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PLEASE NOTE–THIS COURSE IS NO LONGER USED, and much of the information presented is outdated or (now) incomplete. This should be taken as a guide for how to get a unit started (it still serves well for that purpose) but should not be relied upon for expressions of current official policy or practice. When questions arise regarding specific organization policy, please look to other areas of the website, our Unit formation/Chartering documentation, or consult with a member of the National leadership team.
STEP ONE – Prepare for Receiving
Before you can start an organization, you have to have an organization. In other words, you have to have an entity, and somewhere people can reach you–some way to communicate, etc. You have to prepare to receive the people you’re going to want to attract as your recruits.
Everyone has a phone and email, right?
WRONG. Don’t ever use your personal communications devices and services for Unit business. It isn’t because it’s illegal or wrong in any way; it just isn’t smart these days. We’re opposing the enemies of America, and they’re well known for their technical savvy and disregard for any of the conventional “norms” of behavior. Putting your personal information out there makes you a target of harassment, usually in the form of “doxxing” but truly, their methods know no bounds. You could be “SWATed, reported as a “red flag” situation–any number of strategies to make life for you and your family difficult. Don’t make it any easier for them than it has to be.
To help mitigate some of these risks, always keep your UNIT business and information separate from your PERSONAL business and information. There will be times, with people you trust, that you’ll share your personal info. Those times should be rare.
To get started with a Unit, you’ll need four basic pieces; a name for the organization (even if it’s just a temporary name), an email address, a telephone number, and ideally an online web presence that includes a forum. The good news is that we will provide the web area and forum, exclusively for the use of your group. You’ll have to provide the rest.
To get the phone and email in something other than your personal name, you’ll want to choose a name for your group. We recommend keeping this simple, and if you can start out right now with the name you’ll keep throughout, you won’t have to go and change things later. The “XYZ County Civilian Defense Force” is basic enough, but anything along those lines will work. Try to avoid anything that sounds too aggressive; likewise, avoid anything that sounds too juvenile. You want to attract a wide segment of your community population, so keeping your organization name less intimidating or infantile will help to keep you from turning away people who might otherwise write off what you’re doing.
The simplest way to get the other two, email and phone, is via signing up for a Google account. [NOTE – Google products are now against organization policy; we require members to have a Protonmail.com account, so establishing a free email account on Protonmail for your unit is the wisest approach] Sign-up is free, and in doing so you automatically get a Gmail address. With the account you can also sign up for a free “Google Voice” phone number.
Like most services these days, Google will want an actual number to confirm you are real, and you should essentially be “safe” giving that to them, though like most I don’t trust big tech, particularly the companies that have shown a great disdain for privacy (like Google) and have Leftist tendencies. The other problem is that they aren’t “secure” in terms of encryption.
You might choose to go with another free route, Protonmail. They are secure, end-to-end encrypted, located in Switzerland (a country with pretty fierce privacy laws) and they also offer a free VPN service which works fairly well and is obviously priced right. That is the method a lot of us use.
If you choose Protonmail, you’ll still be in need of a phone number. There are companies that provide free phone numbers, supported by ads. Some of them are designed as “burner” phones; one of the apps that provides this service is even called “Burner”. “Hushed” is another. Most of them charge a couple of dollars per month, and they are not guaranteed to work when you sign up for other services (Twitter, Google, and others…when these companies request a phone number for “verification” they will not accept these burner numbers). A company called TextNow will also provide a number for you, via app for your phone that you can use for texting and Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol calling. It generally works for verification as well. [Please investigate methods for securing a “burner” number that does not personally identify you. DOXXING is REAL–our enemies will most definitely do this, so do your best to make it hard for them.]
In short, for ease of getting set up, Google is probably your best bet but you’ll have to provide them with some personal information. For security, Protonmail is best but you’ll have to work out another way to get a phone number, and those methods, while generally “secure”, are not always reliable for the types of uses you may encounter. If you put the effort into finding just the right solution, you’ll feel safest while still being able to accomplish all you’ll need to.
There are other things you’ll need to establish later on; a bank account, perhaps legal licensing, but we’ll cover those in more detail a few steps from now.
So, your first assignment is: choose a name and set up basic comms.
STEP TWO – Find Friends
As with any organization, creating and running a Civilian Defense Force unit is much better and easier with friends. One person alone can easily become overwhelmed and discouraged when faced with the enormous amount of work that’s involved in creating a civic organization from scratch, particularly one that ultimately involves firearms.
The reality is that your number one responsibility will always be “recruiting”. Today, tomorrow, and forever, you’ll be constantly doing your best to add people to your organization; you might just as well start now. You probably already have a handful of people who you’ve already talked to, or who have otherwise shown at least the possibility of being open to joining an organization such as this. The first step in getting your unit off the ground is to round up a handful of those folks–even if they’re not from your county–and work together toward building your unit. The folks from out of your area will benefit from seeing how it’s done, what works/doesn’t for your specific demographic, etc. And when the time is right, you can help them set their unit up. In the meantime, they can be helping you.
Start by making a list of anyone you know of or strongly suspect would be interested in being a part of an organization like this. Write that list down, and begin weighing the pros and cons of reaching out to them. Honestly, there should be way more pros than cons; having the help, no matter the down side, is usually upside enough. Still, there are a few things to avoid:
- anyone with a known criminal history, particularly if it affects their ability to own, use, or be around people with firearms.
- anyone with a history of mental issues, especially if they’ve been institutionalized for them. This often also precludes them from handling firearms.
- anyone with drug issues. This is self-explanatory, but mostly you just don’t want all the headaches that accompany that.
- people with “Rambo” as their go-to personality type. These can sometimes be dealt with, but if they appear just a little too anxious to get started with shooting/warfare, they may be problematic down the road.
- anyone–ANYONE–with hate or racism as a characteristic. It cannot be overstated the difficulties these things can cause you and your unit, especially given what we propose to do and the environment we propose to do it in.
- people with ego problems. There is little place for ego and no place for hubris in our organization. Too much to do, not enough time to do it, and no time whatsoever to spend on big heads.
There are other qualifications and disqualifiers, but you’re smart enough to know what those might be. Act accordingly.
Once your list is compiled, you must follow through and make contact with the people on it. Don’t do this yet; there are some things you’ll need to do before that (the next step in this guide will explain those). For now, you’re just going to make the list.
Your assignment with this step: make the list.
STEP THREE – Find a Location
Before you contact anyone, you should secure a meeting location and, ideally, a time to use it. This is not always the easiest thing to do, because in part many locations are booked well in advance, and also require payment. Since there is nothing to pay with (yet) other than money out of your own pocket, try to stay away from pay locations.
But there is a two-birds-with-one-stone scenario you should strongly consider. One of the best places you can expect to hold meetings–probably for free, probably with a lot of support, and probably with a ready bunch of potential volunteers–is one of the veteran’s organizations in your area. Contact the commander of the organization, explain what you’re doing, and ask him firstly if there might be space available that you could hold a meeting. Make it clear you don’t need a lot of area (yet); a table in his restaurant area, if they have one, or a small meeting room. Most will have something and will probably accommodate you for free or very low cost. After you’ve discussed the arrangements, ask if he or any of his members would be willing to come to a meeting and discuss the organization with you. You don’t have to go for the sign-up right away; get interested parties to come to a meeting and see what you–and the organization–are all about. Also, don’t be afraid to (subtly–these guys have already served their country) bring patriotism and duty into the conversation. They’ll know what you’re talking about, and be much more receptive to it than many.
Try to set up an open-ended arrangement, so that you can be flexible with your dates and times. You still have your list to call, and you’ll want to get an idea what works best for them. If you have to nail something down with the meeting place, do that and ask the list members to adjust, not the other way around. Keeping on the good side of the Veteran’s organizations is critical, and keeping a good meeting site is, too.
If you set a time and date, ask if you can put a flyer in the bar or other prominent location within the establishment. This will definitely attract attention, and you’ll get some former soldiers–even if they’re older–who can definitely help your organization. You may also get some younger, experienced fighters. This is one of the great benefits of making the Veterans organizations a big part of your plan.
As an aside, you should also find ways to give back to the organizations. There are many opportunities to do so. Often these organizations have “honor guards” that do everything from firing 21 gun salutes at veterans’ funerals, to acting as pall bearers, to playing taps. Flag raisings, cemetery marker placement, even parades are all great ways to contribute to the organization(s) that are contributing to your organization, and it’s good community service besides.
If there are no Vets organizations that can accommodate you, try other groups like Eagles and Elks clubs. If you can’t find a typical meeting space, simple restaurants work nicely for small gatherings. Parks and pavilions too. Larger groups will often need permission, permits, or to pay a fee–but if you get that large, that’s a nice problem to have.
So your third assignment is to secure a meeting space. Try to keep the time and date less firm until you’ve talked with the guys/gals on your list, but firm it up if need be and give the set time to your list members.
Now that you have a meeting place, contact your list. Gauge what interest there is among them. Bear in mind when talking to them that at first–and point this out to them when appropriate–everyone you speak with will be stepping into a leadership role. For many, this is a “selling point” (be aware that for others, this is a detractor). In any case, you’ll have some tools to work with to convince others to join you. Again, don’t be ashamed to play on someone’s sense of patriotism and duty; that’s what we’re all here for. The fact is we are patriots and we do have a duty. Now is the time to step up for that, and there’s no shame in reminding people.
You should make contact with each person on your list and get as many of them involved as you can. Ideally you’re looking for at least two others, and as many as five or six. Do not make the mistake of skipping this step, or believing that you can’t gather these people. Your job will be a lot harder down the line if you don’t.
You now have a meeting space, time, date, and people to show up to it. You’re not done yet. Even though you have a core of people you expect to attend, some won’t. Others may, but won’t want to get involved. And still others may get involved, but won’t want to be leaders.
So what’s the solution? Get more people!
We’ll work on that in the next section.
Your assignment for this step: Find and secure a meeting space.
STEP FOUR – Neighborhood Watch
As mentioned in the introduction to this program, starting (or joining) a neighborhood watch program is a great way to gain entry to the community you wish to serve, as well as gain recruits for your unit. After all, what is the Civilian Defense Force? It is ultimately just a large, well-armed, better trained neighborhood watch, isn’t it?
The similarities go beyond just the cosmetic; many of the attitudes and concerns are shared by participants in both types of organization, and the legitimacy and support that is granted to a neighborhood watch is equally necessary for the ultimate success of a CDF unit. This is why we recommend reaching out to local neighborhood watch programs as well as laying the groundwork to start one (or more) in the areas your CDF unit will serve.
There are a number of ways to locate neighborhood watch programs that serve your county. One way is to canvass local neighborhoods and watch for signs similar to this one:
Most of these signs will have contact information for the watch program that serves that area. Of course different neighborhoods will have different programs and therefore different contact information.
Another, and perhaps more expedient, way of determining what watch programs exist within your county is to contact the local police departments that would coordinate with those programs. Which department this might be varies from place to place; in some counties the Sheriff’s Department is the primary “law of the land”, whereas in others, State Police typically handle the major law enforcement tasks and municipal departments are tasked with handling towns, cities, or other political subdivisions. You’ll need to contact a few different departments in any case, to inquire whether they have a neighborhood watch coordinator (or at least any information regarding watches in the areas they serve).
While you’re on the phone with these departments, check to see if they have a specific contact within their office that handles training or other coordination with existing or emerging neighborhood watch programs. This is the person you’d speak with for setting up a watch in neighborhoods that are not yet served. Making the acquaintance of this person will be helpful later on anyway, since it may very well be that you’ll coordinate non-watch CDF activities through them as well.
Once you get a list of contacts for the already-established watch programs (and an idea of how to go about setting up a program in neighborhoods that are not yet served), you’ll want to talk to those watch leaders as soon as possible. Give them an idea of what you’re doing, let them know you want to help with the watch programs in their neighborhoods as much as you can, and ask them to refer you to anyone who might be interested in participating in the CDF program for your county. Likewise, ask them if they can refer any potential recruits to you. Always keep these conversations cordial, non-competitive, and presented in such a way that the watch leader leaves with the understanding that your group is there to help his/her group in whatever way you can. Before you hang up the phone, ask if you can forward a flyer (or other meeting information) to them that can be passed along to their group members. Again, these are good potential recruits that may be chomping at the bit to join a program like ours, but simply didn’t know one existed or how to go about getting involved.
Try to compile a list of any names and phone numbers of the people these watch coordinators (both from the police departments and the watch groups themselves) provide, and make it a point to contact them at least several days prior to your first meeting. Have a basic idea of how you want to pitch the meeting to them; “Mr. Smith from the Anytown Neighborhood Watch program gave me your name and number, and mentioned that you may be interested in learning more about a group we’re forming to help protect our communities within the county. We’re having a meeting next week, and I thought you might like to be invited to that…”
It’s also a good idea to keep these watch coordinators in mind in case you want to arrange speakers for a meeting in the future. Often they can give tips and advice you may not otherwise have thought of, especially regarding the methods of the watch programs and legalities thereof. You can also keep them in mind for simply assisting you (or coordinators from your CDF group, when you have them) in setting up neighborhood watch programs in areas that are not yet served, under the CDF umbrella.
Once you’ve spoken to one or two of these existing coordinators, you’ll start to feel more comfortable with the way the conversations go and the way you “pitch” the CDF to them. Likewise, once you’ve spoken with some of their volunteers (and tried to convince them to become your volunteers, too) you’ll get a better feel for how best to get your ideas across to this type of recruit candidate as well.
This step is not about forming a watch or two; that will come later. This is about getting the word out within your community, specifically within the segment of the community that is already doing much of what you’re going to be doing (just on a smaller scale), that your organization exists, is recruiting, and will be offering help to their organizations in the future.
This is networking, and it’s a very important step in almost every endeavor from here on out. It’s particularly important at this stage of the game, when you’re trying to get established and build not only your membership, but your legitimacy.
So your assignment for this step is three-fold:
First, contact your local police departments to determine who from their department coordinates neighborhood watch programs within communities in your county.
Second, determine from them (when possible) who the watch program leaders in your area are, and then contact those watch leaders to offer assistance and set up ways to get your information out to their members.
And third, gather a list of potential member-recruits from within those watch programs who you then contact to make them aware of your first meeting.
STEP FIVE – Shine Your Light
Before your first meeting, you’re going to want to start “shining your light”; get the recruiting started so your first meeting is even more productive.
You’ve already started this process by making a list of friends and potential recruits from among people you already know. You’ve expanded it by talking with local police departments and neighborhood watch program leaders, and the people they have referred you to. Now it’s time to start putting the word out to the general public and letting them start coming to you.
There are hundreds of ways to go about doing this, from paid classified ads to signs along the road to billboards to–well, any way of advertising, really.
Here are a few we recommend.
Most local communities have at least one, and usually two or three, radio stations that serve their counties. These stations are always on the lookout for material to fill the airwaves with, particularly as it relates to local activities. They will often advertise how to submit information for local groups/meetings, and even if they don’t it’s as simple as making a phone call to determine how to go about doing that.
You’ll want to get your information to any station that will take it and run with it, but some are definitely more likely to be “ripe” for recruits than others. They key is demographics, and the key to demographics in the radio business is format.
It works just the way you would expect it to; pop stations are more likely to appeal to younger audiences, while easy listening appeals to the office crowd. An “oldies” station targets the older listener, while news/talk typically reaches…
Ours is a right-leaning operation; there is no getting around that. The far Left is the enemy of all we hold dear, most of which falls to the right side of the political spectrum. Conservatives are the bread and butter for organizations such as ours. So if your community has a news/talk station, that’s your best overall format for gathering new recruits. There are very few Left-leaning news/talk stations; they just haven’t proven effective. The vast majority of news/talk stations serve a conservative audience. If they offer Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, or any of a dozen other right-leaning hosts, that’s your go-to station.
The other format that typically skews right is Country. This is especially true of “classic country”. Christian stations also skew right, and are a prime audience for your message.
Oldies radio is toward the top of the list as well, and “easy listening” or “light rock” can serve your needs well because these are listened to mostly by working people, often in an office environment. These won’t always be “conservatives”, but working people are usually more conservative than those who don’t.
It isn’t proper to say that some stations should be avoided; the folks who make up our group will likely come from all walks of life, and like all sorts of music. But we play percentages when it’s advantageous to do so, and the percentage of interested people you get from a country station will be much higher than what you get from a classic rock station; the percentage from classic rock will be much higher than from R & B. Plan your messaging accordingly.
Announcing your meeting for radio is usually as simple as where, when, and what. It’s the what that you’ll want to be specific, and yet concise, about. With radio, everything has to fit within a time segment; you won’t be able to put three hundred words into the fifteen seconds you’re likely to be allotted. Make your release to radio short but informative.
“A Civilian Defense Force unit is being formed for Acme County. The CDF is a civic organization that trains local citizens to protect their neighborhoods from harm in the event of disaster or lawlessness. Civilian Defense Force members stand behind and alongside law enforcement when needed, to defend homes, businesses, property and neighbors. An introductory meeting will be held at XYZ VFW in Anytown on Sunday, March 6th, at 2pm. Contact organizers at 391-555-1234 for more details or to register for a seat.”
One last point about radio (and other media, for that matter); when your announcement is received, it’s entirely possible the News Director for the station may assign a reporter to contact you and get more details. This may be a simple phone call where he/she gets the scoop and reports it as part of a newscast, or it may be more in-depth, requesting an interview. This can be recorded over the phone, or done in person. It is imperative that you be prepared for interviews before you give them. Most small-town reporters have no interest in playing the kind of “gotcha” games the nimrods on CNN do; they just want to know what you’re doing and like having interesting stuff/people to feature on their programs. But there will always be that possibility that you’re being “set up” to sound foolish, or be made to sound foolish. The best way to avoid any of this, ever, is to know your stuff. Have “stock” answers to common questions (we’ll have a complete “interview primer” posted elsewhere on the site in a few weeks); keep your answers short and “stick to the script”. Be confident, and remember that you are in charge. You can always walk away from an interview, or hang up the phone (“accidentally” or on purpose) if you don’t like how it’s going or you need time to gather your thoughts. You can also simply deny the interview if necessary–“I’m not taking questions at this time”. It all depends on your level of preparedness and comfort. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will be. The more comfortable you are, the better the interview will be. The better the interview is, the better chance you have of gaining new recruits and respect. It’s all tied together.
Eventually television may come knocking as well. Think of TV as radio on steroids, in a way, but mostly just think of it as radio with a picture. The differences really aren’t that stark. Again, comfort is key. If you’re not comfortable, don’t do the interview. If you’re really uncomfortable in these positions, find someone within your organization who isn’t and make that person your media coordinator. They can handle all interview-type situations.
Most newspapers that serve your area will run pertinent news releases either as stand-alone news stories (in smaller areas) or as part of a column of “area happenings”. Again, send a news release that is primarily an expanded version of what you’ve provided to radio. Your news release can go into more detail as to what your unit does or plans to do; who (if anyone) is scheduled to speak at your meeting, or what your meeting is “about”; that sort of thing. Again, we’ll have sample news releases on the site in just a little while. These will be basically “fill in the blank” documents that make it much easier for you to get the information out there. Mostly you’ll want the day, time and reason, a brief explanation of what the CDF is/does, and basic contact information. Everything else is just bonus material that may or may not be used by the paper in question.
Contact the various radio stations and newspapers to see what their recommended submission methods are and what guidelines they may have for submitting material. Each entity, and each area, is different. You’ll have to do a bit of basic groundwork in the beginning to know what way is best to proceed.
As with the police department contacts in the last section, you may make contact with news people important to your future when you’re talking with the radio/newspaper folks. Keep names and numbers, and make notes. It’s great to remember, for instance, that the news reporter you were talking to shared your political views and was “favorable” toward you when writing their story. That’s a contact you can use over and over again to gain in reputation and status, as an example.
Online postings can be effective. Facebook “events” pages for your area. Craigslist. Meetup.com, and others. There are many ways to get the word out there to potential interested parties. Once you have a leadership group in place, most of this stuff will be coordinated by a media specialist within your ranks, but until then it all falls to you (unless you’ve brought someone in with you right from the start). To make online postings easier, we have a simple “ad” that can be submitted to most of these sites. Just fill in the blanks and roll with it.
Flyers and other bulletin-board material can also help get the word out. We don’t yet, but will soon have a selection of ready-made recruiting flyers and posters that can double as meeting announcement materials. These can be downloaded from here and, again, the “blanks” can be filled in with your information. You’ll then have to find places to hang them (libraries, convenience stores, community centers, etc.) and see what you might drum up.
As time passes we will have other materials that you can use to drive recruiting and post meeting notices. These are all planned to make your job easier in the future.
For now, your assignment is to prepare appropriate news releases, online “ads”, and other materials, and to distribute to newspapers and radio stations in your area as well as online or otherwise as appropriate. This is to announce your initial meeting. Make sure to include your contact information (an email address and phone number with voicemail, at a minimum).