On War #128
August 2, 2005
Modern Warfare Symposium
By William S. Lind
[The views expressed in this article are those of
Mr. Lind, writing in his personal capacity. They do not reflect
the opinions or policy positions of the Free Congress Foundation,
its officers, board or employees, or those of Kettle Creek Corporation.]
I spent last week in Pittsfield, Maine, at a
symposium on modern war called by Colonel Mike Wyly, USMC retired.
Col. Wyly was one of the heroes of the maneuver warfare movement in
the Marine Corps in the 1970s and 80s, and when he suggests it’s
time for a new effort, people listen. My hope was that we might make
some progress on Fourth Generation war theory, and while I am not
sure we accomplished that, we did gain some ground on one important
question: what might a state armed service designed for 4GW look
To address that question, we first had to answer another one: what
would such a force’s mission be? Not being neo-Trotskyites, we
derived our answer within the framework of a defensive grand
strategy. The new service’s (and it should be a new armed service)
primary mission would be to prevent outbreaks of Fourth Generation
war on American soil. The focus must be on prevention, not “first
response,” because if we are forced into a response mode the enemy
has already won. And, the new service must be oriented not only to
preventing imported 4GW, like that we saw on 9/11, but also the
home-grown variety such as London just experienced.
But—and here was the kicker—the
new service has to keep us safe without pushing America further
toward Big Brother, the all-powerful, centralized, national security
state represented by the Department of Homeland Security, the
“Patriot Act” and much else coming out of Washington.
So what should this new 4GW armed service be? The answer of our
working group at the symposium was, “a militia.”
The militia was the basis of America’s defense through most of our
history as a republic. More, there are two contemporary models. One
is volunteer fire departments, which small town and rural America
depend on and which almost always perform well. The other is
community policing, where cops walk the same beat in the same
neighborhood for a long time, long enough to understand the
neighborhood and prevent crimes instead of just responding to them.
Neither volunteer fire departments nor community police serve as
control mechanisms for the federal government. They respond to their
local communities, not to Washington.
The new militia’s most important function would be neighborhood
watch. The only way to prevent 4GW attacks is to find out about them
before they happen, and that means the militia, like community
police, must know what is happening in their neighborhoods. But
again, we don’t want to feed Big Brother. Almost all of what the
militia knows should remain on the local level.
How can we make this happen? Our working group decided the militia
should normally report to the county sheriff, a local, elected
official who has a lot of independence. Sheriffs’ powers, defined
over centuries in common law, allow them to tell the feds to stick
it. Nor are they under the thumb of local or state politicians. If
they violate citizens’ rights, they can be unelected real fast. The
militia, we also decided, would not have powers of arrest unless
deputized. A separation of powers between the militia and law
enforcement would also help maintain citizens’ rights.
Another danger we wanted to avoid was allowing the First Generation
culture of order, still characteristic of America’s Second
Generation armed forces, to carry over to the new service. Like
Third Generation militaries, the militia must be outward focused,
prize initiative over obedience and depend on self-discipline, not
imposed discipline. We therefore determined that there should be
very little in the way of formal ranks or commands and no saluting,
drill, uniforms (at least none required) etc. The largest unit would
be the company, with an elected captain. The captain’s duties would
be mostly administrative, and sub-units could elect adjutants to
handle their paperwork if they wanted to. The militiamen would be
free to choose leaders on a task basis, picking whoever they thought
was best qualified depending on what they had to do. Yes, this means
trusting ordinary citizens to show some common sense. Republics do
that; if they can’t or won’t, they are no longer republics.
Another characteristic of our anti-4GW militia is that unless
mobilized, the militiamen would not be paid. Instead of pay, they
would collect points toward retirement benefits and—we
thought this could kill two birds with one stone—they
would receive health insurance for themselves and their families.
Instead of health coverage just becoming another “entitlement,”
citizens who did something for their country would find their
country doing something for them. We thought long-term benefits like
pensions and health insurance would also help recruit the kind of
people the militia needs, solid citizens capable of delayed
Next week’s column will continue this report on the results of
Colonel Wyly’s symposium, including the militia. And no, the fact
that we met in Maine did not lead us to consider using moose as
crew-served weapons carriers.
Word document available upon request.
To interview Mr. Lind, please contact:
Phyllis Hughes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Free Congress Foundation
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