He explained why we must use “Defend the Guard” to reassert constitutional powers
McKnight is veteran who served in the United States Marine Corp, the United States Army, and the Idaho Army National Guard. He deployed with the National Guard to Afghanistan from 2005-2007.
“South Dakota ranks as the number one most veteran-friendly state in the entire nation. In my state where I come from, Idaho, we try to model ourself on what you’ve done here,” McKnight told the assembled committee.
“Defend the Guard” is a pro-soldier bill which would prohibit the deployment of National Guard units into overseas combat without a declaration of war by Congress, as prescribed in the U.S. Constitution. This year has seen it introduced in over a dozen states, and it will be introduced in a dozen more by the end of the 2021 legislative session.
“This legislation is an admonition to all in Washington DC that…troops should not be committed to war without a declaration of war,” McKnight continued. “We believe a declaration of war is required for any troops, and the result of the abdication of power that Congress has participated in is endless and forever wars. Wars without declaration go on forever and ever.”
He explained the proper role of the Guard in foreign policy, and why its resources are being abused by Washington DC to serve their own ends, not those of the American voter or people of South Dakota.
“The National Guard has become the reserve component for the active-duty military. That’s a proper and necessary role for the National Guard,” McKnight said. “They should be a reserve component; they should be an auxiliary force for the active-duty military. If we need to go to war the National Guard should go fight and win our nation’s wars and then return home.”
With this legislation, states and communities can reassert their authority under the Tenth Amendment and obligate Congress to follow the Constitution, something they’ve avoided for over seventy years. “Defend the Guard is a way for the states, for the people, to reclaim their power from the federal government. We are a federalist nation, and our founding fathers had it right, and the state of South Dakota has it right in your own motto, ‘Under God, the people rule.’ That’s the way it was meant to be,” said McKnight.
He outlined how unaccountable U.S. foreign policy has become, with Congress ceding their role to the Executive Branch, and the result being endless, globe-spanning war. “We’re in 150 nations with active-duty military troops right now. 65 nations have counter-terrorism training missions that are going on right now. 26 active military operations are being conducted today as we speak. 14 nations have troops in combat, direct-fire combat. And 7 additional nations are getting drone strikes from the United States military today. All without a declaration of war.”
“[Socrates] was on trial for not recognizing the Gods that the state recognized. Well, I don’t recognize the Gods that the state recognizes: the gods of perpetual war, the gods of war profiteering, the gods of the military-industrial complex. And I’m here to sting you, and I hope that you’re here to sting the members of your congressional delegation in Washington DC and encourage them to reclaim their war power authorities,” he concluded.
McKnight was joined in his advocacy by Rep. Aylward, Mike Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center, and Marine veteran Scott Spaulding of Maryland.
He looks forward to continue advocating for America’s veterans and soldiers who overwhelmingly support bringing our troops home from endless, undeclared wars in the Middle East and elsewhere.