Opinions of the National Guard

Ladies and gentlemen, I feel as though I have an obligation to defend the National Guard, because in this thread, there have been several occasions, be it through links or outright statements, where the National Guard has been disparaged as a haven for people who don’t want to fight for their country. I would like to attempt to restore, or attempt to create, a positive perception of the National Guard throughout the Doper community. There is evidently a perception that the Guard is composed of “Weekend Worriors”, people who just show up once a month, drink beer, sit around, and do nothing.

Once upon a time, that may have been the case. In my observation, that still happens to a certain extent. However, there are those of us who take their job very seriously.

As we speak, there are Guardsmen patrolling the skies above your head, doing their level best to defend against an unseen and unknown enemy. They have a tough job that requires considerable judgment, and they are doing an excellent job in my estimation.

There are Guardsmen over in Afghanistan providing support roles for our Air Force and Army troops. Civil engineering, base construction, administration, maintenance, virtually any job required is represented.

There is currently an experiment going on at Robins AFB where the Active Duty Air Force and the Air National Guard units are integrating into a unified command, an unprecedented move.

The Guard has 2/3 of the airlift mission, 1/3 of the fighter mission, and the entire continental defense mission.

We can be seen at airports, defending travelers against threats unseen and unheard, but existant.

Most Guardsmen have jobs in the civilian sector, as well as families, and with the current activation that is placing a great strain on them. Yet they still show up for work and do an outstanding job.

Even as I say all of this, however, there is animosity towards the Guard, even from the Active Duty Air Force. They think we don’t do anything at all, that they carry the load. They do not. The entire Air Force carries the load together. We all work towards a common goal, and we all wear the same uniform.

I am Active Duty in a Guard unit, with a special mission that requires considerable training and knowledge. Should I be dismissed from Active Duty, I will appeal to my Commander to keep me on, which will very likely happen. Even if it doesn’t, I will still be expected to come in and fly no less than once a week in order to maintain my proficiency should something happen in the world. My unit, the 193 Special Operations Wing, is always on call and always one of the very first to go when there is a combat action.

The reason why my unit is in the Guard is because we do the job, we do it well, and then in a few months when there are permanent facilities built and online, we go home and wait for the next call. There is not a need for us to remain on station indefinitely, just as the Active Duty forces rotate home periodically.

Our maintenance techs do not have the luxury of having several planes to work with. We cannot cannibalize other planes for parts. Yet we virtually never miss a mission for a maintenance failure. I would respectfully submit that the maintenance technicians I work with are the very best in the Air Force.

I am proud to be a Guardsman. I love my service, I love my country, and I get very frustrated when people say that the Guard doesn’t do anything, that the Active Duty does it all. The force structure of the Air Force being so drawn down, it requires EVERYONE to do their jobs.

The Guard is no longer a place to hide. We all fulfill our obligations without question, even if it requires being sent overseas for extended periods of time. It is full of patriotic people who do a job above and beyond their ordinary jobs, and others who do it for the uniqueness of the job, like myself. I could have gone Active, and I may yet, but I truly love my job right now and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I hope I have made a good enough case to convince you all that the Guard is no longer a “cushy” job, or a place to duck and run as it was during Vietnam.

Any questions for me? Just ask. My only goal here is information, not to get a pat on the back. My satisfaction comes from knowing that I do my job and I do it well, every day I put on the uniform.

Thank you for your attention.

-SrA Dave Cartwright, PA ANG

Couldn’t agree more. At the beginning of WWII most national guard officers were political hacks, appointed by or as a favor to state governors, who were not competent to be military officers. I don’t know the actual percentages, but when the war started for us, this was rapidly discovered and many, perhaps most, national guard officers were moved aside and put in charge of some inconsequential activity. This, unfortunately was also true of a lot of regular army officers.

As a result of poor officers, the national guard itself was also marginal, if that, in effectiveness and most units had to go through just about as much training as brand new recruits before being suitable for actual service.

That lesson was well learned apparently and during the Korean war the guard was rapidly integrated into the active services and most of the officers were up to their jobs. Now, I think the regular forces keep a close eye on the state of guard readiness and the quality of training of both officers and enlisted is of high quality.

This denigration of the military during peace is old. It was old even when Kippling wrote:

*I went into a public 'ouse to get a pint of beer,
The publican 'e ups and says, “We serve no Redcoats 'ere.”

The girls be’ind the bar, they laughed and giggled fit to die,
So I outs into the street and to meself says I

“Oh its Tommy this and Tommy that and throw 'im out the brute,
But it’s ‘Thank you Mister Atkins when the guns begin to shoot.’”*

I didn’t read the entire linked thread, Doors, but the OP seemed to be about certain politicians’ dodging Vietnam back in the 1960s and 70s.

Did any National Guard units served in Vietnam? I certainly don’t remember that they did, but I suppose I could have missed it.
At any rate, the likelihood of a given National Guardsman actually getting sent to Vietnam was microscopically small.

In that era, the Guard deserved its rep of a nice, safe place to hide if you weren’t a conscientious objector but if, in Dick Cheney’s words, you had other priorities than military service.

Yes, some units of the (Illinois?) National Guard went to 'nam. They must still be counted as among the most unlucky of guardsmen.

I am a big fan of all the RCs.

RT, that was indeed the content of the linked thread. The point I was trying to make was that while those conditions no longer exist, people still have by and large an unfavorable opinion of the Guard.

Saying “Cushy Guard position” is akin to saying “Greedy Jew” or “Dumb Polack”. We all know that the latter two epithets are untrue, but people still sincerely believe that the Guard is easy.

It is not.

I am making an earnest attempt to convince you of that. I would not demand that you respect the Guard, I would ask that you weigh what you have read and make your decision based upon that.