What the deal with the National Guard?

Are they always kept at home, or can they be sent out of the country? My mother wants to know. (Two of my cousins recently joined).

This page gives info on the National Guard.

It is a state controlled military force that is armed and trained by the regular US Army and can be called up to federal service by the president in time of national emergency. When called up they become part of the federal military service and can be sent anywhere they are needed. I would assume that means now whenever needed.

My mom was a nurse in the National Guard before and during Gulf War I. She was deployed to Saudi Arabia, serving in a M.A.S.H. unit.

This time around, she’s in the Army Reserves, and is currently stuck in Fort Lewis, Washington. She may or may not get sent to the region, depending on when hostilities start and how long they last.

In short, National Guard members can indeed be sent out of the country.

Thank you. My grandmother keeps saying that my cousins won’t even have to leave the State! (outside of boot camp).

She claims that’s what my aunt told her. I wonder if they just said that so she won’t worry.

Guardsmen aren’t necessarily part-time “weekend warriors”. They can and do serve full-time and they can be activated to go overseas.

Airman has been out of Pennsylvania for basic training (to Texas), technical school (to Mississippi), water survival (Florida), combat survival (Washington State), and the altitude chamber at Andrews AFB in Maryland. Having made it through all that training in all those exotic places, he will spend several fun-filled weeks in a very hot sand-intensive area.

The way the Air Force is set up nowadays, any time there’s a large-scale military activity, the Guard is virtually guaranteed to be activated in some capacity, be it overseas or locally.

To sum up, it’s not just one weekend a month and two weeks a year, it’s a serious commitment. Some people put more into it than others, and the people who put the most into it are the ones who get the most out of it.


I was under the impression that (with the exception of flight crews) National Guard personnel were generally REMF’s when it came to being sent overseas. Is this incorrect?

Spit, no.

A large portion of the Guard are combat troops.

It’s the same in most countries. Maintaining a full-time standing army is expensive, and generally unnecessary in peacetime. However, you don’t want to have to hurriedly recruit, train and organise personnel in the event of a crisis, so having a portion of your forces staffed by part-time (no slight intended) personnel makes sense. The British Army works the same way, with many battalions that form integral parts of combat formations staffed by Territorial Army (TA) personnel. It’s not unusual to have one-third of the combat strength of a division or brigade provided by reserves.

Interrobang!?, your mother DOES wear combat boots! Next time you talk to her tell her thanks from me, please.

The way it works out these days, the Army and Air Force’s “selected (drilling) reserve” combat units (infantry, combat engineers, MP, tactical fighter squadrons) are mostly Guard, support units (quartermaster, sanitation, construction, ATC) are mostly Reserve, but the Guard also provides them.

The Guard have been always subject to mobilization and deployment in wartime. As in the case of the above-referenced British TA, we will have major “regular” formations of which one or more subcomponents (e.g. batallions and specialized companies within a brigade) are either integrally Guard/Reserve units, or are kept as a HQ and a skeleton crew in peacetime and then filled by Guard/Reserve in war.
The “NG as a dodge” thing of the 1960’s was basically a consequence of our having a draft feeding the standing Army all through the 50s and 60s, combined with civil disorders at home requiring the Guard to be available here. The ones that do NOT get shipped out are “State Guard”, a supplementary “home guard” volunteer force organized by the Governors who basically take over upkeep of the NG’s armories and the civil-emergency-relief duties of the Guard while the units are deployed.

In addition, there are also a few organized State Militias (like the Texas Light Infantry) who are under the command of a governor and would defend the state if it were under attack.

Thanks again. I don’t believe they joined hoping for an easy time, but because neither can find work. They’re still at boot camp, so I doubt they’ll be sent overseas yet, but one never knows.

Robyn, please know that you and Airman and little Baby Doors are in my thoughts right now.