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U.S. House of Representatives
Wilson & Davis Introduce Bill To Strengthen States’ Homeland Security Efforts
Bipartisan Legislation would allow State defense forces to coordinate with DOD
Today, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who is the only member of Congress drilling in the Army National Guard until he concludes thirty years of service next month, today introduced legislation which could provide up to 250,000 additional troops specifically for homeland security duties under primary state control, at no cost to the federal budget.Today, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who is the only member of Congress drilling in the Army National Guard until he concludes thirty years of service next month, today introduced legislation which could provide up to 250,000 additional troops specifically for homeland security duties under primary state control, at no cost to the federal budget. U.S. Representative Lincoln Davis (D-TN), who is a Captain in the Tennessee State Guard, joined Rep. Wilson in sponsoring the legislation. Original co-sponsors of the legislation include Reps. William Jenkins (R-TN), Henry Brown (R-S.C.), Charlie Norwood (R-GA), Mac Collins (R-GA), Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-MI), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) and Sue Myrick (R-NC).
“Following September 11th and the beginning of the War on Terrorism, we have increasingly relied upon the National Guard by calling upon historic numbers to serve in the U.S. and abroad,” says Rep. Wilson. “This has caused many states who depend on the National Guard in emergencies to worry they will not have sufficient forces for homeland security efforts. This bill would allow us to tap into the thousands of ready-to-serve troops in State defense forces, to train with the Defense Department in the latest methods of Homeland Security.”
“This is a common-sense proposal that is a win-win for everyone involved. State defense troops are highly motivated people, ready and willing to help their country in this time of war, and the states need capable and dependable forces for homeland security duties,” said Rep. Wilson.
The State Defense Force Improvement Act of 2003 would improve and expand the state-controlled forces by increasing coordination between state defense forces and federal agencies. The bill would strengthen the ability of America’s current 22 authorized defense forces to assist in homeland security missions and fill in for National Guard units deployed in federal service, and would encourage states without defense forces to initiate the state-controlled military reserve units.
South Carolina boasts one of the most effective current defense forces, the South Carolina State Guard (SCSG). SCSG troops provided voluntary security assistance near the World Trade Center site following the 9-11 attacks in support of the New York Guard, the Empire State’s defense force. The SCSG has also recently been awarded a $1 million AmeriCorps federal grant to provide additional homeland security in South Carolina through both military and civilian volunteer networks.
State defense forces were used heavily during World Wars I and II, fielding over 100,000 troops specifically tasked with homeland security missions during both conflicts. Like all current U.S. military forces, service in state defense forces is voluntary. Members receive no pay while in training or standby, but are paid standard National Guard pay scales if activated for a state emergency.
The bipartisan legislation would remove real and perceived regulatory hurdles to full coordination of state defense forces into the nation’s overall homeland security plans. In addition, the bill encourages federal agencies to assist state defense forces in modernization and standardization of troop training and certification. The bill is budget-neutral at the federal level, with state-level spending entirely at the discretion of the states.