Biden Authorizes Military to Call Reservists to Active Duty to Support Ukraine War

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President Joe Biden on Thursday issued an executive order authorizing the Pentagon to call reservists to active duty “for the effective conduct” of U.S. military support to Ukraine.

At the same time, the Pentagon designated the U.S. military support to Ukraine since 2014 under Operation Atlantic Resolve a “contingency operation.”

Biden wrote in a message to Congress:

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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.

Operation Atlantic Resolve began in 2014 to bolster the U.S. military presence in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and annexation of Crimea.

Biden said in the message that he authorized the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard, to order to active duty any units or individuals not assigned to a unit.

He said in the message that the number would not exceed 3,000 total members at any one time, and no more than 450 members of the Individual Ready Reserve.

Pentagon officials said no troops would be deployed for combat to Ukraine.

Army Lieutenant General D.A. Sims, the Joint Staff J3 director of operations, told reporters:

Based on the level of presence and operations in the U.S. [European Command] area of operations, DOD’s support requirements have grown, as well.  These authorities will enable the department to better support and sustain its enhanced presence and level of operations in the U.S. EUCOM [area of responsibility].

He also said the moves reaffirm “the unwavering support and commitment to the defense of NATO’s eastern flank in wake of Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war on Ukraine.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said declaring Operation Atlantic Resolve a contingency operation “unlocks capabilities and authorities that…enables us to provide better support and sustain our forces. So this includes things like increased contracting responsiveness, personnel-related entitlements that — that give activated reservists the same benefits as active component personnel.”

He said it also enhanced the Pentagon’s ability to track spending directly associated with the contingency.

He said the U.S. would not add to the forces in Europe but would allow the Pentagon to replace some forces with reservists if necessary.

“What it does is it provides additional access to reserve component forces. So you’re now able to call on Guard or reserve forces to come support Atlantic Resolve, and [be] entitled to the same kind of benefits as their active duty counterparts,” he said.

“So — it’s not additional forces, it’s unlocking additional forces for use in support of this operation, if that makes sense,” he added.

Biden’s executive order comes just a day after he departed a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where NATO members pledged continued support for Ukraine in its war against Russia.

At the summit, Biden declared that the U.S. has “given more than any other nation combined in terms of assistance and cost.”

According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the U.S. has given more than $78 billion in government aid since January 24, 2022, including more than $43 billion in military aid.

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