National Guard of the United States

National Guard of the United States

English colonial government militias: from December 13, 1636

  • As "National Guard": from 1824 in New York, from 1903 nationwide
  • Dual state-federal reserve forces: from 1933
Country  United States of America
Allegiance Federal (10 U.S.C. § E)
State/Territory (32 U.S.C.)
Branch  United States Army
 United States Air Force
Role State militia, reserve forces
Size 1.4 million
Part of National Guard Bureau
Garrison/HQ All 50 U.S. states, as well as organized U.S. territories, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia
Nickname(s) "Air Guard"
"Army Guard"
Motto(s) "Always Ready, Always There!"
Chief of the National Guard General Joseph L. Lengyel, USAF
Seal of the Army National Guard
Seal of the Air National Guard

The National Guard of the United States, part of the reserve components of the United States Armed Forces, is a reserve military force, composed of National Guard military members or units of each state and the territories of Guam, of the Virgin Islands, and of Puerto Rico, as well as of the District of Columbia, for a total of 54 separate organizations. All members of the National Guard of the United States are also members of the militia of the United States as defined by 10 U.S.C. § 311. National Guard units are under the dual control of the state and the federal government.

The majority of National Guard soldiers and airmen hold a civilian job full-time while serving part-time as a National Guard member.[1][2] These part-time guardsmen are augmented by a full-time cadre of Active Guard & Reserve (AGR) personnel in both the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, plus Army Reserve Technicians in the Army National Guard and Air Reserve Technicians (ART) in the Air National Guard.

The National Guard is a joint activity of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) composed of reserve components of the United States Army and the United States Air Force: the Army National Guard of the United States[1] and the Air National Guard of the United States respectively.[1]

Local militias were formed from the earliest English colonization of the Americas in 1607. The first colony-wide militia was formed by Massachusetts in 1636 by merging small older local units, and several National Guard units can be traced back to this militia. The various colonial militias became state militias when the United States became independent. The title "National Guard" was used from 1824 by some New York State militia units, named after the French National Guard in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. "National Guard" became a standard nationwide militia title in 1903, and specifically indicated reserve forces under mixed state and federal control from 1933.


The first muster of militia forces in what is today the United States took place on September 16, 1565, in the newly established Spanish military town of St. Augustine. Appropriately enough, this muster occurred in the shadow of an oncoming hurricane. The militia men were assigned to guard the expedition's supplies while their leader, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, took the regular troops north to attack the French settlement at Fort Caroline on the St. Johns River.[3] This Spanish militia tradition and the English tradition that would be established to the north would provide the basic nucleus for Colonial defense in the New World.

From the nation's founding through the early 1900s, the United States maintained only a minimal army and relied on state militias, directly related to the earlier Colonial militias to supply the majority of its troops.[4] As a result of the Spanish–American War, Congress was called upon to reform and regulate the training and qualification of state militias. In 1903, with passage of the Dick Act, the predecessor to the modern-day National Guard was formed. It required the states to divide their militias into two sections. The law recommended the title "National Guard" for the first section, known as the organized militia, and "Reserve Militia" for all others.[5]

During World War I, Congress passed the National Defense Act of 1916, which required the use of the term "National Guard" for the state militias and further regulated them. Congress also authorized the states to maintain Home Guards, which were reserve forces outside the National Guards being deployed by the Federal Government.[6]

In 1933, with passage of the National Guard Mobilization Act, Congress finalized the split between the National Guard and the traditional state militias by mandating that all federally funded soldiers take a dual enlistment/commission and thus enter both the state National Guard and the National Guard of the United States, a newly created federal reserve force.

The National Defense Act of 1947 created the Air Force as a separate branch of the Armed Forces and concurrently created the Air National Guard of the United States as one of its reserve components, mirroring the Army's structure.


Territorial organization

The National Guard of the several states, territories, and the District of Columbia serves as part of the first-line of defense for the United States.[7] The state National Guard is organized into units stationed in each of the 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia, and operates under their respective state or territorial governor, except in the instance of Washington, D.C., where the National Guard operates under the President of the United States or his designee. The governors exercise control through the state adjutants general.[8] The National Guard may be called up for active duty by the governors to help respond to domestic emergencies and disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.[8]

National Guard Bureau

The National Guard is administered by the National Guard Bureau, which is a joint activity of the Army and Air Force under the DoD.[9][10][11] The National Guard Bureau provides a communication channel for state National Guards to the DoD.[12] The National Guard Bureau also provides policies and requirements for training and funds for state Army National Guard and state Air National Guard units,[13] the allocation of federal funds to the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard,[13] as well as other administrative responsibilities prescribed under 10 U.S.C. § 10503. The National Guard Bureau is headed by the Chief of the National Guard Bureau (CNGB), who is a four-star general[9][10] in the Army or Air Force and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Agricultural Development Teams

Prior to 2008, the functions of Agricultural Development Teams were within Provincial Reconstruction Teams of the US Government. Today, ADTs consist of soldiers and airmen from the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. Today, ADTs bring "an effective platform for enhanced dialogue, building confidence, sharing interests, and increasing cooperation amongst the disparate peoples and tribes of Afghanistan."[14] These teams are not only affiliated with the military, they frequently work across agencies, for example with USAID and the Department of State. ADTs provide education and expertise on the ground, while also providing security and order that is traditionally affiliated with the military. These teams have been essential to the counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan as a public diplomacy tool to build relations with the local people in the tribes and provinces of the country.

ADTs provide classroom instruction and teachings to Afghans about how to improve their farming practices during non-seasonal growing months, which allows the farmers to use skills in the winter to prepare for farming in the summer and fall. This enhances agricultural production and the Afghan economy as a whole. Agricultural education also improves lines of communication and builds trust between the people, the US government, and the Host Nation.[15] Additionally, through word of mouth in the provinces ideas are spread that inform others about these farming techniques, that may not have had direct interaction with the ADTs. The National Guard ADTs also introduce their US civilian colleagues to the Afghan University personnel, which further strengthens relations and trust in the US efforts in Afghanistan.[16]

ADTs also enhance public diplomacy in Afghanistan by providing security to the local provinces they are working within. This tool has provided the teams with the civilian-military partnership that is needed to conduct public diplomacy and defeat the insurgents in Afghanistan. President Barack Obama said that the US will enhance agricultural development instead of big reconstruction projects to build Afghanistan's economy, to have an immediate impact on the Afghan people. Today, these projects include "basic gardening practices, to large watershed and irrigation projects. There are also projects that teach bee keeping and livestock production: all of which will have a positive impact on unemployment, hunger, and the ability to sustain future generations."[14]

More and more Afghan tribal leaders have been requesting additional ADTs, which illustrates how important the use of public diplomacy has been in the efforts to win the trust of the Afghan people. The case study from Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan serves as an excellent example. This province is one of the most stable and secure provinces in Afghanistan. For example, over 100,000 Afghans have returned to province; the province has also been declared poppy-free in 2007 by the UN. Additionally, most districts within the province have all-weather paved roads and it is also one of the most productive agricultural regions in Afghanistan.[14] ADT should further its progress within the provinces of Afghanistan in agricultural education, technical support, and logistics. In order to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan public diplomacy is an essential force, ADTs allow the US to educate the population of Afghanistan with the hopes of strengthening Afghan trust in the American mission in Afghanistan.


Both the Army National Guard and Air National Guard are expected to adhere to the same moral and physical standards as their "full-time" active duty and "part-time" reserve federal counterparts. The same ranks and insignia of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force are used by the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, respectively, and National Guardsmen are eligible to receive all United States military awards. The respective state National Guards also bestow state awards for services rendered both at home and abroad. Under Army and Air Force regulations, these awards may be worn while on state active duty or while on Title 32 federal activation. Regular Army and Army Reserve soldiers are also authorized to accept these awards, but are not authorized to wear them.

Constitutional basis

Army National Guard soldiers at New York City's Penn Station in 2004.

The respective state National Guards are authorized by the Constitution of the United States. As originally drafted, the Constitution recognized the existing state militias, and gave them vital roles to fill: "to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasion." (Article I, Section 8, Clause 15). The Constitution distinguished "militias," which were state entities, from "Troops", which were unlawful for states to maintain without Congressional approval. (Article I, Section 10, Clause 3). Under current law, the respective state National Guards and the State Defense Forces are authorized by Congress to the states and are referred to as "troops." 32 U.S.C. § 109.

Although originally state entities, the Constitutional "Militia of the Several States" were not entirely independent because they could be federalized. According to Article I, Section 8; Clause 15, the United States Congress is given the power to pass laws for "calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions." Congress is also empowered to come up with the guidelines "for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress" (clause 16). The President of the United States is the commander-in-chief of the state militias "when called into the actual Service of the United States." (Article II, Section 2).

The traditional state militias were redefined and recreated as the "organized militia"—the National Guard, via the Militia Act of 1903. They were now subject to an increasing amount of federal control, including having arms and accouterments supplied by the central government, federal funding, and numerous closer ties to the Regular Army.

Other organizations

State defense forces

Main article: State defense force

Many states also maintain their own state defense forces. Although not federal entities like the National Guard of the United States, these forces are components of the state militias like the individual state National Guards.

These forces were created by Congress in 1917 as a result of the state National Guards' being deployed and were known as Home Guards. In 1940, with the onset of World War II and as a result of its federalizing the National Guard, Congress amended the National Defense Act of 1916, and authorized the states to maintain "military forces other than National Guard."[17] This law authorized the War Department to train and arm the new military forces that would come to be known as State Guards. In 1950, with the outbreak of the Korean War and at the urging of the National Guard, Congress reauthorized the separate state military forces for a time period of two years. These state military forces were authorized military training at federal expense, as well as "arms, ammunition, clothing, and equipment," as deemed necessary by the Secretary of the Army.[18] In 1956, Congress finally revised the law and authorized "State defense forces" permanently under Title 32, Section 109, of the United States Code.[19]

Naval Militias

Main article: Naval militia

Although there are no Naval or Marine Corps components of the National Guard of the United States, there is a Naval Militia authorized under federal law.10 U.S.C. § 7851. Like the soldiers and airmen in the National Guard of the United States, members of the Naval Militia are authorized federal appointments or enlistments at the discretion of the Secretary of the Navy.10 U.S.C. § 7852. To receive federal funding and equipment, a state naval militia must be composed of at least 95% Marine or Naval reservists. As such, some states maintain such units. Some states also maintain naval components of their State Defense Force. Recently, Alaska, California, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Texas and Ohio have had or currently maintain naval militias. Other states have laws authorizing them but do not currently have them organized. To receive federal funding, as is the case in the National Guard, a state must meet specific requirements such as having a set percentage of its members in the federal reserves.10 U.S.C. § 7851.

Duties and administrative organization

Seal of the National Guard Bureau, 2013 to present.

National Guard units can be mobilized for federal active duty to supplement regular armed forces during times of war or national emergency declared by Congress,[20] the President[20] or the Secretary of Defense.[21] They can also be activated for service in their respective states upon declaration of a state of emergency by the governor of the state or territory in which they serve, or in the case of Washington, D.C., by the Commanding General. Unlike U.S. Army Reserve members, National Guard members cannot be mobilized individually, except through voluntary transfers and Temporary Duty Assignments (TDY).

The National Guard Bureau is headquartered in Arlington County, Virginia, and is a joint activity of the Department of Defense to conduct all the administrative matters pertaining to the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. The current chief of the National Guard Bureau is Air Force General Joseph L. Lengyel. The chief is either an Air Force or an Army 4-star general (flag) officer, is the senior uniformed National Guard officer, and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity, he serves as a military adviser to the President, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council and is the Department of Defense's official channel of communication to the Governors and to State Adjutants General on all matters pertaining to the National Guard. He is responsible for ensuring that the more than half a million Army and Air National Guard personnel are accessible, capable, and ready to protect the homeland and to provide combat resources to the Army and the Air Force. He is appointed by the President in his capacity as Commander in Chief.[22]

National Guard active duty character

The term "activated" simply means that a unit or individual of the reserve components has been placed on orders. The purpose and authority for that activation will determine limitations and duration of the activation. The Army and Air National Guard may be activated in a number of ways as prescribed by public law. Broadly, under federal law, there are two titles in the United States Code under which units and troops may be activated: as federal soldiers or airmen under Title 10 ("Armed Forces") and as state soldiers or airmen performing a federally funded mission under Title 32 ("National Guard").[23] Outside federal activation, the Army and Air National Guard may be activated under state law. This is known as state active duty (SAD).

State and territory duty

When National Guard units are not under federal control, the governor is the commander-in-chief of the units of his or her respective state or territory (such as Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands). The President of the United States commands the District of Columbia National Guard, though this command is routinely delegated to the Commanding General of the DC National Guard.[23] States are free to employ their National Guard forces under state control for state purposes and at state expense as provided in the state's constitution and statutes. In doing so, governors, as commanders-in-chief, can directly access and utilize the Guard's federally assigned aircraft, vehicles and other equipment so long as the federal government is reimbursed for the use of fungible equipment and supplies such as fuel, food stocks, etc. This is the authority under which governors activate and deploy National Guard forces in response to natural disasters. It is also the authority under which governors deploy National Guard forces in response to man-made emergencies such as riots and civil unrest, or terrorist attacks.[24]

The most common duty for National Guard personnel is Inactive Duty for Training (IDT). This is the traditional weekend a month and two week training periods.

Federal duty

Title 10 service means full-time duty in the active military service of the United States. The term used is federalized. Federalized National Guard forces have been ordered, by the President to active duty either in their reserve component status or by calling them into Federal service in their militia status.[23] There are several forms:

Federalized with the soldier's or airman's consent and the consent of their Governor.
In time of national emergency declared by the President for any unit or any member for not more than 24 consecutive months.
When the President determines that it is necessary to augment the active forces for any operational mission for any unit or any member for not more than 270 days.
Whenever an insurrection occurs in any state against its government, the President may, upon the request of its legislature or of its governor call into Federal service such of the militia of the other states. This is a statutory exception to the PCA
Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, assemblages, or rebellion make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any state or territory, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any state. This is another statutory exception to the PCA.
The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a state, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.
Air and Army National Guard can specifically be called into Federal service in case of invasion, rebellion, or inability to execute Federal law with active forces.

In the categories listed above, Army and Air National Guard units or individuals may also be mobilized for non-combat purposes such as the State Partnership Program, humanitarian missions, counter-drug operations, and peacekeeping or peace enforcement missions.[23]


Colonial history

The Virginia Army National Guard traces its history back to 1607, to the Jamestown settlement, making it the oldest and the official start of the Army National Guard.

First Muster, Spring 1637, Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The claim that the National Guard is older than the nation itself, with over three and a half centuries of service,is based on the claim that the modern-day 101st Field Artillery Regiment, 182nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Engineer Battalion and 181st Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts Army National Guard are directly descended from Massachusetts Bay Colony regiments formed over 375 years ago. On December 13, 1636,[25][26] the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had ordered that the Colony's scattered militia companies be organized into North, South and East Regiments—with a goal of increasing the militias' accountability to the colonial government, efficacy, and responsiveness in conflicts with indigenous Pequot Indians. Under this act, white males between the ages of 16 and 60 were obligated to possess arms and to take part in the defense of their communities by serving in nightly guard details and participating in weekly drills. The founding date of 1636 refers to service of the colonial government; the Massachusetts Bay Colony regiments were formed by reorganizing local militias that preceded the 1636 date and dated back to the founding dates of the various Massachusetts towns of the time.

American Revolutionary War

The Massachusetts militia began the American Revolutionary War at the Battles of Lexington and Concord,[27]

Nineteenth century

The early United States distrusted a standing army, and kept the number of professional soldiers small. During the Northwest Indian War, the majority of soldiers were provided by state militias. There are nineteen Army National Guard units with campaign credit for the War of 1812.

The Marquis de Lafayette visited the U.S. in 1824–25. The 2nd Battalion, 11th New York Artillery, was one of many militia commands who turned out in welcome. This unit decided to adopt the title "National Guard," in honor of Lafayette's French National Guard. The Battalion, later the 7th Regiment, was prominent in the line of march on the occasion of Lafayette's final passage through New York en route home to France. Taking note of the troops named for his old command, Lafayette alighted from his carriage, walked down the line, clasping each officer by the hand as he passed.

Militia units provided 70% of the soldiers that fought in the Mexican–American War,[27] and also provided the majority of soldiers in the early months of the American Civil War[28] The majority of soldiers in the Spanish–American War were from the National Guard.[27]

Industrialization and labor unrest

Labor unrest in the industrial and mining sections of the Northeast and Midwest led to demands for a stronger military force within the states. After the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, calls for military suppression of labor strikes grew louder, and National Guard units proliferated. In many states, large and elaborate armories, often built to resemble medieval castles, were constructed to house militia units. Businessmen and business associations donated monies for the construction of armories and to supplement funds of the local National Guard units. National Guard officers also came from the middle and upper classes.[29] National Guard troops were deployed to suppress strikers in some of the bloodiest and most significant conflicts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the Homestead Strike, the Pullman Strike of 1894, and the Colorado Labor Wars.

Twentieth century

A National Guardsman in 1917.

Throughout the 19th century the Regular U.S. Army was small, and the state militias provided the majority of the troops during the Mexican–American War, the start of the American Civil War, and the Spanish–American War. With the Militia Act of 1903, the militia was more organized and the name "National Guard" recommended. In 1933, the state National Guards were required to join the National Guard of the United States, a reserve force for the U.S. Army; this is the official founding of the present National Guard. In World War I, National Guard soldiers made up 40 percent of the U.S. combat divisions in France. In World War II, the National Guard made up 19 divisions. One hundred forty thousand Guardsmen were mobilized during the Korean War and over 63,000 for Operation Desert Storm. They have also participated in U.S. peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Haiti, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bosnia, and Kosovo as well as for natural disasters, strikes, riots and security for the Olympic Games when they have been in the States.

Following World War II, the National Guard aviation units that had previously been part of the U.S. Army Air Corps and its successor organization, the U.S. Army Air Forces, became the Air National Guard (ANG), one of two Reserve Components of the newly established United States Air Force.

At this time, the National Guard consisted of 27 Divisions; 25 Infantry and two armored, plus scores of smaller units.

The Kansas Army National Guard armory in Concordia, Kansas is a typical building used for the National Guard programs.

On September 24, 1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard in order to ensure the safe entry of the Little Rock Nine to Little Rock Central High School the following day. Governor Orval Faubus had previously used members of the guard to deny the students entry to the school.

The New York National Guard were ordered by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller to respond to the Rochester 1964 race riot in July of that year, the first such use of the Guard in a Northern city since the Civil War. The California Army National Guard were mobilized by the Governor of California Edmund Gerald Brown, Sr. during the Watts Riots, in August 1965, to provide security and help restore order.

After 1992 Los Angeles Riots 4,000 National Guard troops patrolled the city to enforce the law.

Elements of the Ohio Army National Guard were ordered to Kent State University by Ohio's governor Jim Rhodes to quell anti-Vietnam War protests, culminating in their shooting into a crowd of students on May 4, 1970, killing four and injuring nine.

During the Vietnam War, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara created the Selective Reserve Force (SRF) in October 1965. Since funding was not available to train and equip the entire National Guard adequately, the SRF would be a core group of 150,000 National Guardsmen available and ready for immediate overseas deployment if needed. SRF units were supposed to be authorized at 100% strength, receive priority training funds and modern equipment[30] as well as having more training and doing 58 hours of drills of four hours each a year rather than the standard 48 hours of drills.[31]

The 2 Battalion 138th Field Artillery of the Kentucky Army National Guard was ordered to service in Vietnam in late 1968. The unit served in support of the regular 101st Airborne Division. The Battalion's C Battery lost 9 men killed and thirty-two wounded when North Vietnamese troops overran Fire Base Tomahawk on June 19, 1969.[32]

During the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, when portions of south central Los Angeles erupted in chaos, overwhelming the Los Angeles Police Department's ability to contain the violence, the California Army National Guard and selected units of the California Air National Guard was mobilized to help restore order. The National Guard were attributed with five shootings of people suspected of violating the curfew order placed on the city.

During the 1993 Waco Siege of the Branch Davidians, elements of the Alabama and Texas Army National Guard were called in to assist the ATF and the follow on effort by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the National Guard's involvement was limited to several specific areas; surveillance and reconnaissance, transport, maintenance and repairs, training and instruction, helicopters, unarmed tactical ground vehicles. The Army National Guard helicopters were also used to do photographic reconnaissance work. Training for ATF agents included such subjects as Close Quarters Combat, and combat medical instruction, and a mock up of the Mount Carmel complex was constructed at Fort Hood, Texas for rehearsals. ATF also received several surplus helmets, flack vests, canteens, first aid dressings, empty magazines, and some night-vision equipment, in addition to MREs and diesel fuel. The FBI would request and receive the use of Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicles, and tank retrieval vehicles, as well as overflights by UH-1 and CH-47 helicopters.[33]

As a result of the Bottom Up Review and post-Cold War force cutbacks, the Army National Guard maneuver force was reduced to eight divisions (from ten; the 26th Infantry and 50th Armored were consolidated in the northeastern states) and fifteen 'enhanced brigades,' which were supposed to be ready for combat operations, augmenting the active force, within 90 days.[34]

Twenty-first century

The National Guard Memorial Building in Washington, D.C.
Soldiers in the Missouri National Guard participating in self-defense training

National Guard units played a major role in providing security and assisting recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in September 2005.

In 2005, National Guard members and reservists were said to comprise a larger percentage of frontline fighting forces than in any war in U.S. history (about 43 percent in Iraq and 55 percent in Afghanistan).[35] There were more than 183,366 National Guard members and reservists on active duty nationwide who left behind about 300,000 dependents, according to U.S. Defense Department statistics. In 2011, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. stated that "Every Guard brigade has deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and over 300,000 Guardsmen have deployed in this war."[36]

In January and February 2007, National Guard troops from 8 states were activated to go help shovel snow, drop hay for starving cattle, deliver food and necessities to stranded people in their houses, and help control traffic and rescue stranded motorists in blizzards dropping feet of snow across the country.[37]

In the first quarter of 2007, United States Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced changes to the Guard deployment policy aimed at shorter and more predictable deployments for National Guard troops. "Gates said his goal is for Guard members to serve a one-year deployment no more than every five years... Gates is imposing a one-year limit to the length of deployment for National Guard Soldiers, effective immediately." Prior to this time, Guard troops deployed for a standard one-year deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan would serve for 18 or more months including training and transit time. During the transition to the new policy for all troops in the pipeline, deployed or soon to be deployed, some will face deployments faster than every five years. "The one-to-five year cycle does not include activations for state emergencies."[38]

Army National Guardsman of the 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment in Parun, Afghanistan. Note that he is wearing a 10th Mountain Division Former Wartime Service SSI

Prior to the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, the National Guard's general policy regarding mobilization was that Guardsmen would be required to serve no more than one year cumulative on active duty (with no more than six months overseas) for each five years of regular drill. Due to strains placed on active duty units following the attacks, the possible mobilization time was increased to 18 months (with no more than one year overseas). Additional strains placed on military units as a result of the invasion of Iraq further increased the amount of time a Guardsman could be mobilized to 24 months. Current Department of Defense policy is that no Guardsman will be involuntarily activated for more than 24 months (cumulative) in one six-year enlistment period.

Traditionally, most National Guard personnel serve "One weekend a month, two weeks a year", although personnel in highly operational or high demand units serve far more frequently. Typical examples are pilots, navigators and aircrewmen in active flying assignments, primarily in the Air National Guard, and to a lesser extent in the Army National Guard, and special operations airmen and soldiers in both. A significant number also serve in a full-time capacity in roles such as Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) or Air Reserve Technician or Army Reserve Technician (ART).

The "One weekend a month, two weeks a year" slogan has lost most of its relevance since the Iraq War, when nearly 28% of total US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan at the end of 2007 consisted of mobilized personnel of the National Guard and other Reserve components.[39] In July 2012, the Army's top general stated his intention to increase the annual drill requirement from two weeks per year to up to seven weeks per year.[40]

The National Guard compared to the Reserves

The Army National Guard consists of 28 fully capable brigade combat teams with combat support and combat service support components. The Army Reserve is mostly Combat Service Support and Combat Support with only one infantry unit (the 100th Infantry Battalion).[41]

The senior National Guard Officer in each state is called the Adjutant General (or "TAG" for short) and is either appointed or elected in accordance with state laws. The National Guard may receive state funding, however in most states it is primarily funded through the federal government.

The Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, and Air Force Reserve components are not under state control and are solely funded by the federal government. Unlike the state guard, the Reserve forces, with the exception of the Coast Guard, are restricted from civilian law enforcement operations by posse comitatus.

Relevant laws

The United States Congress has enacted various laws which control the National Guard

  1. The Militia Act of 1792
    Providing for the authority of the President to call out the Militia, and providing federal standards for the organization of the Militia.
    For the 111 years that the Militia Act of 1792 remained in effect, it defined the position of the militia in relation to the federal government. The War of 1812 tested this uniquely American defense establishment. To fight the War of 1812, the republic formed a small regular military and trained it to protect the frontiers and coastlines. Although it performed poorly in the offensive against Canada, the small force of regulars backed by a well-armed militia, accomplished its defensive mission well. Generals like Andrew Jackson proved that, just as they had in the Revolution, regulars and militia could be effective when employed as a team.
  2. The Insurrection Act
  3. The Militia Act of 1862
    Providing for the service of persons of African descent in the Militia, and the emancipation of slaves owned by Confederates.
  4. Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1385: The Posse Comitatus Act of June 18, 1878
    Reaction in Congress against the Reconstruction-era suspensions of Southern states' rights to organize militias led to the passage of the Posse Comitatus Act, restricting any person's use of the U.S. Army and, as later amended, the U.S. Air Force in domestic law enforcement (use of the Navy and Marine Corps, being uniformed services within the Department of Defense, is similarly restricted by statute).[42] The U.S. Coast Guard, in its peacetime role within the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Guard, when not in Federal Service, are specifically not limited by this act.
  5. The States revise the military codes – 1881 to 1892
  6. The Militia Act of 1903
    Established the creation of the National Guard of the United States as the primary organized reserve force for the U.S. armed forces.
  7. National Defense Act of 1916
    This act abandoned the idea of an expandable Regular Army and firmly established the traditional concept of the citizens' army as the keystone of the United States defense forces. It established the concept of merging the National Guard, the Army Reserve, and the Regular Army into the Army of the United States in time of war. The act further expanded the National Guard's role, and guaranteed the State militias' status as the Army's primary reserve force. The law mandated use of the term "National Guard" for that force, and the President was given authority, in case of war or national emergency, to mobilize the National Guard for the duration of the emergency. The number of yearly drills increased from 24 to 48 and annual training from five to 15 days. Drill pay was authorized for the first time.
  8. The National Defense Act Amendments of 1920
    This act established that the chief of the Militia Bureau (later the National Guard Bureau) would be a National Guard officer, that National Guard officers would be assigned to the general staff and that the divisions, as used by the Guard in World War I, would be reorganized.
  9. The National Guard Mobilization Act, 1933
    Made the National Guard a component of the Army.
  10. The National Defense Act of 1947
    Section 207 (f) established the Air National Guard of the United States, under the National Guard Bureau.
  11. The Total Force Policy, 1973
    Requires all active and reserve military organizations be treated as a single force.
  12. The Montgomery Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1987
    provides that a governor cannot withhold consent with regard to active duty outside the United States because of any objection to the location, purpose, type, or schedule of such duty. This law was challenged and upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1990 in Perpich v. Department of Defense.[43]
  13. The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 Pub.L. 109-364
    Federal law was changed in section 1076 so that the Governor of a state is no longer the sole commander in chief of their state's National Guard during emergencies within the state. The President of the United States will now be able to take total control of a state's National Guard units without the governor's consent.[44] In a letter to Congress, all 50 governors opposed the increase in power of the President over the National Guard.[45]
  14. The National Defense Authorization Act 2008 Pub.L. 110-181
    Repeals provisions in section 1076 in Pub.L. 109-364 but still enables the President to call up the National Guard of the United States for active federal military service during Congressionally sanctioned national emergency or war. Places the National Guard Bureau directly under the Department of Defense as a joint activity. Promoted the Chief of the National Guard Bureau from a three-star to a four-star general.

Notable members


Militia service was a common trait among presidents of the United States. Eighteen of America's 44 presidents have served in colonial or state militias and two have served in the National Guard since it was established in 1903. Among these, three served in colonial militias (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison), 15 served in state militias, one in the Army National Guard (Harry S. Truman) and one (George W. Bush) served in the Air National Guard.[46]

Other notable members

Guardsmen by state

State/Territory Army National Guard Air National Guard Total
Alabama 11,023 2,232 13,255
Alaska 1,879 2,059 3,938
Arizona 5,206 2,421 7,627
Arkansas 7,463 1,873 9,336
California 16,450 4,637 21,087
Colorado 4,023 1,481 5,504
Connecticut 3,593 1,166 4,759
Delaware 1,587 1,014 2,601
Florida 9,937 1,793 11,730
Georgia 11,100 2,769 13,869
Hawaii 3,039 2,287 5,326
Idaho 3,456 1,307 4,763
Illinois 10,050 2,876 12,926
Indiana 12,168 1,819 13,987
Iowa 7,370 1,943 9,313
Kansas 5,096 2,277 7,373
Kentucky 7,281 1,182 8,463
Louisiana 9,457 1,426 10,883
Maine 2,077 1,118 3,195
Maryland 4,792 1,431 6,223
Massachusetts 6,218 2,153 8,371
Michigan 8,788 2,546 11,334
Minnesota 10,974 2,246 13,220
Mississippi 9,678 2,394 12,072
Missouri 9,050 2,403 11,453
Montana 2,787 1,039 3,826
Nebraska 3,758 963 4,721
Nevada 3,203 1,082 4,285
New Hampshire 1,772 1,019 2,791
New Jersey 6,101 2,396 8,497
New Mexico 3,019 839 3,858
New York 10,648 5,649 16,297
North Carolina 10,278 1,480 11,758
North Dakota 3,278 1,001 4,279
Ohio 11,441 4,711 16,152
Oklahoma 7,214 2,246 9,460
Oregon 6,511 2,181 8,692
Pennsylvania 15,640 3,897 19,537
Rhode Island 2,104 1,175 3,279
South Carolina 9,459 1,305 10,764
South Dakota 3,266 1,043 4,309
Tennessee 10,623 3,355 13,978
Texas 19,605 2,938 22,543
Utah 5,650 1,395 7,045
Vermont 2,797 1,087 3,884
Virginia 7,452 1,094 8,546
Washington 5,936 2,080 8,016
West Virginia 4,138 2,360 6,498
Wisconsin 7,526 2,259 9,785
Wyoming 1,637 1,164 2,801
Puerto Rico 7,280 1,210 8,490
Guam 1,244 431 1,675
DC 1,360 1,221 2,581
Virgin Islands 776 65 841
Total 358,258 103,538 461,796


See also


  1. 1 2 3 32 U.S.C. § 101 Definitions (National Guard)
  2. 10 U.S.C. § 12401 Army and Air National Guard of the United States: status
  3. "Four-and-a-half centuries of militia tradition". Florida Department of Military Affairs. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  4. Halbrook, Stephen P. (2008). The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms. pp. 299–309.
  5. 32 Stat. 775 (1903)
  6. 40 Stat. 181 (1917)
  7. 32 U.S.C. § 102 General policy
  8. 1 2 "Military Reserves Federal Call Up Authority". April 9, 2012.
  9. 1 2 Pub.L. 110-181: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
  10. 1 2 Pub.L. 110-181: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 full text
  11. Sec. 1812. Establishment of National Guard Bureau as Joint Activity of the Department of Defense.
  12. 10 U.S.C. § 10501 National Guard Bureau
  13. 1 2 10 U.S.C. § 10503 Functions of National Guard Bureau: charter from Secretaries of the Army and Air Force
  14. 1 2 3 Turner, Colonel Randal L. "Agricultural Development Teams and the Counterinsurgency Effort in Afghanistan" (PDF). Strategy Research Project. U.S. Army War College. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
  15. Stewart, Alexander (2014-03-03). "U.S. Army Agriculture Development Teams". Science & Diplomacy. 3 (1).
  16. McKinley, General Craig R. "The National Guard: A Great Value for America" (PDF). National Guard Bureau. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
  17. 54 Stat. 1206 (1940)
  18. 64 Stat. 1073 (1950)
  19. 70A Stat. 600 (1956)
  20. 1 2 10 U.S.C. § 12302 Ready Reserve
  21. 10 U.S.C. § 12301 Reserve components generally
  22. "Chief, National Guard Bureau". National Guard Bureau.
  23. 1 2 3 4 Renaud, John. "National Guard Fact Sheet Army National Guard (FY2005)" (PDF). Army National Guard, G5, Chief, Strategic Plans and Policy.
  24. Lowenburg, Timothy. "The Role of the National Guard in National Defense and Homeland Security" (PDF). National Guard Association of the United States.
  25. A.P. (August 20, 2010). "Salem declared National Guard's birthplace". Boston Herald. Associated Press. Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  26. Boehm, Bill (December 12, 2011). "Born from humble beginnings, the National Guard celebrates its 375th birthday". National Guard Bureau. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  27. 1 2 3 "About the Army National Guard". National Guard Bureau. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  28. "About the National Guard". Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
  29. Painter, Nell (1987). Standing at Armageddon. W.W. Norton. pp. 21–22.
  30. "Pages - Vietnam".
  31. p.1311 Hearings, Volume 1 United States. Congress. House, United States. Congress. Joint Committee ... U.S. Government Printing Office, 1967
  32. "Kentucky: National Guard History eMuseum – Summary". Archived from the original on April 9, 2015.
  33. "Military Assistance Provided at Branch Davidian Incident" (PDF). United States General Accounting Office. August 1999. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  34. Government Accounting Office, Army National Guard: Enhanced Brigades Readiness Improving But Personnel and Workload Are Problems, June 2000, record accessed at DTIC, May 2009. The fifteen enhanced brigades included the 27th (NY), 29th (HI), 32nd (WI), 41st (OR), 45th (OK), 48th (GA), 53rd (FL), 76th (IN), 81st (WA), 256th (LA), 116th Cavalry Brigade (ID), 155th (MS), 218th (SC), and the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment (TN).
  35. "Nationwide Grassroots Drive To Aid Military Families Picks Up Steam". - Illinois Government News Network (IGNN). March 22, 2005.
  36. Salzer, Darron. "Casey: National Guard very different today than 30 years ago". National Guard Bureau. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  37. FindLaw (February 14, 2007)."National Guard to Rescue in 8 States". FindLaw. Retrieved on February 14, 2007.
  38. "Gates Promises Predictable Deployments". GX – the Guard Experience. 4 (3): 22. April 2007.
  39. "MSNBC. Health. Mental Health. ''Most vet suicides among Guard, Reserve troops. New government report raises alarm, calls for long-term mental services''. Associated Press. February 12, 2008". MSNBC. October 7, 2001.
  40. "Army to expand citizen soldiers' training periods". USA Today. July 30, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  41. 100th/442nd Reserve Unit. Retrieved on July 23, 2013.
  42. 10 U.S.C. § 375 Restriction on direct participation by military personnel
  43. FindLaw (June 27, 2004). "PERPICH v. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 496 U.S. 334 (1990)". FindLaw. Retrieved May 13, 2006.
  44. "Governors lose in power struggle over National Guard".
  45. National Governors Association Archived June 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  46. "The National Guard – Image Gallery – Presidential Series".
  47. "John Bolton". Archived from the original on March 6, 2012.
  48. "Representative Ralph H. Haben, Jr. Speaker (1980–1982)". Representatives. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida House of Representatives. 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
  49. "John Allen Muhammad Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story". December 31, 1960.
  50. "A Look Back … Gen. William J. Donovan Heads Office of Strategic Services – Central Intelligence Agency".
  51. Retrieved August 3, 2010. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  52. "Tom Selleck".
  53. Bender, Bryan. "Scott Brown, promoted to colonel in National Guard, honored in ceremony with John McCain".
  54. UFC. "Rick Story". UFC.
  55. Schmaltz, Jim (2004). "Brock Lesnar interview". Flex. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
  56. This date in SDNG history
  57. Army numbers from are as of December 31, 2012, Air Guard Numbers from : are as of April 25, 2012, Accessed July 17, 2013

Further reading

External links

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