The Army National Guard serves as the reserve element of the United States Army. As such, it holds both state-led and federal governments, under the jurisdiction of each state’s respective governor, and ultimately the President.
As such, the Army National Guard works with the Air National Guard to support the upkeep of national security, and regularly commit to domestic humanitarian issues, emergencies, and disasters.
Past examples of their operational remit include assisting in hurricane relief and wildfire suppression efforts, search and rescue missions, medical assistance, and delivering humanitarian aid.
Like other military branches, The Army National Guard prides itself on cultivating highly trained and capable service personnel, serving in both a part-time and full-time capacity. In this post, we’ll discuss their most common obligations and missions that take place daily all around the country.
What does the Army National Guard Do?
Examples of their mission focus includes:
- Supporting Border Security – National Guard troops are sometimes deployed to assist the United States Border Patrol. This can include anything from assisting with border infrastructure and the logistics therein, conducting surveillance and intelligence missions, and offering secure transportation for goods or important people.
- Supporting Law-Enforcement With Counter-Drug Operations – The National Guard can be called in for support with countering illicit drug trafficking networks by supplying intelligence, equipment, logistics, and personnel to assist in counter-drug operations. As such, while they’re not embedded within that structure, they can lend vital support to law enforcement agencies.
- Overseas Deployment – The Army National Guard has been deployed overseas for the support of combat operations, sometimes including training foreign forces, defending military bases, and offering logistics and support to the divisions operating there full-time. For example, they were a critical component in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the wider National Guard making up about 45% of the total forces sent to those countries.
- Cyber security – As Biden’s cyber security executive order focused on securing networks and increasing the proficiency of digital security procedures nationwide, the Army National Guard has taken more of a role in investigating cyber attack and developing measures to resist them in future. For example, the National Guard continues to support critical election-related security measures.
- Defending The Homeland – As with all military divisions, the National Guard is responsible for the security of the nation. They work with the United States Army, Air Force and Navy to achieve these operational goals, and are an essential, vital component within that structure. They can also work on a state-by-state level reporting to the governor of each. They operate in all 50 states as well as Guam, The Virgin Islands, Peurto Rico, and the District of Columbia. They can also be federalized to support wider, national mission objectives.
How large is the Army National Guard?
The Army National Guard has over 336,000 soldiers as of 2021, making it one of the largest reserve components of the US Military. Supported by over 108,000 Air National Guard members, this makes the reservist force a responsive, capable, and respected entity with various uses.
How was the Army National Guard founded?
The Army National Guard is a long-running military organization which has historical roots all the way back to the colonial militias in the 17th century, but was officially founded on December 13, 1636. They were instrumental in fending off Britain and ultimately paving a way for independence.
Since then, they have served a role in many conflicts and domestic peacekeeping operations, and now subsume extra disciplines such as the Air National Guard within their strategic objectives. They’re an experienced and capable force dedicated to a range of fluid mission objectives, and with a clear-cut command structure to provide a clear focus.
How is the Army National Guard different from the Air National Guard?
The two reservist disciplines of the National Guard, Army and Air, are very similar but of course different in the way they achieve particular objectives. Clearly, the Army is focused on ground operations, often train forces, handle artillery, and engineering tasks and manage logistics.
The Air National Guard, as the name implies, has more of a focus on air operations, which can be very useful for logistics further afield, humanitarian missions and support, as well as intelligence gathering. As such, while they have similar missions, they tend to focus on different mission areas and apply their unique capabilities in the way that best suits them. They constantly co-operate and are often found in many of the same conflicts and missions together. It’s rare for one division to be far from the other when trying to secure any strategic objective of note.
What are the requirements to join the Army National Guard?
To join the reservist force, you will need to go through basic training, the same as any recruit. To gain a job offer you will need to apply through a recruitment officer or an online form. Note that you must be between 17 and 35 to join the Army National Guard, and a U.S Citizen or Permanent Resident. Some roles require higher education qualifications to be accepted, but for some roles a high school diploma or GED will be enough.
You will be required to have or undergo a good level of physical fitness, a robust medical check, a drug test, and aptitude testing. You may also go through security vetting procedures of various levels of scrutiny depending on what access to sensitive materials your chosen discipline will have. The vocational test is known as the ASVAB – the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.
If you’re a match, you will be offered a job in your chosen or second option roles. In return, you will be part of a highly important defensive force either on a full-time or part-time basis. Here you will learn vital military skills, contribute to the defense of the homeland or support its operations overseas, and have the chance to develop a decorated career. You may also choose to commission as an Officer after some time, or potentially transition into parallel agencies and divisions.