A paramilitary is a militarized or semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces. The assigned roles, function, equipment and primary purpose of a paramilitary may also strongly differ from that of a professional military. The comparison of a military to a paramilitary can be likened to that of a comparison between a medic and a paramedic.
Under the Law of Armed Conflict, a state may incorporate a paramilitary organization or armed agency (such as a national police or a private volunteer militia) into its armed forces. The other parties to a conflict have to be notified thereof.
The use of the term paramilitary is debated, with different groups differently classifying groups as paramilitary or not based on disagreements as to what constitutes the correct standards as to what is similar to a military force and what is the correct method for deciding if a group meets those standards. The evaluation of the nature of a paramilitary force varies depending upon the nature on the individual group, the standards used to discern the list of groups that are paramilitary, and the list of groups that have been categorized as paramilitary. Organizations that have been described as paramilitary are as diverse as the Minutemen, youth groups (from scouting to the Pioneer movement), and even martially-themed boarding schools.
Depending on the standards used, "paramilitaries" may include:
- Irregular military forces: militias, guerrillas, insurgents, and so forth
- The auxiliary forces of a state's military
- Some kinds of police forces, e.g. auxiliary police
- Gendarmeries, e.g. Egyptian Central Security Forces and India's Central Reserve Police Force
- Border guards, e.g. Russia's Border Guard Service
- Security forces of ambiguous military status, e.g. Russia's Internal Troops
- Militarized police forces, e.g. SWAT teams in the United States
- The Iraqi Volunteer Forces
- The Military Police (Brazil)
- The Basij of Iran
- The Blackshirts of Fascist Italy
- The Border Security Force of India
- The Central Intelligence Agency in the United States
- The Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit of the Philippines
- The Department of Homeland Security-related agencies in the United States
- The Fedayeen Saddam of Ba'athist Iraq
- The GSG-9 of Germany
- The Kuva-yi Milliye, Jandarma and Village Guards of Turkey
- The Mobile Brigade (Indonesia) of Indonesia
- The National Task Force of Sweden
- The Rangers of Pakistan
- The Patriotic Guards of The Socialist Republic of Romania
- The People's Armed Police of People's Republic of China
- The Special Assault Team of Japan
- The Special Task Force of Sri Lanka
- The Spetsnaz of Russia
- The State Defense Forces of individual states in the United States
- The SWAT units of some law enforcement agencies in the United States
- The Sturmabteilung, Schutzstaffel, Waffen-SS and Hitler Youth of Nazi Germany.
- The Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
- The Dignity Battalions of Panama
- Category:Paramilitary organizations
- Category:Rebel militia groups
- Weimar paramilitary groups
- Fourth-generation warfare
- Private army
- Death squad
- Violent non-state actor
- "paramilitary". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. June 2011 [online edition; original published in June 2005]. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
Designating, of, or relating to a force or unit whose function and organization are analogous or ancillary to those of a professional military force, but which is not regarded as having professional or legitimate status.
- "Customary IHL - Section B. Incorporation of paramilitary or armed law enforcement agencies into armed forces". Icrc.org. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- Gellman, Barton; Greg Miller (August 29, 2013). "U.S. spy network’s successes, failures and objectives detailed in ‘black budget’ summary". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
- Golkar, Saeid. (2012) Paramilitarization of the Economy: the Case of Iran's Basij Militia, Armed Forces & Society, Vol. 38, No. 4
- Golkar, Saeid. (2012). Organization of the Oppressed or Organization for Oppressing: Analysing the Role of the Basij Militia of Iran. Politics, Religion & Ideology, Dec., 37–41. doi:10.1080/21567689.2012.725661
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