Press Release – Veterans Group Praises ‘Defend the Guard’ Bill in Michigan

February 5, 2021
 Veterans Group Praises Michigan’s ‘Defend the Guard’ Legislation
Michigan latest state to join veteran-led movement to require declaration of war

(Boise, Idaho) — BringOurTroopsHome.US, a bipartisan group of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans, today praised Representative Steven Johnson (R-District 72) for introducing legislation stipulating that Michigan’s National Guard units cannot be deployed for foreign combat or combat-support duties in a foreign state unless Congress has formally adopted a declaration of war as provided by the U.S. Constitution.

“As veterans, we strongly support the U.S. taking strong military action when necessary to defend American lives and interests,” said the group’s founder, former Idaho Army National Guard Sgt. Dan McKnight, who served 18 months in Afghanistan. “We thank Representative Johnson for acting to ensure that when Michigan’s men and women in uniform are involved, it’s done the right way, the way the Constitution provides.”

“Johnson’s bill simply says that before ordering Michigan’s National Guard to do their job in a foreign combat zone overseas, Congress from the comforts of home should accept the responsibility of doing their job first,” he said. “Courageous National Guard personnel shouldn’t be required to put their boots on the ground until members of Congress have the courage to put their names on the line, with a formal declaration of war.”

McKnight urged Michigan residents to call their state legislators in support of the bill, which is based on “Defend the Guard” legislation first introduced in West Virginia by state Del. Pat McGeehan (R-Hancock County), a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate who served as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan.
That legislation received bipartisan support, winning endorsements from both the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia and from the national group Vets for Trump.

Nothing in Johnson’s legislation would prevent Michigan’s governor from mobilizing the National Guard to respond to a natural disaster or maintain civil order inside the state.

In 2019, McKnight’s group organized a bipartisan conference in Washington, D.C. of lawmakers who plan to introduce the same bill in multiple state legislatures this year. They hope to exercise the power of state governments under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to check and balance the power of the federal government in its use of state-based National Guard troops for long-term combat deployments.

McKnight said the legislation is just one element of the group’s effort to persuade the President and Congress to bring U.S. troops home from nearly two-decade old wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries. He points to numerous public opinion polls which show a growing majority of support for the move among active duty military personnel, veterans, and the public at large.

  • A poll in November 2020 found that 68 percent of young Republicans, an equal share of young Democrats, and 71 percent of young Independents agree the U.S. should stay out of international conflicts and only become involved when we are forced to, Marketing Research Foundation announced.
  • In July 2020, a poll commissioned by the Charles Koch Institute found that among 2,000 U.S. adults, 44 percent said they strongly support and 30 percent somewhat support (74 percent total) bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq; similarly, 46 percent said they strongly support and 30 percent somewhat support (76 percent total) bringing troops home from Afghanistan.
  • In April 2020, Concerned Veterans for America released a poll which found that 73 percent of the 1,500 veterans and military families polled supported full and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
  • In January 2020, YouGov released a poll finding that roughly 70 percent of all Americans surveyed supported withdrawal of U.S. troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • In October 2019, Rasmussen Reports found that 58 percent of likely U.S. voters and 69 percent of Republicans agreed with former President Trump’s statement that “it’s time for us to get out of these ridiculous endless wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.”
  • In June 2019, Pew Research Center found that 64 percent of veterans and 62 percent of Americans said the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, while 58 percent of veterans and 59 percent of Americans said the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting.
  • In April 2019, Concerned Veterans for America found that 60 percent of veterans and military families supported withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan – meaning support for that position grew by 13 points from April 2019 to April 2020.
  • In January 2019, a Politico poll found that 81 percent of Trump voters supported withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
  • Over Veterans Day in November 2018, a poll by Stars and Stripes magazine found that 84 percent of military service personnel and veterans agreed that the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have “been going on too long.”
McKnight said public opposition to the two-decade old wars in the Middle East is “strong and growing stronger,” and that recent events – civil unrest on both the left and the right, as well as assisting COVID-19 response – indicate that U.S. active duty and Guard troops “are needed here at home to help keep Americans safe.”

“We hope Michiganders will join Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans and our supporters at BringOurTroopsHome.US in urging their governor and legislators to support Representative Johnson’s bill, and urging President Biden and their members of Congress to support bringing all our troops home.”

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