This week I introduced legislation, H.R. 3649, to establish a National Guard unit for the Northern Mariana Islands.
Having our own National Guard would give the Governor of the Commonwealth another resource for times of natural disaster or other emergency. A Northern Marianas Guard would contribute to security in the Asia-Pacific region and provide an opportunity for training and employment to our residents. In 2013-2014, seventeen people from the NMI were called to active duty in Afghanistan as part of the Guam National Guard.
A Northern Marianas National Guard unit has been a goal for many years. In 2002 the NMI Legislature enacted the necessary Commonwealth law supporting establishment of the Guard.
I introduced H.R. 2773 in 2011 to make the necessary changes in federal law, but was advised to obtain a feasibility study first. So, I included the study requirement in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act; and the report, released in August, concluded that a National Guard in the Northern Marianas is feasible, prompting this week’s reintroduction of legislation.
There are currently 54 National Guard units, one for each state and for Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.