Having been a member of a militia (past tense), I was always struck with the question of, “What is our mission?” When I was a member of the Army National Guard, our mission was clear and spelled out. While we could have another discussion about the appropriateness of the current NG mission, it was at least clear. This was never the case as a member of the militia. There were ideas that were discussed, and we had the hope (some believe this to be a 4-letter word) that if there was an emergency we’d be called on, but there was never any formal aid arrangement, response plan, SOPs or defined mission. This has made me think about what the mission should and shouldn’t be. I’ll start with the latter…
There are those who believe the militia will be called on by the community in times of need whether this is flooding or all out TEOTWAWKI, but personally, I believe these individuals to be truly delusional in regards to how governments work. If we’re talking WROL, all bets are off, but I still don’t think the militias will be the first people who the local communities will want to come to their “rescue”. Those of us who’ve been involved in government know the red tape and complexities associated with it. If there is ever a disaster, the last thing they will want is a bunch of unaffiliated people with guns running around claiming to have authority. There are liability issues galore that would prevent the militias from helping in any formal capacity. There may be unique communities out there where the local government may call on the militia, but at present, I’m not familiar with any of them, and I’m fairly confident they would be a rarity.
I don’t want to dwell too much on what I don’t think the militia is because all too often people tear down something without providing anything constructive in return so I’ll skip any other areas I feel are not fitting of the militia and go to what I believe the militias could be today.
Continuing Education: Many of us are prior military/LEO in one form or another and would like to maintain some of the skills we learned while serving. While I don’t see a need for troop leading procedures in my future, there are a lot of other skills I learned in the military that are very useful. Although I’ve spend many hours doing land nav and map reading, it is a perishable skill and one that can serve you your entire life if you practice it. Having the opportunity to teach, and relearn, this was of great benefit to myself and hopefully to those I taught. Communication is another area that is of great benefit both in and out of the military environment. I’ve recently obtained my HAM radio license and have been learning more about that craft. There are other areas that can be taught in the militia that will help us maintain and learn skills that we might not have otherwise.
Networking: Getting to know other people of a similar mindset is always beneficial and usually enjoyable. These groups can serve as a way of getting to know people who think similarly and have common goals. This networking also allows you to meet people with different skills sets as discussed above and to learn from those people and share the skill sets you have with them. In some ways, it’s like Facebook, except you actually have a real relationship with these people. I think a key part of this area is involvement with other groups. There are dozens of groups out there that share common goals with the militias, and they, unlike the militia, will actually be called on in an emergency. Some to look into are ARES (HAM radio), CERT, and Sheriff’s Search and Rescue. Having members in all of these different areas is a great way to cross train and will also improve communication between these groups in an emergency. If done properly, the militia could serve as an informal way to tie together a lot of these groups together in a way that will help them be more effective. The more people who know one another, the better they tend to work together.
The interesting thing about the good things that a militia, or similar group, can do is that none of them necessitate uniforms, patches, websites or playing in the woods with guns. Although not as glamorous as some of the other depictions of the modern militia, I think it’s a far more practical one. Getting together with friends (and I would suggest family) and sharing experiences, knowledge, goals, and ideas is a great way to be better prepared for whatever might happen. And if nothing at all happens, I think you’ll still be better off.