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A paramilitary is an organization whose structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military, but is not part of a country's official or legitimate armed forces. Paramilitary units carry out duties that a country's military or police forces are unable, or sometimes unwilling, to handle.
Military compared to paramilitary
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. Paramilitary forces and organisations use "military" equipment, skills, tactics etc that are compatible with the civilian sector (IE: Urban environments etc). During peacetime, Paramilitary professions are usually found in areas such as high profile non-military sites such as laboratories, nuclear power plants, industrial explosive factories, seaports, airports, borders and government sites such as embassies, palaces, political summits etc tasked with roles of VIP protection, anti-terrorism etc. 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.
Paramilitary forces can also include private military company missions.
Under the law of war, a state may incorporate a paramilitary organization or armed agency (such as a national police or a private volunteer militia) into its combatant armed forces. The other parties to a conflict have to be notified thereof.
Some countries constitutions limit freedom of association by prohibiting paramilitary organizations outside government use. In most cases, there is no definition of paramilitary, and court decisions are responsible for defining that concept.
Depending on the definition adopted, "paramilitaries" may include:
- The auxiliary forces of a state's military: national guard, presidential guard, republican guard, state defense force, civil air patrol, home guard, royal guard, and imperial guard.
- Some police forces or auxiliary police: Indonesia's Mobile Brigade Corps (Brimob), Detachment 88, India's Assam Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Hong Kong Police Force, Bangladesh's Border Guards Bangladesh etc.
- Armed, semi-militarized wings of existing political parties:
- the Italian Fascist Party's Voluntary Militia for National Security
- those of the Weimar Republic; which was very common during this period, when every political party in strife-torn Germany had their own; examples include:
- Sinn Féin's Irish Republican Army.
- Hamas's Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
- the African National Congress's Umkhonto we Sizwe.
- the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
- Police departments of many countries are organized in a manner similar to military forces.
- Semi-militarized law enforcement personnel within civilian police forces, such as SWAT teams in the United States and various IRTs and Special police units in other countries.
- Gendarmeries, such as the Dutch Royal Marechaussee, Egyptian Central Security Forces, European EUROGENDFOR and Chilean Carabineros de Chile.
- Border guards, such as Australian Border Force, India's Border Security Force, Bangladesh's Border Guards Bangladesh and Turkey's Village guards.
- The United States' Federal Protective Forces and NASA's Emergency Response Teams.
- Security forces of ambiguous military status: internal troops, Railroad Guards, or railway troops.
- CIA - Special Activities Center (SAC) (specifically the Special Operations Group (SOG), staffed by Paramilitary Operations Officers)
- CIA - Global Response Staff
- Volunteer Defence Corps, such as Volunteer Defence Corps in Thailand, Volunteer Defence Corps in Australia, Shanghai Volunteer Corps, and Royal Hong Kong Regiment.
- The fire departments of many countries are often organized in a manner similar to military or police forces despite being unarmed.
- The Belgian Civiele Bescherming and Singapore Civil Defence Force.
- The Australian State Emergency Service.
- The Ukrainian Teroborona
- The Lithuanian Riflemen's Union.
Examples of paramilitary units
Paramilitary uniforms and equipment
Due to status and legal reasons, Paramilitary forces tend to be issued similar/capable equipment etc but not issued to the Armed Forces as they have a completely different function and role.
Commercially manufactured non-government issue "tactical gear" sold to the civilian market can be also classed as Paramilitary gear.
- Category:Rebel militia groups
- Internal Troops
- Security forces
- International Association of Gendarmeries and Police Forces with Military Status
- Weimar paramilitary groups
- List of Serbian paramilitary formations
- Militarization of police
- FBI SWAT
- Panamanian Public Forces
- Fourth-generation warfare
- Private army
- Private Military Companies
- Death squad
- Violent non-state actor
- Military urbanism
- Urban guerrilla warfare
- List of countries by number of military and paramilitary personnel
- "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 D 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.
- 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
- Üngör, Uğur Ümit (2020). Paramilitarism: Mass Violence in the Shadow of the State. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-882524-1.
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