Paramilitary

Paramilitary

[par-uh-mil-i-ter-ee]

A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military force, but which are not regarded as having the same status. The term uses the Greek prefix para- ("beside"), also seen in words such as paramedic.

The term paramilitary is subjective, depending on what is considered similar to a military force, and what status a force is considered to have. The nature of paramilitary forces therefore varies greatly according to the speaker and the context. For instance, in Northern Ireland, paramilitary refers to any illegally armed group with a political purpose, but in Colombia, paramilitary refers specifically to illegally armed groups which are considered right-wing (for example AUC), while illegally armed groups considered left-wing, such as FARC, are referred to as guerrillas.

Depending on context, paramilitaries can include:

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