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Guest Opinion

Keep National Guard units out of overseas conflicts


The push for “Defend the Guard” legislation in Pennsylvania is gaining momentum, reflecting a growing concern over the deployment of the state’s National Guard units in overseas conflicts without a formal declaration of war by Congress. This legislation, if passed, would prohibit the deployment of Pennsylvania’s National Guard units into active combat, aligning with the constitutional mandate that grants Congress the sole power to declare war.

The reasons for passing “Defend the Guard” legislation in Pennsylvania are manifold, each underscoring the importance of adhering to constitutional principles, safeguarding the rights and well-being of service members and promoting a more measured approach to military engagement.

Constitutional Adherence

Section 9, Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution was designed to ensure that the decision to send the nation into battle would be thoroughly debated and not be left to the whims of a single branch of government. Over the years, however, this clear mandate has been eroded by the Executive Branch’s increasing control over military decisions, including the deployment of National Guard units overseas. “Defend the Guard” legislation would serve as a critical reminder of this constitutional requirement, ensuring that Pennsylvania’s service members are not sent into harm’s way without the rigorous scrutiny and debate that a formal declaration of war demands.

Protection of National Guard Members

By abdicating their duty to the Executive Branch, Congress not only sidesteps the intended democratic process but also detracts from the National Guard’s vital role in domestic crisis management. “Defend the Guard” bills seek to reestablish this constitutional equilibrium, emphasizing accountability and demanding that elected officials justify their decisions to the populace they serve before committing troops to foreign endeavors. Importantly, it highlights a critical trade-off: when National Guard members are sent to international conflicts, their absence leaves a void in local disaster response and civil unrest management. By keeping these forces within our borders unless absolutely necessary, we ensure they are available to address our domestic needs, thereby prioritizing the safety and well-being of our communities over unnecessary foreign entanglements.

Encouraging Diplomatic Solutions

Passing “Defend the Guard” legislation would signal a broader commitment to exploring diplomatic solutions before resorting to military action. This would necessitate a thorough examination of the situation, encouraging policymakers to exhaust all other options before committing troops to battle. This approach not only aligns with a more prudent and responsible foreign policy but also minimizes the risks to military personnel and the potential for unintended consequences in international relations.

State Sovereignty and Autonomy

Finally, “Defend the Guard” legislation underscores the importance of state sovereignty and autonomy in decisions about military deployment. National Guard units are unique in that they serve both federal and state governments. This bill would assert Pennsylvania’s rights and responsibilities in the decision-making process, ensuring that the state’s interests and the well-being of its citizens are adequately represented and protected.

Passing “Defend the Guard” legislation in Pennsylvania is not only about adhering to constitutional requirements, it is also about protecting the brave men and women of the National Guard, promoting diplomatic over military solutions, and asserting state sovereignty in matters of national defense.

This legislation would represent a commitment to principled governance and the rule of law, making it an essential step for Pennsylvania to take.

Brittany Kosin, who lives in Warwick, is a former candidate for state representative in the 178th House District.

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