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Civilian Militia Effectiveness

This is a discussion on Civilian Militia Effectiveness within the Geo-strategic Issues forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; I've actually read some of those "militia manuals" (of US militia groups, on the internet) a couple years ago, and ...


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Old March 15th, 2009   #31
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I've actually read some of those "militia manuals" (of US militia groups, on the internet) a couple years ago, and they frankly have me shaking my head at all of them.
Carlos Marighella's Minimanual Urban Guerilla for example makes a lot more sense, since it actually goes into the details and problems faced, presenting a workable solution for both defensive and offensive application. And one that's actually adaptable and extendable while not relying on non-quantified values such as "the patriotic feelings of the population that will support us" (brrr).
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Old March 15th, 2009   #32
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They do have supply lines. But they are different. Militas have no problem buying or operating a black market. Each unit can be funded not from a central pool but from what ever they can get (legally or illegally or both). Stashes are often made of cheap and important items (food and small arms) or captured or found (UXB's). There is often no predefined front, so fight can be moderated to the supplies.

We now have militas building there own missiles and explosives. I suprised there we haven't seen more advanced versions. Using a phone, game console remote, a few industrial IC's and propellant/explosive made from agricultural or common industrial supplies you could make a very advanced guided missile to shoot targets on the ground, air or over the horizon.

Look at the bomb problem in Iraq. Things are getting developed and improved.

Those that operate in a milita can often find medical attention in local civilian hospitals. if your shot, shoot a few locals and go in with the group.

Subduing conquered lands has been an eternal problem. If a populace really doesn't want you there, you aren't going to be able to win.
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Old March 15th, 2009   #33
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We now have militas building there own missiles and explosives.
Like? IEDs in Iraq maybe, and they seem to tend to take a page out of established manuals often. Missiles, perhaps UAVs? Like Hamas or Hisb'allah? Both of which aren't really militias anymore, at least since the 80s, but well-established nation structures with military components.

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Those that operate in a milita can often find medical attention in local civilian hospitals. if your shot, shoot a few locals and go in with the group.
Err, the first thing an occupation force will do is have an eye on any and all hospitals.
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Old March 15th, 2009   #34
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Well whats a milita and whats not? Is it something that is a paramilitary force not lead by the head of state of that nation.

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Err, the first thing an occupation force will do is have an eye on any and all hospitals.
But it does get to a point where your milita isn't made up of males ages 15-35 but of old men and women and gets a little confusing..
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Old March 15th, 2009   #35
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They do have supply lines. But they are different. Militas have no problem buying or operating a black market. Each unit can be funded not from a central pool but from what ever they can get (legally or illegally or both). Stashes are often made of cheap and important items (food and small arms) or captured or found (UXB's). There is often no predefined front, so fight can be moderated to the supplies.
This is true. Supply lines don't apply in the traditional sense to a guerrila militia. If say I, and a group of fellow locals, were to say, plan an attack, or a sabotage attempt within fifteen miles of my home, there is no need for a supply line. And if we are to be under the impression that every town would do a lot of it's own work, then a militia-man/skirmisher, would only have to operate within small distances of his place of residence. This virtually would eliminate supply lines. Because lacking uniforms, covering faces, and the like, makes a 'skirmisher' just another civilian in a supermarket or public place.

The benefit of being unorganized, is that there are relatively few prominent leaders for the occupation forces to root out and publicly execute etc. and if the operating group is different on each operation, it means there isn't a roster sheet with the names of fifteen saboteurs convinietly available for an insider to happen upon.

Also, another benefit of being unorganized, is that intel would be incredibly hard to gather on the movement making suprise raids more viable. Ambushes on small convoys would be ideal if IED's were employed effectively etc. If this were to occur, the invaders would have two options, move in large convoys, costing them more resources, or spreading themselves thin to secure more area making them vulnerable to attacks on their soldiers themselves.
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Old March 16th, 2009   #36
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Except that they do have supply lines. Afghan insurgents get lots of supplies from Pakistan, just like the VC got supplies from North Vietnam, and ultimately the USSR. I think one of the reasons that the Iraqi insurgency was relatively unsuccessful (other then not having a real base) was that it did not have major outside suppliers. Though Iran certainly tried.
Would like to point out the Tamil Tigers and Nepali Maoists - 2 of the oddest, maybe the loneliest insurgent movements, one being on the island of Sri Lanka and the other in the isolated mountains of Nepal.

I could be wrong but both these groups get little to no outside help in terms of arms supply etc and rely entirely on their own ingenuity to secure arms.

Yet both scored spectacular military successes against better armed and organised government forces. The Tamil Tigers even sent the Indian Army packing (no offense intended) by inflicting heavy casualties on them, IIRC...

And the Tigers themselves absorb pretty heavy casualties. And even without 100% support from the Tamil population, they fight on and on.

Again goes to show, a popular insurgent movement is nothing to scoff at. The Chicom won the fight for one of the largest and most populous countries on earth.
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Old March 16th, 2009   #37
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The Viet Minh - predecessor of the Viet Cong - militarily defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu in a conventional set-piece battle.

There's no "rule book" and what separates a true blue military from a rag tag insurgent group can easily get blurred.

A people's militia can sometimes just be a conventional army without the uniforms.

And...

The Karens and other Burmese insurgent groups at the height of their power, HAD uniforms and badges etc.

And then there's China during the "Warlord" era pre-KMT. Some of them were armed, equipped and trained just like any true "armies" and some had officers graduating from foreign (Japanese or German) military academies.

They collect taxes (esp opium) and openly bought weapons with these money.
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Old March 16th, 2009   #38
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They do have supply lines!
Yep, I somehow completely forgot about the Ho Chi Minh trail etc. (Note to self: Do not post when tired).

I guess I should have rephrased it as: They are not as reliant on supply lines as set-piece armies.

I know I'm pointing out the obvious, but the lack of centralisation and standards creates another advantage/disadvantage scenario. They are unpredictable and hard to kill with one method of warfare, but lacking a consistent plan and structure most militia struggles devolve into bleeding the enemy to death.
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Old March 17th, 2009   #39
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With regards to a civilian 'militia' being effective, it is dependent on how well the members train and operate together, what sort of equipment and logistical support the have, and how they are employed.

If one were to look at nations with large scale conscription and organized reserve/homeguard/milita forces (Israel and Switzerland come to mind) then these nations could likely rapidly call up forces capable of low-level conventional or unconventional ops in fairly short order. A country like the US, which in addition to the regular volunteer forces has the Reserves and various state Guard units, these can be somewhat different from Reserve units in other nations because (at least in the Reserves) the personnel are essentially former members of the regular forces who are just completing their terms of service. Also, the units also engage in regular, large scale deployments alongside and in concert with regular forces. This has been the case in Iraq, as well as during GWI and back in the 80's with exercises like ReForGer. As such, the equipment types used by the Reserve units is most often the same as that used by regular units and therefore the units are suitable for conventional ops.

Now, if one is talking about use of civilian/non-military personnel... This situation becomes quite different and complex, particular if the 'militia' is formed as an adhoc force during a time of crisis. While such a force would likely prove useless for conventional ops, guerrilla warfare waging attacks by partisans could prove quite effective in 'occupying' and ocuppying enemy. Pardon the pun.

In a case like this, the equipment already available to the civilian population could be turned into various weapons, IEDs, etc. Also various non-military organizations like local law enforcement/police, or First Responders like Fire and EMS, could provide people with potentially applicable skills and training that could be useful or adaptable into partisans.

As for the US, it is hard to say whether or not it would prove effective. IIRC there are something like 900 million (yes, million) firearms in private ownership within the US. It works out statistically to there being roughly 3 for every man, woman and child within the country. From a pratical matter, many or most of the weapons are unsuitable for use in combat (a Ruger 10/22 is a nice gun, but not something I want to shoot someone with unless I just want to annoy them). Also the statistics are somewhat skewed as many of the privately owned guns are owned by the same people, meaning that while many households will own no firearms, those that due can often own more firearms than the statics indicate. This does make some sense though when one considers the different types and uses of various civilian fire arms (hunting of small or large game, various bird guns, target shooting as well as self-defence). A great deal would depend on the will of the local populace vs. that of the occupying force. Something I will need to ponder a bit.

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Old March 17th, 2009   #40
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Well if you close off all the borders leading into a territory, where will the insurgency get their weapons? Assuming you can rely on your own troops not to sell theirs, that would cut supply lines.
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Old March 17th, 2009   #41
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IIRC there are something like 900 million (yes, million) firearms in private ownership within the US.
1997 numbers, legal firearms:
- 65 million handguns
- 127 million long guns

Numbers have been rising a bit, current estimates put it at 220-230 million total, with some excessive estimates topping 250 million in private hands. Plus around 25 million in government hands (police, military).
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Old March 17th, 2009   #42
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Well if you close off all the borders leading into a territory, where will the insurgency get their weapons? Assuming you can rely on your own troops not to sell theirs, that would cut supply lines.
Even when the Germans closed up the Jewish ghetto, the resistance were still able to arm themselves.
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Old March 17th, 2009   #43
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Even when the Germans closed up the Jewish ghetto, the resistance were still able to arm themselves.
This is true, and they put up a valiant fight for which they shall always be remembered however, the net effect to the German war machine was neglible at best.

Keep in mind guys that the US is not as homogenous as you might think. Different regions, different mentalities. An invader would have a tougher go in certain regions, versus others. I'm not convinced California as a whole, has the mentality or material to resist. Put the invaders into Washington or Oregon and you'll see a different response and greater possible impact.
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Old March 17th, 2009   #44
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I would like to emphasize on the will of the attacker to inflict civilian casualties to any country which resists with a certain amount of guerillas.
Sure insurgencies can be a real pain in the ass but a country which is able to conquer the US at some time in the future and makes the creation of guerilla forces necessary might be a very powerfull one.
And if this country decides that it isn't going to play by the rules it could get very very nasty.
Modern armed forces can wreck havoc on civilian centres with a very short reaction time. That's if their leaders let them loose.

A insurgency can be very effective if their enemy plays by the rules and tries to win the hearts and minds of the people.
If the attacker just decides to go roman and answers any resistance with overhelming force and destruction it becomes unwinnable very fast.
Not a very effective way of resistance if the enemy wipes out a small village for every soldier lost to a guerilla attack.
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Old March 17th, 2009   #45
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A insurgency can be very effective if their enemy plays by the rules and tries to win the hearts and minds of the people.
If the attacker just decides to go roman and answers any resistance with overhelming force and destruction it becomes unwinnable very fast.
Not a very effective way of resistance if the enemy wipes out a small village for every soldier lost to a guerilla attack.
I agree 125%! I could be wrong but I feel that is why US civilian types fighting a PLA force using guerilla tactics wouldn't be effective or last long.
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