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Unit Formation Basics

[PLEASE NOTE – If you reside in one of the following six states, you may NOT form a new local Unit using this method. Residents of these states are served by a State Corps and must begin membership with that Corps. Contact the Corps leaders for more information. Most State Corps offer local “garrisons” to provide for community-centric assistance and defense. The six states served by a State Corps are: Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Contact the Corps Commander for those states individually (or the Region 3 Commander, if no State Corps presently exists within your state) by locating your state on our map page and recording the contact information found therein.]

Those who do not live in one of the six states mentioned above may continue with this page.

Forming a new local Civilian Defense Force Unit is easy. In fact it’s mostly a matter of deciding to do it, and then acting on that decision.

  • Here are the key components to beginning that process once you’ve made the positive decision:
    • If you are an American citizen aged 18 or older; physically located within the borders of the United States or it’s territories; of good character, without drug/alcohol dependency issues, who has never been in trouble with the law (outside of basic traffic violations); who loves America and cherishes our history and the American Way; and who agrees to honor our Mission Statement and Guiding Principles, you are eligible to apply to form a Civilian Defense Force Unit in your area.
    • You must determine the area your Unit will serve. More on this below.
    • If you have not already done so, you must establish a Protonmail email account. This account is free. Protonmail is end-to-end encrypted and based in Switzerland. We use Protonmail to ensure maximum security for our communications. This email address will be used for official CDF communications, and will be displayed as your contact point for others who wish to join from your area upon finding your Unit on our map.
    • You must fill out a basic Unit Formation Application, which among other things includes details sufficient to perform a background check as well as acknowledgement that you are submitting these details for that purpose. These details are kept confidential and are stored securely. Submitting this form will make you the de facto Unit Commander.
    • As part of this application, you must agree to honor several commitments (including maintaining our purpose as defined by our Mission Statement, abiding by our Guiding Principles, and operating in accordance with all laws applicable to your locale).
    • Also as part of this application, you must choose an appropriate name for your new Unit. The name must include “Civilian Defense Force” or “CDF”, and cannot contain content that is unprofessional or offensive. Simple names like “Kennesaw Mountain CDF” or “Lincoln County Civilian Defense Force” work best. Bear in mind that “Civilian Defense Force” and “CDF” are federally trademarked designations and may only be used by groups approved for charter or functioning within the pre-charter process leading to obtaining an official charter from the Civilian Defense Force organization. Any other use, by any organization or person, including the continuation of use following denial or removal of charter, is strictly prohibited. Only recognized, chartered Civilian Defense Force Units and Members (or those legitimately in the process of becoming officially recognized) are permitted to use Civilian Defense Force/CDF names, logo, images, etc. Your chosen Unit Name will be entered into the Unit Formation Application.
    • You must establish a rudimentary location address. For our purposes, this should be a set of coordinates that is NOT the actual physical location of you or any of your members, but IS in or very near the center of your proposed Area of Operation. This will be used to geo-locate your Unit on our map. A spot in the middle of a road, river, lake, or cemetery, generally away from houses but very near your actual residence (or the center of the area you will be serving), is a good place to choose. Others are police and fire departments, hospitals, libraries, and other public buildings. This information is entered into the Unit Formation Application, with instructions provided for how to determine the coordinates and where to input them.
    • You must review our “QUICK Start Guide to Forming a Civilian Defense Force Unit”. This is an online page that gives you a thumbnail of the best way to move forward. Contained within that guide are links to other resources to get you started.
    • You must download our detailed “Chartering a Civilian Defense Force Unit” guide [NOTE: this guide is not quite ready, but will be available on our Unit Formation Resources page by 9/15/2021] which you will use to complete the chartering process within sixty days of applying. This guide tells you in detail everything else you need to know about becoming chartered and maintaining your charter.
    • You must complete the chartering process and become an official, recognized CDF Chartered Unit.
    • You must get busy! There is no time to waste.

This is all that is needed to get started. Of course more in-depth activity is required as you proceed, but none of it is difficult and you’ll have two months to complete these additional steps and receive an official CDF Charter.

Choosing Your Unit Area of Operation

Using our map, you must find and specify in some detail the area you wish to serve.

  • Use the following parameters when determining your AO:
    • Pick a spot that is central to the area you’d like to represent, preferably very near to where you actually live and will most conveniently operate. Your area can be as large as a 20 mile radius from that spot (this is our default area assignment), but can be smaller either by choice or by virtue of the location of other established CDF Units or other border considerations (as detailed below). We will charter smaller Units down to an area representing just a city block or two in urban areas, or a five mile radius in more rural settings.
    • For political and legal reasons we prefer that our chartered Units do not cross county lines, and we really prefer not to cross state lines. In areas where a county or state line is encountered, that line will typically represent the edge of your Area of Operation. Our public-facing map will try to reflect this, but our official, in-house map will absolutely reflect it. You will receive these details when you receive your Charter.
    • Under specific circumstances, judged on a case by case basis, we will allow an AO to extend beyond a county or state line (or both). You’ll have to make a compelling case for this, though, and we’ll have to be fairly certain there is no legal or geopolitical reason it should not be done. Rarely is doing this necessary or prudent, which is why it will rarely be approved.
    • You must understand and accept that as circumstances arise demanding it, your AO may be adjusted, even after it has been approved and you are operational, to accommodate political/legal realities or the addition of other Units. As a rule we try not to do this, and when we do it is typically only to create a more “granular” operating environment (serving specific neighborhoods or streets, as opposed to a generalized area), but this is generally done only as a last resort and typically at the edge of existing Unit AOs. This is why we suggest that you choose coordinates representing the center of your specific area, rather than a wholesale county or metropolitan area, and that you attempt to serve smaller areas as opposed to more vast expanses.
    • Related to this, you may choose a city or county to represent with your Unit, and draw members from that entire city or county. However, it is highly likely that your Unit will not always represent that entire area. For instance, what starts out as the Pittsburgh Civilian Defense Force will very likely eventually become the “Homewood CDF” and the “Carnegie CDF”, and those areas will over time quite likely become the “Andrew Street CDF”, etc. Large geographical areas, particularly serving larger population centers, are not discouraged; however, those areas are almost guaranteed to be broken down into successively smaller AOs as new Units are proposed and come on board. This is the best way to serve and protect an expansive area or large population. All Unit Commanders in such areas are expected to realize the necessity for such steps, and to cooperate fully with one another as they begin sharing borders or serving AOs that may have once been represented by a different Unit. All Areas of Operation that involve such dissection will be determined by National, and all affected charters will be amended to include these divisions if/when they occur.
    • The above considerations are the reason we require, for the most part, that people who are already served by an existing Unit join that Unit. In extraordinary circumstances, judged on a case-by-case basis, we may allow a second Unit to be formed within or including a portion of an AO served by an existing Unit, but the reasoning behind permitting such a move must be extremely compelling. Under most circumstances, additional units such as this will not be approved/chartered.
    • The Unit Commander Application includes a section that represents a wholesale AO selection (5 Mile Radius, 10 Mile Radius, 20 Mile Radius). However, a prospective Unit Commander can submit a specific, detailed map of the area s/he would like for their Unit to serve, which will be considered by National and approved or disapproved. This map can be smaller or larger than the default area offerings. If you submit such a map, you will be informed when the decision is made as to it’s viability. If the map you submit includes any concerning items (crossing county or state lines, adjoining or entering into an existing Unit’s AO, or representing too large an area geographically or in terms of population) it would be better to wait until that map is approved before continuing the Unit building process. National may approve an alternative map that is substantially similar to but not an exact match for the one you submitted, at which point you will be free to accept the approved version or decline to form a Unit, at your option.

It is important to realize and accept that all Areas of Operation are ultimately approved/determined by National, and may be altered by National at any time, with or without notice. We try not to adjust AOs once they’ve been approved and a Unit formed, but it can and will happen on occasion. We try to give Unit Commanders advanced notice of any changes to an AO that are anticipated, but this will not always be the case. Unit members occupying an AO that has been served by one Unit but is now served by another will have the option of remaining with the existing Unit or joining the new Unit, at their discretion (bearing in mind that the new Unit now serves their actual location).

These items are spelled out in such detail because these circumstances can lead to disagreement and discord; however, it is very rare that such situations will be encountered, and even more rare that they cannot be worked out to the satisfaction of all Units and parties involved.

Relatedly, Unit Commanders are strongly encouraged to self-dissect their Areas of Operation when it makes sense to do so. An example of such a situation would be when a member of your Unit has demonstrated strong leadership capabilities, and operates from the outskirts of your existing AO. It is often in the best interest of the citizens of that AO, the member, and the existing Unit that this member “spin off” from the current Unit and form one of his/her own which serves (on a more granular basis) the neighborhood in which s/he resides. This kind of cooperation and professional recognition goes a long way toward fostering community goodwill and providing superior defense for an area should the need arise.