IFAS | Militia Manual | Section 2.3

2.3 General organization of the Free Militia


"For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes." A Roman Centurion talking to Jesus Christ (Matthew 8:9)

"I voluntarily join the Free Militia, and I agree to obey its commanders to the extent that my conscience allows for the duration of my service in the Militia." From the Oath of Office for the Free Militia

2.3.1 The cell structure

In any military organization, there needs to be a clear chain of command to insure effective coordination of smaller units. At the same time, units must be capable of responding to the immediate circumstances without having to ask higher authorities for permission to "go to the bathroom." A good example of a sound balance between these ideas was demonstrated by the U.S. Marines during World War II. The discipline and obedience to authority in the Marine Corps is well known. Yet the Marines retained a degree of initiative and individuality not found in many foreign counterparts, due to their American heritage. An isolated Japanese soldier was not a great threat in the Pacific Theater because he was incapable of functioning without orders. Yet isolated Marines could still be quite effective, cunning, and ingenious in harassing the enemy, by improvising.

Obviously, this kind of loyalty to authority but capability to respond individually is essential to the Free Militia. However, the necessity for personal and small-group freedom and initiative is compounded by several factors. First, the potential enemy may be superior in numbers, meaning that Militia units could be cut off and isolated from other units. Second, the potential enemy will probably be technologically superior, either eavesdropping on or jamming our communications, leading to a different kind of isolation. Third, Free Militia commanders of necessity will have some public exposure as a result of living their private lives.

Even with wise precautions, this endangers command elements by exposing them to possible arrest or attack leading to "decapitation" of combat elements. In any of these situations, combat units of the Free Militia must be capable of carrying on the fight without support from above or beside.

The fundamental rule guiding the organization of the Free Militia is centralized principles and planning but decentralized tactics and action.

What is meant by this key statement is that the whole Militia must be committed to the same cause and coordinated in their joint defense of the community. Thus, there must be allegiance to a higher command. But specific tactics should be left up to the individual elements so that the compromise of a part does not compromise the whole. Furthermore, all training and combat actions should be up to the smaller elements, again so that isolation or decapitation does not render the smaller units inept.

The way a balance between these competing concerns is achieved in the Free Militia is to organize all elements into "cells."

A cell is a group of eight men who train and work together to accomplish a particular goal or task important to the broader purposes of the Militia.

We use the term "cell," because a cell is the basic building block in any living organism. Just as all life, growth and reproduction is based on living cells, all Militia "life" is centered around its cells. The identities of cell members are known only within the cell and by their immediate superior. All basic training is done within a cell. all codes, passwords and telephone networks are determined by and held in confidence within the cell. All fortified positions are determined, prepared and concealed by the cell. All combat orders are executed by the cell as the cell sees fit within its own context. So the Free Militia is its cells.

Why the cell structure?

Military operations must depend on teamwork. But the teams that comprise the larger organization must be small for several reasons:

Why eight men?

Cells ideally consist of eight men (plus or including their leader), because eight men can effectively and independently accomplish a wide range of military tasks, whether defensive or offensive, rural or urban.

2.3.2 Diversification of cells

While the cell is the basic building block of the Free Militia, there is, of necessity, diversity among the cells just as there is in the human body. One kind of diversity is found in a cell's specialty. For instance, although each combat cell receives basic training for general tasks, each one emphasizes and perfects particular skills needed for different scenarios. (The range of these specialties must remain confidential until you formally join the Free Militia.)

A second kind of diversity is found in the function for which the particular cell is designed. There are four types or functions of cells in the Free Militia: (1) command, (2) combat, (3) support, and (4) communique.

Putting it in human terms, some cells in the human body serve the function of a muscle while others form bones, skin and organs. But among those cells dedicated to making muscles, some are specialized as arm muscles, some as leg muscles and others as chest muscles. They do basically the same thing but in somewhat different ways and different places. So, also, Free Militia cells may function in four different ways and specialize in several ways within their function.

Again, there are four types or functions of cells in the Free Militia: (1) command, (2) combat, (3) support, and (4) communique.

2.3.3 Companies organized by cells

The cell is the smallest unit of organization within the Free Militia. All larger units consist of cells organized together under the same command. For instance, four cells comprise a platoon and are led by a lieutenant. Four platoons comprise a company and are led by a captain. This system is illustrated in the following organizational chart.

This chart shows the ideal strengths and organization of units. While all units must be organized into cells, the number of men in any particular cell or platoon may be more or less than the ideal, depending on how many men have joined the Free Militia at any point in time. Indeed, whenever a new militia is established, it is very unlikely that it will have the strength of a company or even of a platoon. Perhaps only one cell will exist at first. As new recruits join up, seasoned men will be promoted and new cells formed. Eventually platoons, companies, or even battalions (four companies), will form.

Assuming that a full company has developed, the manpower and ranks within the company would break down as follows:

Description of personnelRanksNumber of men
Company leader(captain)11
Company cell leaders(lieutenants)44
Company cell personnel(privates)28 (7/cell*)32 (8/cell)
Combat platoon leaders(lieutenants)44
Combat cell leaders(sergeants)1616
Combat cell minutemen(privates)112 (7/cell*)128 (8/cell)
Total company personnel161185
* This assumes that the cell sergeant makes the 8th man of the cell.

Explanation of company organization

Combat elements

Non-combatant elements

2.3.4 Lines and limits of authority

The chain of command

To avoid complication, the Free Militia does away with "sub-ranks" or ranks within ranks. Thus, there are not privates and privates first class, just privates. There are no first and second lieutenants, just lieutenants. There are no lieutenant colonels and colonels, just colonels.

Militia RankMilitia RoleUnit CommandedMen Commanded
GeneralCommanderDivision10701-12238
ColonelCommanderRegiment2670-3054
MajorCommanderBattalion662-758
CaptainCommanderCompany160-184
LieutenantPlatoon leaderPlatoon32-36
SergeantCell LeaderCell/squad7-8
CorporalMinutemanTeam4*
PrivateMinutemanHimself1
* A corporal does not lead a particular group. Instead, he is from time to time assigned a part of
the cell by the cell leader when it is necessary to split up the cell's assigned duties or location.

Promotions are made by superior officers. Any officer may promote men in his unit from two levels to one level of rank below him, provided there is a genuine leadership need for the promotion. Thus a sergeant may select one of his privates to be his corporal and a new captain may promote as many sergeants to lieutenants as he needs to command platoons.

Who do you know?

On one hand, there must be the ability to communicate and coordinate within the Free Militia. This capability must be maintained even when individual leaders are arrested or become casualties. On the other hand, there must be some insulation and isolation among elements of the Free Militia so that one part being compromised will not compromise the whole. Both needs are maintained with one relatively simple principle:

In the Free Militia, your contact and exposure to other members will be limited to direct lines of command and two levels of rank above and below.

You do not need to know your superior's peers since they have no authority over you. Nor do you need to know your own peers in other cells. You do, however, need to know your superior's superior for the following reasons:

Thus you must only have contact with those in two levels of direct authority above and below you.

This does not mean that you will never have contact with others in the Free Militia. Perhaps you have served with some of them in the same cell before advancing in rank. Or perhaps you will perform joint maneuvers with them. But you will not normally have regular exposure to them.

With this structure, two entire echelons of officers would have to be wiped out to sever ties between cells and the high command. At the same time, an entire echelon of officers (for instance, all lieutenants) would have to be captured and "spill their guts" in order to compromise the entire organization. If we keep a low profile and keep ourselves spread out, this will be virtually impossible for the potential enemy to do.

Who do you answer to?

Related to who you know is who you must answer to. Clearly, you must obey superior officers. Obviously, you can only obey superior officers you know. However, it is possible that you will know several superior officers through previous service in the same cell or joint maneuvers. What do you do when two lieutenants tell you to do two different things?

In the Free Militia, you are only responsible to obey those of superior rank who are in direct line of authority over you in the chain of command.

For instance, you are only answerable to your particular cell leader and no other cell leader; to your lieutenant and no other; to your captain and no other. If two superiors tell you two different things, respectfully ignore the one that has no direct authority, even if he has a higher rank. If both have direct authority over you, obey the one higher in rank.

The limits of authority

Assuming that orders come from a superior officer who is in the direct line of command above you, you are expected and required to obey them in all matters pertaining to:

Basically, you are obliged to obey any order pertaining to preparations for or conduct in actual combat regardless of how you like or "feel" about it.

You are not expected to obey your superiors concerning how you lead your private life, except as it affects your ability to serve in the Militia. Nor are you expected to obey your superiors when they order you to do something immoral (like shooting unarmed women and children) or unconstitutional (like shooting a criminal without a civil trial). And, of course, you may freely make recommendations to your leader when time permits. But when an order is issued, your own personal preferences and desires are immaterial. You must simply obey.

Discipline in the Free Militia

You will never be punished for failure in the Free Militia. You may have to endure further instruction or more training. But you will not be belittled or humiliated for failures assuming you gave it your best effort.

You will, however, be disciplined for defiance or disobedience. We do not, as a private Militia, have the right or authority to imprison or physically harm you (that is reserved for the civil court system). We do, however, have the authority to undo what we have the authority to do. We also have the authority to do what any citizen can do. Therefore, your superior officers have a range of possibilities at their disposal for disciplining your behavior as they see fit:

2.3.5 Discussion questions

Have you had any previous military or law enforcement training or experience? If so, please describe.

Have you ever had any leadership training or experience like starting you own business, supervising a group of workers, holding a political office or church leadership? If so, please describe.

What types of occupational or job experience have you had? Which type(s) of work do you like doing the most? Are you most proficient at?

In your own words, please describe what a cell is. Why is it so important that we be organized into semi-independent cells?

Do you have any questions about the general organization of the Free Militia?

The Romans often advanced on their enemy with their rectangular shields side-by-side, forming a moving, protective wall. With swords or javelins protruding this wall of shields, the Romans were virtually invincible as long as they stayed together. But if they would break ranks, they would expose themselves to attack, death and defeat. If you were a Roman soldier, would you be more likely to survive if you obeyed a "stupid" order along with everyone else, sowed discord and division among the other troops, or individually followed a "wiser" course of action like attacking a flank? Why?

Why is it better for you today to obey less than ideal orders as a group instead of doing the ideal thing individually?

In your own words describe when you must obey your immediate superior. Describe when you must not obey your immediate superior. In your own words, describe which leaders in the Free Militia you must obey and which leaders you should not obey.

Personal questions Do you have either amateur or trained skills in any of the following areas?

 

SkillDescribe
Martial arts/fencing/boxing 
Physical education/coaching 
First aid/CPR/medic/nursing 
Automobile mechanics 
Machinist/welder 
Gunsmithing 
Radio operation/repairs 
Telephone operation/repairs 
Private investigation 
Mail or package delivery 
Printing/wordprocessing 
Commercial art/graphics 
Journalism/broadcasting 
Public office or law 

Main ideas of this section

The fundamental rule guiding the organization of the Free Militia is centralized principles and planning but decentralized tactics and action.

A cell is a group of eight men who train and work together to accomplish a particular goal or task important to the broader purposes of the Militia.

In the Free Militia, your contact and exposure to other members will be limited to direct lines of command and two levels of rank above and below.

In the Free Militia, you are only responsible to obey those of superior rank who are in direct line of authority over you in the chain of command.

Basically, you are obliged to obey any order pertaining to preparations for or conduct in actual combat regardless of how you like or "feel" about it.