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The Role of State Defense Forces in Homeland Security

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Journal article

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State Defense Forces can play an important role in Homeland Security by providing additional armed, trained, disciplined, and organized military troops to augment the police, National Guard, and federal military troops available for domestic law enforcement operations. State defense forces are todays version of the traditional local militia -- citizen patriots who volunteer to defend their homes and hearths. They are strictly state troops to serve the respective governors during times of emergency. The National Guard originated as state militias, but today is a federal force, funded by federal dollars, equipped with federal weapons, aircraft, and vehicles, and organized and trained to federal standards to provide units to the Army and Air Force in time of need. When not being used by the Federal Government, National Guard units are available to the governors as state military forces, but when the Federal Government needs the National Guard, its units and personnel are ordered to federal active duty and used under the direction of the President. This is the situation now for operations in the Global War on Terrorism, and this is the situation that will be the norm for many years to come. Department of Defense DoD policy is to try to make one-half of each states National Guard available to the governors over the long-term. State Defense Forces can provide governors additional troops to make up for the absence of the other half of their National Guard units. Among the various states, state defense forces are known by other names, including National Guard reserve, state guard, home guard, and state military forces. The generic term state defense forces will be used throughout this article.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Civil Defense

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