Ever heard of the ‘naval militia?’ It’s real, and it’s one of our most under-utilized national security assets

(NationalSecurity.news) Unless you’ve been associated with the U.S. military in any capacity, you likely have never heard of the “naval militia.” In fact, even if you have been in, chances are good you’re hearing about this particular branch of service for the first time.

But, as noted by LTC (OH) Deano L. McNeil, MPA, MCP in a piece for InHomelandSecurity, not only is the naval militia a real entity, but it is one of the most underused of all Pentagon assets, and at a time when terrorism threatens our homeland and great powers increasingly threaten global stability, now is a perfect time to revitalize this forgotten branch of service.

“The United States government and the governments of the states and territories utilize a multi-tiered military and emergency management force structure to prepare and respond to issues pertaining to homeland security and domestic military operations,” McNeil writes. “This force structure includes active and reserve federal military forces, the United States Coast Guard, National Guard forces, state defense forces, and state emergency management agencies. However, within the area of state defense forces, one of the most overlooked and underutilized homeland security assets are naval militia forces.”

He notes that the naval reserve and naval militia forces date back to before the country was formally founded – 1775 – “when the Navy was created by the Continental Congress, each colony, and later state, possessed armed naval vessels under the control of the state government.”

McNeil notes further:

Today, there are two types of naval militia within the United States. The first type is considered a component of the Organized Militia of the United States, under United States Code (USC) Title 10, Section 311(b)(1), along with the National Guard. Naval militias formed under Title 10 are able to receive various forms of federal military materials and facilities support, in accordance with USC Title 10, Section 7854, provided that a minimum of 95 percent of the militia’s membership are Navy and Marine Corps reservists and the militia’s organization, training, and administration meets Department of the Navy standards. Currently, the New York Naval Militia and the Alaska Naval Militia are the only two Title 10 naval militias active in the United States. 

The other type of naval militia is one that is formed under USC Title 32, Section 109 (c), which is the provision of federal law that allows the states and territories to maintain other military forces, in addition to their National Guard. This type of naval militia is exclusively under state control and is financed, regulated, trained, and equipped by the state operating it. Unlike a Title 10 naval militia, a Title 32 naval militia is prohibited from utilizing active Navy and Marine Corps reservists. Currently, there are two Title 32 naval militia organizations operating in the United States: Ohio Naval Militia and the Maritime Regiment of the Texas State Guard.

He also says that naval militias can be formed and maintained at minimal cost, while giving state Adjutant Generals more flexibility and mission capability.

“A naval militia is exclusively under an Adjutant General’s control and could be ordered into service directly by the Adjutant General without having to go through a request and approval process necessary to gain access to federal assets, such as Coast Guard watercraft or watercraft from other state agencies,” he writes. “Nor would an Adjutant General have to worry about whether those watercraft would be available when needed, as would be the case with watercraft from other sources.”

Continuing, he notes:

“Unfortunately, some states that have had naval militia assets disbanded them. Certainly any number of reasons, including cost, could have contributed to the decisions to disband these units. However, I would suggest that any military, first responder, or emergency response organization is organized, trained, and maintained in the hope that it will never have to be used.

“Naval militia can provide a state military department with trained personnel capable of performing a variety of emergency response options at a minimal cost to a state or territorial government. These forces have the advantage of being portable, of being able to respond to an emergency or disaster situation in a short period of time, and they provide a state Adjutant General with exclusive control of response tools that otherwise may not currently be available to him or her, or may not be available quickly when they are needed the most.”

Read the full column here.

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