The Florida State Guard could grow to a troop level of 500 and establish itself as a paramilitary haven for unvaccinated service members.
Govt. Ron DeSantis announced plans to resuscitate the volunteer force in November. They would assist the National Guard in the event of hurricanes, natural disasters, and other state-specific emergencies.
But unlike the National Guard, the Florida State Guard would answer only to the governor. No federal deployments. No federal missions. No federal dollars.
DeSantis’ initial vision for the force included 200 volunteers for a price tag of $3.5 million. The Florida State Guard, however, could grow to 500 members, DeSantis said Wednesday.
“We have so many people who want to be in the mix to help others,” DeSantis said at a campaign event in Tallahassee.
The lack of a COVID-19 vaccine warrant is among the key distinctions between the Florida State Guard and the National Guard.
secretary of defense Lloyd Austin in August ordered that all troops — including members of the National Guard — are stung or face consequences, including a possible discharge. All reservists and guards face a June 2022 deadline to get vaccinated.
“They wouldn’t be subject to vaccination mandates or anything from the federal government,” DeSantis said Wednesday of the Florida State Guard.
Despite the looming deadline, it’s unclear how many of Florida’s roughly 12,000 National Guard members are vaccinated.
The organization declined to provide further information on the matter, but said it was actively encouraging members to get vaccinated.
“We do not release specific data on vaccination numbers/percentages within the Florida National Guard because that would be an operational security issue because it speaks to readiness,” the National Guard’s director of public affairs said. from Florida. Caitlin Brown Florida Politics said in an email.
DeSantis’ plan to resurrect the Florida State Guard — which was disbanded in the late 1940s — has drawn national media attention and widespread criticism from Democratic leaders and pundits.
Calling herself a “student of history”, commissioner of agriculture Fried Nikki — a 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate — compared DeSantis to adolf hitler during a recent NPR interview.
“I studied Hitler and how he came to power,” Fried told the radio station. “Wanting his own militia. Have your own army.
Democratic Congressman charlie christ — who is also looking to oust DeSantis — jumped on the question as well.
“No governor should have his own hand-picked secret police,” Crist said after the announcement.
Despite the criticism, DeSantis poked fun at the initial media coverage on Wednesday. In his view, Florida would become the 23rd state with a state guard under the plan.
“If you turned on NBC, it was, ‘DeSantis is raising an army and he’s going to attack the planet,'” DeSantis joked, later adding, “People’s response was…” Oh, shit. He’s raising an army? want to join. Let’s do it.'”
The Florida State Guard – established in 1941 – replaced Florida National Guard troops when deployed overseas during World War II.