SDF Poll 2

Poll: Prioritizing SGAUS’s Future – Training vs. Legislative Efforts

The State Guard Association of the United States (SGAUS) articulates on its website, “The State Guard Association of the United States advocates for the advancement and support of regulated state military forces established by state governments under the authority of Title 32, Section 109, of the United States Code.” Originally formed in 1985, it aimed to serve as an independent 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization, concentrating on education, public awareness, and outreach programs to bolster the advancement and support of regulated state defense forces. SGAUS has introduced five bills in the U.S. House of Representatives aimed at enhancing and broadening the mission scope of State Defense Forces:

  • (dead) HR 206 State Defense Force Improvement Act, 2009, 111th Congress
  • (removed by committee) HR 5658 Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act FY09, 2008, 110th Congress
  • (dead) HR 826 State Defense Force Improvement Act, 2007, 110th Congress
  • (dead) HR 3401 State Defense Force Improvement Act, 2005, 109th Congress
  • (dead) HR 2797 State Defense Force Improvement Act, 2003, 108th Congress

Unfortunately, the last attempt was made in 2009, and there have been no further attempts since. Since then, SGAUS has primarily focused on its training and certification programs. Beginning with the Military Emergency Management Specialist (MEMS) program in 1998, it has expanded to include other programs such as Chaplain’s School and College, Engineer Specialty Qualification Identification Designation (ESQiD), and a Cyber Security program currently in development.

Over the past decade, several Adjutant Generals have disbanded their State Defense Forces, including the Alabama State Defense Force and the Massachusetts State Defense Force. Also during this time, a new State Guard was created, the Florida State Guard, which was classified as a civilian agency. Our contacts at SGAUS reported minimal participation in the development of this State Guard. Despite the introduction of new bills, there has been no active involvement in its reclassification to ensure the Florida State Guard is recognized as a true State Defense Force, governed under the same military laws and regulations as the Florida National Guard.

Our contacts have revealed that the majority of the SGAUS budget is allocated to its annual conference, hosted in different cities each year, with the remainder dedicated to developing new curriculum for its training programs. When the National Guard Bureau implemented its re-evaluation CNGBI 5500.01, a critical directive that outlines the interactions between the National Guard and State Defense Forces (SDF), SGAUS was reportedly taken by surprise. They quickly endeavored to persuade the National Guard and Adjutant Generals to discard the suggested drastic uniform changes, which would require all State Defense Force soldiers to adopt a uniform featuring a Red Ballcap, Red Nametapes, Red Rank, and a Red Patch marked with the SDF symbols. However, they were unsuccessful in this effort. Some board members were reportedly unconcerned with the directive, dismissing it as ‘not a big deal’, despite the National Guard Bureau and numerous Adjutant Generals designing and committing to these changes and it possibly being implemented nationwide.

Following these events, SGAUS has indicated its intention to leverage its contacts on Capitol Hill to influence change and further develop State Defense Forces.

Since then they informed they will reach out to their sources on Capital Hill to affect change and develop State Defense Forces. They informed their members:

SGAUS Leadership Briefs Adjutants General Association of the United States

On 10 February 2024 SGAUS President Tim Ingram, Vice President Greg Juday, Education Committee Chair Jim Hardy, and Acting Executive Director Steve Estes traveled to Washington, D.C. to brief the Adjutants General Association of the United States (AGAUS) about the SGAUS mission, recent work done by SDFs, and plans for continued operations by SDFs in the future. This meeting was a first for SGAUS, and will certainly not be the last given the warm reception by AGAUS.

A group of approximately 100 in the audience including TAGs, deputies, retired TAGs, and additional staff members received the brief. The meeting was held at the Washington D.C. headquarters of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), an association that SGAUS leadership models and hopes to work with more in the future on areas of mutual benefit.

Summary slide of Title 32 authority and active SDFs presented to TAGs at the 10 February 2024 AGAUS brief.

The briefing focused on the roles that SDFs can fulfill according to Title 32, and how federal law allows states and their governors to utilize a uniformed military inside their borders for purposes of “defense.” Recently this mission is understood to be for Domestic Support of Civil Authories (DSCA) missions, which are usually defined as emergencies such as the COVID 19 response, weather and other national disasters, and other emergencies defined by the governor of the state.

VP Greg Juday then provided examples of how Maryland has done just this, citing recent successful deployments and missions carried out by the Maryland Defense Force.

Finally, Jim Hardy described how SGAUS provides training and support by using Federal Emergency Management Agency educational programs to standardize training for emergency responses among SDF service members.

SGAUS will meet in Washington, D.C. during the week of 08-12 April to continue to work with federal legislators to further the SDF mission. Stay tuned for more information as SGAUS works to support SDFs in the 50 states and 4 territories.

We consider this approach to be misguided. Currently, the U.S. House of Representatives is deeply divided, grappling with critical issues such as funding for Ukraine and Israel, border wall appropriations, among others. In this climate, introducing legislation pertaining to a State Defense Force would likely be deemed a low priority.

Our interactions with SGAUS have been fraught with challenges. Initially, we agreed to mutual website linking: we would host a link to SGAUS on our site, and they would reciprocate by linking to Although we fulfilled our part of the agreement, SGAUS failed to add our link to their website. Despite this setback, we embarked on a new project to feature SGAUS merchandise, including T-shirts, caps, and accessories, on The State Defense Force Online Store. Initially approved, SGAUS later retracted their agreement, resulting in the removal of the merchandise. Further discussions led to an agreement for to become the news outlet for SGAUS, which both parties accepted. Regrettably, the SGAUS board never formally approved this merger. Throughout our partnership, we offered SGAUS advice on enhancing their website, improving their membership database program, and adopting the latest technology for no cost. However, in recent months, our communication has dwindled, with some emails going unanswered. Efforts to collaborate our lobbyists with theirs, especially in addressing the newly reevaluated National Guard Directive, have been met with silence.

In this week’s survey, we’re eager to gather your insights: What direction do you think should take precedence? Additionally, how could this shape your association with SGAUS?

Please choose from the following options:

    1. SGAUS should lobby for new Defense Forces where absent and where they exist advocate for more Joint missions with The National Guard
    2. SGAUS should maintain its emphasis on curriculum development, allocating minimal or no resources to lobbying efforts.
    3. I have lost confidence in SGAUS’s effectiveness and intend to terminate my membership.
    4. I have never been a member of SGAUS, nor do I plan to become one in the future.

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