Thursday, November 8, 2007

Marking 90 Years of Service

The Maryland Defense Force Marks 90 Years of Service with Opening of New HeadquartersContact:
Lt. Col. Robert Hastings
Maryland Defense Force

BALTIMORE (November 8, 2007) -- The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) marked more than 90 years of service with a ribbon-cutting for its new headquarters at the Pikesville Military Reservation in Baltimore, Maryland. The ceremony held November 8 was attended by a number of Maryland National Guard (MDNG) and state officials, and current and retired Maryland Defense Force personnel.

“The Maryland National Guard, both Army and Air, couldn’t do the job it does without the Maryland Defense Force,” said Maj. Gen. Bruce Tuxill, Adjutant General for the State of Maryland. “The MDDF is a real force multiplier and we thank you for the job you do.”

The new headquarters is located in the Merson Building, and the ceremony marked the culmination of a three-month long renovation involving more than 1,600 volunteer man-hours by members of the MDDF.

“The renovation of this building was a huge project, which was executed with efficiency and professionalism that have become the hallmark of the MDDF,” said Brig. Gen. Courtney Wilson, MDDF Commanding General. “I’m tremendously proud of the engineer corps, the volunteers, and in particular the Non-Commissioned Officers who led the project.”

The move to the new headquarters comes as the MDDF marks the 90th anniversary of its formal activation as an element of the Maryland militia separate from the National Guard in August 1917. It was responsible for maintaining public order in the absence of the Maryland National Guard which had been mobilized for service in France during World War I. The Maryland State Guard, as it was known at the time, was called to state duty twice to suppress civil disturbances in Annapolis and Easton during 1919. It was disbanded in March 1920 following the end of the war.

With the outbreak of war in Europe and the Far East, the Maryland State Guard was reactivated in February 1941. By 1942, the force had grown to a brigade of nine infantry battalions and medical, engineer and special military police battalions. Some 2,700 men served in the State Guard at the height of its WWII strength. When the Maryland National Guard returned from Europe, State Guard units were again deactivated.

In the decades following World War II, the United States Army became increasingly dependent upon the National Guard to supply essential combat ready units, creating a heightened interest in state defense forces across the nation. The Maryland State Guard was reactivated under legislation which took effect on July 1, 1983.

The Maryland Code subsequently was amended to open the ranks of the State Guard to women, and in September, 1988, the Maryland State Guard was redesignated the Maryland Defense Force to differentiate the force from the National Guard.

Following the events of 9/11, the cold-war era MDDF was reorganized into a mission-oriented command which supports the Maryland Military Department by providing personnel with competent professional and technical skills that augment the MDNG in its state mission and support its mobilization to and redeployment from federal missions. Additionally, the MDDF prepares for and responds to homeland security and civil emergencies by maintaining trained and ready personnel that can supplement the state’s emergency management and first-responder resources. And it strengthens Maryland’s communities through community service programs such as the Freestate Challenge.

Commenting on the history of the Maryland Defense Force, Maj. Gen. Tuxill said “we’ve evolved and we’ve reorganized many times since 1917 and we will continue to do so because we will meet the needs of the citizens of Maryland.”

The Maryland Defense Force is one of a number of State Defense Forces authorized by the U.S. Congress under Title 32 and the respective state legislatures. While specific missions vary from state to state, State Defense Forces exist primarily to augment the capabilities of the National Guard. Employing volunteers who bring military experience and/or civilian professional skills, they supplement the capabilities of the National Guard, assist in National Guard mobilization for federal service, replace National Guard assets deployed out-of-state, and support state homeland security missions. State Defense Forces operate under the command of the Governor, as state Commander-in-Chief, and fall under the operational control of the state Adjutant General’s office. State Defense Forces receive no federal funds and are supported entirely by the state.

Headquartered at the Pikesville Military Reservation in Baltimore, the Maryland Defense Force is a volunteer uniformed state military agency organized under the Maryland Military Department. Formally established by the Maryland legislature in 1917, the unit's heritage and traditions trace back to the 17th century. Its mission is to provide competent supplemental professional and technical support to the Maryland Military Department and the Maryland National Guard.

For further information about the Maryland Defense Force, visit