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Private army[edit]

I'm no expert, but I was confused that Private army redirects to Paramilitary - shouldn't it redirect to Mercenary? At the very least there should be a link between the two... Corington (talk) 10:16, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

are FARC and ELN paramilitary groups?[edit]

Why are FARC and ELN cited as examples of paramilitary groups? The PIRA is also described as such. But never are Hamas, Fatah, Hizbullah or any other Muslim or Arab group described as a paramilitary organization. Sometimes you hear "militants", "extremists", "armed wing of..." etc. but never paramilitary, is this because it may provid some legitimacy or allow more room for simpathy or what? --Omar 11:17, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I think the writers of the article just forgot to mention those groups. If it means that much to you, add the names yourself. This is a wiki. You can do that. 21:22, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I disagree with the inclusion of FARC and ELN as paramilitary groups. In Colombian and U.S. political rhetoric, US and Colombian press and academic literature, the term "paramilitaries" is always used to refer to the AUC and similar right-wing groups. The FARC and ELN are the "guerrillas". The paramilitaries (or "paras" as they are known in Colombia) were originally private security forces employed by large landholders to guarantee security for their persons and property, because the Army and national police has never been able to cover the whole country. The guerrillas were formed by the Communist Party, independent radicals, and peasant unions (the "peasants' republics" of the 1940s and 50s were the first). There is no confusion about who are the 'paras' and who are the guerrillas in Colombia, or among journalists and academics in the United States who study the subject. I will edit this article over the weekend unless someone posts a convincing counter-argument here. glasperlenspiel 04:58, Oct 22, 2004 (UTC)

I'm not an expert on FARC or the ELN, but I think this misses the point. "Guerilla" and "paramilitary" are not mutually exclusive terms in general usage. "Guerilla" refers to a set of tactics used in warfare, where "paramilitary" describes an organization and/or culture. If these terms have acquired more specifici meanings in the context of Columbia, that doesn't affect whether they apply in a general sense. FARC and the ELN are groups of civilians organized in a roughly military fashion; hence, I would call them paramilitaries.
Neither FARC nor ELN is a formal military, so the only question is whether they have enough of the trappings of a military organization to be considered paramilitary. From what I know of them, they do. If you know differently, say so. Isomorphic 15:39, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I agree with Isomorphic, the fact that, in the Colombian context, the word paramilitary has acquired a localized meaning (and the "paras" are also referred as "right-wing insurgents", "death squads" or plainly "illegal self-defense forces"), doesn't change the fact that, from an global perspective, the term has a much wider application, one which includes the FARC, ELN, AUC and similar organizations as paramilitary groups, as per the current wikipedia article.Juancarlos2004 18:43, 23 Oct 2004 (UTC)

No way. Paramilitary means "Of, relating to, or being a group of civilians organized in a military fashion, especially to operate in place of or assist regular army troops. The section bolded is the way that the word is always used in Colombia, and Latin America in general. Paramilitary forces are those that have a common enemy with the state. While the AUC is technically at "war" with the Colombian state, everyone knows that it's a phoney war, that the AUC is the true paramilitary force, and that the ELN and FARC are not paramilitary.
I beg to differ. I'm not going to discuss the complex (because they are tragic and complex, not just as simple as you're implying, as if it's all a "black and white" affair) and bloody politics of the Colombian war here, but you're not making the simple distinction between layman's terms and academically correct terms. Even scholars in Colombian universities and in organizations that analyze the country's armed conflict use the word paramilitary in its technical meaning. The FARC and ELN are indeed a "group of civilians organized in a military fashion" and in that sense they have previously been described as the paramilitary arm of the Colombian Communist party (in the case of the FARC in particular, that was true until very recently). This is not a question of a single "true" use of the word, because there are several applicable uses of the word. From an nonpolitical academical point of view, it's correct to describe them as such. Juancarlos2004 17:08, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Hitler Youth is a noncombat paramilitary group[edit]

I just restored the Hitler Youth as a "non-combat" paramilitary. The Hitler Youth fought because Germany was desperate for soldiers, and they were available and disciplined. They were not created to fight. Certainly they were created to train future soldiers, but the fact that Hitler Youth fought as such was an accident. Isomorphic 14:42, 7 May 2005 (UTC)

That's nice, but it looks quite strange to have the Hitler Youth immediately followed by three examples specific to the United States. Can we have a bit more diversity in examples, here? Someone might get the wrong idea, y'know?
It does look strange, but only because those are the examples I could think of. No political comment was intended, and more examples would be welcome. Isomorphic 01:07, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
Oh, and note that the text on non-combat paramilitaries does point out that even these paramilitaries can be pressed into battle during wartime. Isomorphic 14:45, 7 May 2005 (UTC)

Sample of paramilitary groups working to destabilize a democratic governments in support of a Communist revolution ? Ericd 1 July 2005 20:22 (UTC)


Paramilitaries are by defition made up of civilians. Also, I don't think the reference to terrorism was needed. A paramilitary group might engage in terrorism, but that's not what makes them paramilitary, nor are terrorist groups necessarilly (or even usually) organized as paramilitaries. Isomorphic 06:37, 15 July 2005 (UTC)

That must be a US perspective. In reality, the IRA and UVF in Northern Ireland are always described as "Paramilitary". The only other context in which I've seen the word used on this side of the atlantic is to describe semi-military police - Gendarmerie in France, Carabinieri in Italy (both are military police, but not MPs as per US Army) and the Black and Tans used by Britain in Ireland during the Irish War of Independence. So the use is much more analagous with paramedic. (No-one on this side of the atlantic would recognise US marching bands, survivalists, or self-styled "well ordered militias" as being paramilitary in any real world sense.)
So we need a compromise version that recognises both the UK English and US English senses of the word. --Red King 09:51, 15 July 2005 (UTC) (copied from what I PM'd to Isomorphic).
There are political connotations to "paramilitary" which often override the original meaning. Those political connotations, however, are localized and contradictory. Paramilitary, like "paramedic" and "paralegal", comes from Greek "para" ("beside") from Indo-European for "next to, in front of". Paramilitary means "auxiliary" military, that is, something not quite military performing military duties. "Paramilitary" status is claimed by groups that try to be as military as possible, but acknowledge the fact that they aren't the official regular military. This actually fits the various uses of "paramilitary". The Gendarmerie are paramilitary because they police that organize like the military. The US survivalists groups are paramilitary because they military-organized kooks that expect to become "the" military after the whatever-bad-thing happens.
Unless there are better ideas, I'm going to put this in the intro (minus "kooks"). --A D Monroe III 23:11, 15 July 2005 (UTC)
When I said that "paramilitary has nothing to do with terrorism", I didn't mean that paramilitaries can't commit terrorist acts. What I meant was that an organization can be terrorist and not paramilitary, or paramilitary and not terrorist, or both, or neither. I don't know that much about the conflicts in Northern Ireland, but it sounds like the groups there were originally called paramilitary because they used military terminology, rhetoric, and organization. Then people got used to calling such groups "paramilitaries", so the term was just applied to all of them, whether they actually had military trappings or were just violent. So I think it's basically a local meaning. Another case of "local meaning" is in Colombia where only one side is referred to as "paramilitary".
I wouldn't usually call survivalists, marching bands, or self-styled militias paramilitaries. By contrast, I might (and some do) call the Boy Scouts of America a paramilitary organization: they wear uniforms and have ranks, and some of their training has definite military applications. And the Civil Air Patrol is an even better example: they are legally civilians, but they have a rank structure, have an official mission to support the United States Air Force, and have even flown combat missions in wartime.
It might be useful to mention in the article the existance of localized meanings of the word, especially in context of Ireland and Colombia. Isomorphic 03:57, 16 July 2005 (UTC)
Wierd! I would never think of the Boy Scouts as paramilitary! Maybe the Boy Scouts of America have guns? --Red King 11:37, 16 July 2005 (UTC)

There are Boy Scout rifle and shotgun merit badges. I suppose the first aid training could be useful in a military context, but so could the knot-tying skills... pretty much anything related to surival outside of cities would have some application in the field, but it's quite a stretch to describe that as 'paramilitary training'. It's not like the Boy Scouts learn how to clear a room or secure a building. If having a rank structure is what makes a group 'paramilitary', the Salvation Army qualifies. -rosignol

  • And there are merit badges in "basketry", "dog care" and "reptile study". Trying to stretch and twist the Boy Scouts into the paramilitary organizations the article is actually referring to is simply ridiculous.Niteshift36 (talk) 00:44, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Is there a consensus for the view that a paramilitary organisation must be

  1. armed (other than when conscripted in time of legally declared war)
  2. legal, quasi-legal or illegal (as defined by the internationally recognised government). [By "quasi-legal", I mean "are not part of the forces of the state, but are not illegal" - for example the Salvation Army, the Knights of Malta, the Boy Scouts, though all of these fail test 1]
  3. organised along at least vaguely recognisably military lines.
  4. not part of the main armed forces of the state [problems already: the french Gendarmerie and the italian Carabinieri are legally part of the army, but patrol like police. In addition to the 'ordinary' police. But substantially, they are not the army] --Red King 11:37, 16 July 2005 (UTC)
Just to clarify: to call the Gendarmerie and Carabinieri "paramilitary police" is not correct (though it is widely done). They are actually Military Police, but they have civil as well as military powers. They are not just "SWAT" teams, they patrol routinely. They are definitely not civillians. --Red King 11:49, 16 July 2005 (UTC)
"Paramilitary" is unavoidably a grey area: "similar to but not a military". The exact definition of "military" and "civilian" could vary from country to country, and there's plenty of room for different interpretation. For example, could we call the U.S. NOAA Corps paramility? They do not perform police functions or engage in combat. They wear uniforms and have ranks. As far as U.S. law is concerned, they are neither civilian nor military; they are commissioned officers of a "uniformed service". Or here's another fuzzy line: are the armed forces of a break-away state (think Abkhazia or Somaliland) "military" or "paramilitary"? They fight, they are organized as a military, but they don't belong to an internationally-recognized country.
In answer to your individual points, I would disagree with #1. There are signicant portions of an official military (medical units, engineering corps, etc) that rarely if ever carry weapons. Given that, how can we require an organization to be armed just to be called "paramilitary"? Isomorphic 01:57, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Disagreement with the inclusion of guerilla or revolutionary Paramilitaries[edit]

OK, because the word 'paramilitary' is so often used in the media in relation to Republican/Loyalist activity in Northern Ireland, in whatever form it takes, it would better to clarify in the article why, for example, the UVF is paramilitary but the IRA is not. According to the definition as it is given in the article - most of the initialled-armed groups in Northern Ireland sound like they fit the bill. But I would like anyone to expand on the point about "especially to operate in place of or assist regular army troops" before EXCLUDING either group. Until then I think we should define all the groups as paramilitary for as long as they remain illegal 'command structured' organisations. Also, a clarification between splinter IRA groups (Continuity, Real, Provisional, etc.) in particular is needed, because some are disarmed and some are still armed and active, while others are disarmed but still retain military command structures, which confuses matters Icanseeformilesandmiles 01:52, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

I strongly disagree with the inclusion of this group as the dictionary definition of a paramilitary suggests they operate with professional (regular) forces which this category does not. As such I have taken a so called 'revoluationary paramilitary' group (the Irish republican Army) as a textbook example of a group motivated by both political change (in this case as with most of the other groups it was the sepratist independence of a region from its governing region) and also by ideological change, in this case the catholic majority Irish in dispute with the Northern Protestant inhabitants.

A few definitions to back this up first:

Paramilitary Of, relating to, or being a group of civilians organized in a military fashion, especially to operate in place of or assist regular army troops.

Terrorism The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

Now the article suggests that the Irish republican army (hereby referred to as the IRA) were in some way a military organization tasked with the defense or military operations of the regions in which they operated (the British isles, mainly England and Northern Ireland)

That is not the case however; the term paramilitary is better applied to a mercenary group, which is less personally or politically biased in conflict than the IRA were. Whilst the media frequently refers to the IRA and other such groups as a paramilitary by definition they are not, this is a media and political rewording to make the group more publicly friendly in an attempt to speed up the peace process (the good Friday agreement) in that region, and as a whole with many of these groups to try and improve their public image as the term 'terrorist' has something of a stigma to it.

The IRA are considered a terrorist organization who have on several occasions been proven to use violent force to instigate political and ideological change in the region against the will of the majority and democratic governing body of that region.

Also, note the dictionary definition of a paramilitary – it suggest that a paramilitary, also (a militia if you will) generally operate with regular forces in the region. The IRA did not work with either the Irish Army or the British Army within whose regional control they operated, I am also unaware of the exactinner organization of the IRA but I am certain they were not organized in a standard military fashion but instead had a simple set up of a commander and a group of followers. I am unaware of the majority of the IRA ever having a structured rank system geared towards military organization, and any such organization of this and most other such groups was instead geared towards whomever held the most political control.

The dictioary definition of paramilitary does not extend to this group and as seen in the above text cannot apply to any other so called 'revolutionary group' User:Ogikren 00:30 30 August 3005 [Please sign your contibutions by clicking on the signature squiggle just to the right of the "No W" icon abve.] --Red King 16:52, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

Just for balance, the term "Paramilitary" is also used of the Loyalist terrorist groups, the UVF, the UDA, the UFF and the Red Hand Defenders etc. Not forgetting the Real IRA, Continuity IRA, INLA and other sundry nutcases.
The prefix para means "outside" or "other-than": for example, see paranormal. The term "Para-military" is very widely used in the world's press to mean "an illegal force, armed with assault weapons". A simple check on and .com confirms this to be the case, whether in Ireland, Columbia or Palestine. This article has to reflect that observed reality. The best you can do is add material to the article to compare and contrast the various uses of the names. --Red King 16:52, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

From what I've seen, 'paramilitary' implies that a group is operating in support of the established government or status quo, while similarly equipped and organized groups who are in opposition to the established government or trying to change the status quo are usually described as revolutionaries, insurgents, or geurillas. While the BBC is occasionally useful as a source of information, let's not make them the arbiters of what the word means... -rosignol
It's not just the BBC that uses the term in that way. If you search Google News for "Paramilitary" you will mostly find references to private armies of one sort or another. The article tries to indicate that there are multiple meanings, some of which contradict each other! The article describes reality as it is, not as you would like it to be. --Red King 16:33, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
I would personally define the IRA, other republican groups and loyalist groups as paramilitaries. The term "terrorist" may or may not apply and comes down to the reader; all these organisations have military structures and with the IRA (including breakaways, but not including the INLA) in particular claiming to be the true heirs to the first dáil and it's army as backup to being a paramilitary; the majority of provisional killings where military and RUC targets and while I'm not a supporter, the term paramilitary can and should be applied to them. An organisation such as the IPLO would suit "terrorist" much better, as there is a big difference in that they where not a revolutionary OR guerilla paramilitary, just a group of drug dealers which the provsionals effectively defeated. I also added RUC/reformed PSNI to the list of paramilitary police, which through the history of Northern Ireland have been the only police force in the UK to carry weapons and actively use them, amongst other things, they are pretty much a paramilitary force; not official military, but with a military style role, but it's not so much evident now as it was even a few years back thanks to the good friday agreement. Jim-ie 16:50, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Black panthers[edit]

Where are the black panthers in an article about paramilitary organizations. Granted, they weren't actually paramilitary but they dressed like it and could go under "Non-combat paramilitary organizations."

They're not there because they weren't paramilitary. Anyone can dress up like it. Whether they engage in paramilitary style operations is the key point. SWATJester Flag of Iceland.svg Ready Aim Fire! 17:12, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

What about Yugoslavia?[edit]

How can you make an article about paramilitarism and not include the paramilitary Serbian volunteers during the war with Bosnia?


I removed the section on paramilitary as a euphemism. Even the section itself did not claim that any major media outlets use "paramilitary" this way; only that someone on Wikipedia recommends it. It's a misuse of the term, and as such only bears mention if it's widespread. The current article correctly states that the term is used in various politically charged and often contradictory ways. That's good enough. Isomorphic 01:04, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

I think you are resisting valid criticism of WIkipedia and I will rewrite and restore it.Mrdthree 02:47, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
I think you are missing the point, which is that this article is not about Wikipedia. Please look at Wikipedia:Self-reference. Isomorphic 05:39, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Non combat paramilitary organizations[edit]

There really needs to be some discussion about non combat military organizations. It sounds a little like a square circle. Some research into arguments for and against inclusion need to be presented.Mrdthree 03:11, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Not being an expert here, I can't cite any research specifically on the phenomenon. But consider this definition of paramilitary: "Of, relating to, or being a group of civilians organized in a military fashion, especially to operate in place of or assist regular army troops" [1]. From the wording, many or most paramilitaries are intended to assist or serve as army troops, but not all of them. Hence "especially". As for particular examples, the Hitler Youth article starts off by saying they were a paramilitary. The Civil Air Patrol is referred to as paramilitary in a DoD manual, in a sentence that also highlights its non-combat role: "The CAP is not a Military Service and can only provide noncombatant support. Although paramilitary in organization and dress, CAP performs its services through the use of unpaid volunteers." [2]. I'd say that proves that "paramilitary" is sometimes used to refer to non-combat organizations. Isomorphic 07:39, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

That seems understandable, but I would emphasize the point that a noncombat paramilitary group must have more than military resemblence, it must be a group organized to serve a military purpose, e.g. salvation army no, boy scouts no, freemasons no, Society for Creative Anachronism no, civil defense yes, civil war reenactorsno, star trek fan club members or their military wing, the starfleet marine corps no Mrdthree 13:58, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I still say that the term "paramilitary" refers to organization and culture, not function. It's about having rank, uniforms, discipline, and that sort of thing. A lot of the groups you list shouldn't be called paramilitary, but it's not because of their purpose. It's because they have no military-like features. SCA for example uses noble titles, not ranks. They're headed by a board of directors, which is definitely not a military feature. The freemasons don't belong here either; they have Masonic "degrees", but these bear little resemblance to a rank, and the Masons govern themselves through electing lodge officers, which is a VERY non-military structure. Members of "Starfleet" might have ranks, but they're basically role-playing. In a fan club I would be very surprised to find any non-superficial similarities to a military organization (with its emphasis on obedience and discipline.)
Contrast this with the Salvation Army, which takes its rank structure seriously, puts its people through years of training before giving them officer commisions, and expects them to obey the organization's rules: "I will be true to the principles and practices of The Salvation Army, loyal to its leaders, and I will show the spirit of salvationism whether in times of popularity or persecution." [3]. In fact, the Salvation army even makes a reference to "paramilitary" trappings on their website.
Sea Org is even more regimented, from what I understand. Isomorphic 06:25, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Fantastic if you want to put the salvation army up on the page as a paramilitary group more power to you. Mrdthree 05:58, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

The Society for Creative Anachronisms is NOT a paramilitary organization. What it IS (word for word from SCA copora): "The Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. (SCA, Society is a 501(c)3 Educational Not-for-Profit organization devoted to the study of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Most of its activities take place in the context of a social structure adapted from the forms of the European Middle Ages, which allows participants to [participate] first-hand look at various aspects of the life, culture and technology of the times under study. As a living history group, the Society provides an environment in which members can recreate various aspects of the culture and technology of the period, as well as doing more traditional historical research. We sponsor events such as tournaments and feasts where members dress in clothing styles worn in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and participate in activities based on the civil and martial skills of the period. These activities recreate aspects of the life and culture of the landed nobility in Europe prior to 1600 CE. The dress, pastimes, and above all the chivalric ideals of the period serve to unify our events and activities." Some misconceptions: FALSE: The use of heraldry is strong and there are rankings for members. TRUTH: Heraldry is strong because it was used in the time periods we recreate. Because that is what the SCA does - Recreates (note: NOT re-enact). Members are all considered nobles. One earns titles, not ranks, IF they chose to. No one must do so. You don't even have to join. FALSE: In order to become a knight and qualify to fight in wars or *perform at fairs* (this is a completely different group though some SCA members to participate as an individual NOT an SCA member.) Each kingdom has their own sumptuary laws. FALSE: one would have to go through a prolonged apprenticeship involving being a squire to a knight for over a year and attend various workshops and meetings. The responsibilities of a squire continued outside meetings, such that ones lead knight could call you any day of the week. There were strict ranking for succession from knight to different knight ranks and even more so for nobility. TRUE: knights do not have apprentices (as Laurels do); they have squires. Each knight/squire relationship is completely agreed upon between the two individuals. That could entail something as you suggested BUT only when the knight/squire agrees upon the conditions. It is a very personal relationship. FALSE: One needed to learn specific medieval skills, etc. All this seems no different than merit badges. TRUTH: No one has to do anything. A member may study something that interests them. Don't forget - above all, the SCA is a learning/history organization. [Maybe someone has a story about the Star trek marine corps that is similar.] *Maybe is not fact and should not be part of the article. If your going to make a comment such as "I imagine these organizations differ little from the salvation army," you should research the comment - not imagine. Mrdthree 20:31, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

The term paramilitary and gendarmerie-like organization[edit]

Using the term paramilitary to qualify law enforcement organizations similar to the French Gendarmerie is in contradiction with the very definition of the word as stated in the article : according to that definition, a paramilitary organization is made up of civilians behaving like a military organization. The members of the Gendarmerie are not civilians : they are 100% military, with many officers actually being trained in the same school as young Army officiers, and only opting for Gendarmerie service at the end of their basic curriculum. Their statutes and career profiles are identical to Army, Navy and Air Force personnel. They are subject to the same restrictions in public speaking and unionizing as other members of the military (unlike the civilian police). Like the military, they have to serve abroad if necessary, and often do. I suppose the same is true for other forces such as the Carabinieri. Thus, a Gendarmerie are military personnel acting in a civilian capacity (law enforcement), not the other way round.

Are the IRA a paramilitary organisation?[edit]

The UVF and UDA are cited, correctly, as examples of paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland, yet the IRA is not mentioned and repeated attempts to amend this have been erased. The IRA and its many 'splinter groups' (Continuity, Provisional Real IRA etc) are constatntly referred to in the media as paramilitary groups. In fact, the activity of such groups is monitored in Northern Ireland by the International Monitoring Commission (IMC) under the remit of 'assessing Paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland'. I think there should be a clearly stated reason in the article as to why the IRA are not defined as a paramilitary group, according to the article's definition. A lot of people will expect it otherwise and continually edit the article to include their definition.

I would confirm as a UK Resident that most people here if asked to give an example of a paramilitary organisation would very likely say "the IRA", and of asked to give an example of 2 or 3 would probably still mention the IRA, but possibly also the UVF, maybe the UDA or the various organisations which use the IRA name, (Continuity, Official, Republican, Provisional etc etc). What they would not mention as paramilitary organisations are the French Gendarmes, or Canadian Mounties.

I suppose it comes down to the concept of "paramilitary" as internationally understood perhaps has it's origins in the French and Spanish Speaking world, and not the English speaking world?

In the Commonwealth, North America and most other English speaking countries police forces tend not to be part of the military. (British police forces tend not to use the word "civilian" to refer to their employees who fulfill ancillary functions, e.g. administration, process the payroll, serve food at the cafeteria etc, they prefer to use the terms "police staff"- the rationale, everyone who works for the police in the UK are civilian.) This is different to the tradition in France, Spain or Italy, (or Germany up to 1945).

In the English speaking world the only examples I can think of of paramilitary police forces, (And then they are not part of the military in the way that the French Gendarmes are), are The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Texas Rangers, but both in polities which had influence from French and Spanish speaking cultures- or perhaps more precisely Civil (as opposed to Common) Law tradition???

Given the idea of paramilitary policing, (in the legal sense as understood by people in France, Spain or even Texas) is absent in the UK, it's not surprising that we think in different ways about it. Indeed if we used the terms "paramilitary policing", people in the UK would think about a man in a balacalva who goes and shoots people's knee caps out for selling drugs, whereas the French person would probably think in terms of the policeman who would help if someone had a car accident in a rural area. (How we can include organisations as diverse as the Provisional IRA and the French Gendarmes in the same article is not an easy task.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:54, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Here is a source illustrating the understanding of the term "paramilitary" in a UK context. Not sure it would count for wikipedia purposes, since perhaps it counts as a primary one, still it illustrates how the term is used and understood in the UK.

The article does need looking at, since the usage of the meaning of the term "paramilitary", perhaps the article should itself describe that discussion?? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:55, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

who in U.S.?[edit]

They list that America has 52,000 paramilitary, who are they? Listed on Active Troops list.

My best guess is Blackwater USA, who we are using as mercenaries right now in Iraq. The Author of this article included Private armies and Militias on the list so I would assume that that is a reasonable number. (btw... I think all the "Blackwater USA is a threat to our national security" bullshit is... well... bullshit. I myself would like to see them as a threat to our national security.... our government is in desperate need of a physical internal enemy to get them to stop with so much worldwide babysitting.) Militias would probably make up the largest number of that because there are militias in every state and there are even many militias for individual counties and towns

TheHoustonKid 00:51, 24 June 2007

  • I don't understand how some countries are counting law enforcement, but not for the US total. If we are counting the US total, 53,000 is VERY underreported. According to the FBI annual survey, there are over 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the US.Niteshift36 (talk) 00:38, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

Almost every police department has a paramilitary unit. (ie SWAT team) They wear military-style uniforms and body armor and carry automatic weapons. -- (talk) 01:22, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

i know of a paramilitary group caled pm5, it operates in the eastern u.s. and i saw its myspace page where it stated that they were a paramilitary/militia group. my brother has seen them in action and they are not police or swat or any of that usmcsoldier27 4:56 june 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:56, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

will somebody please make a page about pm5! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Usmcsoldier27 (talkcontribs) 02:21, 5 August 2008 (UTC)


This discussion is confusing, as is the article, but fortunately not as much. In my understanding, "paramilitary" has three defining characteristics. 1) they are not an actual military or military body (para=beside), 2) they are organized along military lines, 3) they perform military-like duties. The emphasis on "auxilliary" in the intro confuses this because it assumes a relationship with an actual military. Civilian police can be paramilitary based upon their organization, as in US departments (with ranks, such as "captain" and structure of the organization), mind you this doesn't include something like the FBI. British police arguably aren't paramilitary. Boy Scouts, the IRA, the Salvation Army, FARC, right-wing American militias, Canadian mounties, gendarmerie - are all paramilitary organizations, despite what they want you to think or how they self-identify. In Columbia, the "paras" are specifically on the right and are so designated based on being auxiliary to the state (and capital) - but that's a specific local usage of the term. But it seems to me that at some point, a revolutionary force becomes an actual military in a civil war situation where the authority of the state breaks down. Not all military functions are combat related or require the use of arms, and "law enforcement" really has nothing to do with it because that function could be performed by military or non-military personnel, and "terrorism" may or may not be conducted by paramilitaries, but definitely is not performed by an actual military (that'd be guerrilla warfare). "Civilian" or not doesn't help to clarify whether an organization is paramilitary. Bobanny 19:29, 9 February 2007 (UTC)


removed reference to Society for Creative Anachronism as a "paramilitary" group. Are you kidding me? REMOVE ALL REFERENCES TO Society for Creative Anachronism as none of it is correct. (talk) 02:22, 5 January 2016 (UTC)Brie Montgomery (Edana the Red, BMDL chatelaine.) At the very least list the webpage so people can find what is really is about.


The term paramilitary is very imprecise. the article needs to give a definition and allow links to other pages which people may, or may not, consider paramilitary.

The article formerly discussed a long, boring, and above all arbitrary list of organisations that one or other editor thought maybe might be paramilitary. This is really irrelevant. A long arbitrary list of organisations some editors think fill a very simple but very ambiguous definition makes a very bad article.

It also made statements about paramilitaries which are subjective and depend entirely on your opinion of what is paramilitary, e.g. "In military terms, paramilitary security forces are typically light infantry. Effectively led, they can stand in defense, especially in urban or unfenced border areas, but are less capable of offensive action or sustained combat operations due to a lack of heavy weapons, professional military training, and effective logistics support." This is arbitrary, long, speculative, unsourced, and subjective.

Other arbitrary rubbish includes:

  • "the People's Armed Police in the People's Republic of China which was split off from the People's Liberation Army in 1983 precisely to remove paramilitary duties from the PLA" - This depends on what you consider paramilitary duties- in some countries this would be considered military duties, in others civilian duties, so this is just one editors arbitrary opinion.
  • "One may also consider that United States SWAT units, or similar units in other countries, are paramilitary." Why may one consider this? They are not independent organisations, they are simply part of a larger civilian organisation.
  • "Over the last 25 years, USA has seen a militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a rise in the use of paramilitary SWAT police units for routine police work" Apart from the point of being arbitrary, this is clearly self-contradictory: If the editor wishes to push the idea that SWAT is paramilitary, then more SWAT intervention it is clearly NOT militarisation.
Huh? Can you explain your logic here, because i'm not seeing it. From what i can see, the statement you quote makes sense; but then, i'm new here, and may be missing some subtleties.
The rest of your criticisms are on-target, though, and i fully support your suggestions. I'd appreciate comment on my proposed opening line, per the current page.Stone put to sky 06:38, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
  • "Like most American police organizations it uses military-style ranks and insignia. This is in contrast with the Metropolitan Police tradition (adopted in numerous Commonwealth of Nations countries) where while insignia tend to be modified but recognisable versions of military insignia, ranks such as Inspector (Lieutenant/Captain), Chief Inspector (Captain/Major) and Superintendent (Major/Lieutenant Colonel) are used." All police use "military-style ranks and insignia", there is no discernable difference between US and Commonwealth countries on this.
  • "The United States however, lacks the paramilitary federal/national constabularies that most nations have." Again, this entirely depends on the arbitrary definition of the paramilitary being used by the editor in question
  • "The largest part of the Gendarmerie is made of "normal" officers who perform duties in a way similar to what a normal police officer, state trooper or deputy sheriff would do in the United States." Debatable, gendarmes do military training and get sent to war zones.
  • "Some paramilitary police forces include:" This list is awful. The criteria for being in the list seem to be non-existent. It is just a list of some organisations some editors felt like putting in. The Indian Border Security Force is definitely officially defined as paramilitary, but the gendarmeries are by definition military, while the reason for the Bundespolizei and Royal Canadian Mounted Police being there is unclear.
  • "Paramilitary groups as extra-judicial "security" forces. These groups are neither a police agency nor a military organization. These elements act outside the law and, in functional democracies, are both illegal and considered part of the problem rather than part of the solution. This sort of paramilitary force exists ostensibly to assure the internal control of a country and to suppress anarchy... They may also use tear gas and other non-lethal weapons." This is such rubbish. Some editor is apparently mixing the concepts of terrorist organisation, police service, and party militia. "Examples of this kind of paramilitary force include the Colombian right wing paramilitary groups such as the AUC, and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, such as the Ulster Volunteer Force, or the Ulster Defence Association" So it becomes clear, he is describing terrorists, but in an extremely long, unconstructive and unclear way, and throwing in the AUC which is a different thing, and some unexplainable comment about teargas.
  • "Revolutionary and guerrilla paramilitary groups" This section should go to the guerilla page or revolutionary page, although in most accounts guerrillas are military, thus the term "guerrilla warfare".
  • "Examples include the FARC and ELN in Colombia; EZLN in Mexico; Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah in the Middle East; and the Lord's Resistance Army of Uganda. Two of the oldest and best known revolutionary paramilitary armies in Europe are the Provisional Irish Republican Army, in Ireland and the Basque separatist group ETA, in Spain." This is a list of different organisations with little in common. Some are guerrillas, some terrorists, the Lord's Resistance Army is an army in a civil war. All these "examples" show is a confused editor.
  • "Paramilitary commandos... The paramilitary operations of the CIA and Mossad (as distinct from their intelligence-gathering function) are one example. Police SWAT teams and Black Cats are another." Again, several completely different organisations thrown together as "examples" of something they are not by a confused editor.
  • "Paramilitary groups as mercenaries" NO! STOP! This is just calling anything military paramilitary at random. Mercenaries should be on the mercenary page, and they are, by definition SOLDIERS, and therefore MILITARY.
  • "Private Military Corporations" bla bla bla
  • "United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets,the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, the Air Training Corps of the United Kingdom" etc. etc. NO NO NO. CADETs are CADETS. Go to a page called CADETS. This is just BORING.

As a result of the overall abismal quality of the article explained above, I have replaced it with an appropriately short and clear article, explaining the simple definition and the ambiguity of its application in practice, with relevant links.

Mesoso2 00:10, 12 June 2007 (UTC) I agree with Mesos2 poor article. I would also like to add that I changed the article when it said the "adult part of the Civil Air Patrol" Civil Air Patrol (CAP) has a cadet program that is very much involved in saving lives and disaster relief and is organized in a military fashion. When on an Air Force assigned mission they are considered part of the Air Force auxillary just like threr Senior member (adult) counter parts. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:22, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Paramilitary =/= Terrorist[edit]

At the bottom, List of Paramilitary Organizations links to a list of terrorist organizations. While terrorist groups are paramilitary, paramilitary is not necessarily terrorist, so therefore this is inaccurate. --Demonesque 10:54, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

Good point. Stone put to sky 11:14, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

I don't think all terrorists are paramilitary. I believe the term usually applies to groups organized like the military. That is they have uniforms, ranks, etc. A group can have a paramilitary wing and members who participate in attacks such as suicide bombings. This would explain why some Islamic groups aren't referred to as paramilitary. Rds865 (talk) 06:11, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. I don’t think all terrorist can be paramilitary since paramilitary is characterized by rank and uniforms.--DavidD4scnrt (talk) 10:05, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

SWAT/Black Cats[edit]

I removed the line: "Militarized preexisting government agencies, such as SWAT teams and Black Cats." because A) the Black Cats of India had already been mentioned and B) SWAT is not a 'government agency' in any jurisdiction I'm aware of. Yes, SWAT is a police unit/section/division/branch, and police agencies are government agencies, but the line made it seem that SWAT was a stand-alone government organization, which it is not. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sings-With-Spirits (talkcontribs) 14:37, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

SWAT is back in the list of paramilitary organizations as "The SWAT of the United States."

There is no such thing as the SWAT of the United States. There is no SWAT organization. SWAT is a designation of a specially trained unit of a civilian police force. Police forces are part of a state, city or county government, not part of some federal force. In other words, the SWAT unit would act only in the places where the police force it is attached to has jurisdiction and is under the command of the civilian police agency. For example, the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) SWAT team could only act in the places where the LAPD has jurisdiction. According to the wikipedia article, SWAT "is a commonly used proper name for law enforcement units, which use military-style light weapons and specialized tactics in high-risk operations that fall outside of the capabilities of regular, uniformed police." The list might be accurate if it said something like "The SWAT units of Law Enforcement agencies in the United States," but they are not a separate "force." I will change that sentence in the article. The SWAT article does not have a cross-reference to Paramilitary. Ileanadu (talk) 12:50, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

  • Just as a point of clarification, there are SWAT teams for several federal agencies, including the FBI. Niteshift36 (talk) 22:57, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

First phrase VERY debatable.[edit]

"A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military force, but which is not regarded as having the same status".

I have to disagree with the first phrase IF in the list we go on including the Gendarmerie forces. The Carabinieri have military status and are 100% militaries as they are also the 4th Armed Force in Italy. The RCMP have an honorary military status.

We could change the phrase in this way:

"A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military force, but which is not regarded as having the same status, however there are paramilitary bodies (mostly Gendarmery forces) that have a military status". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:53, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Scouting Movement?[edit]

Would not the Boy Scouts, for example, be considered a paramilitary group in a broad sense because they wear uniforms, have ranks, have a command hierarchy, and stress survival skills and patriotism? --Skb8721 (talk) 22:24, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

  • Because it's a bloody stupid idea. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:56, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

That was a nice one. It's the same description as the Hitler Youth. There are strange and exchangeable sentence like "Certainly they were created to train future soldiers, but the fact that (could be some indefinite future US-President) Youth fought as such was an accident". And here it's a stupid idea? Here are some terms for you: GDRs Free German Youth, Komsomol, Deutsches Jungvolk, some Pioneer Organisation of socialistic countries, Which of them were Party associated militias or just "children brainwashing organisation"? In one way it's interesting, that Germany tried very far-right and far-left politics. I hope the Germans learned something from their history. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:05, 14 April 2013 (UTC) (talk) 22:09, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza[edit]

"A paramilitary is a militarised force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces". The Carabinieri are one of Italy's armed forces, the other ones being army, aviation and navy. I am therefore removing them from the list. If you don't agree, please discuss. I am keeping the Guardia di Finanza, but I think there should be some discussion about this. The Guardia di Finanza is said to be integral part of the Italian armed forces, but, at the same time, is a militarized police force, and depends from the Ministry of Economy and Finance. It is also not listed as one of Italy's armed forces. Also, while the Carabinieri often see active role in combat abroad (e.g. Afghanistan), I've never heard of Finanzieri doing anything outside of Italy. (talk) 21:01, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

choice of weapons[edit]

It seems like paramilitary do not use conventional weapons such as ground tanks or navel warships. Perhaps we can mention that in the article? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:49, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Paris Fire Brigade[edit]

Should the Paris Fire Brigade be part of this article? They perform a civil function, but have some sort of military status? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:57, 6 November 2015 (UTC)