Arizona State Guard changes name; Job remains that same.

by Glen Davis

PHOENIX—The Border Security, Federalism and States’ Soveriegnty committee will meet at 9 a.m. on Thursday where Senator Sylvia Allen is expected to submit a strike all amendment to S.B. 1083 to form the Arizona State Guard. The amendment would strike the original S.B. 1083 and create, instead, an Arizona Special Missions Unit.

The Arizona Special Missions Unit would be formed by adding a Chapter 20 to Title 41 of the Arizona Revised Statute entitled State Government. The original bill mixed the Arizona State Guard within Title 26, Military Affairs and Emergency Management.

Because of some technical confusion pointed out by Major General Salazar of the National Guard and concerns of confusion by law enforcement by one of the other Senators, Senator Sylvia Allen changed the bill to ensure a clear separation between the State organization and the National Guard. It also makes clear that they may not act without local law enforcement request.

In an email, Senator Allen wrote, “We must have the ability to organize a highly train special unit who could help with cross border criminal activity. This is a cross between State Guard/Arizona Ranger.”

The missions of the unit and funding are essentially the same, but several key elements make it more like a true militia than the S.B. 1083 bill.

The intent of the bill is stated in subsection A of 41-2351 of the new Chapter. “The Arizona special missions unit is established for the purpose of securing the safety and protection of the lives and property of the citizens of this state. The intent of the special missions unit is to provide a mission-ready volunteer force for use by this state in homeland security and community service activities as a supplement to state and local law enforcement agencies.”

The mission outlined in subsection B is to have a unit to support county and municipal leaders in combatting crime and can be activated at the request of the county sheriff or chief of police.

The bill exempts the ASMU from the administrative chapter of Title 41 and allows them to create their own administrative and disciplinary rules. The new bill suggests the Uniform Code of Military Justice as a guide, but the group will be under the administrative rules approved by the State government and not military rules. During a war rules may be more stringent than in peace time.

The amendment establishes a commander, as with the original S.B. 1083, who will establish the regulations for the organization. The Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives will review the rules. The commander will also appoint key command and staff positions, not to exceed four FTE in total, investigate and evaluate ASMU members, promote and establish standard operating procedures and regulations and maintain and preserve ASMU records. It would also allow the ASMU Commander (Commander) to enter into agreements and memoranda of understanding (MOU) to clarify the extent and procedures of operations, according to the bill summary.

The organization would still be allowed to accept gifts, grants and donations from certain public, private and charitable organizations and the funding from the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission subaccount remains. They can still receive funding from seized property under the provisions of Title 13 when they work with a law enforcement agency or seize property in a unilateral operation.

The ASMU would be open to all Arizona citizens or legal residents who have declared their intention to become a citizen. They would have to take an oath or affirmation which reads:

I do solemnly swear that I will well and faithfully perform my duties as a member of the Arizona special missions unit to the best of my ability. I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States Constitution, the Arizona Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona. I will serve the state of Arizona honestly and faithfully against all enemies. I will obey the orders of the governor and the officers placed over me, according to law, so help me God (or so I do affirm).

Like the National Guard, ASMU personnel civilian employment would be protected when they are called to duty.

There are also provisions for psycological testing and background checks.