Anyone have experience with state defense forces?

Discussion in 'Military-related education topics' started by sanantone, Sep 5, 2016.

  1. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Based on my research, state defense forces (aka state military reserves, state militias, and state guards) are similar to the National Guard, but most of them are no longer trained for combat. They have more of an emergency management role responding to natural and man-made disasters. They are authorized by the Constitution and federal law. They became important during WWII because most of the National Guard forces were deployed. Currently, about 21 states and Puerto Rico have active state defense forces, and three states are attempting to reactivate theirs. Unlike the National Guard, state defense forces are only under the control of the state government. They can only be deployed outside of their states with the authorization of the commander-in-chief (governor) and with permission of the state government they're aiding.

    Even though members are not paid unless they are on active duty, some of the state defense forces have great benefits. Mississippi offers free and discount police officer, firefighter, and EMT training. California offers a grant that is more than $12,000 per year for a UC or private college, more than $5,000 for a CSU campus, and over $1,600 for a community college. Texas will offer $2,250 or $4,500 per semester (the higher amount is for high needs applicants) for non-profit schools headquartered in Texas, but limits the award to 30 state guard members. A member of the Texas legislature introduced a bill that would allow all Texas State Guard members to attend a public college or university for free, but it didn't go anywhere. According to the Texas Military Department, the Texas State Guard is faster at responding to emergencies than other government agencies and saves the state almost $5 million each year.
  2. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    Massachusetts has one, for years it was named the Massachusetts State Guard, now it's the "Massachusetts State Defense Force". I was in the MA Army National Guard for 6 years, and never saw or even heard about them, even when we were state-activated for natural disasters.

    When I was deployed for Gulf War I, my brother joined the then-state guard, he says because he felt guilty and was medically excluded from enlisting in the US Armed Forces. From what he told me, it was a bunch of yahoos who either couldn't or wouldn't commit to enlisting in the real thing, and liked to play dress-up and talk about what they would have done if they were allowed to enlist, with many of them not being "allowed" because they weighed 300lbs.

    That's directly from my brother who saw it first hand; as I said, I knew and know nothing about them.
  3. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I heard that about half of the Texas State Guard consists of veterans (a lot of the older ones are out of shape) and many of the rest are medical professionals, police officers, and firefighters. For the past year or so, they've started enforcing height/weight standards for new recruits.
  4. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    This made me curious whether there's one of these in Virginia, and there is. I'm not sure the lax fitness requirements matter a whole lot, though, as it looks like they get called up to do things like direct traffic at the Apple Blossom Festival and things like that. (Yes, actual example.)
  5. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    In between disaster relief efforts, there is not much for them to do. In Texas, they mostly respond to floods and hurricanes and operate shelters during mass evacuations. They helped rescue people during the floods this year and last year. After Hurricane Katrina, they helped with the evacuees. The Medical Brigade offers free healthcare in the Rio Grande Valley. They have also been deployed to the border to help gather intelligence and rescue immigrants in distress. I guess much of what they do is done by agencies that have no physical fitness requirements i.e. the Red Cross. The search and rescue operations are really the only things that require physical fitness. But, then again, most U.S. military occupations don't require physical fitness either.
  6. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    It's groups like this that interest me. No government affiliation at all, which is the true militia.

    Texas Militia
  7. Life Long Learning

    Life Long Learning Active Member

    Oregon was dissolved with over 300 qualified ham radio operators leaving. Some States are just stupid. In real disasters ham radios are priceless and height weight issues have no meaning. They are NOT kicking in doors.

    Heck, REAL Soldiers get deployed over weight and unable to pass a PT test to combat.
  8. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    When we deployed, if you didn't pass the PAT by the time of movement, they issued Article 15's for not maintaining physical fitness.

    Of course, when we came back, we were sunburned & emaciated from 6 months in the desert, living like animals, so I doubt any of us could pass the PAT then.

    BTW and for the record, when I said that groups like the Texas Militia interest me, I meant that I'm interested in how and why they exist, I'm not looking to "enlist". :tongue:
  9. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I have no interest in private militias because I have no irrational fear of the government in its current form. Being involved with one of these groups can also get you disqualified for numerous law enforcement, corrections, community corrections, EMT/firefighter, and other public safety/homeland security-related jobs if there is any hint of them making plans to overthrow the government, calling for resistance against the police, and/or having hate group undertones. Plus, these groups aren't out helping people. My interest in the state defense forces and military auxiliary organizations (Coast Guard auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol, etc.) is that they actually do some good. Private militias just train for years and years just in case the government tries to take their guns. They're pretty much useless and made up of the tin foil hat, low IQ, low education crowd. This particular group teaches the same fighting tactics used by terrorist groups, and any group that listens to Alex Jones is a group made up of idiots.
  10. Life Long Learning

    Life Long Learning Active Member

    Article 15's for not maintaining physical fitness was not the norm in 2004-2008 in Afghanistan. The fattest man I ever saw in uniform was a Georgia Lawyer in the IRR who deployed to the big "A." He was grossly overweight but did combat patrols with British Gurkhas. He was a great asset and very bright. The second fattest man in uniform was a Regular Army NCO at NTC that I ever saw in three decades in the infantry.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2016
  11. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Thank goodness. You posted when I was typing my last post. The reason why these militias exist is pretty simple: they either don't trust the government or don't believe the government is doing a good job protecting the homeland. I study these groups the same way I study other domestic terrorist and militant groups, such as the Black Panthers, Ku Klux Klan, and eco-terrorists. One can find paramilitary terrorist groups in many countries. Some of the private militias are harmless (in addition to being useless), but some call for the shooting of police officers.

    What interests me about the state defense forces is that they could be a cost effective way of bolstering homeland security and disaster relief.
  12. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I saw that Oregon recently suspended their defense force. I guess some states don't see the need for them. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania, Florida, and another state are trying to reactive theirs. If used properly, they can improve the response time to disasters, provide more manpower for coverage, and save the government money.
  13. Life Long Learning

    Life Long Learning Active Member

    It is my understanding the State of Washington gives their State Defense Forces a mission and gives them money to train. Oregon did neither. It cost Oregon nothing. Oregon is very short sighted and anti-volunteer. I hear some of these ham radio types and a few special forces in Oregon want their own force which now scares Oregon. I am getting this very second hand. I prefer not to get close to the State as the FBI chased out the last Governor not that long ago.

    CERT would be another option to look into. Team Rubicon is another!

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2016
  14. Life Long Learning

    Life Long Learning Active Member

    They are real volunteers and non-union...go figure!

  15. Life Long Learning

    Life Long Learning Active Member

    National Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster (VOADs) are another great option. They all qualify for FEMA FREE $$$ training and some of that = FREE College ACE Credits!
    National Organization Members
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2016
  16. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I don't think fear of the government in its current form is irrational. However, I see little point to the militia movement. If they had any intention to fight the federal government physically they'd have done it by now. And best for them that they're all talk, because if they stood up against the feds they'd get mowed down like last week's grass.
  17. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    I'm an old-timer, deployed in 1990! :drillsergeant:
  18. Life Long Learning

    Life Long Learning Active Member

    I might predate you? 1980-2008

  19. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Bah! Mere pups.
  20. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    New York has two state militias; The New York Guard and the New York Naval Militia.

    The latter tries to actively recruit current reservists. You can join as a veteran but I don't believe you can enlist without prior military experience. When I was still a drilling reservist I served a three year term with the NYNM concurrently. I would say it is more accurately described as New York's version of the USCG Auxiliary. You get some uniforms, they have some patrol craft and they do, mostly, the same sort of work. The key difference is that the USCG Aux has a presence on most of the larger lakes in NYS and the NYNM is only really focused on the waters around NYC and the St. Lawrence.

    What I liked:

    I actually got to go on the water in a small craft. For a Personnelman that's kind of neat.
    I liked that I had the option to continue my service after I met my reserve obligation without fear of deployment

    What I didn't like:

    The uniforms were identical to the U.S. Navy uniforms but with modified name tapes. That meant I needed to have two sets of uniforms which was an expensive hassle.
    As a drilling reservist it meant I lost TWO weekends a month (roughly) but only one of those was paid/counted toward retirement

    I briefly explored the USCG Aux. However, I found it was filled with a lot of people who were only there for the uniform. Lots of military wannabes. Civil Air Patrol has the same problem (worse because they actually use ranks which feeds into the delusion). NYNM was pretty solid with lots of current and former reservists. There were a few uniform hogs in there but nothing like USCG Aux.

    The New York Guard, on the other hand, wears a heavily modified Army uniform. Basic Training and OCS can be done as a single block of time (as one would do in the military) or spread over many weekends. When you water down basic training like that you're pretty much asking for low standards among your ranks. Former military is well represented because you can join into your 50's. But the military wannabes are strong there. For years they were lobbying the New York Assembly to designate their "MP" units as certified Peace Officers. That didn't happen. In fact, last I checked, their MP units were disbanded. I believe they share facilities with the National Guard units but they get the surplus equipment that the NG was finished with.

    Their claims to "training" are pretty week since the only thing they presently offer is "radio training" and Hazardous Response training. Yay?

    I'm sure that both made sense at a certain point in history. But I feel like it is a waste of money that largely serves to feed the vanity of its members. Obviously, the members disagree.

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