South Carolina State Guard

South Carolina State Guard

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Headquarters, State Area Command
South Carolina State Guard
country= United States
allegiance= South Carolina
branch= South Carolina Military Department
type= State Defense Force
role= Civil defense, counter terrorism, emergency readiness, combat support
size= 2,000
current_commander= Major General Nelson C. Lacy
garrison=Columbia, South Carolina

The South Carolina State Guard is the State Defense Force of the U.S. state of South Carolina.

The State Guard maintains its headquarters in Columbia, which is the state capitol, and brigade level commands are located in the cities of Columbia (1st Midlands Brigade and 5th Civil Affairs Brigade), Charleston (3rd Coastal Brigade), and Fountain Inn (2nd Highlander Brigade).


The State Guard is provided for by the Constitution of South Carolina and other state law. Under Section 25-3-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, the State Guard is formed as a separate military force under command of the South Carolina Military Department and the Adjutant General.

As is typical of State Defense Force, the South Carolina State Guard cannot be ordered into federal service (though it has occasionally been sent out of state by order of the governor, as was done in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks). The State Guard is essentially the modern-day continuation of the South Carolina Militia, the state militia which has been in existence in some form since the 17th century. As such, the State Guard is made up of unpaid volunteers, many of whom are veterans of the federal armed services or members of the federal military reserves, South Carolina Army National Guard, or South Carolina Air National Guard.

When called to active duty, members of the State Guard are paid according to federal military pay charts. SCSG is not a civic organization, but formal military units sanctioned and provided for by state and federal law, and as such all soldiers of the State Guard are viewed as soldiers under state law. All soldiers within the SCSG swear the same oath as their National Guard counterparts and are equal parts of the South Carolina Military Department.

In case of insurrection within the state, the Governor has the authority to call the State Guard into active service to restore order. In order to do this, commissioned officers are granted law enforcement powers equal to that of a state Constable. Elements of the State Guard are routinely called into service in response to natural disasters, primarily hurricanes, in order to coordinate effective evacuation of the coastal areas of the state. The Governor (or the Adjutant General, if the Governor is incapacitated or unavailable) can also activate the State Guard when a significant number of the South Carolina National Guard are out of state for federal service, as is currently the case with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. State Guard members are also trained for counter terrorism operations and other civil defense missions as part of the state's homeland defense policy.

The State Guard may bear arms only when authorized by the Governor. This is primarily the case because if the state were to organize an armed combat force not under federal command it could potentially be seen as a rebellion or uprising. In the event of an invasion of the United States, however, the State Guard would initiate rapid full-scale training operations in order to be fully trained and equipped for combat operations, should that be necessary.Fact|date=January 2008 The State Guard is organized in wartime as one light infantry division of at least five thousand men and women,Fact|date=January 2008 though in peacetime it performs various civil defense missions which are vital to the state of South Carolina and to the national defense of the United States.


The outbreak of World War II in Europe pushed the U.S. government and military to prepare for possible conflict. If the U.S. entered the war, the National Guard would be ordered to active duty overseas, leaving no military force at home to maintain order.

Because of this, the National Defense Act of 1916 was amended on October 21, 1940, to allow the establishment of State Defense Forces. The South Carolina Legislature's enabling act to establish a State Defense Force was an Act Establishing the South Carolina Defense Force, signed into law by Governor Burnet R. Maybank on March 21, 1941.

The South Carolina Defense Force (SCDF) was organized into a headquarters, four regiments of three battalions each, and at least one independent battalion. Initially those wishing to enlist or be commissioned had to be between the ages of 21 and 55, in good health, and of good character. The minimum age quickly fell to 17 and there are indications that a few men served at an even younger age. The uniform was to be Confederate gray. This was changed to standard G.I. Olive Drab by 1943. The initial armament was the M1917 Enfield rifle, later changed to a mix of rifles, shotguns, Thompson submachine guns, and a few larger weapons.

The men of the SCDF were volunteers, serving without pay unless called into active service by the governor. The authorized strength was 518 officers and 6,035 enlisted men. According to the Adjutant General's report of 2 July 1941 there were 191 officers and 3,060 enlisted men enrolled as of June 30, 1941. (Among the officers was Strom Thurmond, then a second lieutenant in Company L (Edgefield), 3d Battalion, 1st Regiment). By the spring of 1942, the number enrolled had risen to over 6,000.

The mission of the SCDF—renamed the South Carolina State Guard (SCSG) in January 1944—was to defend against invasion along the South Carolina coast and assist local officials in providing internal security, including search and rescue. While invasion by sea was unlikely, there was a fear that the Germans might land forces by submarine. The SCDF was tasked with holding off enemy forces until troops could be brought in from Fort Jackson.

Most of the time the men drilled and conducted defensive exercises to prepare them in the event an invasion did occur. Occasionally they were called out to provide security for crashed aircraft or after natural disaster. The last official activity of the SCSG was to provide security in Greenville after the Ideal Laundry fire in November 1946. The last known wartime unit, Company E (Greenville), 2d Battalion, 2d Regiment, was mustered out on 8 August 1947.

Insignia and uniform

The State Guard currently wears standard woodland Battle Dress Uniforms with black-on-olive drab insignia on the collar indicating rank, just as United States Army BDUs. Name tapes on the BDU consist of a black tape with gray lettering. The left shoulder holds the Shoulder Sleeve Insignia and Brigade Identification Tab while the right shoulder is reserved for unit patches of combat units the soldier was attached to during federal service. Prior service soldiers may also wear qualification tabs and badges earned while in federal service.

SCSG dress uniforms are variations of the U.S. Army Service Uniform (Class A and B). SCSG soldiers wear distinctive distinctive unit insignia, state-specific buttons, and a garrison cap (instead of the federal beret). Soldiers may wear all ribbons and awards earned while in federal service in addition to any earned while in service of South Carolina.

External links

* [ Official website]

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