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Citizens and Involuntary Militia

A recent post in Small Wars Journal provides another scan hit supporting the maturation of an emerging issue we worked up back in 2017, “Involuntary Militia.” The post on Small Wars calls attention to the rising “gray zone” activities being conducted by America’s adversaries and in particular suggests that American citizens should be more informed about how SOF is employed in response to these adversary actions.

Involuntary Militia emerged from observations people were making about how civilian populations were once again being targeted by foreign adversaries. It was originally described as,

“As civilian society is increasingly targeted, personal digital entourages will necessarily engage in defense and counter-IO, creating engaged civil combatant status.”

While the recent Small Wars post focuses on the cyber-related threat Americans now live under, the reality today is that American citizens are simultaneously the targets, means, and medium through which a variety of actors are pursuing change on the global landscape. That means that, whether they realize it or not, Americans are daily under threat and influence from all manner of criminal and dangerous cyber activities, grand strategic narrative contests, disinformation campaigns, and economic contests.

Beyond raising awareness of this new reality, it is past time we started seriously exploring the different roles that citizens may play in the future as these contests – and wars – evolve.

Let us know if you would be interested in our upcoming Emerging Issues for Conflict & Security 2021 report.

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