Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis got twice the budget and double the manpower in the reconstituted Florida State Guard.
According to the website Florida Politics, state lawmakers on Thursday set the parameters for the FSG, which under DeSantis will be back in action for the first time since 1947, as they hammered out final details of the $100-plus billion 2022-23 state budget.
DeSantis had asked for about $5.4 million, enough for 200 Guardsmen.
Lawmakers allotted him $10 million, sufficient for 400 personnel. Additionally, the outfit will have six civilian employees.
If that’s not enough, state rep. Jay Trumbill, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the governor can request more
Florida Politics also noted other provisions of DeSantis’ new force. State residents who want to enlist must pass a medical exam with criteria similar to that of the Florida National Guard.
FSG personnel also must pass a background check, have no felony convictions, and if prior military troops, must have earned an honorable discharge.
Personnel in FSG are exempt from the federal military draft, nor must they comply with the Defense Department’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The governor, both current and future, has the authority to appoint the commander, who will carry the title Adjutant General.
FSG recruits must complete a 10-week basic training course modeled after the military’s initial training and graduate from a job school. They also must meet training and fitness standards that are “at least equivalent” to those used by the National Guard.
DeSantis had raised the idea of resurrecting the FSG last year. He argued the state needed a force that could supplement the Florida National Guard but be totally under state control.
The National Guard is actually overseen by the Pentagon.
The governor claimed that under those guidelines the FSG would be more responsive and agile in natural disasters and other emergencies than the Florida National Guard.
Florida Politics noted state data that backed DeSantis’ argument.
Between 2016 and 2021, the Florida National Guard was activated for more than 2.9 million federal work days. Yet 834,000 of those days – or about 29 percent – were on state missions.
While liberals blasted DeSantis for wanting the equivalent of his own private army, 22 other states – including blue ones, such as New York, California, Oregon and Washington – operate similar units. In fact, federal law authorizes all states and U.S. territories to operate “defense forces” within their own boundaries.
DeSantis also indicated he wanted to tap into people’s willingness to pitch in.
“We’ve got so many people that want to be in the mix to help other people,” the governor said at a recent campaign event in Tallahassee, Florida Politics noted.