The force will be led by a former Marine Lt. Colonel
Following the announcement on June 15 that Florida's State Guard has been reinstated, Governor Ron DeSantis has invited more Floridians to apply to join the force.
DeSantis originally suggested a desire to reinstate the State Guard in late 2021, and following the appointment of a director - retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Chris Graham - the force has since received 1,200 applications from volunteers wishing to offer their service. With 400 members of the force now in place, the governor is now keen that others should have the opportunity to sign up. He tweeted a link to the force's website on June 15.
Reinstating a force from the past
The State Guard is a military force under the direct control of the governor, staffed by civilian volunteers and funded entirely by state money without federal government input. Over 20 states have an active State Guard including neighboring Georgia and nearby South Carolina. Only 6 of the states have active weapons training for guards men and women.
Florida's State Guard was established in 1941 after members of the Florida National Guard were diverted to fight in World War 2 but the force was dismantled in 1947 following the war when it seemed no longer to be necessary. Under Governor DeSantis the force has now been reinstated with the intended purpose of providing assistance in times of natural disaster and states of emergency.
Whether those will be the sole purposes to which the force is put, and whether members will be weapons trained or not, remains to be seen.
At the conclusion of the war, in 1947 the state guard was dismantled since it was felt there was no longer a need for such a force in the modern United States.
Are there other motives behind reviving the force?
Critics of Governor DeSantis are concerned over possible ulterior motives behind the reviving of Florida's State Guard.
Partisanship plays a part of course, and Nikki Fried - a possible Democratic challenger in Florida's gubernatorial election - has been quick to criticize the governor for what she believes are 'dictatorial' behaviors on his part. Some would argue that the establishment of a private army under the governor's direct control could be seen as dictatorial behavior. Whether the force is weapons trained or not could well add fuel to this speculation.
Governor DeSantis has also since pointed out that the recent exodus of active servicemen and women from the U.S. military due to vaccine mandates could represent an opportunity for trained soldiers to join the force.
It has already been funded with millions of dollars allocated in the state's 'Freedom First' budget and DeSantis has been clear that the force will be solely in his command, not responsive to mobilization orders from the federal government, nor subject to their orders or mandates.
The volume of applications received by the Florida State Guard could be a good indication of whether such a force is viewed as warranted or useful by Floridians.
What do you think about the State Guard being re-established? Would you volunteer to join it or do you think it's unnecessary? Let me know in the comments section below.