Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is the latest state head jockeying to align a local guard unattached to the U.S. armed forces. In order to do this, DeSantis expects to spend $3.5 million to support a revived Florida State Guard composed of 200 volunteers.
"What’s this all about? There’s nothing inherently wrong with a state having a 'state guard.' Nearly two dozen do," Eugene R. Fidell reported for The Bulwark. "They are not part of the U.S. armed forces and no federal money is involved. By law, their members cannot be in any of the federal military reserve forces. These are the people who are called out to assist with disasters when the National Guard is otherwise occupied. Florida used to have a state guard, although it seems to have gotten along quite nicely without it for decades."
"It's the latest in a string of likeminded events, including "South Dakota sending members of its National Guard to Texas to help patrol its border with Mexico—the tab to be picked up by a zillionaire with no particular connection to South Dakota," Fidell wrote. "Then we had Oklahoma, whose governor got rid of the highest officer in his state’s National Guard, replacing him with an officer he must have thought would be more pliant, apparently with a view to facilitating resistance to the Defense Department’s schedule for vaccination of military personnel. The inevitable litigation has begun, but it’s unclear whether other states will join Oklahoma in the vaccine mutiny."
In a press release, the governor's office said the Florida State Guard would support the state's National Guard "in the event of a hurricane, natural disasters and other state emergencies" and would "enable civilians to be trained in the best emergency response techniques."
But the Sunshine State doesn't particularly need a State Guard, Fidell claimed.
"Political grandstanding is the most innocent possible explanation," he wrote. "But not the only possible explanation. DeSantis’s private force cannot reasonably be viewed in isolation from the other challenges Republican governors and legislatures have been raising—not only with their National Guards, but by probing every possible weak point in the Constitution when it comes to vaccines, voting, vote counting, and more."