Defense Cuts Show Need For Iowa State Guard

Back in December of 2012 I had a guest column in The Gazette, titled “State Guard Adds Protection Efficiently.” In it I highlighted four unique advantages that an organized volunteer “state guard” or state defense force (SDF) would have that would allow it to complement our National Guard force:

  1. “[B]ecause they are solely state assets, there is no risk that they might be deployed overseas when a disaster springs up here at home. State autonomy also allows the organization of state guard units to be custom-tailored to the state’s needs.”
  2. “SDFs can draw from two sources of volunteers that the National Guard cannot. One is prior military service members who can no longer fulfill the commitments or requirements of active duty or National Guard service but still want to serve in some capacity. Another is people who may be willing to defend their own soil but are unwilling to potentially be sent to the other side of the world to defend someone else’s.”
  3. “[S]tate guard units can be operated at comparatively little expense. Unlike National Guardsmen, who are professional soldiers, state guard members are generally unpaid volunteers (although many with prior service). They can often use state-owned National Guard armories and training facilities rather than requiring their own.”
  4. “[I]t could be made to conform to the requirements for the state militia as laid out in the Iowa Constitution. Article VI, Sec 3 states: ‘All commissioned officers of the militia (staff officers excepted) shall be elected by the persons liable to perform military duty, and shall be commissioned by the governor.’ The National Guard cannot meet these obligations as their officers are rightfully commissioned by the president..”

The Obama Administration’s recently floated plan to cut National Guard troops shows another advantage of a State Guard force. Since SDFs are funded and administered entirely by the state, they would be immune from federal cuts. Although the current cuts are in no way draconian, as the Federal Government cruises closer to economic oblivion, unavoidable cuts in federal spending could prove more hard hitting in the future.

States rely on federal largesse for 25% to 50% of their state revenue. The feds have racked up over $17 trillion in debt and $128 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Eventually the feds will have to cut off the money spigot to the states as well as massively cutting their own budget or the Federal Government will collapse, in which case the money spigot will also shut down. One state, Utah, is already planning for this eventuality and in 2013 it passed seven fiscal bills that make ready for it.

In a similar fashion, Iowa should plan on being able to provide a security and response force to aid and protect its citizens without relying largely on federal funding, troops and equipment. Governor Branstad pointed out, “The [Nat’l] Guard has helped communities across Iowa effectively respond to disasters, like floods and tornadoes[.]” Let us not potentially leave Iowans without such a force because of the decisions (or incompetence) of bureaucrats and politicos in Washington D.C.


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