President Joe Biden offered his thoughts Thursday night on the idea of activating National Guard units to help get goods from point A to point B around the country, telling a CNN Town Hall that, “Yes, absolutely, positively. I will do that,” but his own staff have already waved it off.
If troops do chip in to help with unloading containers or driving trucks, or any other type of support, it will be on a state level, a White House official told Military Times on Friday.
“Requesting the use of the National Guard at the state level is under the purview of governors, and we are not actively pursuing the use of the National Guard on a federal level,” the official said.
The Defense Department, likewise, hasn’t been read in on the conversation.
“We at DoD have received no requests for assistance with transportation,” Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesman, told Military Times on Friday.
And while there are certainly service members with commercial drivers licenses, governors would also have to consider that those troops might already be using that skill in civilian jobs, and a deployment would pull them away from roles they already play in the supply chain.
Any activations would be similar to state efforts around natural disasters ― or more recently, civil unrest and COVID-19 support ― in that governors could mobilize their National Guard troops in a state status to help out.
If it did happen, it would likely be in states like California, where the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are two of the country’s busiest, as well, as New York, Texas and Louisiana.
None of the governors of those states, or any other, have signaled a desire to activate troops to help with the flow at their ports.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.