DeSantis Proposes $3.5 Million for Florida State Guard – Political Showboating or a Worthwhile Investment?

Toby Hazlewood

Reinstating a private military force in Florida?

On December 2 Governor DeSantis announced his intention to reinstate the Florida State Guard - a private civilian-military force of 200 volunteers that would sit under his control. It's a move that has prompted speculation and skepticism over his motives and intentions for the force.

If the force were to be brought to life, Florida would join 22 other states with an active state guard. The last time Florida had such a force was when it was established in 1941 as members of the Florida National Guard were diverted to fight in World War 2.

At the conclusion of the war, in 1947 the state guard was dismantled.

Noble intentions?

State guards are not a part of the US armed forces and funding for them cannot be taken from federal money - they are entirely funded by the state, and in essence, its taxpayers. Their members cannot legally be involved in any federal military reserve forces.

To all intents and purposes then, they are literally a privately funded military force with no federal ties.

The intention behind state guards is to provide support - whether as a military force or as first responders in times of disaster or emergency when the National Guard is unavailable or unable to help.

For decades now though, Florida has relied on the coastguard and federal law enforcement agencies to protect its coastline and to mitigate against other threats. Is there really just-cause for the establishment of a private militia, 200-strong?

A handpicked secret police?

Governor DeSantis' announcement has drawn predictably partisan responses as to what his motives could be. Some commentators point out that existing federal agencies and forces have chains of command and merit-based leadership that is free from political bias or motive.

If DeSantis were the leader of the state guard, is there any reason why it wouldn't become his personal army, directed to enforce his political will?

Democrats in the state, including Rep. Charlie Crist have been quick to speculate also, that the force could be viewed as little-more than DeSantis' private, hand-selected secret police - but funded by the state's tax payers.

Whether the force is established or not will presumably depend on whether the idea gains political traction. It could be interesting to see if the force is universally backed, or whether the Governor faces resistance from tax-payers in the sunshine state who are reluctant to fund his private force.

What do you think about the reinstatement of Florida's state guard? Are you in favor of it? Do you trust the Governor's motives? Let me know in the comments section below.

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