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Not to be confused with Paratrooper or Private army.

A paramilitary is a semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military, and which is not included as part of a state's formal armed forces.[1]

Under the law of war, a state may incorporate a paramilitary organization or armed agency (such as a national police, a private volunteer militia) into its combatant armed forces. The other parties to a conflict have to be notified thereof.[2]

The use of the term paramilitary can be debated, but the general consensus being of a combatant force defined as neither military nor civilian. 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.

Though a paramilitary is not a military force, it is usually equivalent to a military's light infantry force in terms of intensity, firepower and organizational structure. A paramilitary may also commonly fall under the command of a military, even despite not being part of the military or play an assisting role for the military in times of war.


Depending on the standards used, "paramilitaries" may include:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ "Customary IHL - Section B. Incorporation of paramilitary or armed law enforcement agencies into armed forces". Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Curran, Jean A. (17 May 1950). "The RSS: Militant Hinduism". Far Eastern Survey 19 (10): 93–98.
  5. ^ Bhatt, Chetan (2013). "Democracy and Hindu nationalism". In John Anderson. Religion, Democracy and Democratization. Routledge. p. 140.
  6. ^ Horowitz, Donald L. (2001). The Deadly Ethnic Riot. University of California Press. p. 244. ISBN 978-0520224476.
  7. ^ Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

Further reading[edit]

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