Establishing National Guard units for the Northern Marianas Islands has been deemed ‘feasible,’ according to a study by the National Guard Bureau.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said the bureau released the results of its feasibility study last week.
“With our population of 54,000, the bureau estimated the Northern Marianas could recruit two, company-sized National Guard elements, above and beyond the U.S. Army reservists now on Saipan,” Sablan, in his e-newsletter, said.
Sablan said a prerequisite is that a U.S. territory should have a law authorizing an organized militia.
“The Commonwealth Legislature has already enacted a law authorizing an organized militia, Public Law 13-32,” Sablan said.
P.L 13-32 or the “Northern Mariana Islands National Guard Act” was signed in 2002 by then governor Juan N. Babauta.
In an executive summary of the feasibility study, the bureau said establishing National Guard units in the CNMI and American Samoa is feasible. “However, major steps are necessary to reach that end state,” the bureau said.
Sablan said “the Armed Services Committee was unwilling to act, however, without first looking at costs and infrastructure and manpower requirements.”
He said he “agreed to include a feasibility study in the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.
“The Northern Marianas and American Samoa are the only U.S. jurisdictions without their own Guard to respond to natural or man-made disasters. Men and women from the Northern Marianas now serve in the Guam National Guard. But issuance of the report—and the example of Typhoon Soudelor—provides a new opportunity to push for establishment of our own National Guard in the Northern Marianas,” Sablan said.
He said Typhoon Soudelor “demonstrates that the governor of the Northern Mariana Islands could benefit from having a National Guard to call up in times of emergency.”
Press secretary Ivan S. Blanco said the administration will review the feasibility study before issuing comments.
“The administration, upon a thorough review of the newly released feasibility study, will provide appropriate comments at a later date,” he said in an email.