Join our brand new verified AMN Telegram channel and get important news uncensored!

National Guard brass urge Senate kill war declaration bill

New Hampshire National Guard (New Hampshire National Guard/Facebook)

New Hampshire risks losing nearly $400 million in federal grants if the Legislature passes a state law that would try and block National Guard troops here from being deployed to serve in combat during undeclared wars, according to Adjutant Gen. David Mikolaities.

“We are adamantly opposed to this bill because it truly defunds the guard and will not accomplish anything,” said Gen. Mikolaities, who had three deployments of his own.

A co-sponsor of the bill said it would send an important message.

“The Pentagon is deploying our young men and women into combat zones with no objective, no clear target, no victory conditions, no end in sight,” said state Rep. Tom Mannion, R-Pelham, who is a Marine Corps veteran and had two combat deployments during the war in Iraq.

The House of Representatives narrowly passed the bill (HB 229) last January, 187-182.

The vote did not follow neatly along partisan lines; 22 House Democrats voted for it, while 27 House Republicans voted against it.

Supporters emphasize that serving in undeclared wars violates the U.S. Constitution.

Critics maintain that a separate federal law compels National Guard troops to answer the call, which would prevent the state from enforcing the proposed law.

Both Mikolaities and Deputy Adj. Gen. Warren Perry expressed concern the law could lead to a reduction in federal support for New Hampshire’s 3,000 guardsmen and women.

Congressional action adopted in 2001 allows the president to take action necessary to protect national security and does not require a war declaration prior to any armed conflict, Mikolaities said.

Perry said governors lack any authority to withhold consent for the deployment of troops into combat.

The Pentagon determines the level of National Guard support that goes to each state, and a law in place such as this could hurt the state’s case for more federal support, Perry said.

Bill cleared House after amendment was added

The “Defend the Guard Act” cleared the House after an amendment was adopted that would allow the governor to consent to any troop deployment, permit the National Guard to be deployed for “humanitarian and civic assistance” in connection with military operations and take part in training exercises outside the U.S.

For more than two decades, the state’s National Guard has had a training relationship with El Salvador.

Past and present veterans turned out on both sides of the measure.

“(Prior to declaration) You must answer three questions: why you go to war, who you are going to war with and what you expect to achieve,” said state Rep. Michael Granger, R-Milton, who served in the New Hampshire Army National Guard.

Kevin Grady, a 25-year Air Force veteran from Hooksett, spoke on behalf of the State Veterans Advisory Committee, which opposed the bill.

“Our guard is going to deploy whether this bill passes or not. When they get activated, they don’t belong to us anymore if they ever did,” Grady said.

Similar legislation has surfaced at least four different times over the past decade.

“Our members were very disheartened to see this bill move to you guys,” Grady told the Senate Finance Committee.

Rep. Mike Edgar, D-Hampton, was deployed to Iraq and said his son served three tours in Afghanistan.

“I don’t support this. I hope we will come to our senses,” Edgar said.

Rep. Emily Phillips, R-Fremont, said the small firm she operates was nearly lost during the COVID-19 pandemic when one of her employees was deployed for six months.

“This crippled my business; follow the Constitution,” Phillips said.

Sen. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem, expressed doubt that New Hampshire’s National Guard would suffer if the bill passed and he supported it.

“I don’t think our federal delegation would sit still for that kind of a cut,” Abbas said.

The state is suffering from a serious workforce shortage and the bill could help in a small way, he said.

“The real cost of this policy of sending troops to unnecessary and undeclared wars are their lack of productivity at home,” Abbas said.

“This bill would allow those workers to remain here in the state.”


(c) 2024 The New Hampshire Union Leader

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.