The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. Legal and historical meanings of militia include:
- Defense activity or service, to protect a community, its territory, property, and laws.
- The entire able-bodied population of a community, town, county, or state, available to be called to arms.
- A subset of these who may be legally penalized for failing to respond to a call-up.
- A subset of these who actually respond to a call-up, regardless of legal obligation.
- A private, non-government force, not necessarily directly supported or sanctioned by its government.
- An official reserve army, composed of citizen soldiers. Called by various names in different countries such as; the Army Reserve, National Guard, or State Defense Forces.
- The national police forces in several former communist states such as the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries, but also in the non-aligned SFR Yugoslavia. The term was inherited in Russia, and other former CIS countries. See: Militia (Police).