Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Move, Shoot, Communicate

Whilst perusing the Archives at Instapundit, I came across this post: Instapundit » Blog Archive » BOB OWENS: For ‘A Well-Regulated Militia,’ What Firearms, Gear, and Skills Should You Own?…

So, herewith some thoughts...

My assumption here is that the "unorganized militia" will basically be a well-armed, equipped, and trained neighborhood watch.  Anything larger (city- or county-wide) would pretty much cease to be "unorganized."

So, what do I mean by "unorganized"?  I don't think it means "disorganized" so much as "informally organized"; like a neighborhood watch, there will be people who take responsibility for things like putting together meetings, for example, but there is no official organization or hierarchy.  To take a local example, the Seattle suburb Renton may have the "Renton Rangers", but they will not have battalions, companies and platoons commanded by colonels, captains, and lieutenants.

Probably, if someone tries to establish any such thing there will soon be a rival Renton militia...

I do think a neighborhood watch model works best for this, since the primary role will be emergency/disaster response, internal security, and homeland defense.  There will probably be at least a semi-official relationship with the local city and/or county Emergency Management Office.  (I would suggest that part of the requirement would be completion of CERT training.)  There would be a roster, and the members might agree on a uniform--cap and vest?--but any given event will have members missing because they had to work, or the honey-do list was too long, or the kid wanted to go fishing...

In fact, I think it highly likely that militia members will see more use in natural or man-made disasters or emergencies than in responding to an enemy attack or civil unrest. (Ignoring that a terrorist attack is now defined "man-made disaster.")

Another point is that there is no statutory  coverage for the Unorganized Militia until Titles 10 or 32 of the United States Code.

Anyway.  The title of this post breaks down the three basic necessities of any military unit; while an unorganized (or even an organized one) is not usually considered to be exactly "military", and an unorganized militia will be operating close to home, these needs still apply.
Move:  While, for individual members, this would seem to require physical fitness, frankly, I see no reason why a citizen volunteer who needs braces or a power chair to get around couldn't serve as well.
  • There is certainly no PT test required for membership in a neighborhood watch, nor to participate in CERT training, or for membership in an amateur radio ARES/RACES group.
  • The individual member may not move so well, but that does not mean that he or she has nothing to contribute, nor that the group as a whole can't get around.
  • Not to say that the use of vehicles, either motor or people-powered, should be ignored, of course!  Specific needs will depend on where the militia is: In an urban area most action (patrols, etc.) will probably be on foot, and vehicles will be used for logistical support, or maybe rapid-response.
  • Another--perhaps primary--consideration here is thorough knowledge of your area: routes in, routes out, obstacles, resources. 
Militia members should be able to read a map and to navigate, on foot or in a vehicle, on roads and across country, with compass and GPS.  They may never operate outside of their militia's immediate area or responsibility, but can one really be sure?  
Shoot:  Mr. Owens suggests that each militia member should be armed with an AR15, magazines and means of carrying same, and 1000 rounds of ammunition.  Since what we're talking about is an unorganized militia, I don't really think it's altogether reasonable to call for a specific weapon.  Rather, members should be expected to arm themselves, to include ammunition and maintenance equipment, with a rifle.
  • A specific militia may decide to standardize on a specific model of rifle, and/or caliber, but they need to be wary of running people off by expecting them to spend extra money.
  • There may be a role for a shotgun as a primary long arm.
  • Some potential members may not be able to shoot a long arm at all.  (See my comments on fitness/physical ability above.)
  • Some militias are going to have to face the question as to whether people with scruples against bearing arms have a place in their group.
  • If a standard long arm is agreed upon, sidearms should be left to the tastes of the individual members.
I am not criticizing Mr. Owens' choice of the AR15 as the standard arm of the militia, I'm just saying that, what with the unorganized militia being unorganized, this may be a bridge too far...

Mr. Owens recommends the Army Qualification Test for militia members marksmanship training/qualification; I am sure he will be glad to hear that I concur.  Among other things, a 25-meter range can easily be put together in a gravel pit or open field with suitable backstop, using easily portable supplies.  Hopefully, the militia will have qualified Range Safety Officers, as well as instructors.  (In this context, I highly recommend the NRAs Instructor Programs.)
Communicate: Obviously, as an amateur radio operator, I see a role for ham radio in the militia...

...or do I?   I think this depends on what role the militia is filling, and where it serves.  For most purposes, a simple FRS or GMRS radio should fill the bill.  These have the virtue of being readily, cheaply, available in blister packs (although GMRS requires an $85 license fee, good for five years.)
  • They're not secure, but unless and until a militia is formally taken into government service, anything resembling strong encryption in radio communications is not allowed by the Federal Communications Commission anyway.
  • FRS requires no license; GMRS licensing requires no training or testing.
  • As noted, these units are widely, and cheaply, available.  There are table-top units, and GMRS radios built into GPS.
Of course, a handheld amateur radio transceiver operating in the 144, 225, or 440 MHz range, is far more versatile.  You can also get a multi-band transceiver which operates in the six meter band, which offers the ability to communicate with military VHF equipment.

Some militias may want to experiment with codes and ciphers; they are warned (again) that the FCC frowns on their usage on radio bands set aside for public use, so if they want to practice their use, they should do so using, say, cell phones to simulate radios.

Speaking of which, for most purposes in which I visualize the militia being active, the cell phone may well be the most practical form of communication, both text and voice.

"Administrative" communications will, of course, mostly be by email, probably a form of listserv or email list.  Depending on the technical abilities of the members of the militia, we would expect to see blogs, boards, chat sites, and pages or sites in the various social media.
In addition to having a rifle and ammunition, and knowing how to use them, Mr. Owens also recommends the following:
  • appropriate seasonal clothing
  • a first aid kit (preferably an individual first aid kid, or IFAK)
  • food, water, and temporary shelter for three days
The first aid kit is important; obviously, we want all members of the militia to have first aid training, preferably Red Cross  or (perhaps better) NOLS Wilderness certification. EMT training is probably too much to realistically expect.

I would add many of FEMA's Incident Command System courses, many of which are available on-line.  The classes on Hazardous Materials and Radiological Hazards obviously recommend themselves, as do courses on specific hazards which may effect your area.  (Depending on where you live, you may be able to get these classes in a classroom environment through your local emergency management department.)

Mr. Owens' original post: PJ Media » For ‘A Well-Regulated Militia,’ What Firearms, Gear, and Skills Should You Own?
 It Takes a Militia, an article Professor Reynolds co-authored advocating a "communitarian" basis for a militia, which seems to be what Mr. Owens is writing about.  Referenced in the original Instapundit post that started this.
Also seen at Instapundit: Kenyans take up weapons to save wildlife, tourism |  Former poachers form a "conservation militia" to fight poaching.
Daddy Bear recently posted a five-part series of vignettes, comprising a short-short story about WWIII, in which the unorganized militia, as well as "Home Guards", played a role:


DaddyBear said...

Thanks for the link!

I'd be more inclined to agree on standardizing on a specific caliber of ammunition before standardizing on a specific gun. Say, 5.56 and .45. That way, everyone could carry whatever firearm they were most comfortable and useful with, so long as it could draw from a pool of ammunition if need be.

I agree that first aid training would be essential. I've had the Red Cross first responder training, and I'd also suggest some sort of trauma training. There are a few organizations that have courses specifically for first aid for gunshot wounds.

Map reading skills, at least good enough to direct people to places in the neighborhood who may not know streets and common placenames would also be useful.

AuricTech said...

In lieu of FRS/GMRS handheld radios, TriSquare's eXRS radios would provide a degree of security, as they use frequency-hopping spread-spectrum technology.