

    My original post in 2008 extensively discussed the potential for 4GW threats in the US. The evidence of time has made me skeptical that is a serious threat to the US. That is, there is near-zero evidence for that.

    There are hundreds of thousands of gang members in Los Angeles County alone, most of them tied to cartels from whom they get drugs to sell. They pose a threat to local governments in some places like Mendota. In other places, they bribe officials. In places like CUdahy, they are the local government. They have not engaged in much overt violence but they’re testing the waters. Illegal immigrants themselves are an example of non-state actors who subvert the state by refusing to abide by its rules and working in a shadow economy and stealing SS number for fake IDs. Some have shot at or killed police or citizens. You are not a native Californian and have seen less than I’ve seen. I don’t see the point of having a “black is white” argument about this.

    1. Bryce,

      I’ve been reading that for 15 years. Always with urgency. I’ll be interested when I see evidence of an increasing trend.

      That is esp implausible when crime rates have been falling during that period. Few of the cities with rising crime are in the cities with large influxes of Hispanics – and most of those are in grossly misgoverned California (the Leftist demonstration of what they’ll do to America if given power).

      See this USA Today of the 25 cities where crime is soaring.

  7. Larry,

    I have not yet read your post. It’s been a rough 48 hours but at first opportunity at 11:45PM, I went to your site and saw the title which prompted me to immediately comment. I have read the other comments. I shall read your post and comment further tomorrow. This is a subject dear to me.

    I have always been an advocate for Civil Defense and Militias to deal with man caused and natural disasters. We, as individials can be effective first responders when properly prepared. We can be much more effective networked as neighborhood and community watches. We can be an effectively trained militia deputized by County Sheriffs and State Governors. I think Christian Marine Corps in Victoria, especially in the beginning of the book, the part about the folks in da Hood. The Church Ladies.

    As an individual I am The Wall as often as possible. I keep a low profile and just find high vantage points, set up my spotting scope, observe and report to Border Patrol. My cell phone and eyes are my 4GW weapons. The first thing to appear is a Predator Drone, a silver glimmer barely visible high in the sky. Within 15 minutes later a UH-60 Blackhawk shows up. Then Border Patrol vehicles converge from all directions. They work their a$$es off! We need 4 times as many Border Patrollers untill there is an impenetrable Wall. Currently in my sector there is 3 strand barbed wire fencing rusted, laying on the ground. At least 1000 miles of our Southern border is like that!

    I AM am militia. A single handed Minuteman. I AM the Wall! I’m not enough.

    I am also extremely angry.

    1. Longtrail,

      “I AM am militia. A single handed Minuteman.”

      This is, imo, an important point. Not just philosophically, but operationally. America is overdosing on individualism. You are not a militia, and more than you can be a nation or a society or a family. Standing alone you are a dot, in most cases helpless to do anything but choose how to die with dignity.

      The strength of the wolf is not its teeth or claws, but the pack.

    2. Follow-up

      The Army briefly used “Army of One” as a recruitment slogan. They stopped when they realized that was nuts. But that it was even used shows how far the disease of excess individualism has progressed in America.

  8. Larry,

    I couldn’t wait and read your post immediately after my first comment. Excellent! Thanks for Middle Age history lesson and American history lesson. Your post and references are familiar. Lind’s familiar. Very good! You touched on angles I haven’t considered.

    We see eye to eye regarding the Police State, Private Police and Vigilante Committees. We also see eye to eye regarding individual vigilantes, even though Death Wish and Mr. Majestic are some of my all time favorite movies.

    You not only nailed it, I can add something to reduce the cost of our defence. As much as we need our Nuclear Attack and Ballistic Submarine fleet, I believe it’s too large, too expensive as well as our Carrier Fleet. Our Ballistic/Cruise Missile Submarine Deterrent Fleet should remain at current strength. Nuclear Attack strength recommendation is 66 Boats. I say cut Nuke Attack Fleet to 50 and build 60 Diesel/AIP Subs for coastal defense. It’s getting to the point a lot of it is becoming ataunemous. Super Carriers are becoming less effective and are carrying the wrong types of aircraft. It is a good development to make Light “Jeep” Carriers from Amphibious Assault Carriers loaded with the only decent
    F-35B VTOL and Ospreys. Super Carriers need Long Range Attack Aircraft.

    If USN abhors Diesel Subs, Coast Guard can become a Submarine force with Diesel/AIP and give USN fits just like the Swedes did with their Gotland!

    Cheers, Go Navy, Go Coasties, go Sheepdogs, the Grey Tribe. We don’t quit, we don’t give up. We’ll die fighting, laughing or praying, singing our Death Songs. We are a certain breed. We come in all colors. Americans are so dangerous because we’re nuts and you can’t tell what we look like!

    I have to end on a positive note, especially after reading about the coming Singularity. Holy Mackerel! Maybe I’ll become like Chappie!

    Again, Cheers Larry.

  9. In reply to your comment about the Wolf and Pack I say I’m part of the Sheepdog Pack. The Invaders are the Wolves we’re trying to hold off. You’re correct, I’m a dot. But dots can become blots. Lots of dots along the border doing what I do could be a virtual wall. We definately augment BP/DHS.

    From your earlier posts I’ve learned the importance of leadership and organization. You’re absolutely correct there’s a long way to go.

    I’m not quitting. I’m not going to give up. I’m having too much fun! It’s like Scouting as it used to be!

    1. Longtrail,

      I’m glad to read about your commitment and enthusiasm! Big things can result from the decisions of a small number of people – will and commitment are not everything, but they’re close to it.

  10. Bryce Sharper

    Larry,

    Thanks for those crime statistics. Based on them and your negation of 4GW, I’m with Ruby – where’s the threat? I don’t see the need for militias. Your thesis does not agree with the data. I just lived through a natural disaster fine without a militia.

    1. Bryce,

      “Your thesis does not agree with the data.”

      You don’t appear to be paying attention.

      (1) As General Fogelman said (in the quote at the end of the post): “In its current form, the force has become unaffordable …” It’s nice that you are satisfied with our forces, but we spend an insane amount on them. Depending on the calculations, about half of the world’s total military spending. Much of that money could be better spent elsewhere. That’s cold hard cash. That’s data you appear to have forgotten.

      (2) “I just lived through a natural disaster fine without a militia.”

      To rich people, a hangnail is a disaster. The last three severe natural disaster in the US were Hurricane Maria in 2017 Puerto Rico, 2005 Hurricane Katrina, and the 1972 Black Hills Flood. The response to all three was poor (or, as in PR, far worse than poor). Which one of these did you live through?

      There have been countless local ones – on the other side of the scale – for which the response was inadequate because calling out the National Guard was not done (it’s expensive). Militia are perfect for that kind of situation.

      Even moderate disasters – like the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (I was at near the epicenter as it happened) – have too slow response between the first responders and the massive mobilization of the Guard and other services. Speed is everything.

      Ahead of us lie large disasters unlike anything we have seen in a long time. Many doubt that our existing systems will stand up well, given the tremendous growth in population, its concentration, and our dependence on complex systems. A powerful hurricane directly hitting a major city (eg, a class hitting Miami – or a class 3 hitting NYC). One of the Cascade volcanoes (or Yellowstone) erupting big. The “big one” hitting the Midwest or the West Coast (for 20 years I lived on top of one of the three 3 faults, and well knew we were not prepared). Or one of the many other possibilities.

      We’re not well prepared for these inevitable events, but can’t afford to gear up professional forces even more.

      That too is data.

  11. John Pittman

    “Qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum.” (Let him who desires peace prepare for war.)
    — Vegetius

    The Modern Version: “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”
    — Donald Rumsfeld

    Larry definitely states their use as a tool, and would often be without work. Don’t know about you, but I have plenty of tools that usually just sit there gathering dust. But I have them, because when I need them, I NEED them.

    1. John,

      That’s an important point. We tend to over-prepare for routine threats. For example, most US cities are over-prepared for fires (i.e., they have too-low utilization rates). We tend to under-prepare for extreme events. Yet over time, the extreme events do the most damage (by every metric). But we can’t have paid professionals ready to deal with extreme events. The US is doing that with the military, and it is a big competitive disadvantage for us.

      Militia are a cost-effective multi-function tool, providing utility for more common disasters (nice to have) while being ready for the rare events (from riots to natural disasters).

  12. How you think American militias will fare against vicious gangs like MS-13 and drug cartels that follow the migrants into the United States?

      1. America also has the advantage of having a gun behind every blade of grass as it was said.

        Otherwise friends,family and relatives can be more credibly threatened by criminals who want compliance. “Do this or everyone you love will be killed.” along those lines.

        https://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ae1_1384802450

        Which has successfully extracted compliance in their former home country.

        As non-compliant citizen had their entire families killed.

      2. info,

        That is a all quite false. As has been proven many many times. The rate of gun accidents is far higher than the very low rate of home invasions (numbers here).

        ALso, most of those are intended thefts – violence, so you are risking death to protect your insurance company. A good friend of mine was a rich gun nut. Very proficient. Thieves broke into his home, He shot it out with them. He got one, but was killed – and his wife seriously injured. They were pros, and had never hurt anyone. His insurance company didn’t even send a thank you note.

        Also, a gun in the home appears to increase the suicide rate (I’ve seen this, but haven’t looked at the studies).

        So guns in homes are much more likely to be used against you than thieves. No matter how lurid the occasional news story might be.

        The idea that a gun in the home helps defend against drug cartels is quite nuts. They can grab family members at any time during the day and hold them. Your home arsenal is useless against them.

      3. info,

        I published articles from 2007 – 2010 about Mexico’s decay. But they got little traffic, so I stopped. At this point I don’t know what could reverse it. Whatever the solution, it won’t be pretty.

      4. info,

        “What then is the best defense against such tactics?”

        The same tactics that are used today by everyone. They work quite well, which is why such incidents are quite rare in the US – outside of high-crime neighborhoods (which are a unique and difficult problem).

        People get excited over home invasions (outside high-crime neighborhoods) disproportionately to their frequency. But they’re indifferent to the far higher odds of death while driving. A safe driving course is cheaper than owning a gun, does not increase the odds of death by suicide, has near-zero odds of causing accidental injury or death to you or others – and makes you safer. Even the $30 online courses are useful (I take one every five years). But almost nobody takes this.

        Simple home safety tips can reduce the odds of home injury or death. Unless forced to do so, nobody does.

        So I’m unconvinced that people are arming themselves – often with carbines or rifles – out of any rational consideration of the odds. It’s just more evidence that modern Americans have gone bonkers. As I’ve written many times, we’re in the Crazy Years.

      5. The info is quite informative. Why do you think such tactics seem to work much better in South America?

        And if the illegal immigration issue isnt properly solved. How effective will the current counters be?

      6. info,

        “Why do you think such tactics seem to work much better in South America?”

        Are you kidding?

        “the illegal immigration issue isnt properly solved. How effective will the current counters be?”

        Crime is the least of the effects to worry about, if we don’t slow the rate of illegal immigration.

      7. ““Why do you think such tactics seem to work much better in South America?”

        Are you kidding?”

        That was a spelling mistake I forgot to add “don’t” between “tactics” and “seem”.

        Apologies for the confusion.

      8. info,

        I’ve made that mistake many times!

        As for why, I know too little about Latin American nations to do more than observe. Not enough for analysis. That’s why the posts here about Lat Am are by experts.

      9. “I’ve made that mistake many times!”

        Looks like we have something in common :)

  13. Bryce Sharper

    As General Fogelman said (in the quote at the end of the post): “In its current form, the force has become unaffordable …” It’s nice that you are satisfied with our forces, but we spend an insane amount on them. Depending on the calculations, about half of the world’s total military spending. Much of that money could be better spent elsewhere. That’s cold hard cash. That’s data you appear to have forgotten.

    Military spending is largely largely orthogonal to this discussion. Our assumptions of fighting a two-front war against peer nation-states has been used to justify enormous spending. Our frequent use of the military in overseas sh1tholes has been extremely expensive. Unlike you, I’ve served in it and was definitely not satisfied with it. I think we need military reforms but our force is not really used to protect the USA anyway and, based on what you’ve said, I’m skeptical a militia would be either. See Bill Lind’s recommendations for reforming our military.

    To rich people, a hangnail is a disaster. The last three severe natural disaster in the US were Hurricane Maria in 2017 Puerto Rico, 2005 Hurricane Katrina, and the 1972 Black Hills Flood. The response to all three was poor (or, as in PR, far worse than poor). Which one of these did you live through?

    You’re a rich guy, so you’d know. I lived through the fires which required evacuation. I’ve evacuated two major fires in my lifetime in California expecting to return to rubble. Is that a hangnail to you? What a flippant and insensitive remark. The National Guard was mobilized to stop looters mostly. People evacuated on their own just fine. Nothing is preventing anyone from organizing a neighborhood defense but apathy. In Katrina, the Guard confiscated guns from people defending their homes. The problem is mostly us and the leaders we elect.

    Ahead of us lie large disasters unlike anything we have seen in a long time. Many doubt that our existing systems will stand up well, given the tremendous growth in population, its concentration, and our dependence on complex systems.

    Proof? Natural disasters always happen. Militias or fyrds were not how people handled them in the past. Fyrds were used to fight Danes and each-other. You’re not worried about 4th-generation threats so I don’t see why you’re arguing for the modern equivalent of a fyrd when existing forces are handling this just fine according to you. You also said that militias would not be used against MS-13. The government already has civilian auxiliaries for natural disasters like FEMA’s CERT or ARES. Ad hoc forces like the Cajun Navy functioned adequately.

    Militias are used for fighting.

    That too is data.

    No, it’s assertion.

    1. Bryce,

      “Military spending is largely largely orthogonal to this discussion.”

      No. The National Guard is a military unit, and is the major resource after local first responders to riots, natural disaster, and other severe events.

      “I lived through the fires which required evacuation”

      Wildfires are not major disasters in any sense (other than property damage). That you were evacuated is sad, but doesn’t compare with results of a major diaster. They are not remotely in the same league as large riots, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunami, and volcanoes. That being said, militia would be a useful resource for local communities – for whom wildfires are often financially disastrous.

      “What a flippant and insensitive remark.”

      No, it was not. Major disasters are those that have a large loss of life. The last wildfire to do so in the US was the 1918 Cloquet fire (Minnesota). Before that there were several in the 19thC. Modern communications prevents that. The 2017 California wildfires has an estimate death toll of 44 – bad for them, but not a major disaster.

      “You’re a rich guy, so you’d know”

      You are just making stuff up. Please stop it. I’m not rich.

      “Proof?”

      There are thousands of studies about this. Look it up.

      “Natural disasters always happen.”

      Yes, that’s why we prepare for them.

      “Militias are used for fighting.”

      Most of what the National Guard does is not fighting. That would be esp so for militia.

      “Militias or fyrds were not how people handled them in the past.”

      False. That’s exactly how they handled them until modern times. More broadly, they handled disasters by suffering and dying.

      “The government already has civilian auxiliaries for natural disasters like FEMA’s CERT or ARES.”

      I discussed this at some length in this post. I’m not going to repeat this. I am, however, moderating further comments. This was a waste of time.

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