Is the National Guard back to being 2nd rate soldiers again?

Prior to 9/11 the National Guard was looked down upon by Active Duty forces. Since I served half my career in both both services I can tell you some of that was earned and some was just ignorance by active duty forces. When I was active duty we never took the National Guard (or as we sometimes called them “Nasty Guard, “No-Gos”, or “Nasty Girls” ) seriously. They never trained as hard as us, had as good equipment as us, or were as disciplined and professional soldiers as us.

However that was while I was active and I only had limited visibility of the National Guard and well, that visibility was not always good. Once I came into the National Guard I found there were many professional and technically expert soldiers who called the National Guard home. I have served with some awesome and highly motivated soldiers in the National Guard and I have also seen some pieces of crap (both soldiers and leaders). However I had also sen plenty of bad soldiers when I was active duty too.

After 9/11 the game changed, the “weekend warrior” was dead once our op-tempo kicked into high gear overseas while we also took on many new unforseen homeland security responsibilities. In 2003 my company deployed to NYC 3 times with two times having less than 12 hours notice. Think about that for a second. One day my soldiers left their campuses, cubicles, work-places, etc. thinking they were going home for the night and would be back the next day only to get a phone call telling them to bring any gear they had from home and report to the armory. I remember being on a bus to NYC handing my cell phone to soldiers so they could tell their bosses they would not be in to work and were not sure when they would be back. In addition to those homeland deployments, we also went to Germany for 3 weeks to help train up an active duty Brigade for an Iraq deployment and we were alerted 4-5 times ourselves for deployment. The last alert in November of 2003 finally came to fruition and most of the company deployed in January 2004.

We went from the standard “2 weeks a year” implying the amount of annual training we did and the longest timeframe we would be away from our families, work, college to “2 weeks a year” which now meant how much R&R leave each soldier would get at home to be with family.

The US Army leaned hard on the National Guard as two war fronts were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Those, in addition to other deployments like Kosovo, Sinai, Gitmo. That is not even the homeland missions like Noble Eagle, wildfires, floods, ice storms and of course hurricanes.

National Guard troops in a Humvee guard a Wal-Mart which had been closed and fortified against Hurricane Gustav on September 1, 2008 in downtown New Orleans.

Photo Courtesy of bigstockphoto.com

 So for the years of 2003-2011 the National Guard was shoulder to shoulder with active forces. This was a great thing for the Guard because it forced the National Guard to flush its ranks of poor performing soldiers and get the “ghost soldiers” off of its rolls. There were many times when I had Active Duty leaders tell me they could not tell the difference between their soldiers and National Guard soldiers. The National Guard had earned the respect they deserved and accomplished pretty much every mission they were handed.

However lately I am starting to question the integrity of our DOD leadership as the National Guard appears to being put on the back-burner again. Almost like they are not worthy of being in the 1st class cabins anymore, but are being put down below the upper decks with the 2nd class guests.

The 27th BCT out of NY was scheduled for Afghanistan again, after getting back from there in January 2009 and now instead of going there they are going to Kuwait to sit on a huge camp and secure gates and towers. This is a Brigade whose soldiers were some of the first to respond to Ground Zero in NYC (before being ordered or asked to) and stayed there and in many other sensitive places around the city and the state for years. They have deployed several times on both stateside and overseas missions. They have a wealth of combat experience, yet now they have been given one of the worst deployment assignments there is. They will be doing the crap jobs and being the whipping boy for CENTCOM for a year protecting a humongous camp in the relatively peaceful Kuwait.

The 37th BCT out of Ohio was at the National Training Center in California when they got re-missioned like the 27th BCT. They were gathered up and asked who wanted to go home. From what I understand about 900 soldiers opted to go home rather than get stuck in some country waiting out a year away from their families for no good reason. Now the way I understand it, some of the 37th BCT soldiers will go into Afghanistan to perform mundane duties, but the rest will get stuck in a country in the mid-east to wait out their time.

For me personally if I am going to be away from family, home and work for a year I want it to be for a good reason and not because DOD is forced to do something with me. If I am going to a war zone, I want to do my trained job and not a job that nobody else wants.

I hear there is a National Guard aviation Brigade whose mission is also up in the air now (forgive the pun). I realize that the ideal world would mean the Active forces could handle the workload of the overseas mission and the National Guard would just handle the stateside mission and be on-hand in case a natural disaster happens. However these are highly trained units with soldiers and families ready for the deployment. The units have already received their warning orders, equipment and have been preparing for over a year for this war-time deployment.

Why wouldn’t DOD keep them on the deployment track they had planned for them? Why push these units off to bogus countries to sit and waste time just to call up active duty units that probably weren’t planning to deploy? It makes no sense to me. The DOD knows over a year out who is on the “patch chart” and will be deploying. In the 5-sided puzzle palace they track the units, their readiness status and when they are up for deployment. It is called ARFORGEN in the US Army.

The only answer I can come up with is that DOD leadership is now back to looking at the National Guard as 2nd rate and not their first choice for the needs of the country. If my suspicions are true, then that is a very sad state of affairs. I will truly be let down by this lack of respect of some of our greatest fighting forces.

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14 Responses to Is the National Guard back to being 2nd rate soldiers again?

  1. Beth L.No Gravatar says:

    The missions change. To say the DoD patch chart is locked in stone a year out is simply inaccurate. I know of active duty units that were pulled off deployment with less than 30 days noticed and re-missioned to a stateside training mission. This was a complete surprise, but the needs of the DoD changed, along with politics, and the Force cap measures went into effect. ARFORGEN is affected by DoD and political policy, which changes (and more changes should be expected).

    And some of the issues the Active had with the Guard component is stated in your statement, “This was a great thing for the Guard because it forced the National Guard to flush its ranks of poor performing soldiers and get the “ghost soldiers” off of its rolls.” – a few “bad apples” had spoiled the reputation, and the Guard allowed it to happen for a long time but clearly has done a great job of eliminating the poor performers, thus earning more respect.

    With regard to your statement: “These are highly trained units with soldiers and families ready for the deployment,” – the same can be said about the Active component. If there is a Force cap (which there is), who are you going to assign to an area first – those who serve full time, or those who serve part-time? Funding-wise, it makes sense to use the folks already being paid full time to do this mission, especially as funding has become a major issue for the military.

    The National Guard’s mission (from the Guard Web site): “As a Guard Soldier, you can expect your primary area of operation to be your home state, following the leadership of your state adjutant general and governor. This may include community efforts, responding to wildfires or floods. Or, it may include serving overseas, training foreign forces.

    “You will also be prepared to mobilize when directed by the president. This may include overseas service or domestic, such as serving along the U.S.-Mexico border. The incredible versatility of the National Guard enables its troops to respond to domestic emergencies, combat missions, counterdrug efforts, reconstruction missions and more—all with equal speed, strength and efficiency.”

    By that mission statement, it looks as though the National Guard is fulfilling its mission by going to Kuwait, and you shouldn’t see it as an insult, because it’s not.

    There are a few missions that the Guard and Reserves are particularly well-suited for. What they bring to the table is that because they’re civilians and this is a part-time role for them, they can apply civilian skills to military roles (such as what is needed in Kuwait).

    “The National Guard is part of the world’s largest and most successful team. Its missions are vast and varied. It is impossible to sum them up in one comprehensive list, but here are a few of the missions the National Guard might cover:

    Homeland Security
    Counter drug and Immigration interdiction operations
    Law enforcement in volatile areas
    Large-scale transportation of supplies and troops via ground vehicles
    Stateside and International Humanitarian missions delivering food supplies, building schools, bridges, etc.
    Flood, Hurricane, and Earthquake relief, in addition to other natural disaster responses
    Augmenting the U.S. Army in times of war.”

    The key part is that last line: augmenting the Active Army in times of war. As the war dwindles, the need for combat operations from the Guard also dwindles. But, there is still a need to provide support for the Active component, and the Guard is great at logistics and running support operations.

    And you are correct, the National Guard will NOT be the DoD’s first choice for combat. It never has been. The first choice is always Active Duty, because that’s their full time role. The Guard goes where its needed when its needed however often its needed.

    By the way, I have Active and Guard family members. My Guard family members wanted to serve only when and where our country TRULY needs the assistance.

  2. NOT a Wannabe shitbag National guardsmanNo Gravatar says:

    No, no, and no.

    You’re bitching about having to tell your boss you’re leaving for for a couple days? Fuck you, man. Seriously, you NG shitbags say you have it so hard. How much do you PT in a month? How many men in your company/bat. fail your PT tests on a regular basis? Quit bitching, and get the fuck over it. Having to chase tornadoes and stack sandbags isn’t nearly as bad as taking IDF like REAL mean on some shitty FOB in Afghanistan. Picking up after a tornado isn’t nearly as bad as having to burn your own shit in the middle of the mountains.

    Go fuck yourself,
    Sincerely,
    Every Active Duty soldier

    • BouhammerNo Gravatar says:

      You talk big for someone from Southern Illinois who refuses to say your name. It is clear your amount of time in the militay is short-sided, and ignorant. I probably have more time running PT tests then you have in the military. I have deployed to war as both an active soldier and NG soldier, and so have tens of thousands of others. One day when you quit self-pontificating yourself in front of your “I love me wall” of Certificates of Achievement and a few AAMs, maybe you will open your eyes enough to see what all soldiers do to contribute to this country.

    • Michael DePalmaNo Gravatar says:

      You tell that to every mother, father, brother, sister, and friend of all the National Guard soldiers who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting along side their active duty counterparts these past 12 years.

      As per your PT point – you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. Idk how many fat slob Active Duty soldiers I’ve seen on a regular basis throughout my life. I’ve lived at Fort Bragg for 12 years now, and while the Guard certainly has its fair share of Fat-bodied-slobs; you can’t be so naive to think that this is limited to the Guard. If you do, you’re probably one of them. Keep in mind we’re talking about BRAGG. You know, home of the 82nd. Have you ever seen the soldiers at Gordon?

      I’ve been a No-Go for 7 years now, I PT on my own. I don’t get paid to do it, I motivate myself; day in, day out. You know why you PT? Because SGT somebody tells you to, or you’ll get in trouble. I am Sgt Someone, and I fucking tell ME to you little shit.

      You need to take a step back and realize that every single one of the people you see in a United States Military uniform volunteered to serve in a time where our country was fighting two separate wars. When you make generalized statements about how “real men (who it seems in your mind are only active duty) take IDF, all you are doing is making yourself appear ignorant and disgracing the uniform and those who have worn it beside(s) you.

      Try to be a part of the solution instead of whining about how hard you have it so you can justify your toughness to yourself. It seems you put a lot of effort into making your body strong, as I have and every soldier should. You should put some effort into strengthening your mind, and strengthening those around you. Be a part of the solution, not just another whiney fucking private. Go to school Joe. Reclass Joe. Try and improve that 33 you got on your asvab Joe. Perhaps admit to yourself that you wouldn’t be shit without the army, Joe. Grow the fuck up Joe.

      Rant complete, thank you for serving.

      Love,

      SGT Michael R DePalma
      NCNG

    • Not a whiney assNo Gravatar says:

      Since when did national guard soldiers stop deploying? Half my unit is overseas right now while you’re bitching and others are picking up after some disasters right now. so while you’re bitching one unit is doing 3 jobs at once. your move bat.

    • 111No Gravatar says:

      I chased after tornados and burned my own shit in Afghanistan and fought side by side with AD soldiers. the only thing that the active duty soldiers were good for was putting the business end of an m4 in their mouths and pulling the trigger. so fuck you.

      just one National guard soldier

  3. Wanda NoelNo Gravatar says:

    My boyfriend and his sister are in the National Guard. Before being with him, I never really gave much thought to soliders and military families. My mother who had married a WO in the Air Force had the mentality of “oh, he’s just a weekend warrior.” When she found out that his AIT was 9 months long, she changed that mindset fairly quickly.

    He’s been in for almost two years now and I’m very proud of everything he does each month. In fact, I couldn’t be prouder. He’s a fantasic PFC with strong determination to become a SFC someday. He goes above and beyond what’s required of him at drills.

    Although it’s true that typically National Guard soliders are not gone on deployments as frequently as Active Duty soliders, they still work hard each month to make sure that the Army has functioning equipment and the supplies that are needed to perform the tasks that are required of the Active Duty soliders. To hear someone say that National Guard soliders are “shitbags” makes me very irate. That guy who’s “not a wannabe shitbag national guardsman,” doesn’t sound like too great of a person anyway. He’s sounds like the type of person that gives the public the wrong impression of our men and women in uniform.

    Reguardless of MOS, rank, or branch of military, I support and thank all of our current soldiers and veterans. The sacrifices they and their families have made are nearly incomprehensible. Thank you again and God bless!

  4. National Guard is a disgraceNo Gravatar says:

    The National Guard is a complete joke. Sure, without a doubt Active Duty Soldiers have their shitbags, however, The National Guard blows them out of the water. I have been in twelve years and have spent a total of 4 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. EVERY NG unit that I have encountered are full of undiscipline, non-compliant, fat turds. I can give you countless examples of NG Soldiers disgracing this uniform but unfortunately I have I have real, discipline Soldiers to go take care of.

    • BouhammerNo Gravatar says:

      See Danny, I am going to let my readers respond to you before I jump into your cherry 12 year ass with both jungle boots.

  5. SKNo Gravatar says:

    Wow Bou, where’d you find the assholes who hate the NG guys? I’ve been privileged to know people from every branch of service. The NG guys were away from home for 15 months, not 6-9 like the USMC, or 12 like the Army. Most of them did their jobs with pride, they were disciplined, and one of them is a member of the Audie Murphy Association. I’m pretty sure the same can’t be said for most of the army guys who think they’re better than them, especially the ones who have commented here. As for the one above who says they are a disgrace and that he has REAL soldiers to take care of, most of the NG guys I know were REAL soldiers prior to being NG, including Bouhammer. I guess that means he was an undisciplined, fat turd too? I’d bet good money that the NG guys I know have a better work ethic, and more discipline and integrity, than the commenter who thinks he’s so much better than they are.

  6. MedinaNo Gravatar says:

    I think it’s pretty equal. The Guard and Active has shit bags and fat bodies. There are bad active units and bad Guard units. I honestly think the Guard units has a lot to do with the state they come from. Some states are horrible in general and it shows and for some reason they seem to be the only Guard soldiers anyone ever sees. They set the bad steroptype. I know when I deployed we received training from both the Guard and active, as well as some reservist.. The active guys did not seem to give a shit and the training was a joke. After basic I assumed all active duty units were squared away and had their shit together. Well my deployment changed the view real quick. The unit that replaced us fit the negative Guard image, over half them were medically non deplorable but were sent anyways. The first week someone had a seizure in the motor pool and two NCO almost got into a fist fight. Oh ya they also killed a guy in training. I recently heard the whole command was relieved over seas. This is the shit most people think of the Guard. It surprises me that Marines were more welcoming to us over seas than active duty. It did bug me at first but now I don’t really give a shit. If you’re an active asshole that automatically assumes all Guard members are chewed up, I want you to keep thinking that.

  7. t-moneyNo Gravatar says:

    I find it ironic that when I was on active duty most the people that made fun of the NG were fat ass NCOs that couldnt pass the PT test themselves… seems to me like a petty tactic to try and make themselves feel better. meh never really bothered me, just leave me alone and let me do my job

  8. DBNo Gravatar says:

    I have been both enlisted and an officer and both active and guard. I have seen the best and the worse of all sides. My thought is this. I want to dispell one myth: Active duty deploys more than NG. Though numerically that may be true, each individual soldier’s deployment is pretty much equal … overall with obviously exceptions … and their time in the box is about the same. Ok, now that being said I have been in 21 years and seen horrible Active Duty soldiers that I would not trust my life to if you paid me too. I have seen some ate up NG/Reservist too. The days of the old guard 2 days a month and 2 weeks in the summer sitting around doing nothing or near nothing disappeared a LONG time ago. My training cycle in the last 2 years has been 2 weekends Th-Sun and 6 weeks each year. That was training time; not barracks maintenance; sweeping the motor pool etc … (you active duty guys know what I’m talking about). Been there done it. When its all said an done nearly all NG units in Iraq and Afghanistan proved their worth. Nearly all Active units did as well. My NG unit actually relieved an Active unit that was de-certified and sent home. One other things is that the NG has a state mission IN ADDITION to the federal mission. So after coming back from Iraq and 18 months later going to Afghanistan we had 2 floods and 2 hurricanes to work through. The real stats on Active and NG performance in the box is pretty much even (which would cause some to say, but not me, if performance is even then what pray tell is the active force doing?) I PT 5 days a week then go to work. After work I take care of my unit emails, reports, power point and staff meetings (staff meeting are in addition to the weekend training and done on our own time without pay and orders). … I check my guys once a week to make sure they are meeting or exceeding the standard. I have no disregard for my fellow Active SMs; we are all called to do a mission. And its obvious to say that if the NG was as worthless as some say surely they wouldn’t be on the deployment cycle.

  9. Mike MadnessNo Gravatar says:

    Everyone has responsibility in the military. We can’t shit on X, Y or Z branch or position, just because bullets and bombs fly at them less than others.

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