Governor Kristi Noem (R-SD) announced that she has deployed 50 of South Dakota’s National Guard on state active duty (SAD) to Texas to assist with Governor Greg Abbott‘s (R-TX) Operation Lone Star at the U.S.-Mexico border, which she calls a “warzone.”
Noem has joined a growing list of Republican governors (most recently Oklahoma, West Virginia, Nebraska) who have deployed National Guard troops to the border in Texas. According to Military.com, the SAD troops deployed from other states stay for approximately one month, sometimes “leaving little time for actual operations on the border after moving personnel and gear on and off the mission.”
The show of solidarity among the GOP state leaders can be costly to the troops: Guard troops on SAD orders “are generally paid less than if they were on traditional military duty” and “are not entitled to disability through the Department of Veterans Affairs if injured on duty.”
The warzone at our Southern border continues to deteriorate. Cartels are taking advantage of the situation to proliferate their criminal activity.— Governor Kristi Noem (@GovKristiNoem) September 26, 2023
The Biden Admin won’t do their job. @SD_Guard troops are stepping into the gap alongside @TXMilitary.
➡️ https://t.co/dp3yp4nTDG pic.twitter.com/YRzWzdy48v
Noem recently went to the border in Texas where she was met by South Dakota Adjutant General Mark Morrell and South Dakota Secretary of Public Safety Bob Perry, and was photographed with some of the troops. Noem “inspected the warzone” while wearing a camo National Guard baseball hat, bright red t-shirt, blue jeans, and cowboy boots.
After sharing the photos and video above, Noem was criticized in the comments for “staging a photo op, in bad taste.” Another detractor chimed in: “Is this just for show? Are they going there just for a day? If Greg Abbott had the option to call it an emergency and send national guard to block the border, where was he all those years? Thank you, but aren’t you guys like a few million illegals too late?”
The Governor’s repeated use of “warzone” rankled some observers, one of who commented “I’m not saying there are not major issues at the border. But to call it a WarZone? I’ve been to a war zone and they are far from the same.” Another in this vein read: “War zone? You should be ashamed.”
Some commenters applauded Noem’s show of solidarity, if not exactly force. But if this optics action by the Governor was meant to build Noem’s credibility as a border fighter, the comments generally suggest it’s not been a win so far.
SD Guardsmen belong in SD, not on a maga publicity stunt.— RichardHeule (@HeuleRichard) September 27, 2023
Note: The South Dakota National Guard reports it has close to 4,200 Soldiers and Airmen available to execute its missions.