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Florida Governor Announces Commander of the Re-Activated Florida State Guard

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced the commander of the newly re-activated Florida State Guard (State Defense Force). The new commander is Lt. Col. Chris Graham, a prior service US Marine Corps Officer who served three deployment tours in Iraq, and served in the Defense Intelligence Agency. He also earned the Purple Heart during a combat tour in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Chris Graham will now take command of 400 troops of the Volunteer Defense Force. The Florida State Guard, unlike other State Defense Forces, has been classified as a civilian organization. They do not adhere to the Military Laws of the State as they are more in line with a civilian disaster response agency. State Defense Forces throughout the country are classified as military forces and must adhere to the same laws and regulations as the National Guard.

The Florida State Guard was last activated during World War 2 to backfill for deployed National Guard troops serving in overseas combat zones. They were deactivated in 1947 following the return of the Florida National Guard. They were recently re-activated by the Governor to assist the National Guard during disaster response.

NBC 6 South Florida:

Florida Announces Director of Newly Reactivated State Guard

The director of the re-upped force would be retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Chris Graham, an Iraq veteran and former intelligence and anti-terrorism officer


Florida’s governor announced the first director of a newly reactivated Florida State Guard on Wednesday to bolster the state’s National Guard with a focus on responding to disasters in the hurricane-prone region.


Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said the director of the re-upped force would be retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Chris Graham, an Iraq veteran and former intelligence and anti-terrorism officer.

“I think this unit has a particularly important mission,” Graham said at a news conference in Madeira Beach, Florida. “As Floridians, you guys know, the last hurricane’s behind us, the next hurricane’s on the horizon. Anything we can do to help, I want to help.”


Graham said he would also like the new force to contribute the state’s defense capabilities. He said there were 1,200 applicants already for 400 volunteer positions with a stipend for training sessions, but welcomed more volunteers to reach out. The Florida National Guard, in comparison, has about 12,000 members.


About half of the U.S. states have active defense forces under the sole authority of the state governments, including big states such as California, Texas and New York. Florida’s state guard was created in 1941 to backfill National Guard members deployed in World War II, but was disbanded in 1947.


DeSantis proposed to reactivate it three-quarters of a century later, and the Legislature this year authorized $10 million for that.

The head of the Florida National Guard, Adjutant Gen. Jim Eifert, said the National Guard has allocated to Florida nearly the lowest level of staffing per citizen among U.S. states and territories, leaving the state’s National Guard stretched ”razor thin.”


The ”trained civilian volunteer work force” of the new state guard might help relieve the ”wear and tear” on the National Guard following a busy couple of years responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, civil strife and storms, Eifert said.


Copyright AP – Associated Press

The Palm Beach Post:

DeSantis names new leader for Florida State Guard. What to know about Chris Graham.

Jason Delgado


TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday named a new leader of the Florida State Guard and urged all interested Floridians to apply, including unvaccinated service members facing discharge under the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Chris Graham will serve as director of the soon-to-come Florida State Guard, DeSantis announced at a press conference in Madeira Beach.

A native Floridian and former helicopter pilot, Graham boasts an extensive military background, including three deployments to Iraq and time served in the Defense Intelligence Agency. He also earned a Purple Heart and led an anti-terrorism battalion.

“I think he’s the right man for the job,” DeSantis added, noting that Graham oversaw counter drug missions at the Southern border with the agency.

Sources: NBC 6 South FloridaThe Palm Beach Post

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