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The Alaska State Defense Force
Flag of Alaska.svg
Country United States of America
Allegiance Alaska
Branch Army
Type State defense force
Role Military reserve force
Part of Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
Garrison/HQ Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
Website http://dmva.alaska.gov/asdf/
Civilian leadership Governor Sean Parnell
(Governor of the State of Alaska)
Ceremonial chief Brigadier General Roger Hall

The Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF) is the state defense force of Alaska. It is one of 23 such forces in the U.S. states.[1]

The Alaska State Defense Force is the successor of the Alaska Territorial Guard founded during World War II. After the war ended and Alaska became a state in 1959, the Territorial Guard was disbanded but was replaced by a state militia established by state statute. In 1984, the Alaska State Guard was formed; it was renamed in 1987 as the Alaska State Defense Force. In 2004, the name 49th Military Police Brigade (49th MP BDE) was also adopted for it. A later realignment of the command's structure has utilized the new designation of 49th Readiness Brigade (Separate), but the unit is still mainly known as the Alaska State Defense Force. The Alaska State Defense Force is administered under the state Department of Veterans Affairs, but is headed by a commander who reports directly to the governor of Alaska, who acts as commander-in-chief of the state defense force.

Mission[edit | edit source]

The mission of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF) is to maintain an organized, trained military force capable of timely and effective response to state emergencies, or, on other occasions deemed appropriate by the Governor, to provide military assistance to civil and military authorities in the preservation of life, property, and public safety.[2]

Alaska state statute AS 26.05.010 established the Alaska Militia. It declares: "The militia of the state [of Alaska] consists of all able-bodied citizens of the United States and all other able-bodied persons who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, who reside in the state [of Alaska], who are at least 17 years of age, and who are eligible for military service under the laws of the United States or this state [of Alaska]." The ASDF is constituted as a cadre of experienced officers and enlisted personnel which is ready to organize the entire population, if need be.

This is a historical entry. The ASDF structure was primarily composed of military police units. The units operated with mostly state certified constables under the Alaska Police Standards Council. By statute, the Alaska State Defense Force must be made up of no less than 75 percent former military personnel. The current structure of the ASDF is as a Readiness Brigade with readines battalions. The MP function is in abeyance until needed by the Adjutant General for Alaska.

The ASDF benefits from the experience of its personnel. Many of them have technical skills in such areas as medicine, communications and logistics. It is a volunteer force which contains the skills necessary for operations in time of disaster.

ASDF has conducted joint operations with local city and state agencies as well as federal entities, including the U.S. military as well as government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, depending who you ask. Some reluctance to activate ASDF units originates from liabilities associated with use of firearms by persons who may not have passed psych exams, or other standard to law enforcement minimum requirements. The use of Constable status as a vehicle to avoid current law enforcement standards may be viewed as a legal loophole, more than a legitimate status. The unit wears United States Army uniforms in accordance with the AR 670-1.[3]

In the past... The battalions below the Headquarters Element include a medical detachment, waterborne operators, and an aviation detachment. The ASDF has its own academy in which individuals are brought up to State training standards to be Constables. The headgear worn varies on mission requirements.' Currently... The 49th Readiness Brigade Alaska State Defense Force consists of a Brigade Headquarters, three regional Commands (North, Central and Southern) and various Battalions within each Area Command. For example the Northern Area Command consists of the 3rd Battalion (Fairbanks) and the 5th Battalion (Delta Junction) and so on. Unlike most of the state defense forces in the United States, the soldiers train and certify with firearms showing proficiency to carry firearms when activated.[4]

The unit missions to date have included Operation Winter Talon, avalanche rescue, Kenai Peninsula floods and the Big Lake fire. ASDF members have worked at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race restarts. Some members have been detailed to work with the Alaska Railroad police as well as local police departments.

Government support[edit | edit source]

Issues of funding, mission and the bearing of arms are listed among common complaints and stumbling blocks associated with unit effectiveness.[5] ASDF, when colocated with the Alaska National Guard, was careful to never utilize federal resources to accomplish its mission. Now, with their own buildings and equipment, they are the most autonomous of SDFs.[citation needed]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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