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Ready When Called

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Journal article

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With the massive Federal mobilization and overseas deployment of the National Guard in WWI and WWII, it became apparent that a back-up military force should stay in the various states to take on the state militia duties that would otherwise not be fulfilled. These State Guards, as they were called, were state troops without Federal reserve status. Many states, including Maryland, had thousands of volunteer State Guardsmen during both wars. These units were generally disbanded after the wars. The modern version of the State Guard, born during the Cold War, is the State Defense Force SDF. The Constitution authorizes states to maintain troops only with the consent of Congress, and Congress has consented to maintenance of the National Guard and State Defense Forces. Presently, about half the states have SDFs. During peacetime, the Cold War, and when there was no local or regional state of emergency, many SDFs lacked a coherent sense of identity and mission. It was unlikely that the National Guard would be subject to federal call-up on the scale of the World Wars, and there seemed to be little use for what amounted to a body of troops redundant to the National Guard. In Maryland, at the millennium, a handful of key leaders in the Military Department chose to rethink the entire SDF concept, in terms of whether -- and, if so, how -- the Maryland Defense Force MDDF should be restructured. It was concluded that the best and highest use of the MDDF should remain as a back-up force for the National Guard, but not just in case of mobilization. Why not utilize the Defense Force as a pool of trained, often professionally qualified soldiers who could augment the National Guard in those areas where the Guard had a specific need Thus, the new MDDF was born, with the key concept being the creation of talent pools, organized into professional mission-oriented commands e.g., legal, medical, and chaplain and a Military Support Command.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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