As State Guard goes to Mexican border, Legislature mulls leadership, logistics

florida state guard
Gov. DeSantis' state-controlled armed force got a double shot of legislative affirmation Monday.

The Florida State Guard is making national news in the wake of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ deployment of some members to the Texas border with Mexico.

The Legislature got its first official opportunity to weigh in on this decision, which some believe exceeds the modest expectations that its principal function might be storm response in Florida, rather than its ultimately more expansive assignment.

But those expecting fireworks got fizzles instead.

The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space, and Domestic Security committee unanimously advanced the nomination of Mark Thieme of Apollo Beach Monday afternoon, a Marine Corps veteran who says he has “unique insights” on how to build a “civil-military organization” very much like the State Guard.

Democratic Sen. Vic Torres posed the first question about the Texas deployment. Thieme noted he wasn’t involved in decision-making, as it was the province of the Governor.

Torres was concerned about the “legality of the circumstance” of the Texas deployment.

Checkpoint operations and other logistics are expected to be what the Guard does, Thiele said.

He added that roughly a squad is expected to go, with “up to a platoon” if needed, with the potential to “sustain that for months.” He noted that the mission is “evolving,” however, and dependent on senior staff going to Texas next week to ascertain needs.

Other missions, including storm response in the Southeast, may also take the Guard out of state, he noted later.

While a Senate panel was waving through this confirmation, the House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee advanced a much more modest version of a bill that would have affirmed the Governor’s right to deploy as he sees fit.

HB 1551 previously removed any perceived limitation against the State Guard being an expeditionary force, by striking the condition that it be used “exclusively within the state,” and adding language permitting deployment to handle “civil unrest,” a term open to interpretation.

The bill also gave members guaranteed legal defense in the event of any misdeeds — such as those worried about by Sen. Torres — via “a qualified attorney designated by the Department of Legal Affairs.”

Sponsoring Rep. Mike Giallombardo advanced a strike-all amendment more modest in its aims, however, dealing only with the mechanism of the Level 2 background check, allowing the Department of Law Enforcement to process the fingerprints, forwarding them “to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history record check.”

“Fingerprints submitted to the Department of Law Enforcement pursuant to this section must be retained by the Department of Law Enforcement as provided in s. 943.05(2)(g) and along with enrollment of the fingerprints in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s national retained print arrest notification program. Any arrest record identified must be reported to the Division of the State Guard,” the new language reads.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


15 comments

  • Linwood Wright

    February 5, 2024 at 3:27 pm

    Have you seen these guys? They defineltey don’t have any physical fitness standards, and are just letting in anybody who wants to wear some tacticool gear and play pretend soldier.

    Should call them “Meal Team 6”.

  • Tony the Greek

    February 5, 2024 at 3:35 pm

    Good to know our Guv has his own paramilitary force.

    • TJC

      February 5, 2024 at 3:53 pm

      And we get to pay for it.

      • MH/Duuuval

        February 6, 2024 at 9:50 am

        Dee is quickly running through the surplus mainly created by federal Covid funds. What a wastrel.

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 5, 2024 at 4:28 pm

    When did Trump’s “I will build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” turn into “I will get Ron DeSantis to send some useless schlubs to Texas to cut themselves on razor wire and/or drown and/or die of a heart attack”

  • Marvin M.

    February 5, 2024 at 5:08 pm

    Just read the text of the bill, HB 1551 (link at end). It was pretty interesting.
    It indeed adds a couple of new protections for the Florida State Guard (FSG) members who are now going to be called “volunteers” (even though there is provision for paying certain persons in certain situations).
    A subsection (c) was added to Section (10) specifying that for any volunteer, for any act in the scope of their duty, volunteers “may be defended at the expenses of the state”.
    So, I can only take that to mean our state legislators expect lawsuits and want to be able to tell the FSG recruits “Don’t worry, we’ll pay for your lawyer. See? It’s right here in the new law we are trying to hastily pass”.
    Fun Fact: Bill says “Act shall take effect July 1st, 2024”.
    Yet, these guys and gals are already being sent to Texas.
    I am not a lawyer, but I have the feeling there is a lot about this that has not been thought through very well.

    https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2024/1551/BillText/Filed/PDF

    • MH/Duuuval

      February 6, 2024 at 9:53 am

      Interesting trend developing in Florida where taxpayers are increasingly on the hook for bad governance and policing.

  • Michael K

    February 5, 2024 at 6:55 pm

    What a joke. Hang it up, Rhonda. You’ll never get near the presidency.

  • Bruce Davis

    February 5, 2024 at 10:26 pm

    DeSantis should not send any Floridians out-of-state for any reasons. The taxpayers want a governor who is working on problems in Florida. DeSantis has already neglected his own state by trying to get a nomination. He also blew 150 million dollars. He needs to stop making ridiculous claims and he needs to be governor for all the residents of Florida.

    • Michael K

      February 6, 2024 at 10:11 am

      Or not. I think of all of the damage he’s done simply to impress the people of Iowa. And look where that got him.

      Undoing “Resign to Run” was a colossal error by the sycophants in the legislature. Our public education system is a national laughing stock, and the brain drain has begun as Florida morphs into Alabama and Mississippi in the race to the bottom.

  • Phil Morton

    February 6, 2024 at 9:19 am

    Headline should say “As State Guard goes to Mexican border, tornados and floods hit Florida”. Just another waste of taxpayer dollars.

    • MH/Duuuval

      February 6, 2024 at 9:54 am

      Dee and the MAGAmite can’t hear you.

      • MH/Duuuval

        February 6, 2024 at 9:54 am

        Nor do they care.

    • Okee Doke

      February 10, 2024 at 6:47 am

      Do people realize they already laid out $10M for a brand new specialty “training facility” in St. Augustine for only 120 people, when they’re not even taking new applications for new classes? Because Camp Blanding was too woke. But, like, you know, they had to cut funding for school lunches for poor kids because, like, it’s wasteful.

      I don’t have a big issue with activating a state guard. 22 states have them, and many are woke states lol. But there has to be accountability and the function is for the state, for emergencies. There’s enough of that here. And they don’t need their own $10M playground. That’s absurd. And they don’t need this guy as governor. That’s scary.

  • Jim Sheets

    February 6, 2024 at 12:02 pm

    I predicted they would be wearing brown shirts and, ta dah, here they are.

Comments are closed.


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