I’ll not be so harsh as to claim that “Alabama bureaucrats squander away Alabama State Defense Force” the way the article I am referencing did, because I can sort of see why the ASDF was stood down. My experience was, that while those who volunteered sincerely wanted to be of service, the ASDF either was not given, or did not have, the capacity to be effective. And to be honest, having been honorably served in the Armed Forces, I wasn’t comfortable being a uniformed militiaman in public. Having served, I wasn’t a wannabee, and I didn’t want to be confused for a has-been. We also weren’t doing things that I thought were the most effective use of my time. I was interested in the historic notion of a militia, and not the quasi search and rescue role it was being used for.
All this led me to write a letter Governor Bentley to express my concern in the matter. I wish I had saved my correspondence, but to paraphrase, it was something to the effect of sadness that it had been stood down, an understanding of why it might have been based on my experience, and my hope that the goal was to effectively reorganize it.
To my delight, I received this response from the Governor today:
January 8, 2014
Dear Mr. Blevins:
Thank you for your letter which I received today regarding the Alabama State Defense Force (ASDF).
Since its creation in 1983, the ASDF has been a part of the Alabama Military Department under the Adjutant General. For the past several years, the ASDF has been informally transitioning from its original role as a replacement for the National Guard in the event of a full National Guard mobilization to the more relevant role of a disaster response augmentation element of the National Guard. The ASDF’s Cold War era structure, their low strength numbers, and other challenges have hindered this important transition.
In September of 2013, the Adjutant General made the decision to formalize the transition of the ASDF to maximize the organization’s utility to the National Guard and minimize liability to the state. This will ensure the organization is organized in line with the needs of the Alabama Military Department and best postured to help meet the potential needs of the state. The first step in this process was to stand down the old organization while adjustments to the structure, mission, and manning of the future organization are carefully staffed. The ASDF has not been abolished or disbanded. Current members of the ASDF are in an “inactive” status until the future structure, mission and manning of ASDF are determined.
Again, thank you for your interest in the ASDF. We appreciate all the patriotic Alabamians whom volunteer to serve in the Alabama National Guard and the ASDF.
This is the response I was hoping to see. It tells me that the ASDF is taken seriously, and that an honest evaluation was made of its current organization. I hope the Adjutant General, MG Perry G. Smith, is able to reorg the ASDF into a viable, and valuable, service to the State of Alabama.
UPDATE (December 6, 2021): It’s been some years since I created this post, and occasionally, I’ll revisit things I’ve written to provide updates. To date, the ASDF remains in an inactive status, but due to political matters currently occurring, there might be a trend of seeing State Defense Forces across the Country reactivated as a way to defend states rights and the right to self-determination.
One such scenario is currently making headlines in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis made the following statement on Twitter recently:
I am proposing more than $100 million for our National Guard, active-duty military and veterans, and to re-establish the Florida State Guard to assist our National Guard in state-specific emergencies.
I am committed to supporting our military and keeping our state safe.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) December 2, 2021
Law Enforcement Today has an interesting article that goes into more detail. Might the citizens of Alabama see a similar action from Governor Kay Ivey? It is my opinion that she doesn’t take lead in this sort of matter, but should the neighboring states reach a consensus opinion on the matter, I could see her taking similar action in Alabama.