The top general of the US National Guard said the reserve force will be used “more, not less” in the coming years as the Pentagon shifts its focus and budget priorities.
“Given the uncertain future and budget priorities, we expect the Department of Defense to rely on the National Guard more, not less,” said Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, in a statement published earlier this year. “Therefore, we must be ready to execute our three core missions; fighting America’s wars, securing the homeland, and building enduring partnerships.”
Since last year, the National Guard has been deployed to deal with a number of domestic issues, including the occupation of Washington DC in the wake of the January 6th incident at the Capitol building. On top of the domestic missions, the National Guard is still deployed across the world.
According to Military.com, there are currently 20,000 National Guard troops deployed across the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. The Pentagon’s over-reliance on the National Guard to fight wars overseas prompted activists to push state legislation that would give the federal government less power to deploy National Guard to combat zones.
The Defend the Guard Act would prevent a state’s National Guard from being deployed to combat zones unless Congress had declared war. The legislation could give the power to states to block the use of their National Guard and has been introduced to multiple state legislatures.
As the Pentagon is shifting its focus to contain China, priority is being put on new technology research and advanced warfighting capabilities in the space and cyber realms. Reflecting this, the National Guard is looking to establish a reserve group that would focus on space, known as a Space Guard. In May, Gen. Hokanson told Congress that establishing a Space Guard is one of his most “pressing concerns.”