You may have heard by now that the state of Arizona has taken the first steps in establishing its own state defense force.
What you may not have heard is how the California State Military Reserve is due a bit of credit for the Arizona initiative.
In 2011, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer quietly signed into law legislation creating an armed volunteer state militia that could be deployed by the Governor and would be separate from the National Guard. Since then, state bills have been proposed that call for various amounts of initial funding for the militia along with mission specifications and age and other restrictions on those who could join. If and when operationalized, Arizona would join 23 other states and territories that have an active state militia or defense force.
But how the idea of an Arizona militia gained its traction begins several years ago with a CSMR Soldier, Sgt. Jim Ellis, who was a member of the Recruiting Task Force – South. Ellis sadly announced that he had to leave the Reserve because his civilian job was transferring him to the Grand Canyon state. Ellis, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, was working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Ellis wondered if Arizona had the equivalent of a CSMR. Task Force NCO 1st Sgt. Jerry Shultz recalled that he told Ellis the state did not but Ellis himself could take action to make it happen when he got there. Shultz’s advice was simple: he handed Ellis some CSMR recruitment materials and told him he needed to make an appointment with an Arizona state legislator and present a proposal to start a state defense force.
Eventually, Ellis made that presentation and that led to the initial law that was signed by Brewer.
Ellis has thanked the Task Force for providing the “spark” to get the Arizona effort started, and the Task Force, in turn, is ready to help out in any way. “I told him that we can help them with advice, suggestions and encouragement,” said Shultz. “It will be nice to have another state defense force at our border.”
By Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rick de la Torre