Center for Army Lessons Learned - Thesaurus
CALL title banner


Definition/Scope: A militia is a group of citizens that is organized as a quasi military unit. During the formation of America our security was from mostly militia members until the British Army could arrive. After the Revolutionary War it was recognized that there was a need to have both a regular army and some form of state militia. Most militia organizations are not directly supported by the government. However, some countries such as the United States have units such as the Army Reserve that are also seen as being militia. During earlier times a militia unit was seen as less reliable than the regular Army and was thus regulated to serve in the seemingly less visible positions such as guard duty. A militia is different from the Army in that the militia is formed to confront a specific threat and if often disbanded in a relatively short period of time such as a couple of months. Another use of the term is to describe any unorganized military force drawn from within a civilian population and which has taken up arms. Thus, in modern Somalia the armed followers of different warlords have been characterized as militias or even in Iraq with the Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) group. The second amendment to the US Constitution reads: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.' (USC 10 Chtr 13 dtd 20090105) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. The classes of the militia are – (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

Narrower Terms:

Jaysh al-Mahdi

Related Terms:

Afghan Local Police
National Defense Act of 1916
National Guard
US Constitution

CALL Homepage >> Thesaurus Last Updated: Sept 17, 2008