South Carolina State Guard
|The South Carolina State Guard|
|Type||State defense force|
|Role||Military reserve force|
|Part of||South Carolina Military Department|
|Garrison/HQ||Columbia, South Carolina|
|Civilian leadership||Governor Nikki Haley
(Governor of the State of South Carolina)
|State military leadership||Brigadier General Richard A. Eckstrom|
The South Carolina State Guard (SCSG) is the designated state defense force for the state of South Carolina.
The State Guard maintains its headquarters in Columbia. Brigades are located in the cities of Columbia (1st Midlands Brigade and 5th Civil Affairs Brigade), Charleston (3rd Coastal Brigade), and Fountain Inn (2nd Highland Brigade).
Organized under Section 25-3-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, the State Guard is designated as a protective reserve military force under the command of the South Carolina Military Department and the South Carolina Adjutant General. The SC National Guard Adjutant General is responsible for organizing and maintaining the State Guard to fulfill its missions(Sec. 25-3-10) as stipulated in various sections under Title 25, Chapter 3.
Tasked as a state defense force, the State Guard's primary overarching mission is to be prepared to protect and, when called into service by the Governor, protect the citizens and property of the state &/or uphold the laws of the state &/or augment law enforcement &/or augment the National Guard. Units are occasionally sent out of state by order of the Governor, as in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks), after Hurricane Katrina and during the Mexican War in the mid-1800s. The State Guard is essentially the modern-day continuation of the South Carolina Militia, which has been in existence in some form since South Carolina declared itself a state of the United States as a signatory to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The State Guard is composed of non-conscript volunteers, many of whom are veterans of the federal armed services; the federal military reserves, South Carolina Army National Guard, or South Carolina Air National Guard.
When called into service, members of the State Guard are paid according to federal military pay scales (Section 25-3-140: "When units of the State Guard are called into service they shall receive pay equal to the National Guard"). Members are normally not paid for drill or training time but employers are required by law to grant time off for authorized training and call out without discrimination or penalty. Some Federal and State agencies and private employers provide pay continuance to employees during training during work hours under orders. Guard members also receive certain tax and mileage deductions and, when authorized, reimbursement for travel &/or special training.
The SCSG is a formal military organization, authorized by federal law and required by South Carolina state law. Soldiers are subject to military discipline and legal reporting for duty requirements (AWOL)when called into service by an order signed by the Governor and endorsed with orders issued by the Adjutant General.(Section-25-3-200). All SCSG soldiers pledge the same oath as the National Guard; to the US Constitution and to follow the orders of the President of the United States, the Governor and the chain-of-command. Qualified soldiers are currently uniformed in ACU's.
The Governor of South Carolina has the authority to call into service, the State Guard or any units, at any time he/she may deem necessary to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the state, or if there is imminent danger or to protect the laws of the state (Section 25-3-20 & Section 25-3-130). The Governor can also activate units of the State Guard when a significant number of the South Carolina National Guard are out of state for federal service or when augmentation is needed.
To fulfill its state mandated mission, the State Guard maintains a special detachment unit professionally trained and certified in law enforcement and constitutional law through a certified Security Specialist Academy. These Security Specialist's receive continuous and rigorous certified training for rapid-deployment, counter-terrorism operations, personal protection, law enforcement augmentation and other civil defense missions as part of the state's homeland defense policy.
The South Carolina State Guard has an illustrious and distinctive history dating back to 1775 during the war with Great Britain. Former Commanders and Brigade Commanders include Francis Marion, Andrew Pickens, Thomas Sumter and William Washington who recaptured the South from British occupation in concert with Continental forces under Major General Nathanael Greene. The frigate South Carolina commanded by the naval component of the State Guard was responsible for capturing tons of gunpowder from the British to supply the state and Continental Armies in the early stages of the war. State Guard troops were instrumental in defeating the Spanish and securing Florida in the early 1800s and they served with distinction in the War with Mexico and the Spanish-American War. The outbreak of World War II in Europe pushed the U.S. government and military to prepare for possible conflict. If the U.S. entered the war, the National Guard would be ordered to active duty overseas, leaving no military force at home to maintain order.
Because of this, the National Defense Act of 1916 was amended on October 21, 1940, to allow the establishment of state defense forces. The South Carolina Legislature's enabling act to establish a state defense force was an Act Establishing the South Carolina Defense Force, signed into law by Governor Burnet R. Maybank on March 21, 1941.
The South Carolina Defense Force (SCDF) was organized into a headquarters, four regiments of three battalions each, and at least one independent battalion. Initially those wishing to enlist or be commissioned had to be between the ages of 21 and 55, in good health, and of good character. The minimum age quickly fell to 17 and there are indications that a few men served at an even younger age. The uniform was to be Confederate gray. This was changed to standard G.I. Olive Drab by 1943. The initial armament was the M1917 Enfield rifle, later changed to a mix of rifles, shotguns, Thompson submachine guns, and a few larger weapons.
The men of the SCDF were volunteers, serving without pay unless called into active service by the governor. The authorized strength was 518 officers and 6,035 enlisted men. According to the Adjutant General's report of 2 July 1941 there were 191 officers and 3,060 enlisted men enrolled as of June 30, 1941. (Among the officers was Strom Thurmond, then a second lieutenant in Company L (Edgefield), 3d Battalion, 1st Regiment). By the spring of 1942, the number enrolled had risen to over 6,000.
The mission of the SCDF—renamed the South Carolina State Guard (SCSG) in January 1944—was to defend against invasion along the South Carolina coast and assist local officials in providing internal security, including search and rescue. While invasion by sea was unlikely, there was a fear that the Germans might land forces by submarine. The SCDF was tasked with holding off enemy forces until troops could be brought in from Fort Jackson.
Most of the time the men drilled and conducted defensive exercises to prepare them in the event an invasion did occur. Occasionally they were called out to provide security for crashed aircraft or after natural disaster. The last official activation of the SCSG was to provide security in Greenville after the Ideal Laundry fire in November 1946. The last known wartime unit, Company E (Greenville), 2d Battalion, 2d Regiment, was mustered out on 8 August 1947.
Insignia and uniform
The State Guard currently wears standard US Army ACU's. The left shoulder holds the State Guard patch and brigade/detachment identification tab while the right shoulder holds the SC State Flag and federal service unit patches, if applicable. Prior service soldiers may also wear skill badges earned while in federal service.
SCSG dress uniforms are similar to the U.S. Army Service Uniform (Class A and B) with distinctive unit insignia. Soldiers may wear all ribbons and awards earned while in federal service in addition to any earned while in service of South Carolina.