photo courtesy Pixabay on pexels.com
This weekend, several hundred soldiers from the South Carolina National Guard will deploy for a year-long combat mission in Africa (source). If you’re wondering, no, Congress has not declared war in Africa. But they haven’t declared war in some time and yet South Carolina’s volunteer service members—school principals, law enforcement officers, accountants, contractors—are being activated full-time in their part-time role.
The South Carolina National Guard plays a vital role in safeguarding the state’s security and responding to emergencies. The Guard assists during natural disasters, civil unrest, and other domestic emergencies while also providing critical support to the United States military when called upon. The people who serve are citizens who give of themselves when our community needs them.
Comprised of Army and Air National Guard units, the South Carolina National Guard operates under the dual control of the state governor and the federal government. In May, Governor McMaster sent National Guard troops to Texas to “secure” the Southern border ahead of the expiration of Title 42 (source). This mission is still in the planning phase at this time with expected departure July 1.
The mission- and scope- creep of National Guard service is the issue here. There are nearly 10,500 soldiers and airmen available for service in the South Carolina National Guard with reports estimating 750 of those are currently deployed on various missions (source). Approximately 200 will make up the Southern border effort (50 in Arizona now, 150 headed to Texas) in an effort to stem the tide of illegal drugs. (source)
The Defend the Guard Act is a legislative effort to address the concerns about the extensive and often unchecked deployment of National Guard troops in conflicts abroad. Supporters contend that since the Constitution grants the sole power to declare war to Congress, it is essential to ensure that the National Guard, which primarily serves state interests, is not deployed without said formal declaration.
Goals of Defend the Guard legislation:
- Strengthen the state’s role
- Ensure congressional accountability
- Protect state resources
States should have the authority to direct their own resources, including troops. Implementing stricter requirements, through “Defend the Guard” legislation, would help states regain control over the decision-making process. Congress will not declare war without an open debate which will provide transparency and accountability, ensuring that decisions to engage in armed conflict are taken with due consideration. When our troops are sent overseas, they are not available for natural disasters, emergencies, or protection, leaving South Carolina vulnerable.
While the “Defend the Guard” legislation resonates with those concerned about the unchecked use of National Guard troops, it also faces challenges. Critics argue that state-level legislation may interfere with the federal government’s ability to respond swiftly to national security threats. They contend that the decision to deploy National Guard troops should remain primarily with the federal government to ensure a cohesive and effective response.
The South Carolina Libertarian Party disagrees. Should the federal government have need of our resources, let it request permission and let our Governor and State House determine the proper amount of assistance to provide.
Defend the Guard legislation is currently in committee in South Carolina (and has been since 2020). The SCLP encourages Representatives Jones (District 14), May (88), Hill (8), Long (37), Chumley (35), Burns (17), and Magnuson (38)—the last four of whom who signed on as cosponsors in 2022—to take action on this legislation (source).
Like South Carolina, Maine depends on its Guard units to serve stateside. That’s why the statehouse has taken up “Defend the Guard” legislation this term (source) and moved its bill out of committee and to the Senate for debate and a vote.
Defend the Guard legislation restores the balance between state and federal powers in the deployment of National Guard troops. By implementing stricter requirements and demanding a formal declaration of war from Congress, South Carolina can exercise greater control over the use of our National Guard units.
Ready to get involved? Click here to find the next meeting for your local SCLP group.
Keep the fight for liberty on track. Donate here.