Kilili proposes a National Guard for the Northern Marianas

Oct 1, 2015

Marianas Variety – Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan has introduced legislation to establish a National Guard unit for the Northern Mariana Islands.

“A National Guard for the Northern Marianas is consistent with America’s commitment to enhancing security and stability in the Asia-Pacific,” Congressman Sablan said. “A National Guard unit is critical, too, for responding quickly and effectively to emergencies within the commonwealth, including natural disasters.”

“We pray we never have to experience another disaster like Typhoon Soudelor,” he added. “But if we do, we will be better prepared to respond if we have our own National Guard to call to service.”

Sablan’s bill, H.R. 3649, follows on the heels of a study by the National Guard Bureau, which concludes that a National Guard for the commonwealth is feasible, but would require several major actions, including changes to the federal law that governs the National Guard. The study was mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, and was released on August 19, 2015.

H.R. 3649 would amend Titles 10, 32, and 37 of the United States Code to authorize the establishment of National Guard units in the Northern Mariana Islands.

“This bill is the next important step in the process of establishing our own National Guard that is on par with the existing units of other states and territories, including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Sablan said.

“The Northern Marianas government has already taken the first important step, which is enacting a local law to organize a militia for the commonwealth.”

That law, Public Law 13-32, the Northern Mariana Islands National Guard Act, was enacted in 2002.

Members of the National Guard can be called to active service by the governor of their state or territory to respond to disaster and civil disorder. They can also be called to federal active duty by the President of the United States to enforce laws, defend against invasion or insurrection, or provide support for military operations. National Guardsmen additionally participate in regular training and other activities under state control, but with federal pay and benefits.

“Residents of the Northern Marianas currently join the Guam National Guard, so clearly there is interest,” Sablan said. In 2013-2014, seventeen Guam National Guardsmen from the Northern Marianas were called to active duty in Afghanistan.

There are 54 National Guard units in existence today – one for each of the 50 states, and for Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.