Missouri State Defense Force

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Missouri State Defense Force
Missouri State Guard patch - Copy.png
The World War II-era shoulder insignia for Missouri's state guard.
Founded2012 – Present
Allegiance Missouri
TypeState defense force
Part ofMissouri Department of Public Safety
HeadquartersIke Skelton Training Site
WebsiteAdjutant General's Office
Commander in ChiefGovernor Mike Parson
Director of Public SafetySandy Karsten
Adjutant GeneralBrigadier General Levon Cumpton

The Missouri State Defense Force (MSDF), formerly known as the Missouri Reserve Military Force, is the official state defense force of Missouri. As a state defense force, the MSDF is a reserve military force which serves parallel to the Missouri National Guard. As the MSDF falls solely under the command of the state of Missouri, it cannot be federalized or deployed outside the borders of Missouri, unlike the National Guard. Although the MSDF and the Missouri National Guard are separate organizations, the MSDF's primary scope is to work alongside the National Guard during stateside operations, or in lieu of the National Guard when the National Guard is deployed outside of Missouri. Along with the Missouri Army National Guard, the Missouri Air National Guard, and the Missouri Naval Militia, the Missouri State Defense Force is recognized under Missouri law as part of the organized militia of Missouri.[1]

The Missouri State Defense Force is a division of the Missouri Department of Public Safety.


The state of Missouri authorized and created state defense forces during each of the world wars. As a response to the United States' entrance into World War I, the United States Congress passed the Home Guard Act of 1917, which allowed the states to create home guards, which could receive surplus weaponry from the federal government.[2] Fearing violence from rioting strikers and anti-war protesters, the state of Missouri created the Missouri Home Guard in 1917 and maintained it until Armistice with Germany. The Missouri Home Guard, at its peak, consisted of five regiments, six separate battalions, and sixteen separate companies, as well as a separate cavalry troop. The Home Guard, which reached a strength of over 6,000 men by the end of the war, was deployed several times to keep the peace after a number of labor strikes turned violent.[3]

The state defense force was resurrected during World War II. The Missouri State Guard was activated and began recruitment the same day the Missouri National Guard began entering federal service. By December 1941, the Missouri State Guard consisted of over 3,000 soldiers organized into five infantry regiments. In 1943 alone, the State Guard was responsible for responding to statewide flooding, ending a civil disturbance in Cape Girardeau, and fighting a large fire in Lamar which destroyed much of the town square. The regiments were gradually disbanded throughout 1946, following the return of the Missouri National Guard to state service, and as of 1 January 1947 the Missouri State Guard officially ceased to exist.[4]

On September 9, 1982, Governor Christopher “Kit” Bond signed Executive Order 82-17 creating a Missouri Reserve Force and ordering the state's adjutant general to organize the force.[5] However, the adjutant general did not execute this order at that time.[6] It was not until December 2012 that the force was officially organized. On June 1, 2018, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed HB 1469 into law which modifies provisions of the Missouri military code by changing the name of the “Missouri Reserve Military Force” to the “Missouri State Defense Force”.[7]


Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, Adjutant General of Missouri, administers an oath to the initial members of the Missouri Reserve Force at the Ike Skelton Training Site.

Prospective members of the MSDF must be at least seventeen years old, but no older than sixty-four. However, the adjutant general may waive the upper age limit on a case-by-case basis.[8] There is no physical examination required for membership, but members must guarantee they are able-bodied citizens, in good health, and capable of performing moderate physical activity.[9]


The MSDF carries the same stateside responsibilities as the Missouri National Guard, including assisting the National Guard on recovery operations following natural disasters.[9] In the event of the National Guard deploying outside of the state, the MSDF is assigned to assist in the mobilization process and assume the stateside duties of the National Guard for the duration of the deployment, including:[10]

  • protecting life and property in times of emergency
  • assisting the adjutant general in preparation of the mobilization of the Missouri National Guard for active duty
  • assisting family members at home during deployments
  • assisting the adjutant general in control and operation of state military property left behind following Missouri National Guard mobilizations.

Legal basis[edit]

All U.S. states and territories are allowed to create and maintain their own military forces, independent of the federal military, under Title 32 of the U.S. Code.[11] State defense forces are allowed under Missouri law as well, under Chapter 41, Section 41.070 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.[1]

Legal protection[edit]

Members of the Missouri State Defense Force are given the same legal protections under Missouri law as federal reservists are entitled to under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). This guarantees, among other protections, that employers of MSDF members are required to give those employees a leave of absence when they are activated for training or to perform emergency services, and to reinstate these employees to their positions of employment when they return.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Home guards, arming, etc., 40 Stat. 181" (PDF). Legis Works. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  2. ^ Stentiford, Barry M. The American Home Guard: The State Militia in the Twentieth Century, p. 94, at Google Books
  3. ^ "World War II Missouri State Guard". Museum of Missouri Military History. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  4. ^ "EXECUTIVE ORDER 82-17". Missouri Secretary of State Official Website. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  5. ^ Fitts, John P. (May 1, 2009). "Voices: Activate reserve force". The Joplin Globe Online. The Joplin Globe. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  6. ^ "Greitens signing dozens of bills into law before leaving office". Fox2STL. May 2018.
  7. ^ "Missouri National Guard Annual Financial Report (Fiscal Year 2018)" (PDF). Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Missouri National Guard 2012 Annual Report" (PDF). The Missouri National Guard Official Website. Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 March 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  9. ^ Lupescu, Sarah E. "Missouri's Reserve Military Force holds first muster". The Missouri National Guard Official Website. Missouri National Guard Public Affairs Office. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  10. ^ "National Guard Regulation 10-4: National Guard Interaction with State Defense Forces" (PDF). National Guard Bureau Publications & Forms Library. National Guard Bureau. November 2, 2011.
  11. ^ "MO Rev Stat § 40.490". Justia. Retrieved November 24, 2017.

External links[edit]