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I would like to bring to your attention a small pet peeve of mine. The ranks people claim in the militia. To understand my perspective on this, I will give you a little bit of my background. I am a veteran of the U.S. Army. I served 6 years and did three combat tours in Iraq as a forward observer (13F). Both active duty and in the National Guard, but enough about that.

 

 

Now the rank structure of the militias seems to follow the same basic structure of the Army. Makes sense, however this is being absurdly taking advantage of by a few. And those few are making a laughing stock of the rest of us. I have certainly spent much time shaking my head wondering “WTF?”

 

 

For those of you who have never spent time in the Army, let me help you understand where I am coming from. In the Army’s Infantry (which is the closest unit from which the militia bases itself) a Captain is basically the lowest commanding rank in a position of command and will take charge of a company. He will have a few lieutenants to run his platoons, but the guy in charge is a captain. He will have roughly a 160 or so men under his command. Usually three platoons of 40 men each and then a Headquarters Platoon filled with support personnel.

 

 

Rank of Major is usually not a rank of command, they are the lowest “field grade” officer and usually just support their Lieutenant Colonel (LTC). The Lieutenant Colonel is in charge of a battalion, upwards of seven companies and total of somewhere between 1200 to 1500 combat-ready men and women.

 

 

The next rank up is a ‘full bird’ Colonel, he is in charge of the brigade consisting of 4 to 7 battalions and is in charge of upward to 5000 to 8000 men and women. Next comes the Generals and the amount of men under their command is ridiculously high.

 

 

Now back to the militia. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen some wannabe claim the rank of LTC and have 30 or so personnel show up to training. Are you kidding me? You don’t even have a platoon and most of those 30 are not even close to be physically fit enough to survive a standard PT test, let alone pass one. I am not ragging on the members, everyone who wants to train, should. But the self-glorifying rank system some of these people give themselves borders on delusional.

 

 

I once went to a Summer FTX with several local militias a few years back. Good turnout. Around a 130 participants including women and children. The guy in charge called himself a Brigade Commander and claimed the rank LTC. I would guess there were about 30 to 35 people there actually in good enough physical condition and had enough basic knowledge to actually go out on a real mission. Yet, the leader was a “Lieutenant Colonel”.

 

 

Even more hilarious is my time on Facebook. I have no idea how many “State Commanders” I have met online. They are often Colonels or Generals. They just randomly claim to be in charge of all the militia in their state, but invariably I can usually find several militias in their states that don’t recognize him. Yet, they call themselves state commanders and colonels. This is nothing short of lunacy.

 

 

The worst offender of this I ever came across was a guy that claimed to be the Commander of the Militia of the Several States. Yes, according to him and few of his friends he was the ultimate guy in charge of all the militias. Apparently, there was a group that called themselves the Third Continental Congress filled with self-appointed delegates. They decided they were in charge of their new defacto government and appointed this “General” to take charge of all militias. This Third Continental Congress fell apart and no longer exists, but this guy still claims this rank and position, all while trying to rebuild his glory by forming a Forth Continental Congress. At the time of meeting this guy online, I was still pretty new to the militia and I am looking at this guy like “WTF?” This “General” is literally homeless asking people if he can park his trailer on their property, because he got kicked of the land of last guy he was got into a fight with. He had no control over his own life and now I am told this guy is in control of all militias. What a joke. And don’t even get me started on the Ranger beret he wore.

 

 

Here is my point. Just be real. Don’t be a freaking wannabe. If you are in charge of a small company of patriots, 8 to 20 or so, the rank of captain is cool. It’s the lowest commanding rank, so the unit number is not that important. But if you are running around with a rank of LTC, stop it. You are not. Unless you actually have a 1,000 men showing up to your training. I mean real people showing up to do real training, not a 1000 friends in your Facebook group.

 

 

People who have never spent time in the military probably don’t care. But to many veterans it does, because those ranks mean something to us. It’s a big turnoff. And if you are a veteran doing this, slap yourself. I would even go as far as saying if you are in a unit with someone claiming some ridiculously high rank that claims to be a veteran. Then check him out, he may possibly be a Stolen Valor asshat.

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Well said.

 

I agree with a rank structure because we can't have a group of individuals running around getting in each others way. Someone needs to take charge.

 

The rank structure just needs go be applied based on available personnel. It can be revamped once more people start showing up.

 

Great post.

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Dead On!!!

One point you are wrong on though is that Captain is the lowest command rank. That lowest is either a 2nd or 1st Lt who commands the platoons in a company and or is the company XO. This applies to the leg army.

 

On the other hand, Special Forces proved that officers are Not necessary to command units in the field. I was in a Mike Force company - see my avatar - which was commanded by an SFc. As a SSG I was XO and when the CO got wounded I became the Company Commander. My platoon leaders were all buck Sgts (E5).

The closest officers we had were the ones flying our air support.

Sarge

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Digging through the forums and trying to catch up, but this thread caught my eye. Mike Force - that there is some HSLD shit. And that is the type of folks that need to be leading. I've seen and been in organizations where the "officers" (and I use that term lightly) have no real experience, skills, nor desire to actually lead. It boils down to all they really want is the rank and it's subsequent authority with virtually none of the responsibility. A lot of organizations lack any kind of fundamental leadership development, even on the simple stuff like mission & terrain analysis or the effects of weather on operations. Just slapping rank on someone and putting them in charge is a dangerous thing, down to even a set of Corporal Stripes. I'll relate a tale where a young fellow (with no .mil and especially no leadership experience) was promoted to Corporal simply because the command felt a need to promote him. That young man proceeded to literally call folks in his area up and throw his stripes around like an asshat which resulted in more than a couple of highly experienced former 11s and 0331s jumping ship.

 

Leader and trainer development are crucial at any and every stage of an organization's lifecycle, and more so at it's founding. Putting stripes/bars/clusters on someone with no experience or clearly demonstrated skills and motivation and expecting them to perform miracles is a recipe for disaster. If ya promote them without giving them a clearly stated purpose, goals, objectives, and expectations or at least fundamental training in how to do their job then when they fail the blame should be equally shared.

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Good post, Erik Hanson. Rank structure is something that I've wondered about since it seems that anyone and everyone can start a small unit as long as they have men who are willing to follow them. I like the way that LFM sets up the structure where all positions of leadership are voted on by those who will eventually serve under them. If you are absolutely unwilling to serve under the leader that your group has selected, then maybe you need to go somewhere else.

 

TEAM - Led by Corporal over ~2 Privates, selected by Team

SQUAD - Led by Seargent over ~2 Teams, selected by Team Leaders

PLATOON - Led by Staff Sgt over ~3 Squads, selected by Squad Leaders

COMPANY - Led by Lt. over ~3 Platoons, selected by Platoon Leaders

BATTALION - Led by Captain over ~3 Companies, selcted by Company Leaders

REGIMENT - Led by Major over ~3 Battalions, selected by Battalion Leaders

BRIGADE - Led by Colonel over ~3 Regiments, selected by Regiment Leaders

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Sopater I have always argued against a 3 man team. The reason being it lacks the buddy team fire and maneuver that a 4 man team can accomplish plus often the TL is pretty darn busy trying to sort out the inevitable C/F that contact is and that 4th rifle can make a difference. Additionally it also breaks the 50% rule if you have more than one person doing any kind of admin duty like eating, cleaning weapons, sleeping, etc. Unless manpower is so critical that you only have 3 guys then I can't see any upside to a 3 man fire team..

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I agree with Skillet. I was in the LFM and I did not care for the 3 man team concept. Four is strategically stronger than three, from everything like CQB to MedEvac.

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I agree and disagree Erik. I've seen a lot of really over the top people like you're talking about and have had one in our group at one point in time and it does make me shake my head. I think it's important to realize though the rank structure can't be directly compared to the military like you're saying it should be. It's more of a relative thing in my opinion. The problem is how do you have multiple people in command staff positions and only one officer rank? The way our group is organized is we have 4 "enlisted" ranks and 4 "officer" ranks. And they are in no way a reason to get on a power trip over. The thing that really gets me is when people think they are more powerful or special because they have a certain militia rank. In our group it's more of an organizational thing, in peace time at least. If someone comes along more qualified for a position there's nothing wrong with stepping down and passing over the job and the rank. We're lucky to not have any super egos in our group anymore though.

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Why do you need 4 officer ranks? How many people do you have - 200?

All you need, until unit strength goes over 100+ is 2, a Commander and an Exec. It is equally possible to operate with only one, that being the Commander. The XO & Pn ldr ranks can be filled by Sr NCOs, eg: SFc/Msg.

It works perfectly with properly trained/experienced troops.

In actuality officers are Not needed until you get to Battalion staff level!

Sarge

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Why do we need 4, like I said I believe it's a relative thing and it's for organizational reasons. Like I also said we only have 4 enlisted ranks too. I think having 8 enlisted ranks and then adding NCO ranks on top of that is just as silly. In all actuality we could probably get by without any ranks and if we followed the military standards we would all be E-5 or less. The officer titles are for those in the command staff who have various other tasks and a few different voting roles. Yes, the command staff and group vote on certain group decisions. We aren't the military and we aren't out to be just like the military. If that's what I was looking for I'd go back in.

Do you all also follow the requirements to reach each rank that the military does? Do your officers have to have a college degree and go through officer training school? Where do you draw the line? You draw the line at a different spot than us, that's OK. These are the types of little things I think should be handled by each different group as they see fit. For us it seemed fitting to have 4 enlisted ranks and 4 officer ranks.

I'm not going to go to another group and try to tell members of their group what to do because I out rank them according to our setup. Those types of people are the ones I was saying really get to me, they think they're something special because of their militia rank. Those types of egos are the reason ranks are so important to begin with. We don't have any of those, so the rank system is more for when the SHTF and decisions have to be made on the spot and stuck to. I'm confident in my team and how they will work together when it comes to that.

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Part of the problem of volunteer units like militias is that volunteers still need to get paid. Not in cash, but in recognition. Rank has been chosen by many as the obvious tool to reward participants even when in the end what you really are team leaders and team members. Perhaps some work could be made into standardizing a militia equivalent ranking system that does not use any currently active military grades. Create a series of levels and then assign viable titles for the milestones. Call the base level "Asset" and the top level "Executive." It mixes a bit of business and military, but this works rather well for the non-combat situations militias are generally in. Transitioning from unorganized militia to organized status can be done with ICS titles such as Strike Team and Task Force Leader.

 

This sort of structure I think would lend more credibility to militias by doing multiple things:

1. Showing respect to the active duty forces by not using their earned ranks

2. Rewarding volunteers by recognizing their training and contributions

3. Showing that by following the standardized ICS templates for incidents, in an actual emergency these militia units can be called upon by state governors and actually get some real use out of them, providing further legitimacy

4. In the event of the fertilizer hitting the oscillator and no regular forces left to speak of, militia groups aren't posturing with each other over whose General is more General-like than the other

 

These thoughts brought to you by my own philosophical conundrums after wearing officer insignia in the Civil Air Patrol, and the thoughts on the differences between what that means for us vs what that means for active duty Airmen.

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I agree and disagree, Caldera. Rewarding someone with a rank is one form of "paying" a volunteer for their time. It isn't exactly the case seen here in the militia. Often, as I believe Erik was trying to point out, the leaders of small teams assign themselves rank they feel they deserve. The use of military rank doesn't bother most of us who are veterans. It is as appropriate as police using military rank. What is a bother for many of us, is that inappropriate levels assumed. Ranks used throughout police, military and similiar (CAP/Sea Cadets/JROTC) denote positions of authority and responsibility. A Staff Officer(Major or above), typically isn't concerned with small unit tactics in the same manner that a Captain or a Lieutenant would be.

 

As for mixing business and miltiary, I feel is inappropriate. Militia isn't business, its military (Unorganized as it may be). Using the ICS system to denote positions would make integrating with civil organizations easier, but still doesn't denote the chain of command. I've worked with emergency groups using ICS, the TF commander isn't the end all, be all for anyone not within that person's organization.

 

Just my 2 cents worth.

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I think it needs to stay with military ranks. Everyone including civilians has a basic idea that a Sergeant is higher than a Private, and a Lieutenant is high than a Sergeant, and a Captain is high that a Lieutenant. They are tangible quantities that you can describe the role of and responsibilities of. If there are made ranks that have duties and responsibilities that you need to define every aspect for it becomes convoluted. If your building a militia, then you are training to fight at some point. The military rank structure has worked in this capacity for well over 100 years.

As far as getting paid....They are getting free training. Most civilian trainers charge from 200-1700$ depending on the class. The people coming to your trainings are getting that for free.

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