Washington State Guard
|Motto||"Pro Civitas Et Patria"|
|Type||State defense force|
|Purpose||Provide units organized, equipped and trained in the protection of life or property and the preservation of peace, order and public safety under competent orders of State authorities.|
|Headquarters||Camp Murray, Washington|
|Region served||Washington, USA|
|Membership||Volunteer residents and citizens of Washington state|
|Commander||Colonel Terrance LaRue|
|Parent organization||Washington Military Department|
The Washington State Guard (WSG) is an all-volunteer state defense force for the U.S. state of Washington. It is the third element of the military forces in the Washington Military Department: the Washington Army National Guard, the Washington Air National Guard and State Guard. While the Army and Air Guard, forming part of the Washington National Guard, can be mobilized to federal service, the WSG is only utilized within Washington and is never deployed out of state.
The Washington State Guard (WSG) traces its history back to 1855 when the Washington Territorial legislature enacted the first law creating the organized militia. After Washington became a state it created its state militia in 1890. The Washington State Militia served in the Philippines during the Spanish American War of 1898–1899. The Washington State Militia was exclusively under state control until 1903 when the Washington National Guard was formed and placed under both federal and state control.
During World War I, the exclusively state controlled Washington State Guard was reborn. The Third Infantry Regiment consisting of 16 companies, a medical detachment, and a machine gun company was formed in principal cities throughout Washington. After World War I the WSG was disbanded.
On 1 November 1940, over a year before the U.S. entered World War II, the Washington State Guard was again re-established with an Infantry Brigade and two Regiments. During World War II the WSG was used to guard vital installations and to patrol the coast lines. As an invasion of the U.S. mainland became less apparent, the role shifted to disaster assistance and civil defense. In 1947 the WSG was again disbanded.
On 19 May 1960, Governor Albert Rosellini once more re-established the Washington State Guard to augment the Washington National Guard as an additional internal security force for the State and to replace the Washington National Guard when the latter is inducted into active federal service. The WSG has been serving continuously since then supporting the Washington Military Department in a variety of missions and assignments.
The Washington State Guard consists of two brigades. The First Infantry Brigade is located at the Seattle Armory and maintains two battalions in Olympia and Everett. The Second Infantry Brigade is located in Spokane. The WSG HQ is located at Camp Murray in Tacoma, Washington. State Guard soldiers drill in a non-pay status one day a month and two days during the summer. However, WSG soldiers can and have been called up to paid state active duty to support the Washington Military Department in a variety of missions within the state. They have been deployed to the State Emergency Operation Center and many County Emergency Operation Centers to coordinate National Guard resource request to state/federally declared disasters. State Guard members may resign their enlistment or commission at any time, unless mobilized or in paid state active duty status. Most WSG soldiers have served in the military, but some come straight from civilian life.
Despite the terms (e.g. "brigade" and "battalion") used for the units comprising the State Guard, actual personnel strength is cadre only, meaning that while a skeleton organization exists, for real-world deployment the organization would have to be filled by the "calling out" of the unorganized militia of the state by the Governor.
State laws governing the Washington State Guard
Article X of the State Constitution establishes the Militia of the State, who is liable for service, and empowers the Legislature to provide for its regulation. In addition, Article III, Section 8 establishes the Governor of the State as the Commander in Chief of the military of the State.
Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
Title 38 of the RCW, entitled "Militia And Military Affairs", contains the laws enacted by the state legislature in response to the requirements of the State Constitution in regulating Washington's military affairs. Chapter 13 of the title contains the laws specifically applicable to the Washington State Guard.
Although, RCW 38.14.024 states that
"The governor may obtain from the federal government such arms and other equipment and supplies as may be available for issue, donation or loan for the use of the Washington state guard. When such property is provided by the federal government, it will be utilized, maintained, and disposed of in accordance with federal requirements and with property rules and regulations promulgated under the provisions of RCW"
Under its current primary mission of emergency management, soldiers of the WSG are not issued or authorized to carry weapons.
- Washington State Guard Official site.