News: New York Guard, State's Volunteer Defense Force, Conducts Annual Training at Camp Smith July 21-26
CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. -- Two hundred members of New York's volunteer state defense force, the New York Guard, will conduct their yearly weeklong Annual Training program at Camp Smith Training Site beginning July 20 and running through July 26.
The New York Guard members, who volunteer their time to train without collecting a salary, will take part in communications, staff coordination, and individual skills training and instruction. The week-long training program will culminate on Friday with a supply point exercise which replicates distributing aid supplies during a state disaster response.
Unlike the New York Army or Air National Guard, members of the New York Guard are not in the military, do not carry weapons, and do not conduct missions outside New York. Their role is to augment and assist the New York National Guard during state emergencies and National Guard domestic support missions.
New York Guard members also sometimes assist National Guard units with training and during troop mobilization.
Specially trained New York Guard members also assist in chemical, biological, radiological response missions and provide an emergency high-frequency radio network for the state.
They volunteer their time to train on their skills and receive no pay for attending training meetings. They are paid by the state when assisting in disaster relief operations ordered by the governor.
"New York Guard members are dedicated volunteers who take the skills they've learned in civilian life, or during previous military service, and put them to work for the people of New York," said Major General Patrick Murphy, the adjutant general of New York.
"The New York Guard volunteers play an important part in the plans the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs has in place for responding to state emergencies and natural disasters," Murphy said."
During the state response to Superstorm Sandy in 2012 New York Guard members assisted National Guard officers working in operational headquarters, helped inventory and move relief supplies, and assisted in communications, instructed National Guard Soldiers on proper use of chain saws, and performed vehicle maintenance and other support duties.
The New York Guard, which is one of 23 state defense forces around the country, is authorized to recruit just over 1,000 volunteers organized into units located across New York. Currently there are 600 New York Guard members.
About half of the New York Guard volunteers are former members of the active duty military or National Guard while the other half have never served in the military.
People who have served in the military can serve in the New York Guard up until age 65. Those who have never served in the military must be between age 18 and age 55 to join.
The New York Guard's history dates back to World War I.
Following German sabotage attempts on industries producing supplies for France and Britain in the New York City area – the Black Tom Island ammunition dump (now part of Liberty State Park) was blown up by a German spy in 1916-the New York National Guard was called upon to guard key facilities. When the United States entered World War I in April 1917 the New York National Guard was federalized and began training to go to France.
To replace those National Guard Soldiers the state of New York credited a state-only military force called the New York Guard.
During World War I these New York Guard members manned sentry posts at key facilities, including the New York City water supply. By 1919, 22,000 men served in this force and 40 died of "Spanish flu" while guarding the New York City water system.
In World War II the New York Guard was once again created when the New York National Guard was mobilized in October 1940. New York Guard units manned armories left vacant when the National Guard went to war and filled in for the National Guard, most notably in January 1945 when a snowstorm paralyzed upstate New York.
In the 1950s Congress authorized states to create full-time state defense forces and New York was one of 26 which have created forces to assist and augment their National Guards.