September 05, 2004

Ordering the Unorganized Militia I

If you've ever cracked open a US state law military code, you find the funny sounding term, the unorganized militia. It's there in the federal code as well. This term dates back to the founding of our republic (and probably beyond) to mean the whole of the people (with minor exceptions for those incapable of bearing arms). By definition, the unorganized militia has no units and no officers. But I wonder if it might not begin to have some order.

These thoughts are prompted by the tragedy of the poor account Russia's unorganized militia (the parents and teachers present) at the Beslan school terrorist takeover. There were plenty of failed heroes. One account I read remarked that 20 men were shot for resisting the terrorists. If those 20 had been armed the tragedy might have played out differently. With their ranks thinned by those 20 (who would likely have died, armed or no) more might have escaped without being shot in the back. Russian special forces might have had better options with a thinner terrorist perimeter and fewer might have died in the ultimate mad scramble when everything went wrong.

In some sense, Russia's unorganized militia is somewhat better off than the US as their conscription system (even though it's brutal and dysfunctional) creates widespread familiarity with firearms and with basic military concepts. Their material poverty and withered civilian gun culture put them right back at square one though.

In a sense, I shouldn't be writing this post. Somebody with military experience, a former officer who knows both how to soldier and how to lead should be writing this. But what I do know are systems and information and these two are critical to the question of ordering an unorganized body and practically creating a functional group without the normal (and expensive) coordination of a formal structure. This means I have a vision in my head but I don't necessarily have the tools to get things down in one draft as I do where I've been thinking about such things for much longer.

Posted by TMLutas at September 5, 2004 09:26 AM