Time to Stop Making the National Guard a COVID Band-Aid

Placing National Guard medical personnel in remote hospitals to supplement medical workers is a fallacious idea if you understand how the National Guard apparatus works.

When you hear in the news how wonderful this ill conceived plan is, you need to consider the fact that all those military doctors and nurses called up are only practicing medicine with their Guard units one weekend a month.  What do they do the rest of their time?  They work full-time at civilian medical facilities like every other professional.  Medical-grade National Guardsmen militarily assigned to aid other hospitals end up subtracting their positions from their own facilities, resulting in a zero-sum outcome.

Deploying military medical personnel to other hospitals for ninety days at a time is problematic at its core.  When they are absent from drill weekend duties, they disrupt troops' ability to continue medical readiness.  Medical readiness is critical in keeping a unit's ability to deploy worldwide.  Brigadier General Isabel Rivera Smith of the New York National Army Guard agrees.  She is the director of joint staff for the New York National Guard and clearly sees this is a problem, but her command is at the will of the governor.  Only the governor and the president can control the National Guard.  Do not believe false narratives about anyone other than them controlling Army Guard deployments.

The purpose of the military is not to support civilian shortages.  Rather, it's to defend the country and its citizens from any external attack.  Every governor should weigh the costs of lending his National Guard personnel for purposes other than military business.  The governors, being the commanders of the National Guard, should be experts on policies' effectiveness.  Governors are not always aware of the unintended consequences they could create in these circumstances.  Instead, they take credit for their swift actions amid the dire headlines in today's pandemic atmosphere.

The National Guard has become the go-to replacement workforce to support random missions at the whim of the president and governors.  In January 2021, the National Guard deployed twenty-five thousand Guardsmen to protect the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.  Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) criticized that deployment as an "overreaction" that turned the Capitol into an "armed camp."  Imagine the resources and coordination it took to deploy, only to protect a one-day inauguration event.

 In these unusual times, the National Guard acts as border patrol agents, still helps with natural disasters, administers covid shots, and runs COVID testing locations.  In the state of New York, four hundred National Guard members are currently receiving training to be EMT specialists.  The Army is actively recruiting retired veterans to learn those skills.  Re-enlisting veterans into any service is exceedingly rare!  I personally look for this to be a future trend for all services.  How can there be a huge demand for EMT-qualified people in the Army?  Are they recruiting EMT trainees to serve other agencies?

The more the National Guard strays from its purpose, the more people will quit.  "I did not sign up for this" is a real issue.  The National Guard is now filling in for absent positions in other agencies of those who did not comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandates.  At the Texas border, the National Guard troops took over the roles of dismissed border patrol agents.

The Guard is stuck in a continuous personnel replacement mission because Guardsmen are convenient pawns of usefulness at the cost of their own future success.  Shuffling labor around is not, nor will it ever be, the answer to workforce shortages.  How long can the National Guard sustain this abuse?

Meanwhile, the Army reprimanded more than three thousand soldiers for refusing the COVID vaccine.  They are now entering into the same sinking ship the hospitals are in.  Army Secretary Christine Wormuth recently ordered commanders to start involuntary separation proceedings for those who have refused the vaccine and do not have a pending or approved exemption.  Degraded readiness is the price the National Guard will pay for governors "following the science."

We can easily solve this problem by hiring back the resolute doctors, nurses, border patrol agents, police officers, truckers, teachers, and emergency personnel fired for not taking the COVID-19 vaccine.  Continuing in this direction with the National Guard will only turn from neutral results to severe and lasting diminishing returns.  The National Guard is not an infinite resource to draw from and to supply endless missions beyond its intended purpose.  Further degradation of our society will continue if we do not move beyond trusting "the science" that brought us to this point.

Kevin White is a retired veteran of the United States Air force, having served 30 years all over the world.  He is a strong conservative who believes in patriotism, nationalism, and peace through strength.  Kevin encourages others to utilize skills and education to rise above their current limited social restrictions.  Kevin works in the aviation industry with skills he learned from his military career.  His leisure time hobbies are writing and guitar.  He resides near Dayton, Ohio with his wife and two daughters.

Image via Picryl.

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