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Home Guard

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Now behold me, an L.D.V., for battle I'm just yearning,
Doing my best like all the rest to keep the home fires burning.
Each evening stiff as starch, up and down the street I march.
I'm guarding the home of the Home Guard, guarding the Home Guard's home.
George Formby (1940), "Guarding the Home of the Home Guard"

You have your army, perhaps it is a Badass Army, or just a Redshirt Army, but in any case, it is the standing army of your (nation-)state, with everything that entails. Of course, not everybody in the army does it for a living. Some folks just do it for the bit of extra pay, or the college benefits, or as a way to keep connected with the military after they retire and settle down to start a family.

These guys are the Home Guard. Typically, they will get called up when the nation goes to war, or in the event of a natural disaster or civil unrest. Many of them will be military veterans who got out of the regular army, or folks who had imminent life plans that precluded being away from home permanently. In more desperate situations, the Home Guard might include people who otherwise would not have been accepted into the military, but are being organized into a militia as a last ditch defense of their homes. Depending on a variety of circumstances, they might be equipped with obsolete weapons and equipment from decades past, or even less. In more ideal situations, they will use the same equipment as the regular troops, to better allow them to serve along side them in combat when needed.

Even the version of the trope where the Home Guard is little more than a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits armed with whatever they have on hand, it can be justified as freeing up more troops to fight the enemy before they can invade the home country.

In practice, these forces might also be called the Reserves or the Militia, with either name (in the United States, at least) carrying different connotations. From an American point of view, "Militia" sounds more like Training the Peaceful Villagers at best, and more like "Right-Wing Militia Fanatic" at worse. "Reserves" gives more of an impression of professional soldiers (again, from an American audience's perspective).

If they end up getting invaded and defeated, expect these guys to help form La Résistance.

Named for the British Home Guard troops who were formed to protect Great Britain in the event of German invasion during World War II.note 

Most people would be surprised at how much action the Reserves actually see in Real Life, at least in the United States armed forces. In most armed conflicts, the active components are mostly only involved during the main fighting, while the post-war peacekeeping, policing and rebuilding operations, which are just as dangerous or even more so, usually go to the reserve components. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, for example, many United States National Guardsmen and Army Reserves served longer deployments than any of the active components did, and as such were exposed to dangers not seen by those who were involved in the main fighting (those videos you see of IEDs blowing up HMMWVs are most likely National Guardsmen or Reserves). Reserve components also tend to be more career-oriented: you see more Reserves staying until retirement age than active component soldiers.

See also Training the Peaceful Villagers and Instant Militia.


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    Comic Books 
  • In Albedo: Erma Felna EDF planets in the Confederation have Home Guard units that are usually equipped like modern day armies, complete with tanks. But they're still looked down upon by the Extraplanetary Defense Force, which sometimes has to train underexperienced units on border worlds.

    Fan Works 
  • In this Beetle Bailey fan art picture, Miss Buxley is an Army Reservist serving in the 372nd Military Police Company and Beetle's training with her during her monthly weekend drill.
  • In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, the Royal Guard is seen levying Ponyville civilians in preparation for a large-scale search of the Everfree Forest for changelings.
  • Paradoxus: Supposedly, the students of Alfea (fairies), Cloud Tower (witches), and Red Fountain (specialists) are trained to be the guardians of their homeworlds and, by extension, of the entire dimension. Unfortunately, having their regulating entity, the Council of Rocalucce, utterly corrupted by power-hungry bastards means these students get far-from-optimal training. When the dimensional war against the Burning Legion knocks on their doors, they either desert or are promptly killed. That’s why the Tyrannus Division is formed.
  • In the China Beach fanfic "Past to Present," Colleen McMurphy re-enlists in the Army Reserve, is promoted to Major and later Colonel. She also becomes the commander of the 3098 *M*A*S*H during The Gulf War.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The 14 Amazons: The Yang family's army consists entirely of home guards, conscripts and volunteers, due to the family patriach, General Yang, being defeated in battle and the entire Imperial army dying in the war.
  • Air Raid Wardens: One of Laurel and Hardy's later features, with Stan and Ollie as bumbling goofs who join the local Civil Defense patrol after the outbreak of World War II. They wind up foiling an actual Nazi sabotage plot.
  • In Beach of the War Gods, the peaceful villagers of a fishing town becomes this after a Training the Peaceful Villagers montage, to defend their homes from a pirate raid. All their members are fishermen or otherwise non-combatants, and serve as a Redshirt Army in a huge battle sequence.
  • Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The World War II British Home Guard appears several times in the movie, including firing at the retreating German commando. They even have their own song, which supplies the page quote.
  • The Big Red One. The Squad find themselves confronted by Volksturm armed with pitchforks and pictures of Adolf Hitler. It looks like a massacre is about to take place, but they quickly surrender when the Sarge fires his gun over their heads.
  • Carry On, Sergeant sort of revolves around this. The Home Guard in this movie is the National Service and the men called up have no choice but to draft in.
  • Clash of the Titans: The Dwindling Party of soldiers assigned to help Perseus in his mission are from an Honor Guard, distinguished soldiers too old to fight on the front lines or young inexperienced soldiers who look good in formation. They are all he gets because the rest of the Argosian army had recently been wiped out after picking a fight with Zeus and Hades.
  • In First Blood, the local Washington State National Guard is called up to search for John Rambo after he attacks the police station, causes (by accident, admittedly) a deputy to fall out of a helicopter and traps the sheriff and his deputies in the woods. Once Rambo starts firing at them with a stolen M16, several Guardsmen hide behind cover and complain that they never signed up for this and that they have their day jobs to worry about.
  • Fury (2014) has the Hitler Youth as a very much active part of the German defenses at the end of World War II.
  • According to their shoulder sleeve insignia, the squad in Kelly's Heroes are members of the 35th Infantry Division, which is a National Guard unit.
  • The Longest Day: During D-Day, the 29th Infantry Division's was tasked with clearing strong points at Omaha Beach and they were in the first wave of Allied troops during Operation Overlord. Their prominent role in the battle is shown throughout the film. The division is a part of the Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia Army National Guards.
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights: The Sheriff and his men. Robin takes a cheap shot at the Sheriff, who seized his family's property while Robin was fighting in the Crusades.
    Robin: My father couldn't get me into the National Guard.
    Crowd: Oooooooohh...
  • The comedy, Weekend Warriors was about an Air National Guard unit near Hollywood in 1961.
  • Went the Day Well?: Briefly features a British Home Guard unit who get brutally gunned down in an ambush while cycling home.
  • Whisky Galore! is about a Mildly Military Home Guard unit on a remote Scottish island. The second-in-command can't leave his house one night because he's been grounded by his mother. Another soldier in the Guard can't find his helmet because his mum's using it to feed the chickens. Captain Waggett, the commander, does stuff like build roadblocks to look busy, even though the island only has one road and it's a circle.

  • Deconstructed in Cold Mountain where the Home Guard led by Captain Teague are the antagonists. Formed to defend the people of Cold Mountain while their menfolk are away fighting the war, Teague turns them into a marauding band of villains, hunting and killing deserters and anyone suspected of harboring them, so Teague can confiscate their properties for his own.
  • The Elenium: Sparhawk, Platime, and Stragen organize a home guard note  to defend the city of Cimmura after Ehlana is restored to her throne. It's not clear how many of the citizens actually have prior military experience, but they manage to impress Wargun a few chapters later.
  • Various characters in the Honor Harrington series are mentioned in passing as being members of their armed forces' Reserves. Typically, such characters will be a bit older and wiser than their similarly-ranked companions, and officers of the Grayson Space Navy reserve forces are mentioned as having slightly different rank insignia.
  • Frequently shows up in the Jack Ryan series by Tom Clancy. In particular, a brigade of the North Carolina National Guard plays a pivotal role in Executive Orders, General Gennady Iosefovitch Bondarenko manages to field an entire division of reservists in The Bear And The Dragon, and John Kelly (later John Clark) is threatened with being recalled to active duty since he checked the box for joining the reserves in Without Remorse.
  • As The Laundry Files continues, so many people have become aware of The Masquerade that it's no longer practical to conscript them into the Laundry. Instead anyone who's more useful where they are is inducted, trained, then let back into the workplace as a reserve force to be drawn on in emergencies. Officially their absence is explained by their working part-time for the Territorial Army.
  • In Len Deighton's SS-GB, set in a world in which the Germans successfully invaded Britain in 1940, remnants of the Home Guard form the backbone of the British Resistance.
  • In the Star Carrier series the Sol System is patrolled by the High Guard, a sub-fleet of the Confederation Navy that acts mostly as an early warning system for Earth and was originally set up to guard against Colony Drops. Their ships are rather outdated and prove no match for the Turusch.
  • In Heinlein's Time Enough for Love Lazarus Long's grandfather Ira attempts to enlist in the Army at the start of WWI but is rejected due to his age, despite the fact that he doesn't look like he's pushing 90. But he manages to get into the Home Guard no problem, in logistics.
  • Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series sees the Confederacy use an under-equipped Home Guard/Reserve force due to not having sufficient manpower. They're mostly young boys, old men, or those with a disability like a missing hand that prevents them from fighting in the regular armed forces. They're also woefully unable to do anything beyond basic guard duty, and even fighting the black Socialists is barely within their ability.

    Live Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica: According to Word of God, Lee Adama was a member of the Colonial Fleet Reserves.
  • Dad's Army: Based on the writers' experiences in the Home Guard during World War II. Most of the humour stems from the fact that the members are too old, too young, or just incompetent in that bumbling English way.
  • Foyle's War: Appears in several episodes, as one might expect of a series set on the British Home Front. The episode War Games initially involves a suspicious death during some Home Guard manoeuvres, while the episode They Fought In The Fields briefly features a Home Guard captain who appears to be a vicar.
  • Horrible Histories has had several sketches about the British Home Guard.
  • The Commonwealth's military in Andromeda was divided into the Home and High Guard, with members having to have spent several years in the Home Guard before being eligible to join the High Guard.
  • M*A*S*H: Lt. Col. Henry Blake was in the Army Reserve. Several patients mention they are Guardsmen and were called up.
  • Quincy, M.E.: Dr. Quincy's a Captain in the Naval Reserve.
  • The West Wing:
    • Shortly after joining the Senior Staff it's revealed that Will Bailey is a First Lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve, specifically in the JAG corps.
    • Congressman Matt Santos is a former fighter pilot and current reservist. When he starts running for President there's debate over whether to use his status to show his expertise, or whether it will look like they're using the military for political gain. Santos deals with it by pausing his campaign so he can do his next round of reservist training immediately, before the press can get wind of it, making it clear how much he values the position.
  • In one of the post shark episodes of Happy Days, Fonzie, Potsie and Roger are on National Guard duty.
  • Laverne & Shirley: Both Laverne and Shirley are Army Reservists.


  • In Embers in the Dusk, the planets of the Imperial Trust have a sizable PDF numbering at least a few percent of the population, along with just about every capable person serving in the militia. On Avernus, in particular, the militia are at a level that would make the Old Imperium's Stormtroopers envious, while the PDF, as of August 2020, are all equipped with Power Armour.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, the various Successor States of the Inner Sphere often have little more than a garrison of a dozen outdated battlemechs or a smattering of tanks guarding their non-industrial worlds, though important worlds often get an entire platoon of battlemechs! The Clans are infamous for their defensive garrisons using third-rate equipment (it's still better than Inner Sphere gear, though). In Operation Bulldog, a combined offensive against Clan Smoke Jaguar as vengeance for their Orbital Bombardment against a civilian city. The IS task force quickly crushes the Smoke Jaguar's homeworld defenders, which are notoriously poorly equipped even among the other Clans.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 equivalent is the PDF (Planetary Defense Forces). Their quality is variable: usually they're a whoever the conscripters could catch but if the planet was recently conquered they may be some of the Imperial Guard's most experienced veterans. Nonetheless, they are considered as underequipped and far less competent by the Imperial Guard. We repeat: the Imperial Guard, Butt-Monkey Cannon Fodder extraordinaire, believes the PDF to be beneath them. This is usually for the straightforward reason that the best PDF troopers get inducted into the Guard.
    • The Cadian Interior Guard is one of the better-equipped PDF units— one in ten soldiers (soldiers of Cadia being just about everyone at some point in their lives), regardless of skill, are recruited to the PDF, so Cadia actually has a home guard better than many planets' best troops. Seeing how as Cadia is a World of Badass sitting right in front of a giant Hellgate Negative Space Wedgie, it's probably for the best.
      • Note that is the reverse of most planets, where 10% of the PDF is tithed to the Imperial Guard and shipped off-world.
    • The planet of Perlia got a "speedbump's speedbump" in the form of the Planetary Defence Volunteers, established by Ciaphas Cain in the sixth novel of the series. The author also used it as a chance to make an extended Shout-Out to Dad's Army.
    • The Ultramar Auxilia serve as the PDF for the Ultramar sector controlled by the Ultramarines. Unlike other PDF, they are disciplined and steeled from training mandated by Ultramarines and the region is prosperous enough for them to be equipped accordingly well - as such the Ultramar Auxilia subverts the Home Guard trope in the case of many regiments who are meant to be available for deployment outside of Ultramar a bit like the Imperial Guard.
    • In terms of the Xenos races, the Guardians can be considered this for the Eldar, as they are Eldar taken from non-military paths in times of need and used as foot troops. The Tau tend to employ the denizens of worlds that they conquer as its defenders, at least those that give themselves over to the Greater Good. Humans from Tau-controlled worlds are referred to as Gue'vesa (literally 'human helpers') and used as auxiliaries.

    Video Games 
  • Most of the resistance from Enemy Front are civilian conscripts and volunteers, due to the Allies suffering too much casualties during the war. Their in-game description even gives them the name "Home Army Guard".
  • Final Fantasy XIII has the aptly named "Homeguard Regiment" of the Guardian Corps. They are tasked with defending the capital city Eden and are the toughest, most well-trained forces the GC has on hand.
  • Halo: Most UNSC planets have a force of Colonial Militia, who are often the first line of defense when standard UNSC forces are not present; it was the Harvest militia who fought humanity's first major battle against the Covenant. However, the only militia seen in the games themselves are the Reach militiamen in Halo: Reach's "Nightfall" level. While a number of more autonomous human worlds, like Sedra and Gao, maintain their own proper militaries (complete with starships), their equipment still is vastly inferior to those of standard UNSC forces; for example, the Sedran Colonial Guard's standard-issue pistol is 200 years out of date.
  • After the ultimately-unsuccessful coup attempt on the Citadel in Mass Effect 3, the Council authorizes the founding of a "Citadel Defense Force", structured as a reserve extension of the Citadel's existing police assets. Its initial strength is very low, but it serves as a catch-all for War Assets earned from completing various sidequests and can grow surprisingly large given enough care.
  • Valkyria Chronicles: The Gallian Militia unit that the protagonist commands is an example of a home-guard, constituting members of the nation from all ranks: singers, wealthy heiresses, university students, bakers...
  • In Wing Commander IV, Vagabond mentions that after the Kilrathi War ended, he took a billet in the Reserves, thinking it would be some easy money for little work now that they were at peace. So of course he got recalled to active duty for the next crisis.
    • Blair is also in the Reserves, and finds himself recalled as well (by Maniac, who throws in a mock-fanfare while issuing the order in a seedy bar).
    • In the Wing Commander novel End Run, Colonel Bondarevsky warns the pilots under his command that the pilots they'll find defending the Kilrathi homeworld of Kilrah will not be typical aging "Home Guard" pilot with "rusting armor", but rather a very well trained and equipped force of some of their most experienced and skilled pilots.
    • Also from Wing Commander IV, we have the Border Worlds Militia. In the game, they are shown to be a somewhat ragtag force with modern (if somewhat nonstandard compared to what Confed flies) equipment. In the novelization, they are flying barely-holding together ships that would have been at home on the flight deck of the Tiger's Claw ten or twenty years earlier.
  • World in Conflict pits the Red Army against various units of the U.S. National Guard, mainly those from Oregon and Washington.
  • Defense Armies in Stellaris, to the point that they are are raised and maintained from Enforcer (policemen) and Soldier jobs for no additional costs.
  • Zeus: Master of Olympus: Rabble/Archers are military units formed from the common population (as opposed to the hoplites/spearmen and horsemen/charioteers from elite housing). They're the only ranged unit, and while they can be effective in combat (and for the particularly ruthless, can eventually wear down an attacking monster), it's far more efficient to simply bribe an attacking army to go away (especially since mustering them lowers the amount of workers you have, which can lead to devolving housing, reducing the population even worse than if the enemy army had broken through). There's a total limit of twenty military squads, and it's possible to have so many elite soldiers that there are no more citizen army squads left. As befitting a Home Guard unit, they can't be sent abroad to conquer/relieve other cities.

  • Champions of Far'aus: In Dorawn, the capital city of Galemore, a portion of the country's military is employed there to function as City Guards, since Dorawn is where Galemore's military personnel are trained. Skye, who grew up there, notes to Flamel that training "stay-at-home-people" on top of everything else would just be a waste of the city's time and resources.

    Western Animation 
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Mr. Garrison, Mr. Mackey, Uncle Jimbo, Ned, Randy Marsh and Chef are all either Colorado National Guardsmen or Army Reservists and they're called up during the American-Canadian War.

    Real Life 
  • The Trope Namer is the British Home Guard note , formed in May 1940 when Britain was threatened with invasion during World War II, and disbanded shortly before the end of the war when they were no longer needed. It was briefly revived in the 1950s.
    • Normally the role is taken by the Territorial Army, which was formed in 1908 and currently forms about a quarter of the British Army's manpower. Since the TA was automatically mobilised when the war started, they needed a 'reserve for the reserves' once things got worse.
    • Its members were (mostly) not as old as you might think from watching Dad's Army. Many were young men who either had not yet been conscripted or who were exempt from conscription on medical grounds or due to working in reserved occupations, while many others were middle-aged as opposed to elderly, since the maximum age for conscription was 41 (although by 1942, men up to the age of 51 were liable to be called up). Strictly speaking, the upper-age limit was 65 although in practice this was sometimes overlooked. George Formby, who provides the quote at the top of the page, served in the Home Guard as a motorcycle dispatch rider when he wasn't abroad entertaining the troops; he was in his late thirties at the time.
    • It was never quite as poorly-equipped as some fictional examples suggest — although by late 1940 it was reckoned that the Home Guard numbered some 1.6 million men who had approximately 900,000 firearms between them. Whilst most of its members were exempt from conscription by virtue of age or a minor disability, nearly all agricultural jobs — farm labourers, gamekeepers and such — were classified as essential war work, and a fair percentage of farm workers owned their own shotguns or small-game rifles and would have used them when on duty. Once Lend-Lease equipment started arriving from the United States, the old First World War-era equipment hastily pressed into service for the regular forces was quickly handed down to the Home Guard, and by 1942 a combination of American-made weapons and increased firearm production in Britain meant that there were enough guns to go round.
    • Then there were "Croft's Pikes", an unfortunate incident where a bit of hyperbole on Churchill's partnote  was misinterpreted and led to some well-intentioned idiot at the War Office ordering the production of 250,000 pikes made from steel tubes and old bayonet blades. This lead to a bit of a scandal, and the whole affair got named for Henry Page Croft, a junior minister at the War Office who, rather than blaming Churchill, tried to defend the decision by claiming that the pike was "a most effective and silent weapon". Accounts vary as to whether any Home Guard units were actually issued with the pikes, but if any of them did they probably never used them for anything. They do represent the very last time the British Army paraded with pikes as a weapon.
    • It's a common fallacy that the Home Guard never fired a shot in anger during the entire war. Home Guardsmen were manning anti-aircraft guns as early as the Battle of Britain during the summer of 1940, and by 1943 the Home Guard operated its own dedicated batteries of anti-aircraft guns and coastal defence artillery, in addition to shooting at low-flying German planes with rifles and machine guns.
    • A secret part of the Home Guard was the Auxiliary Units which were intended to carry out a guerrilla-style resistance campaign during an invasion and (if successful) subsequent occupation.
  • In the U.S. this is called the National Guard, which traces its lineage back to 1636, with the formation of the Massachusetts Bay Regiments, local militias formed together by the colonial government into larger units so they could more effectively deal with the Pequot tribes.
    • In modern times, National Guardsmen typically are equipped with the same gear as their "Regular" Active Duty brethren, although up until the later years of the Cold War, it wasn't unusual for them to use obsolete equipment that had been cast off by the regular service, particularly for the Air Guard, since military aircraft are considerably more expensive than an infantryman's kit.
      • In addition to the National Guard, certain states even have a State Guard, essentially a National Guard writ small, which the Federal government has no claim to without the Governor's consentnote . These are typically intended to guarantee that the state will have at least a small reserve force of trained personnel if a crisis arises locally while the National Guard is deployed elsewhere.
  • Latvian National Guard (Zemessardze) is the biggest military formation in the country, and have taken up roles usually reserved for professional soldiers, like going to missions to other countries, like Iraq. They fit the TV version as their gear mostly is composed from used gear from other countries, like Sweden (most of it, for example, main small arm is Ak. 4 battle rifle, Swedish licensed version of HK G3A3) and USA (backpacks, presents from US National Guard). If you commit yourself into Zemessardze a bit further than your average recruit, you actually get a decent training though, especially in recon, or now, sadly, absent airborne. Often used as a "demo version" of professional armed forces by young men.
    • Back in The '90s, the Zemessardze was a Badass Army in its own right, to the point of being The Dreaded amongst then-ubiquitous criminal gangs and syndicates. Founded by a former Spetsnaz colonel, it started life as a very heavily-armed volunteer militia devoted to enforcing law and order (through means of varying ethicality) alongside the civilian police. In the largely lawless new state of Latvia, the Zemessardze became widely respected and feared, to the point where the state feared they might launch a coup. They were eventually incorporated into the wider Latvian armed forces, adopting the role they retain today.
    • And now they are part of EUBG (European Battle Group) 2013 together with professional soldiers from Lithuania, Sweden (CBRN), Dutch Marines and freakin' Royal Marine Commando.
  • Many Civil Defense organizations were founded at the national and local level throughout the US before and during WWII, with the Civil Air Patrol, described below, being one of the very few to remain in operation into the modern day. These organizations included volunteer firefighters, medics, militias, air raid wardens, and similar duties.
  • The Civil Air Patrol is a civilian organization whose mission includes serving as an Auxiliary of the Air Force when needed. note  Originally formed as a way for civil aviation to support the military in time of war,note  they are known for their red and white Cessnas, which they use both for pilot training and for performing search and rescue operations over the American wilderness.
    • They also serve a function similar to the Boy Scouts or Junior ROTC, training youths and giving them something to do with their free time and giving them a chance to help their communities (among other things, kids in the organization can be trained and serve as Observers on official CAP missions, aiding in Search-and-Rescue operations, and many of them are certified as Disaster First Responders.)
    • Those brightly colored civilian airplanes they fly around in? During World War II, they became something of a Lethal Joke Character, when the CAP flew yellow-and-red private planes off the coasts looking for German U-Boats. There was little one of these planes could do to a U-Boat, given that they were unarmed (at first), but they could use their radios to call for the Air Corps, who would happily send a bomber to blow the interloper out of the water. If all else failed, CAP crews could make unarmed mock attack runs at the subs, spooking them into crash-diving and making it harder for them to track their targets. By the time the CAP's Coastal Patrol mission ended in August of 1943, the Civil Air Patrol was able to claim two German U-Boats sunk directly by CAP aircrews. It is worth noting that deploying the CAP to patrol against German warships, and later arming the civilian aircraft with bombs and depth charges, was seen by military leadership as a desperation tactic, driven by the sheer shortage of military manpower and equipment to patrol even US coastal waters.
    • Other missions by the CAP included towing targets to help train Army Anti-Air gunners (the inexperienced gunners only occasionally tagged a CAP aircraft instead of the towed target by accident), performing patrol flights to assist border patrol personnel and to keep an eye out for forest fires (the US's woodlands were considered a strategic resource, and fighting wildfires required manpower and resources desperately needed for the war), as well as providing cargo flights for small but important cargoes between bases or factories.
    • The CAP itself was formed via the mass merger of many smaller CD-oriented aerial organizations, to include national organizations such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's Civil Air Guard and state organizations such as the New Jersey Civil Air Defense Services (the latter considered to be the blueprint that the rest of CAP was organized according to)
  • There are various other organizations which exist to serve as volunteers or auxiliaries during emergencies. For example, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service and the Military Auxiliary Radio Service both serve to provide government agencies with additional/backup communications support when needed. ARES can be particularly helpful during natural disasters which might wreck local communications infrastructure because Ham radio operators often practice traveling to austere locations and setting up radio stations, complete antennae and power supplies to communicate with (this practice is known by hams as a "DXpedition")
  • Although it is very rare, the Boy Scouts themselves have been known to serve in this role in particularly trying times. The Polish Boy Scouts fought against the Germans during World War II as part of La Résistance, often serving as scouts and messengers, and at one point late in the war even using tanks that they had captured from the Germans to help liberate a Concentration Camp.
  • Near the end of World War II Nazi Germany had the Volkssturm. Military service has been part of German culture for decades, so in theory, the Nazis would be able to scrounge up a massive reserve force that could hold off the Soviets. However, in practice, the majority of Volkssturm members were old men and veterans of the First World War. It pretty much boiled down to giving someone a gun and hoping they could kill enough Russians.
    • Hitler Youth often ended up manning anti-aircraft guns in Germany. This was actually a fairly sensible use for them as they could at least load and fire and the officers could be trusted with figuring out what to fire at.
  • Greek Hoplites ("shieldmen") were traditionally composed of anyone who could own a farm and pay for a shield and corselet. In Athens that was for a long time the main qualification for voting. They were actually fairly effective in a limited manner for bunched up in a phalanx they could trample over anything except another phalanx. Their weakness was that they could not go on long campaigns far away from home as easily as professionals.
  • The railroad made putting reserves into battle a practical possibility in the nineteenth century. Prussia gained an advantage over its enemies by realizing first that its soldiers no longer needed to march until they reached the actual battlefield and thus unseasoned reserves had a chance of getting into action without falling by the roadside (as a result of disease and general sluggishness).
  • The concept of the Home Guard in England is Older Than Feudalism.note  The core of the Anglo-Saxon armies which fought against the Danes and Norsemen from about 650 AD onwards was called the Fyrd. Essentially in a time of trouble, every able-bodied male between fourteen and sixty who could hold some sort of weapon was called up to fight under the immediate command of their local lord. The Thegn was expected to see the men on his lands received some sort of military training, were provisioned whilst at war, and where practicable received weapons and armour. In practice men of the Fyrd, where they hadn't inherited legacy armour or weapons, or taken them off a dead enemy as booty of war, had to make do with whatever they could scrounge - leather jerkins, or else spears hastily assembled from farm tools. The bulk of the fighting was done by the relatively small standing army. And no Anglo-Saxon army chose to fight during the harvest: the Fyrd tended to consider getting the crops in was more important than warfare.
  • After the Islamic State captured most of northern Iraq in 2014 and the Iraqi Army collapsed, then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed the creation of one of these to compensate for the loss of their losses, creating the Popular Mobilisation Units. By all accounts, they were able to halt the group's advance until the Army recovered and the two are currently working alongside to kick the group out of Iraq.
  • Following the start of the Syrian Civil War, the Syrian Government decided to arm trusted local communities (usually minorities such as Druze and Christians) to focus Syrian Army (which was suffering massive manpower shortages at the time) on more important theaters. The implication was that these communities were not as loyal or ideologically invested in the Ba'ath Party but still did not wish to see the (mostly Islamist) rebels win. By 2013, they were amalgamated into the National Defence Forces alongside the Shabiha to form an organised response. As of 2016, they field as many fighters (albeit part-time) as the Syrian Army.
  • In the US, the Reserve Officers Training Corps, established after the American Civil War, was originally formed as a variation on this trope. Public colleges which received a particular type of Federal funding, so-called Land-Grant Colleges, were required to offer military instruction as part of their regular curriculum, with the intent being to create a group of civilian professionals with at least some military background in case the US military needed to enact a wartime expansion. Despite the name, the ROTC in modern times is one of the most common commissioning sources for active-duty officers in the US military, being much easier to gain entry into than the Service Academies, and not requiring prior enlisted service such as other commissioning programs such as Officer Candidate School.
  • On the sixth anniversary of 9-11, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 were honored as citizen soldiers because they fought the terrorists keeping them for crashing the plane into the US Capitol.
  • The Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine were this in practice at their beginning in 2014 with the War in Donbas and further with the mass scale Russian invasion that started in 2022. It has been professionalized quite a bit since Ukraine has stood up to the invasion, to the point that a number of men of it ended up in the army.