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Navy, Naval Militia Sign Memo of Understanding

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 1996 – The New York State Naval Militia has signed a memorandum of understanding making it easy to operate with the U.S. Navy.

The New York Naval Militia, which includes Marines, is part of the New York State Military Forces. The militia is on par with the New York Army National Guard, the Air National Guard and the New York Guard. The 6,500 men and women in the militia answer to the governor of New York, just like the National Guard when called up for a state mission.

The memorandum makes clear the federal government has first rights to the services of naval and Marine reservists in the militia. If the federal government calls up these reservists, the governor cannot call them up for a state mission. Rear Adm. Thomas F. Hall, commander Naval Reserve Force, and Rear Adm. Robert A. Rosen, commander New York State Naval Militia, signed the memorandum. By law, 90 percent of the members of the militia must also serve in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

The militia is one of two remaining in the country; 24 states and the District of Columbia once had naval militias. Alaska is the only other state currently with a naval militia.

Naval militiamen are unpaid unless the state calls them up. State authorities are working to qualify the men and women for some of the same benefits Guardsmen receive, Navy officials said.

The New York Naval Militia has operated since 1891. During the blizzard earlier this year, Gov. George Pataki called up the militiamen, who used Navy equipment to clear roads, run generators and aid those affected by the record storm around the state. Militiamen also helped when New York hosted the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid in 1980.

State naval militiamen serve in a variety of skills. They operate or restore vital utility works such as power plants, water plants and sewage disposal plants. They also can operate and maintain a wide variety of vessels such as tugs, fire boats, rescue craft and other patrol boats. The militia also has Seabees, who help with many construction activities.

The New York State Naval Militia traces its heritage to the Revolution, when militiamen manned ships on Lake Champlain and repelled a British invasion fleet seeking to join with British regulars attacking north from Albany, making possible the subsequent American victory at Saratoga in 1777.

The militia was federalized during World Wars I and II and the Korean War.

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