Every state in the United States of America has a National Guard. The point of the National Guard is to create a force that is under dual control; it acts as a military force for a state to utilize in the event of an emergency, but it also belongs to the United States government, and is a reserve component of the United States Army.
Because the National Guard of every state is equipped, trained, and mostly funded with money from the federal government, it is expected they will deploy as needed and demanded by the federal government.
But sometimes, states exert their influence and refuse to deploy, or set arbitrary and strange limitations. California, a few days ago, said that it would NOT deploy any of its National Guard troops to the border to help secure it, as ordered by President (and Commander-in-Chief) Donald J. Trump. A few days later, they changed course, and said that they would come. Now, the state of California has reneged. Their troops will not take part in any ‘border duties.’
While that 400 troops is not an impressive number by any means (especially as smaller states are sending many more soldiers), at least it’s something. However, if they are not going to help secure the border, the number means nothing.
It simply means that ‘weekend warriors’ will be paid to do nothing or next to nothing, while stationed near the U.S.-Mexico border.
But what does the state of California determine to be ‘border duty?’ They weren’t clear on that.
An official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that there are a number of functions that the California Guard will not provide.
Among them were fixing and maintaining vehicles, operating surveillance cameras and reporting unauthorized immigrants to agents from the U.S. Border Patrol, and providing ‘mission support’ to the U.S. Border Patrol agents operating in the area.
Mission support is a term generally used to include things like buying gas, doing clerical work, running payrolls, and the like.
In other words, the current list of things that the California Guard will not do for the federal government appears to include every discernible reason for them to deploy to the border.
So what will likely happen is that 400 California National Guardsmen will deploy to the border, strap on body armor and M4 carbines, and draw hazard pay for standing around.
California National Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Keegan said that the state of California was still awaiting a formal response from the President’s administration concerning what the California Guard’s duties would be, within the scope of limitations given by Governor Jerry Brown.
Last week, Governor Jerry Brown characterized his choice to send California Guard troops to the border as a choice to spend federal money fighting large cartels that bring drugs and weaponry into the state of California.
However, a spokesman for Governor Jerry Brown, Evan Westrup, could not answer questions about what it is that the California National Guard will do, especially when it comes to specific functions that President Donald Trump laid out a need for.
According to multiple sources, Jerry Brown’s refusal to allow California Guard troops to perform initial tasks purposed for Guardsmen from California, New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona caused a rift between the United States military and the California leadership.
The entire point of arming, training, and funding National Guard units is to have a reserve element of the United States Army that the federal AND state governments can turn to when they’re needed.
The idea that the state of California, then, can decide that they don’t want their soldiers to do various things when the force is federalized is beyond silly. Frankly, it’s outright absurd.
It seems that Governor Brown may be simply hoping that he can take credit for whatever good the National Guard deployment to the border does, without having to take part in it.
The other National Guards from Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas said they will do numerous things to help secure the border, up to and including providing ground and air support to help spot incoming illegal immigrants.
However, at this point, it’s questionable what, if anything, the California Guard will be able to do on the border. Their presence certainly won’t undermine the mission, but it may be a blow to the morale of the National Guardsmen who will actually be working on the border. Maybe that’s Brown’s plan, after all.