The New Jersey Naval Militia

ABSTRACT Naval militias predate the reserve system and functioned primarily as a back-up force for the U.S. Navy. At its high water mark around the turn of the last century, 26 states had a naval militia. With the advent of the U.S. Naval Reserve (USNR), naval militias evolved into organizations with a dual state and federal mission much like the National Guard. By law, they must consist of at least 95% drilling naval reservists to receive federal support. The New Jersey Naval Militia was founded in 1894 and was organized into three battalions. It has been activated for every major conflict from the Spanish-American War through the Korean War, at which time peak strength of 3,950 officers and enlisted personnel was achieved. Starting in the late 1950s, the militia was gradually absorbed by the USNR, resulting in disbandment in 1963. In 1999, Governor Christie Whitman recognized the need for a state waterborne force and reactivated the naval militia as a joint command consisting of a regiment with three battalions. However, unlike its predecessor, the New Jersey Naval Militia Joint Command (NJNMJC) is a hybrid with the 1st Battalion being a true naval militia, the 2nd Battalion performing as an operational Naval State Guard, and the 3rd Battalion providing support and auxiliary functions. The concept of operations differs from a traditional reserve or guard unit in that it is based on volunteerism. each member is required to donate two days each month for missions in support of state and federal agencies. Additional mission requirements result in being placed on state active duty with pay and allowances. The NJNMJC has the following primary missions: Weapons of Mass Destruction/Homeland Security; Marine Police and Other Law Enforcement Agencies; N.J. State Emergencies (e.g., Hurricane or Flood); N.J. National Guard Counterdrug Task Force; Special N.J. Projects and State Guard Missions (e.g., OPSAIL 2000); Battleship New Jersey (BB-62); and Youth Programs.

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