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.

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