Governors Criticize Biden Over National Guard Shift

( – Senior figures in the National Guard and all 55 US Governors have objected to Biden administration proposals to move members of the National Guard to the federal Space Force without gubernatorial approval. The National Guard, which is accountable to state Governors, comprises reservists called upon to deal with emergencies such as national disasters, and recent Department of Defense proposals to move them to the Space Force have met with widespread disapproval.

Retired Maj. Gen. Francis M. McGinn, president of the National Guard Association, called it the “wholesale harvesting of the units.”

Legislative Proposal 480 (LP480), submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee, explicitly seeks to sidestep traditional gubernatorial authority and transfer service personnel who have worked on space-related missions to the Space Guard, affecting hundreds of National Guard troops.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Governors argued that eliminating their authority over the National Guard undermines their broader authority within their respective states and compromises longstanding partnerships and military readiness. The letter also noted the impact a transfer to a federal agency could have on personnel who may not wish to serve outside their own state.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has described the proposals as a “power grab” by the federal government. The Governor wrote to President Biden arguing that if the plans go ahead, they will pose an “intolerable threat” to the National Guard and the vital services it provides.

Maj. Gen. McGinn agreed with Abbott and said that the move amounts to a “significant federal overreach” that alters relations between lawmakers and America’s defense personnel, as well as between the US Congress and state authorities. McGinn furthermore believes that LP480 will detrimentally affect recruitment and retention at a time when the military is experiencing recruitment crises.

The Army, for example, missed its 2022 recruitment target by 15,000, and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Congress that only 23% of Americans aged 17 – 24 are qualified to serve without a waiver.

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