Open Source Militias

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  • Colombia. The AUC blunted the spread of the FARC and other revolutionary groups.
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil. Neighborhood militias have purged neighborhoods of the PCC (a criminal drug gang).
  • Iraq. Anbar awakening and other militias have radically diminished al Qaeda's operational sphere.


John Robb:

"In each case, militias developed organically based on local loyalties that have nothing to do with the central government. Their emergence is spontaneous and a surprise to the government or the foreign military occupation. They develop according to a now familiar pattern:

  • Expansion. Guerrillas or criminal gangs move into a new area in which they have no organic support. They impose their own form of governance which is at odds with local needs.
  • Reaction. These external guerrillas/gangs intimidate/kill local leaders. A militia is formed to force the encroaching groups out.
  • Domination. The local militia begins to run the neighborhoods/area. Soon, they tend to adopt many of the same financial systems of the guerrillas/gangs (from drugs to extortion) and enforcement measures (assassination, torture, etc.). However, they remain less hostile to the government and commercial interests than the guerrillas/gangs."



John Robb:

"The use of a plethora of militias to fight a global open source insurgency from Nigeria to Mexico to Iraq to Pakistan is effective within a grand strategy of delay (it holds disorder at bay while allowing globalization to work). Most beneficially, it eliminates the need for nation-building, massive conventional troop deployments, and other forms of excess. Some questions remain: can the US manage something this complex or this messy? Will the rest of the US military/contractors sit idle (and as a result fall victim to budget cuts) while light weight special operations forces (and their allied private military corporations) take center stage?" (