Lawmakers expressed concern about the heightened potential to stretch the Guard too thin, but defense officials said this new requirement would only task about two percent of the total Guard force. According to National Guard Bureau chief Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Blum, it would take around 156,000 Guardsmen, performing 15-day “training” rotations, to provide the 6,000 needed in the first year of border duty. He believes that number is sustainable—using both Army and Air Guard. It was Blum who provided the magic number of 6,000. He told lawmakers Wednesday that he calculated how many Guardsmen he could task without mobilizing them, without interrupting their civilian employment or normal family life, and without bankrupting the war on terror overseas—and decided he could “handle somewhere on the high end of about 6,000.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.