Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) is proposing a revival of the Florida state guard after it was dissolved in 1947.
DeSantis announced a $3.5 million proposal on Thursday to resurrect the civilian military force first used during World War II as the National Guard’s ranks were depleted due to the war effort. If the proposal is adopted, Florida would become the 23rd state with a state guard, according to CNN.
DeSantis pushed reviving the state guard to lessen Florida’s reliance on resources from the federal government in the event of a disaster such as a hurricane or flooding. The state guard could also assist Florida law enforcement in policing protests or cracking down on riots.
The Florida state guard would “not [be] encumbered by the federal government,” DeSantis said in a press conference. He said the civilian force would give him “the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible.”
DeSantis’ proposal to form a state guard comes as the Biden administration cracks down on National Guardsmen who are resisting the federal government’s vaccine mandates for the military. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has directed that National Guardsmen who remain unvaccinated will be barred from participating in the training needed to maintain their station. As The Daily Wire reported:
In an internal memo to leaders of the armed forces, according to the Associated Press, Austin spelled out the new policy, directing leaders of the four service branches to publish guidance dealing with men and women serving in the National Guard who refuse the vaccine. “Vaccination is essential to the health and readiness of the force,” Austin said.
The vaccine requirement is part of the military’s medical readiness requirements, the AP reported. All members of the armed services are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they receive an exemption for medical or other reasons.
DeSantis’ proposal is being made along with a batch of others worth over $100 million to support the Florida National Guard and revive the state guard. DeSantis’ office outlined the proposed funding measures in a press release:
$87.5 million to expand the existing readiness center in Miramar and to establish three new armories in Homestead, Gainesville and Malabar;
$8.9 million for existing armory maintenance;
$2.2 million for a new headquarters for the National Guard Counter Drug Program;
$5.1 million to support Florida National Guardsmen seeking higher-education degrees; and
$3.5 million to establish the Florida State Guard.
The proposals also include funding to bolster the Florida National Guard and to support the education of children of deceased service members.
“We are proud of our veterans and active-duty military members and proud of what our communities do to support them,” DeSantis said. “Florida is one of the most veteran friendly states and I think there are very few places that you would rather be on duty than in the state of Florida. As a veteran, I really appreciate what everyone who wears the uniform does in our state and am excited about these proposals – they will go a long way and have a meaningful impact. In Florida, we are going to continue our momentum of supporting our military, supporting our veterans, and being good stewards of our military installations.”