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Forming a CDF Unit

Forming a Civilian Defense Force Unit is often as simple as organizing a neighborhood watch and expanding from there. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started.

Forming a Civilian Defense Force Unit is a multi-step, multi-phase proposition. Ideally it is the responsibility of multiple people working toward the singular goal of establishing the Unit and bringing it to operational status, but often it is just one individual at first. If you are just now forming a Unit and presently working alone to get it started, don’t feel as if you can’t do it; just understand that it may be in your best interest to make finding the first few members and bringing them into the process your first order of business. A few like-minded individuals joined together won’t have their hands quite so full.

In a moment, we’ll start a step-by-step checklist that gives you the exact process necessary to get your unit up and running. Here’s an overview of what to expect.

The first step in this endeavor is asking yourself “why am I doing this?”, followed by “what exactly am I doing?” Most of us start this process with some vague idea of finding a group of guys to go out and train with. Train what? How? What guys? How will we know if they’re someone we’d trust with guns? How will we find them? Where will we train? Who will do the training?

You see how quickly that vague idea becomes even more vague. Think about it long enough and it will become overwhelming to the point where you’re likely to give up before you even begin. That’s because the thinking really is vague. Too much so, in fact.

Instead of visualizing what you think the whole thing will be, start by solidifying what the Unit must actually be; a civic organization of united, concerned citizens coming together to address problems or potential problems within the community.

Notice there’s not a gun in sight of that picture. That’s because the “citizen soldier” angle is only a small part of what you’re ultimately after. If any army in the world insisted on building infantry only, and ignored every other part of what goes into being an effective military force, they’d be rolled over and buried before they even got their boots tied on. We’re not going to let you make that mistake.

From this realm of thought, it’s a lot easier to begin to build your association. In many cases, all that is required is to think of it like that ballfield in the middle of the corn in Iowa; if you build it, they will come. Form the Unit, and gather a couple of concerned neighbors. Explain to them that your interest is in protecting the community (who can’t get behind that idea?) and preparing one another for the possibility that troublemakers may enter your midst and overwhelm your local law enforcement capabilities. Make sure to emphasize that your objective is not aggression, but rather aggressive defense of your own neighborhoods if existing safeguards fail. Again, nobody will have problems with getting behind an idea like that.

A great way to break into the effort is by forming a Neighborhood Watch program (or getting involved in ones that already exist). This doesn’t have to be difficult, and it doesn’t have to be scary. Every community has neighborhoods of differing demographics, political leanings, and criminal behavior. You are certainly not obligated to choose the most crime-prone area in your community to start your program! The folks in the peaceful neighborhoods enjoy their neighborhood being peaceful, and would like to keep them that way. They’ll usually be perfectly happy to have a couple of folks volunteering to help. These are great neighborhoods to recruit in, and to practice the basics of comms (communication), intel (observation and recording), and perhaps more importantly, cooperation with local law enforcement. You will find no greater aid in, or impediment to, your success than your local cops. Be their friends, and they will be friendly. Have their backs, and they will have yours. But don’t act stupid. Always, always, always work within the bounds of the law, the requirements of safety (for you, them, and the neighborhood), and the simple rules of good sense. The fastest way to turn the police against you is to make their job harder than it already is.

Once you have a Neighborhood Watch program going, start organizing small training sessions. Most of the folks who are walking the street would feel better knowing some hand-to-hand combat basics, and most every area has a local law enforcement trainer, YMCA program, or even Karate studio, who would be willing to give free or low-cost demonstrations and basic courses. If there are none available, it’s easy to approach almost any martial arts instructor (there’s at least one dojo of some sort in every community) to work out a bulk deal—you’ll bring X number of students who may sign up for his full-scale classes, and in return he’ll give a one or two night introductory course designed specifically to impart usable skills to folks helping to protect their neighborhoods. If you’re really good, you can convince him to offer these small training sessions and offer discounts to the incoming students who wish to continue their studies as part of his dojo.

These same possibilities exist with people who train firearms safety and proficiency. Local gun ranges and firearms instructors are just businesses, and in the greater scheme of things they ultimately want customers. You represent a whole group of potential customers who are ripe for their products and services. Approach them and see what kind of deals you can work out to benefit both your organization and theirs.

From the backdrop of Neighborhood Watch, it is not much of a leap to move in the direction of a more organized military-type operation. As you attract people to your Watch program, be “watching” for the ones who are the best candidates to approach about expanding their role into further training. This is where you’re looking for the best-of-the-bunch; the “elite”, if you will. These will be your core “soldiers”. Once you have a handful of them—say, enough to form an effective fire team (four to six), bring them together as a unit and start securing training for them in the same way you’ve done for the group as a whole, only this time you’re going to seek out someone with military experience (particularly if they’re experienced trainers). If you cannot locate a suitable trainer, ask National to help. We’ll do our best to secure training in your general area, either through one of our own organization-sanctioned trainers or as a cooperative arrangement with another Unit near you. Don’t be afraid, and don’t let the inexperience of your group worry you. There’s no shame in saying “we’re new, and we’ve never done this before”. Nobody likes getting their feet wet for the first time, but we all have to do it. One or two training sessions later, you’ll be feeling much more comfortable and you’ll be on your way to having a trained unit that can train others as they move into your core.

Before you can do any of these things, though, you must get started. Shown below is a link to start the step-by-step checklist that will make that possible. This is broken down into separate sections, with check-boxes to indicate when you’ve completed each step. The steps are specific to a phase, and each phase leads to another. Don’t skip steps, because the phases that come afterward require the completion of every step that came before. Some of these things may seem out of place, but they aren’t; they’ll seem that way because they don’t fit with the preconceived vision of how you thought a “military organization” was supposed to be formed. That’s because you aren’t forming a “military organization”, you’re forming a civic association that has military training as a part of it’s function. It is extremely important that you internalize that understanding, and that you are able to articulate it to others. You’ll lose far too many potential members if you go into it saying “we’re like a militia”. The Civilian Defense Force is not “like a militia”; we have militia-like elements, but they do not by any means define who we are. We are a civic organization that practices military training and tactics. Memorize that line and repeat it whenever anyone asks you if you’re a “militia”. In fact it’s best if you avoid the word “militia” altogether. It simply isn’t an appropriate or accurate description of who we are and what we do.

The step-by-step program is presented in a course, like an educational program. There are ten steps to a module, and several modules to complete to finish the course. By the time you reach the final step, you’ll have a full-fledged Unit up and running. Don’t skip steps; each one is important, and leads to the next (or will be needed later).

[NOTE – The Unit Formation Course has been eliminated, but for reference you may follow this link to the content of the original course modules. THESE MODULES ARE OUT OF DATE AND/OR INCOMPLETE AT THIS TIME; they should only be relied on to give you a basic approach to the unit formation process.]