Potentially adding thousands from the National Guard and the Reserve to that figure could have a sizable impact, according to experts.
“The order of magnitude is very large,” said Katherine Kuzminski, director of the Military, Veterans, and Society program at the Center for a New American Security, a left-leaning Washington think tank. “When you’re talking tens of thousands — that’s ten battalions’ worth for 10,000 people and that’s significant.”
The loss of troops would be felt mostly domestically now that the war in Afghanistan is over, she said. During the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military heavily relied on the National Guard and reservists for combat support and logistics. But today, those soldiers and airmen are primarily deployed for local emergencies, she said.
“Given that we’re in the middle of both wildfire and hurricane season, that could have potentially detrimental effects on the availability of manpower for dealing with domestic crises where we rely on the Guard,” Kuzminski said. “It raises more challenges for the ability of the United States to meet crisis moments here at home.”
There can be workarounds, however. In certain states, Guard members banned from federal duties might still be able to participate in state-level operations through the authority of a governor, Kuzminski said.
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