Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, blasted South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) this week for letting a right-wing billionaire purchase the services of the National Guard.

Noem agreed to send 50 National Guard troops to the border in Texas after Tennessee billionaire and Republican donor Willis Johnson offered to pay for it, basically letting Johnson treat the military as his own personal mercenaries for hire, a move that undermines the chain of command.

On Wednesday, Smith ripped Noem and said he intends to ask Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to intervene.

“The one thing we’re going to do on the Armed Services Committee is we’re going to put pressure on the secretary of defense and everyone else to say, ‘This should not be happening. How do we make it stop?’” Smith said. “This is unbelievably dangerous to think that rich people can start using the U.S. military to advance their objectives, independent of what the commander in chief and the secretary of defense think they ought to be doing.”

Indeed, billionaire donors can’t use the military as their personal mercenaries. President Joe Biden can put a stop to this scheme right now by federalizing the South Dakota National Guard and ordering them to stand down or go elsewhere.

Republican governors have been sending National Guard troops to the border in a desperate effort by the GOP to make Americans believe that there is a border crisis even though it’s mostly an influx of innocent women and children who are entering the United States. That makes the National Guard unnecessary and an unacceptable escalation of a problem the Biden administration is handling.

Americans have heavily criticized Noem on Twitter for treating our troops like mercenaries for hire.

The implications of letting Noem get away with this pay-for-play scheme are harrowing to think about. It was not too long ago that Americans had to worry about whether Donald Trump would try to use the military to overthrow democracy and stay in power. Noem is clearly sending a message to right-wing billionaires that they can pay her to use the military any way they want, which raises her profile in the GOP ahead of the 2024 Election. This is a red flag and Americans need to take it seriously. Because if a right-wing billionaire can treat the military as a mercenary force, nothing stops them from paying the president to use troops against the people to crush protest or rig elections. Noem is signaling that she’s open to that for the right price.

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