Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to resurrect the Florida State Guard, a World War II paramilitary force disbanded in the late 1940s.
Unlike the Florida National Guard, the FSG would answer solely to the Governor. No federal deployments. No federal missions. No federal dollars.
DeSantis wants the civilian volunteer force to include about 200 members. They would assist the National Guard with hurricane, natural disaster and other state-specific emergency response.
The price tag: $3.5 million.
“We want to be able to have a quick response capability and reestablishing the Florida State Guard will allow civilians from all over the state to be trained in the best emergency response techniques and have the ability to mobilize very, very quickly,” DeSantis said.
The upside, DeSantis added, they’re “not encumbered by the federal government.”
The Florida National Guard — an undersized force of 12,000 — is indeed encumbered.
The Florida National Guard has devoted more than 2.9 million federal work days between 2016 and 2021, but only 834,000 on state missions — a disproportionate ratio that underscores the federal government’s increasing reliance on national guard.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, are urging Congress and the National Guard Bureau to address the issue.
Florida’s disproportionate ratio of Guard members to citizens is decades in the making. Over the last 30 years, Florida’s population has doubled while Guard numbers declined.
Florida ranks second to last in the Guard members-to-citizen ratio with roughly 12,000 troops. That number, Florida’s top-general contends, should hover upward of 20,000.
“It’s a significant challenge for our Governor to be able to have forces at his disposal on Florida’s worst day,” Adjutant Gen. James Eifert told lawmakers in October.
Established in 1941, the FSG filled in for Florida National Guard troops as they deployed abroad during World War II.
It is unclear to what extent DeSantis would like to utilize the FSG. Most state guards are ground forces, while others also include aviation units.
Lawmakers will consider allocating funds in the upcoming Legislative Session.