State Watch

DeSantis proposes civilian Florida State Guard military force he would control

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Thursday proposed reestablishing a World War II-era civilian-military force that he would control.

DeSantis pitched the idea of creating the Florida State Guard, which would be independent of federal control, while speaking about his military budget proposal.

The Guard would consist of 200 volunteer civilians “trained in the best emergency response techniques” that would aid in the event of natural disasters or other state emergencies, according to a press release.

The Florida State Guard was initially created in 1941 to fill in for National Guard members deployed during World War II. It was later disbanded in 1947.

DeSantis said the proposed unit would “not be encumbered by the federal government,” adding that this force would give him “the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible.”

DeSantis is asking for $3.5 million from the state legislature to establish the unit.

If established, Florida will become the 23rd active state guard in the country.

The idea was part of DeSantis’s larger military budget proposal, which included establishing three new armories, a new National Guard Headquarters and supporting service members getting degrees. 

Florida Democrats pushed back on the proposal, with 2022 Democratic gubernatorial challenger Rep. Charlie Crist (Fla.) calling the proposed unit “handpicked secret police.”

DeSantis’s proposal comes after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged National Guard members to get vaccinated or face losing their pay.

Tags Charlie Crist DeSantis Florida Florida State Guard Lloyd Austin National Guard Ron DeSantis

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