State Defense Forces Make A Difference says National Guard Adjutant General
We recently reported that The New York Guard (State Defense Force) hosted this years annual State Guard Association Conference. During the conference The New York National Guard Adjutant General Major General Raymond Shields gave a speech detailing the missions of The New York Guard and how vital they are to the state’s emergency response. He added that the civilian work skills State Defense Forces and The New York Guard brings to its state is a “treasure often forgotten,” Shields said. The Adjutant General went on to say that “the contributions your members make shouldn’t be minimized,” and highlighted how State Guards / State Defense Forces make a difference to The States response operations.
We hope these motivating words will go a long way to encourage the development of State Defense Forces in States that dont currently have them.
Here is a an article posted on The US Military website, DVIDS, by Captain Mark Getman:
NY Adjutant General says state guards make a difference
ALBANY, NY, UNITED STATES
Story by Mark Getman
New York National Guard
ALBANY, New York—The contribution state defense force volunteers who support the National Guard in state emergencies make is too often underestimated, Major General Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, told members of the State Guard Association at their annual conference in Albany on Nov. 19.
“The civilian skills that your citizen service members bring to your state is a treasure often forgotten,” Shields said. “
“These skills are vital in supporting many of your missions, and the contributions your members make shouldn’t be minimized,” Shields emphasized.
Ninety members of state defense forces from 13 states attended the 37th annual State Guard Association of the United States at the Desmond Hotel.
They represented 22 state defense forces, called SDFs for short, are military forces which states are allowed to maintain, separate from the National Guard, under federal law. State military forces, generally known as state guards, respond only to the governor.
As the commander of New York’s National Guard, he fully appreciates the contributions state guard members make, Shields said in his keynote remarks.
“Here, in New York, the New York Guard is an integral part of our state’s emergency response. They have contributed over 166,000 workdays combined as part of the state’s COVID response,” he said.
New York hosted this year’s state guard conference because former Brig. Gen. David Warager, the former commander of the New York Guard, is also the outgoing president of the state guard group. Traditionally the conference is hosted in the state of the association’s outgoing president.
“I wanted to host our annual conference in New York to both showcase the New York Guard and what the New York Guard has accomplished, and also to provide the opportunity for our soldiers to attend the conference in person, without having to travel very far,” Warager said.
The conference attendees, who paid their own way to the event, got a chance to take part in training sessions on subjects ranging from cybersecurity to public affairs.
Perhaps the best part of the conference was just the chance to talk to counterparts from other states and learn new things, said, Alaska State Defense Capt. Peter House.
For example, he got some great ideas for cyber security and physical fitness training from other attendees, House said.
A leadership forum that included Brig. Gen. Isabel Smith, the director of joint staff for the New York National Guard, focused on how state defense forces can take the lessons of the COVID 19 response in each state to integrate better with their National Guards.
The panel also included Dr. Barry Stentiford, a professor of military history at the Army Command and General Staff College who authored the definitive history of state guards.
These annual conferences are important to developing the professionalism of state guards across the country, said Brig Gen. Mark D. Gelhardt Sr., the commander of the Georgia State Defense Force.
“The best part of the SGAUS national conference is the ability to share ideas across different states, to talk about the best practices in each state, and to find a common denominator that all units can use,” Gelhardt said.