The SC State Guard

Richard Eckstrom S.C. Comptroller

I was recently honored to be selected as interim Commander of the South Carolina State Guard -- succeeding Major General Nelson C. Lacy, who is retiring -- so I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain a little about the State Guard and its role in protecting our citizens in cases of emergency.

The State Guard was formally established by state law in 1941 as a division of the South Carolina Military Department. It’s also referred to as the South Carolina Defense Force and supports the National Guard, law enforcement and other state, county and municipal agencies during times of emergency. The State Guard is managed by the South Carolina Military Department under the direction of the State Adjutant General. Its Commander-in- Chief is the governor of South Carolina.

The State Guard consists of three active brigades – with the First Brigade (Midlands Brigade) based in Columbia, the Second Brigade (Highland Brigade) based in Fountain Inn near Greenville, and the Third Brigade (Coastal Brigade) based in Charleston. Although many State Guard members are military retirees seeking a way to continue their service, previous military service isn’t a requirement.

Importantly, the State Guard operates on a shoestring budget, making it one of the best dollar-for-dollar values in state government. Essentially, State Guard members are unpaid volunteers… civic-minded South Carolinians whose compensation is the rewarding experience of giving something back to the state they love. They train and service month-after-month and year-after-year, yet would be compensated only if formally mobilized into emergency service by order of the governor.

Aside from helping South Carolinians in times of natural disasters or other emergencies, the State Guard also provides valuable public service in other capacities. For example, there’s a Security Detachment that routinely assists local law enforcement agencies at no charge. There are various Color Guard units that assist with hundreds of military funerals each year all around the state by rendering military honors to deceased veterans of all branches of the military and presenting our nation’s flag to grieving family members. And there’s a K-9 unit that helps with search and rescue missions, also at no charge. (Members of the K-9 unit even donate the dogs, training and equipment.) In these ways, State Guard members not only offer an important service but help free up government resources, saving taxpayers’ money.

I’m proud to serve alongside these patriotic men and women. Their volunteer efforts make our state a better place by helping protect the citizens of South Carolina… as well as the public purse.