U. S. National Guard

Cecil, some of your comments about the use of the National Guard overseas are incorrect: You wrote something to the effect that the Guard was barely used overseas during WWI, WWII, and the Korean War, but in fact the Guard made up about 40% of the U.S. infantry divisions in France during WWI and had 19 divisions in action overseas during WWII (and something like half of General Patton’s famous Third Army during WWII consisted of guardsmen–A close friend of my family was an officer in the guard that served under Patton in WWII, and later saw action in the Korean War).
Also, I’m personally skeptical about this business about serving in the Guard having been a popular way to avoid combat in the Vietnam War, though I can’t speak with authority about that–I certainly have never heard any such thing as that (except as a canard used by some to slander political enemies, such as Quayle or Bush Jr.), and instead have always heard that the services of choice if you wanted to minimize your chances of combat during that war were the Coast Guard or the Navy (not that I would in any way personally fault anyone that went route: any service is service).

The report wasn’t by Cecil, but by Paperbackwriter, and is called What’s the National Guard doing fighting overseas, anyway?

I can give some anecdotal information:[ol]
[li]People certainly did enlist in the Guard with the intent of avoiding service in VIetnam, if they could. I was of draft age at the time (though personally 4-F), and I remember it well.[/li][li]I know that my father was frustrated for some time during WW2 because he had been in the NYNG before the war, and they wouldn’t let him transfer to the USA, instead keeping him as a permanent cadré in a training unit for middle-aged men familiarly known as “Roger’s Ruptured Rangers”. He finally got out by making a deal to join the Army and immediately be seconded to the OSS, where he stayed (mostly in China) until mid-1946, being paid as a 1st Lieutenant, but wearing silver oak leaves so that Chinese generals wouldn’t lose face by speaking to him.[/li][/ol]

Some Guard units have missions that are unique to those units. For example, Airman Doors’s unit operates airborne broadcast facilities, which no other unit in any branch does. Consequently, they’re a fairly busy unit.

This is going to be a very YMMV interpretation depending on one’s age and experience. After Pearl Harbor, my father tried to enlist but failed his physical. Six months later he was drafted into the National Guard and then mobilized into the Army. OTOH, during Vietnam a good friend of mine got a very low lottery number, used his family connections to jump the line of people trying to enlist in the Guard and served his entire tour 10 miles from his house.

The Guard’s own websiteadmits, albeit obliquely

Fewer than 100 of those killed or captured in Vietnam were members of the Guard.

From the article:

But Guard units were decidedly in the minority in World Wars I and II. This was also the case in the Korean war, and guardsmen played only a minimal role in the Vietnam war.

You said 40%, the article said in the minority. Sounds like you’re both in agreement.

The article was comparing the use of the state militias in WWI and WWII to the previous wars. In the Mexican-American war, they made up most of the troops. Same was true for much of the Civil War.

However, the U.S. was turning into a superpower in the beginning of the 20th century, and that meant we started having a larger regular army and less reliance on local militias. By the time Vietnam rolled around, the U.S. had a large regular army and didn’t have to rely on the Guard.

The unit Junior Bush served in was nicknamed the Champaign Unit, It was part of the Texas Air Guard and you got to learn to fly. Plus, they had the best parties. It was reserved almost exclusively for sons of politicos who didn’t want their precious younguns to fight in a nasty little war.

The Guard was a safe haven, and many of my friends tried to join. Unfortunately, there were only so many slots, and it took a lot of political connections to get in.

Avoiding the war was not cowardliness on our part. We saw the affects growing up. The older brother who served, now addicted to heroin and violent. The people who seemed destined for something now sitting around and unable to move. And, then there were the people who never made it back, or made it back with missing limbs.

When you were a teenage boy in the 1960s and 1970s, you saw it coming, and it filled you with terror. Everyday on the news, why we’re fighting kept changing. It was for a free Vietnam. It was a fight against communism. It was so we didn’t have to fight them in Hawaii. Our reputation was at stake. We gave our word.

And, by the way, we were winning! We had the body counts to prove it. The Vietcong were decimated. We’ll be out by Christmas.

All we knew was that the time was coming, and we’d be swept up in the process. And for what? We didn’t know.

The lucky ones got into the guard. Other zones of safety were military suppliers. You got a job at General Dynamics, you were pretty safe, but that took connections. You could beat the draft and sign up for the Navy, but the Navy didn’t really need recruits, and if the Navy turned you down, you suddenly discovered you had volunteered for the Army.

A few people tried to pretend they were gay. This was back in the 1960s when being gay was still considered a mental illness. It didn’t matter. The military was desperate for bodies. Joining the Communist Party didn’t help either. Then, there was Canada. However, you couldn’t finish school there and getting a job was difficult. Plus, you had no idea if you were ever allowed to go home.

The simplest way was to join the Guard and hoped for the best.

So why were a handful of Guard units mobilized? Why not most or none?

I know of someone who joined the Navy to avoid Vietnam, and then, to be doubly safe, became a Corpsman (what the Army calls a “medic”).

And then he discovered that there are no medics in the Marines… Yup, you guessed it.

I wasn’t around when this thread started, but yes, Cecil is not to blame for any inaccuracies, I am. That said, qazwart was kind enough to clarify what I said in almost the exact way I wold have. I don’t think there’s any disagreement.

Some other threads that may be of interest:

The National Guard has it’s limits constitutionally. However, when has the president and/or congress ever followed their own rules? A friend sent me this. It checks out.

The Dick Act of 1902 also known as the Efficiency of Militia Bill H.R. 11654, of June 28, 1902 invalidates all so-called gun-control laws. It also divides the militia into three distinct and separate entities.
The three classes H.R. 11654 provides for are the organized militia, henceforth known as the National Guard of the State, Territory and District of Columbia, the unorganized militia and the regular army. The militia encompasses every able-bodied male between the ages of 18 and 45. All members of the unorganized militia have the absolute personal right and 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms of any type, and as many as they can afford to buy.
The Dick Act of 1902 cannot be repealed; to do so would violate bills of attainder and ex post facto laws which would be yet another gross violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The President of the United States has zero authority without violating the Constitution to call the National Guard to serve outside of their State borders.
The National Guard Militia can only be required by the National Government for limited purposes specified in the Constitution (to uphold the laws of the Union; to suppress insurrection and repel invasion). These are the only purposes for which the General Government can call upon the National Guard.
Attorney General Wickersham advised President Taft, “the Organized Militia (the National Guard) can not be employed for offensive warfare outside the limits of the United States.”
The Honorable William Gordon, in a speech to the House on Thursday, October 4, 1917, proved that the action of President Wilson in ordering the Organized Militia (the National Guard) to fight a war in Europe was so blatantly unconstitutional that he felt Wilson ought to have been impeached.
During the war with England an attempt was made by Congress to pass a bill authorizing the president to draft 100,000 men between the ages of 18 and 45 to invade enemy territory, Canada. The bill was defeated in the House by Daniel Webster on the precise point that Congress had no such power over the militia as to authorize it to empower the President to draft them into the regular army and send them out of the country.
The fact is that the President has no constitutional right, under any circumstances, to draft men from the militia to fight outside the borders of the USA, and not even beyond the borders of their respective states. Today, we have a constitutional LAW which still stands in waiting for the legislators to obey the Constitution which they swore an oath to uphold.
Charles Hughes of the American Bar Association (ABA) made a speech which is contained in the Appendix to Congressional Record, House, September 10, 1917, pages 6836-6840 which states: “The militia, within the meaning of these provisions of the Constitution is distinct from the Army of the United States.” In these pages we also find a statement made by Daniel Webster, “that the great principle of the Constitution on that subject is that the militia is the militia of the States and of the General Government; and thus being the militia of the States, there is no part of the Constitution worded with greater care and with more scrupulous jealousy than that which grants and limits the power of Congress over it.”
“This limitation upon the power to raise and support armies clearly establishes the intent and purpose of the framers of the Constitution to limit the power to raise and maintain a standing army to voluntary enlistment, because if the unlimited power to draft and conscript was intended to be conferred, it would have been a useless and puerile thing to limit the use of money for that purpose. Conscripted armies can be paid, but they are not required to be, and if it had been intended to confer the extraordinary power to draft the bodies of citizens and send them out of the country in direct conflict with the limitation upon the use of the militia imposed by the same section and article, certainly some restriction or limitation would have been imposed to restrain the unlimited use of such power.”
The Honorable William Gordon
Congressional Record, House, Page 640 - 1917

Unfortunately for that thesis, the modern National Guard is made up of those who specifically stepped forward to volunteer to be Guardsmen. By the terms of the Dick Act, all such volunteers are considered to be simultaneously volunteering to be enlisting in the Army Reserve. And as for drafting the population at large, a post-WW1 Supreme Court ruling held that the power of Congress to declare war included an implicit power to fill the ranks of the Army by conscription. I sympathize with the limited-powers theory of the quote but technically it just doesn’t hold water.

It does not. Please cite the Supreme Court case(s) that say this.

Any act can be be repealed. Please cite any Supreme Court cases(s) that say otherwise.

A Representative can say anything at all in a speech. It is not proof of anything and certainly is not law.

Please cite any Supreme Court case(s) that confirm this.

Another speech. See above.

Internet glurge is internet glurge. It is almost never correct in any way. This certainly isn’t. If you do a search you’ll see it is rolling eyeballs all over the sane parts of the web.

The actual article reads "but Guard units were decidedly in the minority in World Wars I and II. "

I think it may be some degree of semantic confusion; 40% of combat divisions probably means that 40% of the divisions were composed of formerly NG units- numbered standing divisions only date to 1917; prior to that, they were ad-hoc sorts of things usually named after the general in command.

So regardless if the divisions were composed of NG units, or actually NG divisions, they were in the minority.

Also, 19 NG divisions in WWII may (and probably was) every NG unit available, but was around 20% vs. the total mobilized strength of the Army in say… 1944, which consisted of nearly 100 divisions of various types. Definitely a minority.

Most of the combat avoidance was along the lines of if you enlisted in the NG, you’d be ineligible for the draft (already serving), and since NG units weren’t getting deployed to Vietnam, you were safe. Back then, draftees were used as replacements in existing units, so the last thing you wanted was to get drafted. Enlisting in other services was also done- the AF and Navy were pretty safe- the majority of AF personnel who didn’t fly were stationed in the US or Europe, and the vast majority of Navy people weren’t exposed to combat unless SEALs or pilots.