Congresswoman Kat Cammack led a bipartisan letter on Wednesday, calling for “equitable funding” and “resource allocation” for the Florida National Guard.
Cammack, who represents Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, penned the letter alongside U.S. Representative Val Demings, urging Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to support Florida’s National Guard by bolstering the force and providing additional funding for fiscal year 2022.
Cammack and company start the letter, citing the major role Guardsmen played in the state’s pandemic response and vaccine rollout.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida National Guard has played a pivotal role to support Florida’s pandemic response and vaccine rollout. Their hard work has included operational and logistical support for the state’s Community Based Testing Sites (CBTS), Community Vaccination Sites, and Mobile Testing Teams,” the letter reads. “Our guardsmen have also been supporting the statewide delivery of vaccines, food distribution, and augmenting airport security and screening. Thanks to their hard work and support, over 5 million Floridians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and that number rises every day.
The letter, sponsored by 27 House Republicans and Democrats, highlighted the disproportionate force structure allocation for the Sunshine State and pointed to Florida’s growing population, noting that the Guardsmen to citizen ratio needed to be adjusted to meet future demands.
“While we have a deep appreciation for these accomplishments during an unprecedented time, we are concerned with the Florida National Guard’s lack of proportionate force structure allocation,” the letter continues. “Florida is our nation’s 3rd most populous state yet when compared among other states our Guardsman to citizen ratio places Florida at 53 of 54. Florida’s population is expected to grow by five million in the next decade. Our state’s National Guard can no longer lag behind future population growth.”
The bipartisan coalition also called attention to Florida’s history dealing with natural disasters, saying that additional Guardsmen are needed to provide extra relief in the case of a statewide emergency.
“Florida is the nation’s fourth most disaster-prone State and as a result our National Guard has experienced one of the highest Operation Tempos (OPTEMPO) with over 22,000 National Guardsmen deployed since 9/11 and over 1.1 million workdays supporting state disaster response. If force structure were proportional, the Florida National Guard would have a force of as many as 21,000 Guardsmen, rather than the current number of 12,000 Guardsmen.
The letter concludes, urging Secretary Austin to review the force structure proportionality study required in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.
“We will forever be grateful for the service of Florida’s National Guard in our state, at the Capitol, and around the world. We ask that you carefully review the Force Structure Proportionality study required in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act and ensure that the Florida National Guard has the force structure and resources necessary to continue keeping the State of Florida safe and secure,” the letter adds.
NEW: I led a bipartisan letter with the #FL House Delegation to Sec. Austin about the force structure proportionality for the @FLGuard. Our troops have served dutifully over the last year but our growing population calls for more manpower.
— Congresswoman Kat Cammack (@RepKatCammack) March 24, 2021