Release-Veterans group praises Rep. Steve Johnson  for bill requiring Congress to declare war before Guard is mobilized

January 27, 2020
Veterans group praises Rep. Steve Johnson for bill requiring Congress to declare war before Guard is mobilized
BOISE – A bipartisan group of Afghanistan and Iraq war era veterans praised Michigan State Rep. Steve Johnson (MI-72) on Monday, for introducing legislation requiring that Michigan’s National Guard units cannot be deployed for foreign combat or combat support duties 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 former Idaho Army National Guard Sgt. Dan McKnight, founder of BringOurTroopsHome.US, who served eighteen months in Afghanistan. “We thank Rep. 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.”

“Rep. Johnson’s bill simply says that before ordering Michigan’s National Guard personnel to leave their families and do their job,” McKnight said, “Congress should first accept responsibility in the comforts here at home of doing their job. We shouldn’t ask National Guard personnel to have the courage to put their boots on the ground, unless Congress at least has the courage first to put their names on the line.”
Representative Steve Johnson represents Michigan’s 72nd District.
McKnight said McGeehan’s legislation is based on what’s been dubbed “Defend the Guard” legislation, first introduced last year in West Virginia by state Del. Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock County, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy who served as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan.
Nothing in HB 5320 would prevent the governor from mobilizing the National Guard to respond to a natural disaster or maintain civil order.
McKnight’s group in November organized a bipartisan conference in Washington, D.C. of lawmakers who plan to introduce the same bill in multiple state legislatures this year, hoping to exercise the powers of state governments under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to check and balance the power of the federal government to use state-based National Guard troops for long-term combat deployments.
(Watch summary video: )
Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho, chaired the meeting, which included legislators from Idaho, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming, and legislators in multiple other states have committed since to introducing Defend the Guard legislation in their state capitals, McKnight said. (See website: DefendTheGuard.US ) 
Republican Party organizations in at least two states, Idaho and Texas, have formally called on their states to adopt such a policy.

The Texas Republican Party platform adopted in 2018 states: “The Texas National Guard and the Texas Air National Guard should only be deployed to overseas combat zones under authorization of Congress through a declaration of war.”
The Idaho Republican Party state central committee in January adopted a resolution urging GOP legislators to introduce legislation “requiring that the Idaho National Guard shall not be mobilized for deployment to foreign war zones, combat duty, or support of combat operations except under a formal declaration of war by Congress, as provided by the Constitution.”

McKnight said multiple public opinion polls over the last year have found that the American public, Republicans, and U.S. troops and veterans themselves support President Trump’s efforts to Bring Our Troops Home.

* A Smithsonian magazine poll on Veterans Day 2018 which found that 84 percent of U.S. troops and veterans believe our occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have “been going on too long.”
* A Politico poll in January 2019 which found that 81 percent of Trump voters support withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, and 76 percent who support withdrawal from Syria.
* A Concerned Veterans for America poll in April which found that 60 percent of veterans and military families support removing troops from Afghanistan.
* A Pew Research Center poll in July which found that 64 percent of veterans say Iraq was not worth fighting, with roughly 60 percent agreeing in regards to Afghanistan.
* An Economist/YouGov poll in October which found that 57 percent of Republicans support President Trump’s withdrawal of some U.S. troops from Syria.

McKnight said “the American people and our soldiers themselves know that as President Trump’s recent strike on a high-level Iranian terrorist proved, we don’t need National Guard troops on the ground to take out the bad guys, anywhere in the world.”
“After losing over 3,000 dead Americans and $8 trillion over the last eighteen years, our nation and our military will be stronger if we follow President Trump’s desire to end what he called these ridiculous endless wars, bring our troops home, and don’t send them back unless the justification and willingness of the American people is so strong that Congress declares war.”
McKnight said he also hopes Defend the Guard legislation introduced in multiple states will help draw attention to recent disclosures in a Washington Post report in December dubbed the “Afghanistan Papers” — based on findings of the Office of the Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction’s interviews with hundreds of high-ranking military personnel and others within the Department of Defense, State Department, and the White House over multiple administrations — which found, in the words of SIGAR director John Sopko, “the American people have constantly been lied to” about the war in Afghanistan. (The Hill: )
McKnight said his group is particularly outraged over SIGAR’s findings that have resulted in a lawsuit in December by over a hundred Gold Star families who lost family members in Afghanistan upset by reports that American defense contractors, paid by the U.S. government, violated the federal Anti-Terrorism Act to protect their operations in Afghanistan by secretly making “protection” payments to enemy Taliban forces. One of the contractors defended itself by saying in a public statement that its actions “followed the directives of the U.S. government agencies that we served.” (CNN: )  

“Congress should immediately hold hearings to uncover the truth, and until then, no more National Guard personnel from Michigan should be deployed to combat overseas until the people of Michigan are assured our federal government is not giving American tax dollars to military contractors, who funnel that money to enemy Taliban forces who use our own tax dollars to finance killing American soldiers,” McKnight said.   

For more information on HB 5320, Rep. Johnson can be reached for comment at 616-558-1035 or by email at


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