Toward an operational definition of the militia
I'd previously discussed the relationship of the National Guard to the concept of militia (see here, and here, and here). Here I'd like to take a functional approach: what did the Framers see as the critical features of the "militia," and how well does the present NG match up to them?
We start with Madison's Federalist 46. Madison is answering fears that the Army Clause will permit Congress to establish, and perhaps use oppressively, a standing army. Madison responds that the militia is the protection against that. He attributes two key features to the militia:
1. It is officered by men chosen by State governments, not the Federal.
2. It is so large that it can defeat the any army that Congress could raise. He estimates the militia would outnumber the largest possible army by 25:1. " It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops."
Others of the period would have added:
3. It comprises the entire community, not just the "young and ardent" (Letters from the Federal Farmer) who might be inclined to adventure and ambition (remember that in 1789 a 45 year old had outlived the average lifespan and was probably a grandfather) and
4. It includes (in fact, in classical republican theory, should be limited to) landowners who have the most to lose and nothing to gain from military rule.
It looks to me as if the present NG comes nowhere near meeting 1, 2, or 3, and does an inadequate job at best of 4. So the NG is not, in a functional sense, fulfilling the role that the Framers desired for a militia. We might go farther: at the moment, its main functions are serving as a reserve component of the military, and providing manpower for war overseas (which, as I've pointed out, was specifically NOT a militia function -- it could only be called out to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, and execute the laws of the Union, three objectives that can only be met inside the US).