The term militia ( /mɨˈlɪʃə/), or irregular army, is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with multiple distinct but related meanings. Legal and historical meanings of militia include:
- Defense activity or service, to protect a community, its territory, property, and laws.
- The entire able-bodied population of a community, town, county, or state, available to be called to arms.
- A subset of these who may be legally penalized for failing to respond to a call-up.
- A subset of these who actually respond to a call-up, regardless of legal obligation.
- A private, non-government force, not necessarily directly supported or sanctioned by its government.
- An official reserve army, composed of citizen soldiers. Called by various names in different countries such as; the Army Reserve, National Guard, or state defense forces.
- The national police forces in several former communist states such as the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries, but also in the non-aligned SFR Yugoslavia. The term was inherited in Russia, and other former CIS countries. See: Militia (Police).
- In France the equivalent term "Milice" has become tainted due to its use by notorious collaborators with Nazi Germany.
- A select militia is composed of a small, non-representative portion of the population, often politicized.
Read more about Militia: Etymology, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Russia and The Soviet Union, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Texas, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam, SFR Yugoslavia, Militia Service As A Civic Duty