DeSantis Moves To Reactivate Florida State Guard, A Defense Force Answerable Only To Florida Governor

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced a budget including funds to reactivate the Florida State Guard, a World War II-era defense force answerable only to the state’s governor.

As part of a $100 million budget funding the Florida National Guard, Republican firebrand Ron DeSantis has requested $3.5 million for the purpose of reactivating the Florida State Guard. This defense force was first started during World War II, and answers directly to the Florida governor.

“We are proud of our veterans and active-duty military members and proud of what our communities do to support them,” said DeSantis. “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.”

I am proposing more than $100 million for our National Guard, active-duty military and veterans, and to re-establish the Florida State Guard to assist our National Guard in state-specific emergencies.

I am committed to supporting our military and keeping our state safe.

— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) December 2, 2021

According to the Florida governor’s press release, “The establishment of the Florida State Guard will further support those emergency response efforts in the event of a hurricane, natural disasters and other state emergencies.” It adds, “The $3.5 million to establish the Florida State Guard will enable civilians to be trained in the best emergency response techniques. By establishing the Florida State Guard, Florida will become the 23rd state with a state guard recognized by the federal government.”

Speaking from the National Guard Armory in Pensacola, Florida, DeSantis was quoted saying “We also want to make sure we have the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible and some of that will require us to be able to have access, and be able to use support in ways that are not encumbered by the federal government or don’t require federal government,” DeSantis said.

“So, I’m going to be recommending in the budget $3.5 million to re-establish the Florida State Guard.”

Florida is the most military-friendly state in the nation, and we need to keep it that way.

— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) December 2, 2021

The Florida State Guard was initially conceived as a temporary replacement to the Florida National Guard while it was deployed abroad by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Florida Legislature created the Florida Defense Force in 1941, and it was soon rebranded the Florida State Guard. The defense force was disbanded in 1947, after the Florida National Guard was sent home.

In the 1940s, Florida counties were allowed to establish a Florida State Guard unit with only 50 qualified men aged between 18 and 63.

Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Florida State Guard had already organized its First Air Squadron consisting of 15 pilots “in about 27 assorted small plans, nicknamed ‘puddle jumpers’” who were tasked with patrolling the Florida coast for German submarines. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Major Wright “Ike” Vermilya, Jr. of the Florida State Guard First Air Squadron became the Florida commander of the Civil Air Patrol.

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