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.
Kristi Noem says the deployment of our South Dakota National Guard to Texas “will be paid for by a private donation.” Kristi Noem has turned our military into mercenaries. It is morally wrong to deploy troops for political purposes using private funds.
— SD Democratic Party (@SoDakDems) June 29, 2021
Governor Noem has accepted a private donation to pay for sending South Dakota’s National Guard to Texas, with no details being released to the public.
Think about that for a moment.
— Andy Howes (@_AndyHowes) June 29, 2021
“Rent[ing] out a state’s National Guard as a private army for a political stunt to benefit the Republican Party and the future political plans of the governor is one very long step down a road that other republics have traveled, never to be seen again.”https://t.co/l2jibdE0xL
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) June 30, 2021
Krist Noem is deploying the National Guard to the border. Paid for with a private donation.
Since when is the SD national guard an anti-immigrant mercenary force?
— Santiago Mayer (@santiagomayer_) June 29, 2021
How soon before Kristi Noem is advertising the services of the South Dakota National Guard in Soldier of Fortune?
— W. M. (@Minuteman04) June 30, 2021
That’s… not how this works.
The National Guard isn’t a mercenary force that can be paid for by ‘private donations’ https://t.co/phTHiM7RQR
— Angry Staffer (@Angry_Staffer) June 29, 2021
Allowing billionaire donors to finance troop deployments seems like a really bad idea. https://t.co/7zVhPELJcg
— Andrew Weinstein (@Weinsteinlaw) June 29, 2021
SD National Guard members signed up to serve our state and country, not to generate airtime for our Governor on Fox News or to be mercenaries for some wealthy donor. Our National Guardsmen and women are not professional soldiers for hire.
— Reynold Nesiba (@ReynoldNesiba) June 29, 2021
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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