1.The Pennsylvania’s State Defense Forces mission is to provide trained personnel to support civil authorities and the states National Guard as needed.

2.Provide the protection and preservation of life or property during natural or man made disasters or civil emergencies.

3.Rapidly and effectively respond to search, rescue, or recovery operations.

4.Effectively execute State Homeland Defense missions.

5.Abide by the State & Federal Laws, the Constitution of The United States through our elected officials.


Many states organize their State Defense Force parallel to their National Guard force (both Air and Army), having them report to the governor through the state’s adjutant general. State Defense Forces are usually not funded by the federal government, and in most states members are on a volunteer basis. Volunteers have to purchase their own uniforms and most, if not all, of their own equipment.

While in the past many State Defense Forces were organized as military police brigades or infantry brigades, the experiences of recent events such as Hurricane Katrina has changed attitudes and plans. Civil Affairs, medical CERT & SAR units now predominate in some states.

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) are being organized by several SDFs by utilizing training offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Citizen Corps. Some states follow the lead of the Army and offer a permanent tab (e.g., CERT tab) as an incentive to become certified as part of the local or unit CERT team. CERT teams are open to any able-bodied citizen and are a good way for SDFs to integrate into their communities. Search & Rescue teams (SAR) are being organized by SDF’s trained in search & rescue techniques who play an active role with local municipalities, & the needs of the community.