Letter To Sec. Austin On Florida National Guard
Dear Secretary Austin,
We write to request more equitable funding and resource allocation for the Florida National Guard in the Defense Budget for FY2022. We appreciate the hard work of the Florida National Guard to help keep the U.S. Capitol Complex safe following the tragic events of January 6, 2021. The personal sacrifice these men and women made for our safety will always be remembered.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida National Guard has played a pivotal role to support Florida’s pandemic response and vaccine rollout. Their hard work has included operational and logistical support for the state’s Community Based Testing Sites (CBTS), Community Vaccination Sites, and Mobile Testing Teams. Our guardsmen have also been supporting the statewide delivery of vaccines, food distribution, and augmenting airport security and screening. Thanks to their hard work and support, over 5 million Floridians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and that number rises every day.
While we have a deep appreciation for these accomplishments during an unprecedented time, we are concerned with the Florida National Guard’s lack of proportionate force structure allocation. Florida is our nation’s 3rd most populous state yet when compared among other states our Guardsman to citizen ratio places Florida at 53 of 54. Florida’s population is expected to grow by five million in the next decade. Our state’s National Guard can no longer lag behind future population growth.
Florida is the nation’s fourth most disaster-prone State and as a result our National Guard has experienced one of the highest Operation Tempos (OPTEMPO) with over 22,000 National Guardsmen deployed since 9/11 and over 1.1 million workdays supporting state disaster response. If force structure were proportional, the Florida National Guard would have a force of as many as 21,000 Guardsmen, rather than the current number of 12,000 Guardsmen.
We will forever be grateful for the service of Florida’s National Guard in our state, at the Capitol, and around the world. We ask that you carefully review the Force Structure Proportionality study required in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act and ensure that the Florida National Guard has the force structure and resources necessary to continue keeping the State of Florida safe and secure.
Member of Congress