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.
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.
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:
- Irregular military forces: militias, guerrillas, insurgents, and so forth
- The auxiliary forces of a state's military: National Guard, Presidential Guard, Republican Guard
- Some kinds of police forces, such as auxiliary police
- Gendarmeries, such as Egyptian Central Security Forces and India's Central Reserve Police Force
- Border guards, such as Russia's Border Guard Service
- Security forces of ambiguous military status: Internal Troops, Railroad Guards or Railway troops
- Militarized law enforcement personnel, such as SWAT teams in the United States
- Foreign volunteers
- Youth Military Cadet Organisations, such as Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps , Bangladesh National Cadet Corps
- In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the term is often restricted to the various armed groups involved in the Northern Ireland Troubles, such as the Ulster Volunteer Force or the Provisional Irish Republican Army.
- RENEA of Albania
- The Australian Border Force
- The Iraqi Volunteer Forces
- The Basij of Iran
- The Blackshirts of Fascist Italy
- The Bangladesh National Cadet Corps
- The Central Intelligence Agency Special Activities Division 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 Emergency Response Team (RCMP) of Canada
- The Fedayeen Saddam of Ba'athist Iraq
- The GSG-9 of Germany
- The Kuva-yi Milliye, Jandarma and Village Guards of Turkey
- The Kaitseliit in Estonia
- The Mobile Brigade 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 SA, SS, SS-Gestapo, Waffen-SS and Hitler Youth of Nazi Germany
- The Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
- The Dignity Battalions of Panama
- The Border Security Force of India
- The Armed Police Force of Nepal
- The Indo-Tibetan Border Police
- The Tonton Macoute of Haiti in 1959
- List of Serbian paramilitary formations
- Category:Rebel militia groups
- Weimar paramilitary groups
- Militarization of police
- 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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