Article

Semi-Military and Paramilitary Organizations

Benjamin R. Beede

in Military History


Published online August 2013 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791279.016.0100

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Semi-military organizations take many forms and perform varied functions. Such organizations can be placed in three general categories: legally established entities, organizations that are opposed to a particular regime, and groups that support certain aspects of the regime but exist outside the law, such as death squads. Organizations in the first two categories are described as “semi-military” in this article, and the third category is characterized as “paramilitary.” Legally established entities can be divided further into those that are intended to support the armed forces through the provision of various services and those that are designed to supplement or substitute for the armed forces in order to keep the military services focused on defense against foreign threats and, further, to free them from tasks such as suppression of internal unrest or enforcement of controversial laws. Semi-military organizations vary considerably, ranging from those that have constituted little more than concealed armies to those that consist of unarmed men and women who have been recruited for largely humanitarian duties. The focus of this article is on those semi-military organizations that are closest to regular armed forces. Organizations, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, a major New Deal program to combat the Great Depression set up by the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt in the United States, and Organisation Todt, a large labor service force in Nazi Germany, are omitted. Military Contractors and Mercenary Forces and Proprietary Airlines may be seen as serving armed forces. Border Security Forces and the various categories of police organizations can be viewed as substituting for armed forces. Paramilitary Organizations have a position of their own. They may be linked to the armed forces, but unofficially. They often operate in a clandestine fashion.

Article.  10130 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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