Congress is considering whether to give governors authority over all U.S. military forces in their states during terrorist attacks and domestic disasters.
The discussion comes on the heels of a report by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, which suggested that the nation’s governors be given authority over active duty troops in their states during catastrophes, Stateline.org reported Thursday.
The proposal is opposed by the Pentagon, which says giving governors authority beyond their state’s National Guard troops is unconstitutional and “invites confusion” over military command during emergencies.
But having the governors oversee their National Guardsmen and the president commanding active duty troops “places the nation at risk of a disjointed federal and state military response to a catastrophe,” the report concluded, according to Stateline.org.
This would be a mistake. As the quote above points out, this would violate the military chain of command and the Constitutional concept of federalism. (It’s not just about spreading powers out to local government, it’s about reserving powers to their proper positions. Catholics discuss this as the principle of subsidiarity.) Governors have police forces and the National Guard at their disposal at times of crisis. The fact that some Governors failed to use these resources properly in past crises doesn’t justify abrogating the President’s role as Commander-in-Chief. I would hope this proposal is defeated.