Encyclopedia > Paramilitary

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A paramilitary force is neither a police agency nor a military organization, having elements of both but also lacking elements of both. Much of the world's military forces, particularly in developing countries, are in fact paramilitary, oriented towards controlling their own country's population.

Paramilitary forces typically exist to assure the internal control of a country and to suppress anarchy or civil war. They are armed with small arms and wear military uniforms. They are often equipped with tear gas and other non-lethal weapons but use them lavishly and without compunction. The leadership of paramilitary forces is highly political.

Paramilitary forces ostensibly operate to enforce the law but often act in blatant disregard of the law. Paramilitary forces are responsible for some violations of the laws of war and for many atrocities.

In military terms, paramilitary forces are disorganized light infantry. Effectively led they can stand in the defense, especially in cities or urban areas, but are utterly incapable of offensive action or sustained combat operations due to a lack of heavy weapons, training and effective logistics support.

See police military military dictatorship political

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