Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.5 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 7.0 or higher for the best experience.

The use of militia in insurgencies has been highly controversial and politically-charged. Most accounts consider militia harbingers of instability that weaken state authority and commit brazen human rights violations. This paper reviews 130 insurgencies since World War II and finds that most governments have utilized militia during insurgencies. Why do governments use militia? The paper finds that governments turn to militia when state security forces are weak and policymakers believe militia can help pacify key areas of the country, especially rural areas where state control is minimal or non-existent. The historical evidence suggests that government perceptions are fairly accurate. A militia has often been effective in helping defeat insurgent groups, though the outcome of insurgencies is determined by a range of factors, not just the performance of militia. But the use of militia has sometimes come at a heavy price since some have perpetrated abuses and weakened state power. To be effective over the long run, governments need to establish tight control mechanisms that prevent militia from challenging the state and committing human rights abuses that can undermine local support. In short, a well-regulated militia appears to be an important — and perhaps an essential — part of a counterinsurgency campaign. Consequently, the emphasis of policymakers should be on the quality of regulation, not on whether a militia is inherently desirable or undesirable.

Table of Contents

  • Section One

    Introduction

  • Section Two

    Harbinger of Instability

  • Section Three

    The Strategic Logic of Militia

  • Section Four

    Case Studies: Afghanistan

  • Section Five

    Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Militia Forces, 1945-2011

This product is part of the RAND National Defense Research Institute working paper series.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.