Saturday, June 13, 2009

Oregon, Militia in a People's Paradise

Today I will review the armed service of the State of Oregon, the Oregon State Defense Force. This organization traces its roots to 1853, at the time of the first Territorial militia, however it was formally established about 1917 as the Oregon National Guard Reserve in response to the federalization of the Oregon National Guard. It became known as the Oregon State Defense Force about 40 years ago.

Oregon Statutes - Chapter 399 - Organized Militia - Section 399.035 - Oregon State Defense Force.

(1) In addition to the federally recognized Oregon National Guard subject to call or order to federal service under laws of the United States, there shall be organized within the state a National Guard Reserve force. Such force shall be known as the Oregon State Defense Force, and shall be composed principally of officers, warrant officers and enlisted persons not eligible for general service under federal selective service laws.

(2) In time of peace the Oregon State Defense Force shall be maintained at cadre strength in numbers to be determined by the Governor.

(3) In time of peace the mission of the Oregon State Defense Force shall be to augment the Oregon National Guard as an internal security force. In time of war, it shall replace the Oregon National Guard as a state force when the National Guard is ordered into federal service.

(4) Whenever laws of the United States authorize the organization of such state forces under federal recognition, the Governor shall promulgate such regulations as are necessary to comply with such federal laws and obtain federal recognition for the force authorized by this section. [1961 c.454 §41; 1989 c.361 §6]

Note the succinct yet spare character of this legislation, particularly as compared to many other states. Paragraph (4) refers to recognition by the federal government.

U.S. Code:

TITLE 32 > CHAPTER 1 > § 109

§ 109. Maintenance of other troops

(a) In time of peace, a State, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands may maintain no troops other than those of its National Guard and defense forces authorized by subsection (c).
(b) Nothing in this title limits the right of a State, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands to use its National Guard or its defense forces authorized by subsection (c) within its borders in time of peace, or prevents it from organizing and maintaining police or constabulary.
(c) In addition to its National Guard, if any, a State, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands may, as provided by its laws, organize and maintain defense forces. A defense force established under this section may be used within the jurisdiction concerned, as its chief executive (or commanding general in the case of the District of Columbia) considers necessary, but it may not be called, ordered, or drafted into the armed forces.
(d) A member of a defense force established under subsection (c) is not, because of that membership, exempt from service in the armed forces, nor is he entitled to pay, allowances, subsistence, transportation, or medical care or treatment, from funds of the United States.
(e) A person may not become a member of a defense force established under subsection (c) if he is a member of a reserve component of the armed forces.

There is also Oregon legislation dealing with military justice. This serves to provide standards of conduct roughly analogous to that provided federal forces under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and is titled The Oregon Code of Military Justice.

From the Oregon Defense Force web site:

Member Obligations

The members of the Oregon State Defense Force (ORSDF) are enlisted by contract or commissioned by the Governor. Members are required to execute the oath of office and may, at their request, resign from the ORSDF at anytime.

1-4 Obligations of ORSDF members:

1. Membership in the ORSDF is voluntary and open to prior service individuals who wish to continue participation in service to the State of Oregon. However, the ORSDF Commander may approve membership and uniform wear to individuals with critical civilian acquired skills such as language experts, legal professionals or communication technicians.

2. Members of the ORSDF must: (a) Satisfactory attend scheduled training and administrative meetings. (b) Be physically capable of walking, bending, and lifting at least ten (10) pounds. (c) Adhere to standard military dress code and customs of service. (d) Obey the directives of the TAG through Chain of Command. (e) Normally serves without pay. However, under some circumstances and if budget permits, the State may reimburse for travel, lodging, and training costs. Members may also be put on State Active Duty (SAD) and be paid in accordance with SAD directives.

3. Individuals without military experience or background can volunteer for the ORSDF Museum Auxiliary, but are not authorized wear of the military uniform.

4. Adhere to standard military dress code and customs of the service.

5. Work as individuals or together as a unit to perform specified duties, when directed by the Adjutant General. Normally volunteers will train without pay. Under special circumstances the costs incurred by the individual in the performance of their training or duties may be reimbursed.

6 . The Adjutant General may order individuals, separate units or the entire ORSDF to state service. When ordered to state active duty, members are paid at their current authorized pay for their military rank. ( Time and grade.)

7. When on state active duty, ORSDF personnel are subject to the provisions of ORS Title 32, Military Affairs; Emergency Services as well as the OCMJ (Oregon Code of Military Justice) as well as other military department, including ORSDF, published regulations.

Note that Oregon requires members to be prior federal or National Guard service, with exceptions determined by civilian skill sets. In this regard the OSDF does not comply with the standard typical of other state guard forces and the federal definition of militia. Perhaps, in that sense, it would fair to claim that the OSDF is not militia. As well, there is no obligation of service term, members may resign at will anytime.

The OSDF lists 3 Regimental Groups under command of a Colonel or Lt. Colonel, and 8 Regimental operations teams under the command of a Lt. Colonel or a Major. My subjective impression is that these formations are cadre, in place in communities across the state, with the intention of providing training to citizens who volunteer or are called up by the Governor as unorganized militia to flesh out the the regimental structures in the event the Oregon National Guard is federalized and called away. Or if the zombies attack.
As well there are:

Headquarters-Headquarters Detachment (HHD)
Special Troops Detachment (support)
Military History Detachment and Museum
Oregon State Defense Force Pipe Band
Oregon State Defense Force Auxiliary

The Pipe Band may well be the best recruiting tool the OSDF has, as when I called the phone number at HQ, I got a voice message stating the office is open on Tuesday from 9 to 1. I do hope that is not a reflection of their budget.

The OSDF Pipe Band looks like a good outfit:

In the following weeks I will post information on other states. I believe that the state guard organizations represent a gigantic untapped resource with respect to service by American citizens in a way that many would be not only proud to perform, but grateful for the opportunity.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More from Virginia

The following is extracted directly from the Virginia Defense Force web site. Thanks to Maccabee.

The Virginia Defense Force (VDF) is the Commonwealth's military reserve. The force is governed by the military laws of Virginia and managed by the Virginia Department of Military Affairs. The chain of command for the force consists of the Governor of Virginia (Commander-in-Chief), Adjutant General of Virginia, and Commanding General of the Virginia Defense Force.

(Code of Virginia 44-54.4)

The Virginia State Defense Force with a targeted membership of at least 1,200 shall be organized within and subject to the control of the Department of Military Affairs.

When called to state active duty, the mission of the Virginia State Defense Force shall be to

  • provide for an adequately trained organized reserve militia to assume control of Virginia National Guard facilities and to secure any federal and state property left in place in the event of the mobilization of the Virginia National Guard

  • assist in the mobilization of the Virginia National Guard

  • support the Virginia National Guard in providing family assistance to military dependents within the Commonwealth in the event of the mobilization of the National Guard

  • provide a military force to respond to the call of the Governor in those circumstances described in § 44-75.1

Please note that the relevant legislation calls for a minimum of 1200 members. Note that no reference is made to the VDF being subject to call up or command by federal authorities. The VDF appears to be largely oriented towards providing a training cadre to supplant the Virginia National Guard in the event the Guard is federalized.

Recruits Needed:

If you are looking for a way to enhance your current job skills, learn a new skill or give back to your local community, the Virginia Defense Force (VDF) is currently recruiting volunteers to fill a variety of service needs. Virginia residents with experience or education in the following areas are invited to apply: legal, medical, law enforcement, communications, chaplaincy, logistical/supply, administrative, and other areas.

Membership in the VDF is open to Virginia residents with or without prior military service, ages 16 to 65. Members must have a valid social security number and no felony convictions.

For additional recruiting information, contact VDF Division Headquarters at 804.228.7018 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays or email LT. Henry Howells (

Frequenty Asked Questions:

What are the eligibility requirements for membership in the Virginia Defense Force?

· United States citizens
· A valid Social Security number
· Age 16 to 65 (Minors require written consent of parent or legal guardian.)
· Physical ability to perform in any assigned billet
· No felony convictions
· Good moral character

Are members of the Virginia Defense Force armed?

The Code of Virginia states that "members of the Virginia State Defense Force shall not be armed with firearms during the performance of training duty or state active duty, except under circumstances and in instances authorized by the Governor." (§ 44.54.12)

Are members of the Virginia Defense Force paid?

Members receive pay only while on active duty authorized by the Governor. Pay rates are based on the U.S. Department of Defense's military pay scale and members' rank. Members are not paid for monthly drills or annual field training exercises.

How long are enlistments in the Virginia Defense Force?

Membership in the Virginia Defense Force is voluntary and members may request discharge at any time.

How are ranks assigned to new members of the Virginia Defense Force?

New members of the Virginia Defense Force with prior federal service may enter the force at the same grade held in federal service, provided a billet of matching grade is vacant at time of appointment or enlistment. New members without prior federal service shall be enlisted. New members with certain professional occupations (doctors, lawyers, nurses and pilots) may join the force as commissioned officers if assigned to a billet matching their civilian occupations.

Are members of the Virginia Defense Force required to wear uniforms?

The Code of Virginia requires the force to be uniformed, conforming to standards of dress and appearance prescribed by the Adjutant General of Virginia. The uniform for the Virginia Defense Force is a modified version of the United States Army's legacy Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) which conforms to state specific requirements contained in National Guard Bureau Regulation 10-4. (§ 44.54.9)

What are the medical requirements for membership in the Virginia Defense Force?

While the Virginia Defense Force does not require formal physical testing or training, members must be physically able to perform assigned duties.

Is my job protected if I am ordered to state active duty with the Virginia Defense Force?

The Code of Virginia provides employment protections for members of the Virginia Defense Force and the Virginia National Guard. (§ 44.9

Note that the standards for enlistment more nearly reflect and in some respects exceed the federal definition of militia as defined in the US Code. There is clearly no expectation that VDF personnel will serve under the command of federal armed forces. Aside from the website, I have not as yet dound any other evidence of attempts to recruit to the VDF. The VDF appears to be composed of 3 brigades (infantry?), an aviation battallion, a riverine detachment tasked with domestic maritime search and rescue, a military police company, and a command formation.

Finally, note that VDF personnel are not authorized to be armed except at the orders and discretion of the Commenwealth Governor.

Sharp Cheddar

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

As provided by a reader from Virginia:

The Code of Virginia

44-1. Composition of militia.

The militia of the Commonwealth of Virginia shall consist of all able-bodied citizens of this Commonwealth and all other able-bodied persons resident in this Commonwealth who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, who are at least sixteen years of age and, except as hereinafter provided, not more than fifty-five years of age. The militia shall be divided into four classes, the National Guard, which includes the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, the Virginia State Defense Force, the naval militia, and the unorganized militia.

44-2. Composition of National Guard.

A. The National Guard shall consist of the regularly enlisted militia and of commissioned and warrant officers, who shall be residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia and shall fall within the age limits and qualifications as prescribed in existing or subsequently amended National Guard regulations (army and air), organized, armed and equipped as hereinafter provided. Upon original enlistment members of the National Guard shall not be less than seventeen nor more than fifty-five years of age, or, in subsequent enlistments not more than sixty-four years of age. All enlistments in the National Guard of persons under the age of eighteen years made prior to June 27, 1958, shall be held, and the same are hereby declared valid and effective in all respects, if otherwise valid and effective according to the law then in force. B. Notwithstanding the above, persons otherwise qualified but residing outside the Commonwealth of Virginia, may enlist or serve as commissioned or warrant officers in the National Guard.

44-3. Composition of naval militia.

The naval militia shall consist of the regularly enlisted militia between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, organized, armed, and equipped as hereinafter provided, and commissioned officers between the ages of eighteen and sixty-four years; but enlisted personnel may continue in the service after the age of forty-five years and until the age of sixty-four years, provided the service is continuous.

44-4. Composition of unorganized militia.

The unorganized militia shall consist of all able-bodied persons as set out in � 44-1, except such as may be included in �� 44-2, 44-3, and 44-54.6, and except such as may be exempted as hereinafter provided.

44-5. Exemptions from militia duty.

In addition to those exempted by the laws of the United States, the following persons shall be exempt from military duty under a state call: (1) The officers, judicial and executive, of the governments of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia. (2) The members of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia and of the Congress of the United States. (3) Persons in the active military or naval services of the United States. (4) Customhouse clerks. (5) Persons employed by the United States in the transmission of the mail. (6) The judges and clerks of courts of record. (7) The mayor and councilmen of incorporated cities and towns. (8) Members of the governing bodies of counties. (9) Sheriffs, United States district attorneys, attorneys for the Commonwealth and city attorneys. (10) [Repealed.] (11) Lighthouse keepers. (12) Marine pilots. (13) [Repealed.] (14) All persons who because of religious belief shall claim exemption from military service, if the conscientious holding of such belief by such person shall be established under such regulations as the President of the United States shall prescribe, shall be exempted from militia service in any capacity that the President shall declare to be combatant. (15) Such other persons as may be designated by the Governor in the best interests of the public and of the Commonwealth.

44-52. Dismissal or dishonorable discharge.

No sentence of dismissal from the service or dishonorable discharge, imposed by a National Guard courts-martial not in federal service, shall be executed until approved by the Governor. Any officer convicted by a general courts-martial and dismissed from the service shall be forever disqualified from holding a commission in the militia.

44-75.1. Militia state active duty.

A. The Governor or his designee may call forth the militia or any part thereof to state active duty for service in any of the following circumstances: 1. In the event of invasion or insurrection or imminent threat of either; 2. When any combination of persons becomes so powerful as to obstruct the execution of laws in any part of this Commonwealth; 3. When the Governor determines that a state agency or agencies having law-enforcement responsibilities are in need of assistance to perform particular law-enforcement functions, which functions he shall specify in his call to the militia; 4. In the event of flood, hurricane, fire or other forms of natural or manmade disaster wherein human life, public or private property, or the environment is imperiled; 5. In emergencies of lesser magnitude than those described in subdivision 4, including but not limited to the disruption of vital public services, wherein the use of militia personnel or equipment would be of assistance to one or more departments, agencies, institutions, or political subdivisions of the Commonwealth; 6. When the Governor determines that the National Guard and its assets would be of valuable assistance to state, local or federal agencies having a drug law-enforcement function to combat the flow of or use of illegal drugs in the Commonwealth, he may provide for the National Guard or any part thereof to support drug interdiction, counterdrug and demand reduction activities within the Commonwealth, or outside the Commonwealth under the National Guard Mutual Assistance Counterdrug Activities Compact. In calling forth the National Guard under this section, the Governor shall specify the type of support that the National Guard shall undertake with state, local or federal law-enforcement agencies. Once called forth by the Governor, the National Guard is also specifically authorized to enter into mutual assistance and support agreements with any law-enforcement agencies, state or federal, operating within or outside this Commonwealth so long as those activities are consistent with the Governor's call. All activities undertaken by the National Guard in the areas of drug interdiction, counterdrug and drug demand reduction shall be reported by the Adjutant General's office to the Governor and reviewed by the Governor no less frequently than every three months; and 7. When the Governor or his designee, in consultation with the Adjutant General, determines that the militia or any part thereof is in need of specific training to be prepared for being called forth for any of the circumstances expressed in subdivisions 1 through 6 above. Such training may be conducted with a state or federal agency or agencies having the capability or responsibility to coordinate or assist with any of the circumstances set forth in subdivisions 1 through 6 above. B. The Virginia National Guard shall be designated as a state law-enforcement agency for the sole purpose of receiving property and revenues pursuant to 18 U.S.C. � 981(e) (2), 19 U.S.C. � 1616a, and 21 U.S.C. � 881(e) (1) (A).

44-76. Transportation, equipment and support of militia.

Whenever the Governor shall call forth the militia, whether by virtue of the Constitution or of � 44-75.1, he shall issue such orders and take such measures for procuring and transporting the elements thereof as to him shall seem best; and for their accommodation, equipment and support, he shall appoint such a staff as to him shall seem proper.

44-78.1. Request for assistance by localities.

In the event of the circumstances described in subdivision A 2, 4 or 5 of � 44-75.1 arise within a county, city or town of the Commonwealth, either the governing body or the chief law-enforcement officer of the county, city or town may call upon the Governor for assistance from the militia. The Governor may call forth the militia or any part thereof to provide such assistance as he may deem proper in responding to such circumstances, but in all instances the militia shall remain subject to military command and not to civilian authorities of the county, city or town receiving assistance.

44-80. Order in which classes of militia called into service.

The National Guard, the Virginia State Defense Force, the naval militia and the unorganized militia or any part thereof may be ordered into service by the Governor in such order as he determines.

44-81. Length of service when called out.

The National Guard, the Virginia State Defense Force, the naval militia or the unorganized militia, when called into service by the Governor, shall serve for sixty days after their arrival at the place of rendezvous, unless sooner discharged. But the Governor shall, at all times, have power to retain them in service for such time as, in his judgment, may be necessary; however, except when the whole National Guard or the whole Virginia State Defense Force is not required, no individual shall be retained for a longer period than sixty days except in instances where an individual soldier or airman of the National Guard voluntarily consents to service beyond sixty days.

44-84. Regulations enforced on actual service.

Whenever any portion of the militia shall be called into service to execute the law, suppress riot or insurrection, or to repel invasion, the military justice opinions as set forth in Article 4 (� 44-42 et seq.) of this chapter, and the regulations prescribed for the National Guard of the United States, and the regulations issued thereunder, shall be enforced and regarded as a part of this chapter until such forces shall be duly relieved from such duty.

44-85. Regulations and penalties.

Whenever any part of the unorganized militia is ordered out, it shall be governed by the same rules and regulations and be subject to the same penalties as the National Guard or naval militia.

44-86. When ordered out for service.

The commander in chief may at any time, in order to execute the law, suppress riots or insurrections, or repel invasion, or aid in any form of disaster wherein the lives or property of citizens are imperiled or may be imperiled, order out the National Guard and the inactive National Guard or any parts thereof, or the whole or any part of the unorganized militia. When the militia of this Commonwealth, or a part thereof, is called forth under the Constitution and laws of the United States, the Governor shall order out for service the National Guard, or such part thereof as may be necessary; and he may likewise order out such a part of the unorganized militia as he may deem necessary. During the absence of organizations of the National Guard in the service of the United States, their state designations shall not be given to new organizations.

44-87. Manner of ordering out for service.

The Governor shall, when ordering out the unorganized militia, designate the number to be so called. He may order them out either by calling for volunteers or by draft.

44-88. Incorporation into the Virginia State Defense Force.

Whenever the Governor orders out the unorganized militia or any part thereof, it shall be incorporated into the Virginia State Defense Force until relieved from service.

44-89. Draft of unorganized militia.

If the unorganized militia is ordered out by draft, the Governor shall designate the persons in each county and city to make the draft, and prescribe rules and regulations for conducting the same.

44-90. Punishment for failure to appear.

Every member of the militia ordered out for duty, or who shall volunteer or be drafted, who does not appear at the time and place ordered, shall be liable to such punishment as a court-martial may direct.

This is interesting in that I was unaware that any state had so well defined and legally implemented that element of the Second Amendment of the federal Constitution so thoroughly and clearly. I wonder how this law is treated in fact by the Commonwealth government .

Sharp Cheddar

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Peculiar Dynamic

Obviously this logo is tongue in cheek, even humorous. Sadly, it also represents, in a subjective way, to all to many folks, the popular impression of what militia is and means. Since, under the law, the militia is just about everyone who can and will serve if called, why is it that most people have the impression that the militia is a bunch of right wing extremists? How did this come to pass?

In downtown Portland, Oregon there is a small urban park with a statue of an infantryman from the 2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry, who served during the Spanish-American War and the so called Philippines Insurrection from 1898 on. These were the true militia. Not National Guard, but rather State of Oregon soldiers who volunteered to serve the nation during time of war. The National Guard, which is for practical purposes a federal military force on loan to the various states, discriminates for membership on much the same basis as the regular Army and reserves. There was no National Guard as such prior to about 1907. There is no sense of general population participation in the traditional meaning of the word militia. Now, many states have what are referred to as State Guards. These are military formations that fall under the state Military Departments and are under the executive command of the respective Governors. In some states they are large and well organized and provide valuable service to the community. In other states they are virtually unknown and and tiny. In many states they do not exist at all. Such a State Guard exists in my state, yet not one state legislator of the 20 or more I have asked has ever heard of it. Several became indignant regarding my allegation of the existence of the State Guard.
Let us go further back in history. During the decades of the American frontier, manifest destiny, and wars with neighboring nations, European empires and native nations there was an ongoing need for a rapid response military formation in almost all rural and some urban communities that was met by local and popularly organized military units with elected leaders. These formations often maintained armories, communications and transport systems. The only legal authorization for their existence lay with the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution and the respective equivalent passages of the constitutions of the various states. Yet now, such formations are either quasi-legal, illegal or non-existent. Why? Certainly the risk of foreign terrorist acts, domestic upheaval or enemy military attack has never disappeared.

Sharp Cheddar