During the revolutionary war, volunteer soldiers known as Minutemen played a vital role the founding of the United States.
Today, volunteer state militias still play an active role in defense and security with more than 14,000 individuals volunteer for these forces in 22 states.
In a new Heritage Foundation report, Heritage experts Jessica Zuckerman and James Carafano join two retired state defense force officers to explain why these militias are so important:
Modern SDFs (state defense forces) now serve as auxiliaries to the National Guard units of their states, as well as force multipliers for state homeland security missions in disaster preparation, response, and recovery. This mission portfolio requires a different model than has been seen in the past, one that centers on building professional units capable of contributing substantial value added to the states and augmenting the National Guard’s capabilities.
State defense forces serve directly under the control of their governor, rather than a national organization. In states with a high risk of natural disasters or terror attacks, state militias play a vital role in alleviating the pressure on the Reserves or National Guard to respond to immediate state needs.
State militias are often underfunded and under-supported. But some states are working on making volunteer forces a core part of their state . This week Arizona passed legislation authorizing the Governor to establish a state guard unit. If Governor Janice Brewer authorizes the legislation, Arizona will then be able to offer a low cost and vital state defense force.
Carafano explains the Constitutional support of state militias,
State militias have been seen as an essential component of the defense of America since the time of its founding. Building on English and Colonial experience, and reflecting their concerns about maintaining a large standing federal army, the Founding Fathers inscribed their belief that a well-regulated militia was “the ultimate guardian of liberty” within the Constitution, proclaiming among the enumerated powers of Congress.
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