Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a proposal that would create a new civilian military similar to the National Guard.

The Florida State Guard, which would be separate from the National Guard, would provide additional support for “emergency response efforts in the event of a hurricane, natural disasters and other state emergencies,” a press release from the governor’s office said.


The proposed Florida State Guard came as a small part of more than $100 million in funding proposals to support Florida’s National Guard that DeSantis announced on Thursday. DeSantis asked for $3.5 million to fund the new guard, which “will enable civilians to be trained in the best emergency response techniques.”

Nearly half the states in the country, 23, have a state guard that is recognized by the federal government, according to the governor's office.

“We are proud of our veterans and active-duty military members and proud of what our communities do to support them,” DeSantis said. “Florida is one of the most veteran-friendly states, and I think there are very few places that you would rather be on duty than in the state of Florida.”

“As a veteran, I really appreciate what everyone who wears the uniform does in our state and am excited about these proposals — they will go a long way and have a meaningful impact,” the governor added. “In Florida, we are going to continue our momentum of supporting our military, supporting our veterans, and being good stewards of our military installations.”

The force would be made up of roughly 200 volunteers.

DeSantis, in a press conference announcing the budget proposals, said the force would be able to provide support "in ways that are not encumbered by the federal government."

There is one specific way the Florida State Guard would be different from the National Guard: vaccination requirements. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has mandated all military personnel, National Guard members included, get vaccinated for the coronavirus. The Florida State Guard would not face such a mandate, DeSantis's office told the Washington Examiner.

"Florida law prohibits all of our state and local government entities from requiring their employees to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination," said Christina Pushaw, the governor's spokeswoman. "More broadly, Florida law protects jobs and workers’ rights by prohibiting employer vaccine mandates in the private sector as well. Biden’s CMS mandate and OSHA mandate, covering healthcare and private-sector employers, respectively, have been blocked by courts. However, Biden’s DOD vaccine mandate is still in place, as is the federal employee/federal contractor vaccine mandate."


She added that skirting the vaccine ban was not the impetus behind the state guard's creation. The Florida State Guard was created in 1941 to fill in for National Guard members deployed during World War II but was disbanded in 1947.

Recruitment for the Florida State Guard would not begin until the Florida Legislature allocates funding for it, Pushaw explained. Its next legislative session starts in January and runs through March 2022. Should it provide the funding, the state would begin the process of reestablishing the state guard next year.