A paramilitary is a militarised force or other organization 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 role, 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 term paramilitary is subjective, depending on what is considered similar to a military force, and what status a force is considered to have. The nature of paramilitary forces therefore varies greatly according to the speaker and the context; 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 context, "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 Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
- The National Security Guards of India
- The GSG-9 of Germany
- The Spetsnaz of Russia
- The Guardia di Finanza of Italy
- The Blackshirts of Fascist Italy
- The Basij of Iran
- The Fedayeen Saddam of Ba'athist Iraq
- The Rangers of Pakistan
- The Patriotic Guards of The Socialist Republic of Romania
- The Sturmabteilung (SA), Schutzstaffel (SS), Waffen-SS and Hitler Youth (HJ) of Nazi Germany before 1939.
- The Village Guards of Turkey
- The State Defense Forces of individual states in the United States
- The SWAT units of some law enforcement agencies in the United States
- The People's Armed Police of People's Republic of China
- The Mobile Brigade (Indonesia) of Indonesia
- The Special Task Force of Sri Lanka
- The Irish National Liberation Army of Ireland
- The Irish Republican Army of Ireland
- The Pancasila Youth of Indonesia
- The Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit of the Philippine Army in the Philippines
- The National Task Force of Sweden
- The Special Assault Team of Japan
- 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 2005; online version June 2011. 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.
- 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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