PHOENIX, Arizona. March 21st, 2023. The Arizona state senate just passed a version of what is now becoming commonly referred to as “Defend the Guard” legislation, as the 29-body legislature voted 16-13 along party lines, with the Republicans in favor and the Democrats in opposition.
The legislation forbids the US military from calling up the Arizona National Guard to serve in overseas conflicts without a Congressional declaration of war, the kind that hasn’t been passed in D.C. since World War II.
Similar “Defend the Guard” legislation has been introduced into houses and senates in 18 different states. Arizona is the first state to have taken a floor vote on it while others remain in committee.
The Tenth Amendment Center, which currently helps organize the spread of these Defend the Guard acts, claims that “National Guard troops have played significant roles in all modern overseas conflicts, with over 650,000 deployed since 2001”.
They cite sources that “Guard and Reserve units made up about 45 percent of the total force sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, and received about 18.4 percent of the casualties”.
“For decades, the power of war has long been abused by this supreme executive, and unfortunately our men and women in uniform have been sent off into harm’s way over and over,” West Virginia State Delegate Pat McGeehan, who served as an Air Force intelligence officer in Afghanistan was quoted as saying at the time when his state congress introduced a similar bill.
“If the U.S. Congress is unwilling to reclaim its constitutional obligation, then the states themselves must act to correct the erosion of constitutional law”.
Is that constitutional?
As the Tenth Amendment Center sees it, the National Guards of all 50 states comprise the “militia” provided for in the Constitution, pointing out that the Constitutional Charter of the Guard makes the same claim.
Article 1, section 8, clause 15 of the US Constitution states that the national congress is granted the power for “calling forth the militia” in three situations only: to execute the laws of the union, to suppress insurrections, and to repel invasions.
“If the president wants to use the Arizona National Guard to fight wars halfway across the world, then it can only be done after a majority of the people’s representatives vote to send them there,” Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers said in closing remarks on the Arizona senate floor. “If Congress refuses to vote, then it’s a war the Arizona National Guard should not be fighting”.
When Hurricane Katrina made landfall and devastated the state, storm surges, and cat. 5 winds killed hundreds and left millions without power, clean water, and shelter. A large percentage of the Louisiana National Guardsmen were busy fighting a Sunni insurgency in Iraq.
In fact, the Louisiana National Guard had had the third-most guardsmen of any state called up to serve in Iraq, and many of their assets came with them. The Mississippi National Guard for example had 21 of their 26 helicopters normally reserved for search and rescue taken to Iraq.
These have been some of the examples used in testimony during debates on Defend the Guard legislation all over the country.
Another such bill was passed in a Montana House committee and will head to the floor for a vote. Arizona will have to pass theirs in the house as well before it becomes law. WaL
PICTURED: Members of the Oklahoma National Guard (Militia) conducting training operations in Iraq. PC: Oklahoma National Guard.