Biden Issues Executive Order Giving Authority to Activate Reservists for Ukraine

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AP Photo/Sergei Grits

The White House has issued an Executive Order authorizing the activation of up to 3,000 reservists to augment US operations in support of Ukraine.

The Order

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 121 and 12304 of title 10, United States Code, I hereby determine that it is necessary to augment the active Armed Forces of the United States for the effective conduct of Operation Atlantic Resolve in and around the United States European Command’s area of responsibility.  In furtherance of this operation, under the stated authority, I hereby authorize the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy, under their respective jurisdictions, to order to active duty any units, and any individual members not assigned to a unit organized to serve as a unit of the Selected Reserve, or any member in the Individual Ready Reserve mobilization category and designated as essential under regulations prescribed by the Secretary concerned, not to exceed 3,000 total members at any one time, of whom not more than 450 may be members of the Individual Ready Reserve, as they deem necessary, and to terminate the service of those units and members ordered to active duty.

This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Who Does It Affect?

The order allows the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security to order up to 3,000 reservists to federal duty. These can be members of reserve units (Selected Reserve) and individuals not assigned to units (Individual Ready Reserve).

If Coast Guardsmen are ordered up, they count against the 3,000-person ceiling.

No more than 450 IRR members can be called up.

In reality, the number deployed will be about half that because the replacements for the deployed reservists will count against the ceiling.

There is no authority to federalize National Guard units.

What is Atlantic Resolve?

Atlantic Resolve started on April 30, 2014, in response to Russia’s invasion of the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. See the original fact sheet.

Atlantic Resolve has historically been air and ground operations focused on NATO’s Eastern Front (it doesn’t have an Eastern “Flank”) to practice and demonstrate deployability. Visit US European Command’s web page on Atlantic Resolve for more information.

Biden’s order does change Atlantic Resolve’s status from a group of activities focused on Russian aggression in Eastern Europe to a named contingency operation.

The president’s order also for the first time designates Operation Atlantic Resolve, the U.S. effort in Europe, as a contingency operation, which allows the Pentagon to call up reserve forces and implement sped-up acquisition authorities to supply those troops with equipment.

The designation not only allows the president to mobilize reservists, but also ensures they are paid and supported as active-duty troops. It also provides support for families and dependents of any reservists who might be deployed.

The U.S. rushed 20,000 more troops to Europe after Russia’s invasion, bringing the total to over 100,000 on the continent. That includes new rotations of 10,000 troops in Poland, which has emerged as a critical hub for supporting and supplying Ukraine.

What Will They Do?

There is a lot of profoundly stupid commentary on social media saying that these are “boots on the ground,” and a war with Russia is imminent. That’s nuts and irresponsible.

This is why we should have no dealings with the Libertarian Party.

We sent 20,000 troops to Europe right after the Russians invaded Ukraine, and this guy didn’t need to change into his brown trousers. And now he’s ankle-deep in his own poo.

The total force package authorized is the equivalent of a combat brigade. In terms of a land war, it is negligible. There is no indication which service or services will be tasked for reservists, so setting your hair on fire of WAR WITH RUSSIA is damned premature.

I think that what we have been told so far lets us know the purpose.

Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II, a senior official on the military’s Joint Staff, told reporters in a briefing that “these authorities will enable the department to better support and sustain” the enhanced American presence overseas.

Capt. Bill Speaks, a spokesman for U.S. European Command, said in a statement that the command was preparing to use the new authorities to “ensure long-term resilience in USEUCOM’s continued heightened level of presence and operations.”

The overwhelming odds are that the 1,500 reservists will be logistics units to regularize and make the processes for moving equipment and supplies to Ukraine more efficient. What you can be assured they are not is troops heading off to combat in Ukraine.

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