- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The new head of New Mexico’s State Defense Force, along with other state government officials, want the little-known volunteer unit to grow in size and be poised to help with emergency relief and other missions all across the state.

Brig. Gen. David Torres was appointed this summer to head the force, which has fewer than 50 members and has been little used in recent years.

The force is part of the Department of Military Affairs, and its members are uniformed but unarmed.

“What we’re trying to do is re-establish, in each of the major geographical regions of the state, a State Defense Force capability that would be able to do emergency relief, military funeral honors and things of that nature,” said Brig. Gen. Juan Griego, the state Guard’s deputy adjutant general.

“Ideally, we’d like to have a couple hundred SDF members across the state,” he said.

Torres has been doing humanitarian relief work since retiring 14 years ago from the Air Force.

He said officials are working on new recruiting standards in preparation for expanding the State Defense Force so that it’ll have a presence in all regions of the state.

“We’re in the process of creating a formalized structure, pulling in the pieces we need to start rebuilding the organization,” Torres said.

Meanwhile, Torres is networking with officials throughout the state, discussing potential missions and “telling people that the SDF exists, that we will be available and that we can be relevant.”

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