Florida National Guard General warns troop demand may soon outgrow supply
Image via Florida National Guard.

national guard
Florida is the 4th most disaster-prone state in the nation.

The Florida National Guard’s top-ranking general cautioned lawmakers on Tuesday that the nation’s growing demand for more Guardsmen may soon overwhelm their ranks.

Amid an ongoing COVID-19 response, continuous worldwide deployments, and an approaching hurricane season, Adjutant General James Eifert warned that troops are in short supply.

“We cannot adequately support the state’s citizens on Florida’s worst day with the size of our National Guard at this point,” Eifert told the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security. “It’s a serious concern for me, as it should be for all Floridians.”

Eifert pointed out that Florida’s population has disproportionately outgrown the Florida National Guard’s ranks for decades. But in the past, Florida would lease soldiers from nearby states during domestic emergencies.

That option, Eifert stressed, may no longer be available as Guardsmen nationwide become increasingly involved with COVID-19 and civil unrest missions.

While other states may weather a troop shortage, Eifert contended that — try as he might — Florida is ill-positioned to do so. 

He noted that Florida is the 4th most disaster-prone state in the nation.

What’s more, the Florida National Guard ranks second to last when comparing troop numbers to state population. 

By comparison, Eifert said that Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia each have more troops within their ranks despite collectively having a smaller population.

“If you look at the worst-case scenario of a CAT 5 crossing the state from Miami and then back up into the panhandle and all that kind of stuff, you are definitely looking at the possibility that the guard is overwhelmed,” Eifert told lawmakers. 

Florida currently has roughly 12,0000 Army National Guardsmen and Air National Guardsmen. Eifert contends the number should be upward of 20,000. 

Short-term consequences aside, Eifert warned there are long-term impacts too. The high-demand and low-supply, he explained, may harm troop retention in the future.

“You can only go back to that well so often because these are volunteers,” Eifert said. “The concern is how much are their employers and families going to be willing to allow this to continue with the demand that is put upon our soldiers?”

Eifert implored state lawmakers to stress the need for more troops to Florida’s Congressional Delegation, who in turn could lobby the National Guard Bureau to designate more slots. 

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Danny Burgess suggested that Florida can help bolster troop numbers by giving transitioning active-duty veterans more reasons to relocate to Florida and possibly join the reservist ranks. 

Burgess, an Army Reserve Officer, previously served as the Florida Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ Executive Director. 

“Many post-911 veterans are moving here,” Burgess said. “I think there’s just a number of great opportunities.”

Among the Florida National Guard’s budget requests, Eifert stressed the need for construction and renovation funding toward National Guard armories, some of which are upwards of 50 to 100 years old. 

He described it as his top budget priority.

“We really need that to continue to have the facilities that are worthy of the Guardsmen that are serving,” Eifert said.

In all, the Florida National Guard has requested $6,396,637 from the Florida Legislature. Other budget priorities include armory security, workers’ compensation and military pay offset. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ budget proposal is expected to be released as early as next week. 

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.


3 comments

  • Sonja Fitch

    January 27, 2021 at 5:50 am

    Could not get past “leasing” humans! Suggestions up the pay! Recruit men and women to serve snd protect Floridians as Needed! Recruit businesses that promote the service to their employees !

  • just sayin

    January 27, 2021 at 8:41 am

    And maybe Democrats should stop demonizing them as a bunch of right-wing white male traitors? Might help with recruiting.

  • William G Burns

    January 28, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    Go ahead shuffle soldiers, airman and marines, till the systems brakes or we get overrun.
    Well private we’ll home by, well sometime.
    Meanwhile, Joe Snuffy is getting promoted and grabbing your girl at home.
    What ever happen to the Peace Corps?
    Hell of a moral booster.
    Giving shots and directing traffic and defending against a “enemy “that wants justice.
    Watch the real world cause China isn’t waiting, they didn’t wait with Covid and infecting the world, and neither is Russia.

    Now, as a company commander what the hell do you do with Sexual Harassments Claims ?
    What sex are the soldiers ? Can you ask ? Does it matter ? You betcha.
    Hell of a way to fight a war.

Comments are closed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704