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During the mid 20th century, with the United States having been part of the defeat of the Axis during World War II and the beginning of Cold War with a former ally, the Soviet Union, California had two infantry divisions, the 40th and 49th, as the primary units of its Army National Guard. At the time, California had a population of thirteen million residents in 1955. As time passed, the 40th became an armor division, the 49th was inactivated, and the 40th once again became an infantry division. Later the 40th was transformed into a multi-state division, which it had originally started as in World War I, with only one of four combat brigades being primarily from California. Thus at its height during the 20th Century the California Army National Guard had at least thirty-four thousand Soldiers compared to about twenty thousand Soldiers who are serving today out of the thirty-eight million residents of the state.

As the California National Guard was not a recipient of draftees during the mid 20th century, and the National Guard remains a volunteer force, this has me wondering as to the disparity between the ratios of California Army National Guard Soldiers then compared to now. When both the 40th Infantry Division and 49th Infantry Division were active, the ratio between Soldiers to state residents in 1955 was about 1 to 382; today that ratio is about 1 to 1900. Especially after the United States, and many units of the California National Guard, has been involved in multiple conflicts since the September 11 attacks, should not California be able to support a larger number of Soldiers due to the increase of combat veterans who live in the state?

Therefore, here is an idea to increase the number of Soldiers serving California that may be cost effective. As I have not ran the numbers the idea is definitely open to criticism and reviewing, which I am interested in receiving, and that can only help improve the concept. Although not part of the California Army National Guard, the California Military Department has the California State Military Reserve (CSMR) and California Naval Militia. Both forces are voluntary organizations, operating under military discipline, at a relative low cost due to the units being voluntary organizations not subject to Title 10 of the U.S. Code. As California is the largest state by population in the United States it should be safe to say that it also has the largest population of combat veterans in the United States, as slightly greater than 2.5 million veterans reside in California in 2000. As I understand it, Soldiers in the CSMR pay for their own uniforms, attend drill like their National Guard counterparts, and do not receive drill pay, but paid by the state if activated.

Thus, if the CSMR begin to establish and activate units comprised of combat veterans, who meet the normal volunteering requirements for the CSMR, California should be able to increase the number of Soldiers it can call upon during times of emergency. To incentivize combat veterans to volunteer to serve in these units, the state can grant those Soldiers a deduction from their state income tax equal to the pay they would receive if they were California Army National Guard Soldiers for the drills that they attend. Depending on the number of combat veteran California residents who volunteer for these units, it could be possible to establish a new brigade. To test the concept, after necessary legislation is written and signed into law that will allow for the test of the concept, the CSMR could begin by attempting to form an infantry company, which would be about 160 Soldiers, and see how it functions. If the concept at the small scale proves successful, then the number of units can be increased following this idea, and perhaps other states can find the concept useful to them as well. If the concept proves unsuccessful, the state is only out the tax revenue that it would have received from those combat veterans who volunteered, and their unit disbanded.

2014 Information Domination Essay Contest