In 2005 I was deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, near the Syrian border in Iraq. A squadmate received the news that Hurricane Katrina had devastated his home city of New Orleans and his grandmother, who had raised him, was trapped by flood waters. We gave him our allotted satellite phone time so he could call neighbors and friends in the area and coordinate her rescue. Thankfully it worked out for them. But tragically, not everyone was so fortunate – 1,392 Americans died in that disaster.
I was made aware of a shocking revelation in the last few years. During my 2005 deployment, state National Guard and Reserve forces made up 60 percent of the forces deployed in the War on Terror. That included the Louisiana Guard, which was building dams in Iraq instead of at home helping their neighbors during Katrina. Guard units from as far away as Idaho had to be shipped to the Gulf Coast to aid relief efforts.
And that situation was not an outlier. Forest fires in Oregon, tornadoes in Kentucky, the deep freeze in Texas, the list goes on where Guardsmen were not at home when needed. New Hampshire just lent our National Guard’s Blackhawks to Vermont to save lives. Imagine if they were in Somalia instead. Earlier this year, the Louisiana Guard was in Syria guarding oil fields when Iranian-backed militants rocketed their position. My question is: why are they there at all? The motto of the Guard is “Always Ready, Always There,” but they aren’t. The Department of Defense exploits a budget alternative to active Army units and calls them up for combat duty.
Our solution is the Defend the Guard Act, House Bill 229. I’m proudly co-sponsoring this legislation alongside a bipartisan group of combat veteran legislators. It states New Hampshire will not permit our Guard units to be deployed to combat unless Congress issues a declaration of war pursuant to Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution. That has not been done since 1942. Congress has unconstitutionally abdicated its war-making role to the executive by way of authorizations for the use of military force. The president can unilaterally choose any military action’s theater, timeframe, targets, and objective, and Congress signs the checks. That flies in the face of our Founders, who vested the power to declare war with the legislature, as the executive has the most to gain from unrestrained military power.
During testimony across the 36 states that filed this legislation, hundreds of combat veterans have testified in support. Each time, however, the Department of Defense flies in a general to threaten the states by implying there could be decreased funding for their Guard should the bill pass. This is the only opposition Defend the Guard is up against, but it seems to scare committee members into killing bills. A similar thing has happened here in New Hampshire via the State Veterans Advisory Committee (SVAC), which has opposed our bill. I will be meeting with SVAC in October to give a fuller picture of the support this bill has with real veterans that have experienced the horrors of war firsthand and not just high-ranking officers balancing spreadsheets from the Pentagon.
What can you do to help?
- Ask your VFW or American Legion to pass a resolution supporting HB229.
- Ask your town Democratic or Republican committee to do the same.
- Reach out to SVAC and demand they change their recommendation: [email protected]
- Email my committee and come testify in October: