Organizing the Militia

This column continues, on the results of Colonel Mike Wyly’s Modern War Symposium, and specifically the discussion of what a state armed service designed for Fourth Generation war might look like. Since our number one goal should be to prevent 4GW attacks on American soil, our working group at the Symposium concluded such a service should be a militia.

The militia would be organized into three levels of types of companies. The first would be deployable world-wide, when our country had to respond to some event overseas. We anticipate that many of its members would be cops, as is true now of some Reserve and National Guard units, which means it would have a natural inclination toward de-escalating situations. This is what the FMFM 1-A, Fourth Generation War, suggests is the key to success in many 4GW situations.

The second type of militia company would be deployable nationwide. It would be equipped with fewer weapons than first-line companies, and would be called up to maintain domestic order and control our borders. The third-line companies would be something entirely new. They would not be armed at all. Rather, they would contain people with skills needed to restore basic services after a 4GW attack. For example, these companies would have a lot of old guys who know how to make things like water treatment plants and banks work without computers, since one obvious target of 4GW warriors will be our computer systems. All militia units, but especially the third-line companies, would have networks of civilian experts they could plug into immediately for any knowledge or skills they needed.

As is traditional with militia, no company could be called up for more than 90 days. When called up, they would be paid by whatever level of government called them up. Of course, they would perform their most important 4GW function, neighborhood watch, all the time, not just when mobilized.

We tried in our discussions to identify and find remedies to typical militia weaknesses. One weakness seen often in militia history is that units degenerate into mere social clubs. To prevent this, all companies would participate in annual play-offs in the form of free-play exercises against other companies. The winner would advance to the next level. Our hope is that these competitions would become big deals in communities across America, spurring the militiamen on to greater efforts.

Another typical militia weakness is doctrinal stagnation. To counter this, the militia would have its own General Staff, made up of the kind of "military dinks" who have been into military history and war games since they were kids. The General Staff would oversee doctrine, training and the regular round of free-play exercises. It would not vet individual militia members, since this would create centralization, but it would have the power to dissolve companies that performed poorly, became social clubs or got taken over by MS-13 and the like.

All recruitment would be voluntary. Volunteers could choose what type of company they wanted to join, level one, two or three, depending on their interests and skills. Companies could refuse any volunteer. Volunteers for first-line companies would provide their own gear, including personal weapons; crew-served weapons would be provided by the General Staff, which would also provide training funds. Second-line companies would be given basic gear, including light weapons. Third-line companies would bring their own tools. We thought carefully about where funding was to come from, because regardless of formal chains-of-command, real control goes to whoever provides the money.

This thought led to one last innovation: the militia’s General Staff would report to Congress, not the Executive Branch, except for those units which were mobilized, where the General Staff would report to the mobilizing authority (often a state governor). Congress will be generous to local militia units, because they will be made up of voters. But that was not our motive. Rather, we feared that if the militia came under the Executive Branch, it would promptly move to destroy it because it hates anything that does not give more power to Big Brother. All a President would have to do is turn the militia over to the Pentagon or DHS; either would delight in putting the knife into something that was bottom-up instead of top-down. That’s exactly what the Bush Justice Department did to the country’s most promising community policing program, the Police Corps.

Unfortunately, the Modern War Symposium broke up before each working group made a final presentation, so I cannot report on what the other groups did (lesson: three days is the maximum length for a conference; everyone leaves on the fourth). But I think we did make some progress on the question of what a state armed force intended for 4GW might look like. If the militia idea is on the right track, it would reinforce rather than undermine the qualities of a true republic. That in turn means it could strike directly at the origin of 4GW, the state’s crisis of legitimacy. Of course, it also means that everyone in Washington will see it as a threat, because Washington is united in its pursuit of the national security state and the total power it offers to the center. And that, in turn, is at least part of the origin of the state’s legitimacy crisis.

Like the original, I suspect this Gordian knot may end up getting cut rather than unraveled.

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