Louisiana State Guard
The Louisiana State Guard (LSG) is the official state defense force of the state of Louisiana. The LSG was first created during World War II. As a state defense force, the LSG is a part of the state militia of Louisiana, and can serve as a stateside replacement of the Louisiana National Guard while the National Guard is deployed. Unlike the Louisiana National Guard, the Louisiana State Guard is solely under state control, and cannot be federalized or deployed outside of Louisiana, guaranteeing additional soldiers will always be available to the governor to deploy in response to crises.
History of predecessor units
Both the National Guard and the state defense forces are descended from the state militias which augmented the relatively smaller professional federal military in times of war. During the War of 1812, numerous Louisiana militia units were raised to aid in the defense of the city during the Battle of New Orleans. Later, in the American Civil War, both Union units and Confederate units volunteered to fight. After the passage of the Militia Act of 1903, state militias were placed under federal control and reorganized as the modern National Guard of the United States, meaning that states who wished to provide a military response to man-made or natural disasters, insurrections, or military invasions while the National Guard was federalized had to raise their own state defense forces to replace these National Guard units.
World War II
The Louisiana State Guard was authorized by the Louisiana State Legislature in 1942 by a vote of 85-5 in favor of creating the state militia. Unlike other state guards, who were organized and trained around the possibility of repelling an invasion, the Louisiana State Guard was created with the intent to primarily take over civil defense responsibilities such as evacuating civilians during an attack or arresting saboteurs. However, it would not be organized until March 1943, due largely to the difficulty of recruiting members when most able-bodied men were being drafted into the federal military. By October 1943, the Louisiana State Guard had reached a strength of nearly 3,000 guardsmen.
The War Department agreed to equip state defense forces, though often with outdated equipment. Louisiana was provided with reconditioned military trucks and cars, and obsolete uniforms and weapons, including sixty machine guns.
Plaquemines Parish incident
In October 1943, Louisiana Governor Sam Jones attempted to fill a vacancy for the position of sheriff in the Plaquemines Parish. Simultaneously, Leander H. Perez, an Assistant District Attorney and Democratic political boss of Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, simultaneously attempted to fill the position through a special election. ADA Perez raised a local militia of deputies and armed citizens and fortified the town in order to prevent Governor Jones’ appointee from taking office, and Governor Jones moved several State Guard units closer to the parish after a supreme court ruling affirmed the Governor’s right to make the appointment. On October 9, the Governor declared martial law and ordered the State Guard to advance into the parish. Guardsmen in armored cars entered the parish and ended the crisis without meeting any resistance.
After the end of World War II, the federal government rescinded the right of states to maintain military forces separate of the National Guard. The Louisiana State Guard was disbanded on June 30, 1947.
Louisiana would later begin rebuilding the Louisiana State Guard to a cadre-level organization throughout the 1980s. As of 2003, the Louisiana State Guard was organized as teams of soldiers and desk officers, trained as experts in operations and logistics, and organized for deployment to each parish (county) Emergency Operations Center during a crisis. Key Louisiana state employees are also members of the force so they can be mobilized more effectively in order to deal with emergencies.
State defense forces are authorized by the federal government under Title 32, Section 109 of the United States Code. Currently, 23 states and the territory of Puerto Rico maintain active state defense forces. In 2005, state defense forces from several states were activated to aid the National Guard in sheltering the large number of refugees leaving Louisiana and assist in other disaster recovery operations after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. The Louisiana State Guard is also authorized under Louisiana state law in Title 29 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes.
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