Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to reconstitute a civilian-military force similar to those during World War II, which he would command rather than the Pentagon.
According to DeSantis, the proposal was put out on Thursday to better help the Florida National Guard during crises such as hurricanes.
During the pandemic, the Florida National Guard has also performed an important role, conducting Covid-19 testing and delivering vaccinations, among other things.
While acknowledging the rising tensions between Republican-led states and the Biden administration over the National Guard, DeSantis also said that this force, known as the Florida State Guard, would not be subject to federal oversight.
He said that having this force would give him the freedom and capacity to react to events in our state in the most effective manner imaginable, and he was correct.
DeSantis proposes bringing it back with a volunteer army of 200 civilians. He is requesting $3.5 million from the state legislature to cover the expenses of training and equipping them during the first stages of the operation.
Democrats in Florida reacted angrily to DeSantis' announcement, expressing concern about the state's future.
No Governor should have his secret police, said US Representative Charlie Crist, who is running as a Democrat to oppose the governor in the 2022 general election.
During World War II, the Florida State Guard was established in 1941 as a temporary force to fill the hole left behind after the Florida National Guard was sent away to aid in the United States' combat operations in the Pacific Theater.
Even after the war was finished, a governor may still organize a state defense force, as long as the governor had the right.
States have the authority to establish defense units distinct from the national guard, albeit not all of them do so in practice.
Suppose Florida pushes through with DeSantis' proposal to revive the civilian unit. In that case, the state will become the 23rd active state guard in the nation, according to a news release from DeSantis' office.
Florida would join California, Texas, and New York as having active state guards.
DeSantis has also stationed Florida National Guard personnel near the Texas-Mexico border and sent them to Washington DC to protect the United States Capitol for President Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20.