Florida State Guard graduates first troops
About 120 troops graduated from training for the Florida State Guard. Photo via Governor's Office.

Florida State Guard
More than 100 troops just completed a two-week training.

Florida graduated the first 100 new troops for the recently reconstituted Florida State Guard.

The soldiers completed a two-week basic training program. They have now become the first graduating class since the Florida Legislature funded a state guard last year. Gov. Ron DeSantis, in 2021, proposed reinstating a state military force for the first time since the 1940s.

“I am proud to welcome the first class of Florida State Guard members since 1947,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“Even though the federal government has underfunded our National Guard, we are ensuring that we have the manpower needed to respond during emergencies. I’m proud of these men and women who answered the call to take on this important mission. When the need is greatest in their communities, these Guard members will be ready to answer the call.”

For years, members of Florida’s congressional delegation have sought a better balance in per capita funding for the National Guard in Florida. As of last year, the Florida National Guard ranked at No. 53 of 54 states and territories in terms of National Guard personnel per capita.

DeSantis noted Florida has had just 12,000 National Guard troops stationed since 1958. The population of the Sunshine State over that time, meanwhile, has grown from 5 million to 22 million.

But the proposal to fund a state guard has proven to be controversial. The ACLU Florida called it a step toward a police state, as troops have arresting power.

“It is an unprecedented and terrifying abuse of power by the Governor,” said Kara Gross, ACLU Florida legislative director, last year.

But DeSantis argued the force is needed in a state exposed to natural disasters like hurricanes. His office also noted 22 other states maintain state guards.

The Governor’s office also encouraged more individuals to enlist. Individuals must have a valid Florida driver’s license and pass a physical test to do so. Commitments include annual weekend training. Individuals are encouraged to sign up if they can work in a stressful team environment and are “ready to be a part of history.”

In June 2022, DeSantis named retired Marine Lt. Col. Chris Graham as the first director of the state guard, but Graham died at age 51 before the first troops were trained. Deputy Director Luis Soler in January was promoted to command the guard.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Dont Say FLA

    July 2, 2023 at 12:17 pm

    Not enough Florida National Guard, underfunded Florida National Guard, so Rhonda sends them packing to Texas and creates his own guard at the expense of Florida taxpayers who are already paying for the folks Rhonda sent to Texas. Good job, Rhonda.

  • Two weeks

    July 2, 2023 at 12:21 pm

    Congrats to “graduating” from two whole weeks of training. /s

    These guys are now clearly experts in law enforcement. /s

    I am sure they are highly qualified to keep the next Pride parade safe from proud MAGA boy types and the notorious MFLs. /s

    Rhonda a sick joke. /not sarcasm

  • DeSantis is a criminal

    July 2, 2023 at 1:09 pm

    before it’s all said and done, Ron DeSantis will be charged criminally for abuse of power, dereliction of duty and corruption. He will be sharing a prison cell with Donald Trump.

  • My Take

    July 2, 2023 at 1:12 pm

    Brown shirts, or black?

  • Bill Pollard

    July 2, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    His own private army. Gestapo or SS?

  • LARPs of FLA

    July 2, 2023 at 2:15 pm

    LARPs running around as upgraded cosplayer LEOs / Stolen Valor fake service members.

    White Christians, such supremacy.

  • Tango247

    July 2, 2023 at 3:28 pm

    This article is not completely accurate. Unless you had prior service, the course was 28 days. Only prior service members attended the shorter version.
    No, they do not have enforcement powers of any kind based on affiliation with the State Guard. The objective of the training and culmination exercise (test) was a response to a mock hurricane.
    Teams had to get into a remote area by boat, land navigate through heavy woods to a drop site, then move the supplies to an isolated town, render aid to injured people, and set up a distribution point for food and water. Every graduate is categorized as a “humanitarian aid specialist.” There is no combat or police element. There was no actual fire firearms or police training.
    Governor’s change, and this asset will remain a source of relief to citizens of this state regardless of the party holding the office.

    • Dont Say FLA

      July 2, 2023 at 6:11 pm

      So why are they all in camo? They don’t want the Hurricane to see them? Or they don’t want the hurricane victims to see them?

      • Krampert

        July 5, 2023 at 10:25 am

        Looks like surplus UCP uniforms, the camo the army ditched in 2014 because it didn’t camouflage well.

        • Dont Say FLA

          July 5, 2023 at 4:56 pm

          But why? Why do ““humanitarian aid specialists” want to do camo cosplay?

          Is it so they can sneak up on the hurricane victims they’ll allegedly be rescuing? Is the thought that “These folks refused to evacuate prior to the hurricane. If they see us rescuers coming to rescue them, they’ll probably refuse rescue too, so let’s sneak up on them?”

          The militia outfits don’t line up with the claimed intentions for this group. but maybe I am reading too much into the camo. Maybe Casey just likes camo.

    • JDUSMC

      July 8, 2023 at 10:37 am

      No. This isn’t benign. This a force for him to use for political power. You know this. Everyone knows this. Y’all are gearing up to secede and a future war when it comes to this. You will not win.

  • My Take

    July 2, 2023 at 4:19 pm

    Or the military equivalents to mall-cops.

  • My Take

    July 2, 2023 at 4:43 pm

    Wouldn’t dwarf DeSantis look perfect in a Napoleon outfit and hat?!
    But with his poofy white boots.

  • D Wagner

    July 2, 2023 at 4:57 pm

    Why are the flags blue with a white D?
    Is he invading Disney or are they vanity flags?

    • It’s Complicated

      July 3, 2023 at 8:01 am

      If you zoom in on the navy blue flags, from left to right, they contain the letters A-D. The middle flag has a seal of some sort on it. Probably platoon flags.

  • Mr. Haney

    July 2, 2023 at 6:04 pm

    DeSantis Brownshirts.

  • Ron W

    July 2, 2023 at 7:45 pm

    The shortened version of two weeks was only for prior service to create leadership and cadre for upcoming classes. The longer course of 4 weeks was to acclimate non Veterans to military customs, courtesies, rank structure, physical tests, marching, etc. The majority of prior service members were all Veterans with years of experience, deployments, and often current law enforcement. I am prior service and the training consisted of the same obstacle course (Google Air Assault Course) etc as in any basic training. Formations, marching, PT, barracks life, etc were all the same as Basic Training. There were weapons qualifications just simulated as in some branches now. swim tests, navigation, classroom stuff, medical, etc. It was just crammed into a shorter time of 4 weeks.The goal of the State Guard is to take off the majority of the National Guards stateside workload and help with disaster relief.The Governor created the FSG because the Florida National Guard relies on mostly Federal funding with some State funding. Federally the FL Natl. Guard is one of the least funded and smallest force in the US. So the Governor implemented the State Guard because it doesn’t rely on FEDERAL funding. There will be multiple inner departments including Maritime, Aviation, and some specialized Law Enforcement. The goal from my understanding is to help the State of FL with not only disaster relief but to combat illegal immigration, drug interdiction, Maritime and Air Search and Rescue, etc. It will become a stand alone fully operational Military force for the State of Florida. I can’t see how anyone can view that as a bad thing. The people who went thru it are SOLDIERS. There was nothing easy about what they did. A lot of people quit and went home due to the physical rigors. I hope that more people join, it’s going to be a great thing for the State of Florida. But make sure your hearts in it and don’t think it’s going to be easy, you will EARN your right to be called a soldier. Good luck to all of you

    • It's Complicated

      July 5, 2023 at 10:31 am

      251.001 F.S., says this about training of these people under the “Florida State Guard Act”:
      “(5) TRAINING AND EQUIPMENT.—The Adjutant General shall develop and implement a program for training for members of the Florida State Guard.
      (a) All training programs for the Florida State Guard shall be at least equivalent to the training requirements for members of the Florida National Guard under applicable federal law at the time the training is conducted. As required by the Adjutant General, all members of the Florida State Guard shall complete initial training within 180 days after their appointment or enrollment and periodic ongoing training.”

      So, in the long run, the Florida State Guard will have at least equivalent training as the Florida National Guard.

    • Mark

      July 7, 2023 at 12:59 am

      So, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have not done their jobs to raise the National Guard funding that Florida gets? We are a donor State.

  • Eduardine Slaveen Liberation Movement 👍

    July 2, 2023 at 10:42 pm

    Hey, it’s redistribution if they’re paying them anything. As to what they will do, probably nothing unless there is s hurricane. Mostly a political stunt and I didn’t blame the fed for not funding the guard here. Already a right wing police state with no state income tax. Make them pay!

    • Dont Say FLA

      July 5, 2023 at 12:06 pm

      Rhonda demonstrated that Florida didn’t require a Florida National Guard when they sent the Guard to work (on the Rhonda Campaign) in Texas.

      Now, State of Florida gets to foot its own bill for an alleged mini-guard, and it’s due to the campaign arrogance of Trumps mini-me wannabee, Rhonda.

      When can we call wash our hands of Rhonda and their Republican enablers who thought it was good idea to change the law so Rhonda didn’t have to resign to run?

      If it weren’t for that change in Florida State law just for Rhonda, Governor Rhonda would be a sad historical fact for State of Florida.

      But no, they’re still getting paid to govern, and after resigning from the Rhonda Campaign and coming back to Florida, Rhonda will be raging. There’s not enough Democrats to take the blame and anger coming from Rhonda’s raging.

      It might be a good idea to call a special session and undo the Rhonda exemption from Resign to Run, except it’s Rhonda who would make that call, ain’t it. Buncha dummies.

      LOL @ all the masochistic Florida GOP dummies that said “Let’s keep Raging Rhonda on board after he gets sent home from the Presidential contest, embarrassed nationally for being the loser Rhonda is”

  • My Take

    July 3, 2023 at 1:23 am

    ‘Roehm’ DeSSantis’s Stormtroopers!
    Let mild-mannered librarians and school teachers beware! Their time draws nigh.

  • Joe Dirt

    July 6, 2023 at 12:27 pm

    Bunch of pseudo-militia LARPers in Walmart fatigues no doubt. Please return to your backyard wrestling and shooting bottles in the woods while pretending to be the next Civil War Revolutionary Guard defending white supremacist Christian dominionist hegemony from whatever imaginary bogeyman the neofascist right wing media has drummed into your head as the next big existential threat to your meth-addled delusions of what Murikkka is.

  • Bamadoo

    July 16, 2023 at 8:56 pm

    100 million dollars for 2 weeks of training. Now they are ready to go shoot civilians. What a boondoggle!

Comments are closed.


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