Consider the following hypothetical:

The President learns that China is going to arm Russia with weapons in its war in Ukraine. The United States, unlike Russia, is not on a war footing. Its economy is not mobilized and its citizens are not being mobilized to work production in the defense sector. Ukraine's munitions requirements and usage already outpace US munitions production capacity.

So to respond, the President considers proposing the following the Congress: (only presenting the relevant portions of this 'plan' or thought experiment related to the question)

I want to use the US National Guard & possibly US Army Corps of Engineers to build 10-15 new munitions productions facilities across the US quickly (utilizing tens of thousands of National Guard personnel or more), and then staff said production facilities with National Guardsmen until the contractor obtains new hire replacements (with government incentives).

Would this be legal, to use National Guard personnel (and possibly Army) for construction and even manufacturing personnel on a temporary basis, particularly when it can be linked to US national security or "supporting the functions" of the United States military?

  • 2
    Are you asking for what the President can do on his own, or what he can do if Congress authorizes it?
    – cpast
    Feb 20 at 20:41
  • @cpast Well, both. Would Congress just need to add funding for this whole endeavor or would they need to write new laws allowing the National Guard to participate in such construction & manufacturing of contractor-ran facilities? Feb 20 at 20:44
  • Perun shook the trees of the free world and found sufficient manufacturing capacity already exists, just a matter of writing checks. See also this. Feb 21 at 4:51
  • Around the 37 minute mark of that first Perun video the author mentions the possible procurement of "1,700 ATACMS" based on the Congressional bill. You can tell they don't know much about this stuff when they say that...since ATACMS haven't been made for years now. We produce about 11k-15k shells/month now & Ukraine goes through about 5k a day. That's just unguided 155 mm rounds. Ukraine really needs precision guided GMLRS or ATACMS too, & that requires more production facilities that the DOD is planning to build later this year. Sources linked in next comment. Feb 21 at 5:03

1 Answer 1


Congress could certainly bless this activity. The U.S. Constitution does not forbid it.

As a practical matter, because the process of bidding defense contracts to procure goods for the military is enshrined in law and legislation, and because the National Guard does not have funding to carry out all aspects of this mission, it would probably require Congressional approval of some kind.

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