On Thursday, Ron DeSantis the governor of Florida proposed the reestablishment of a civilian, military force that would would be controlled by him. During War War II the Sunshine State had created the Florida State Guard in 1941 as a temporary measure as there was a void as the members of National Guard were deployed during the war. It was disbanded after the end of the war.
DeSantis said that the proposed civilian force would “not be encumbered by the federal government.” He added that this would allow the administration led by him to be flexible in responding to events in the state and that the state could respond in the “most effective way possible.”
According to the governor’s office, the state of Florida would become the 23rd one to have a state guard. The press release from the office mentioned that California, Texas and New York were states that had state guards.
Recently, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had sent a directive that warned members of the National Guard that their pay would be withheld if they didn’t get vaccinated. The directive said that they would also be barred from training.
Kevin Stitt, the governor of Oklahoma, who is a Republican, asked Austin to exempt guard members in his state from mandatory vaccine. However, Austin denied the request. Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, who is also a Republican, proposed the setting up of the Florida State Guard, shortly after Austin’s directive.
Florida law allows DeSantis, as governor, to deploy a military force to maintain law and order in the state during incidents such as protests. DeSantis said that the force will consist of 200 volunteer members. The budget proposal released by him allocates $3.5 million for training and equipping civilians.
As expected, there were strong protests from the Democrats in Florida. The Democrat challenger for the gubernatorial elections Rep. Charlie Crist described the proposed new unit as “handpicked secret police” while state Sen. Annette Taddeo posted on Twitter that DeSantis was a “wannabe dictator” who was proposing to form a “vigilante militia” like they have “seen in Cuba.”