What Does the National Guard Do?
You may have heard the term 'weekend warrior,' but just what does the National Guard do?
The Army National Guard is made up of citizen-soldiers who train part time and close to home, preparing for when they'll be needed. "Weekend warrior" can be a derogative term, but there is nothing funny about what the National Guard does for our country.
Still, you might be asking, "I get it's serious, but just exactly what does the National Guard do?" The National Guard is actually mandated by the Constitution, and its roots can be traced all the way back to 1636, when each state was required to have its own militia. This laid the groundwork for what would become today's Army National Guard.
The Guard is a part of the United States Army, making up a large portion of America's combat force. They are trained just like full-time soldiers, and are expected to meet all the same physical and mental requirements. They are considered an extension of their Federal, full-time Army counterparts. That being said, there are some big differences, so lets answer the question: What does the National Guard do?
Supplements regular armed forces during times of war.
The National Guard is no joke, and they serve in much the same way as the regular army in times of war. Being a reserve doesn't mean your deployment will be any safer, and you will likely find yourself in harms way. It's all a part of the Guards dual state-federal mission, so regardless, they'll be preparing for some sort of combat.
What does the National Guard do? In combat, pretty much everything. During times of national emergency and needs, the President, Congress, and the Secretary of Defense can all call the reserve soldiers into active duty — likely to a dangerous combat zone. Guard soldiers are generally called up as an entire unit, and cannot be mobilized individually -- unlike full-time Federal soldiers. When called, these "weekend warriors" are activated for two-year stints. They have been heavily active in all of our post 9/11 wars, carrying a large load in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
During a National emergency, the Guard can be similarly called in by the president and other government entities. This would apply to a foreign power invading us, or more likely a hurricane or seismic earthquake — any event that needs assistance, really. Such is the ever expanding role of the citizen-soldier
What does the National Guard do? Even during these trying times? Well, really anything that is called for -- they are the first line of defense. They can serve as adjunct police, and help enforce curfews after a natural disaster -- too many people being outside would be detrimental to the clean-up efforts.
Much like what they do during a National Emergency, the National Guard is often called in to do the dirty work during State's of Emergency. Only difference is that on the state level, the Guard is called in by their governor.
During the 1992 LA riots, the National Guard was called in to help uphold the law, and protect as many city assets as possible. The California National Guard helped stem the spread of arson and mass-looting that took place after the four cops who beat Rodney King on video were acquittal. This is just one of the many difficult and dangerous situations the Guard is thrust into on a regular basis.
"One weekend a month, two weeks a year."
"One weekend a month, two weeks a year" is the old adage about the National Guard, hence, "weekend warriors." This saying is largely wrong these days, and has almost entirely lost its relevance — close to a third of our active fighting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11 have been the National Guard. They make up a huge portion of our front-line fighters, and it's time to give them their due.
So, what does the National Guard do? What don't they do, at this point in our history? We are fighting what seems like two endless wars. If not called to active duty, many of them work regular civilian jobs. Their service is usually an eight year commitment, but can be as little as three. This is definitely not the gig it was for much of the 20th Century, as of now, the Guard is continually asked to answer an ever intensifying call.
What does the National Guard do should no longer be a question. These brave soldiers have to be ready to fight at any time, while also remaining kind and courteous, because at times, they will be aiding their fellow citizens in times of crisis and peril. This takes a steady hand, and we should all be thankful for our tireless and well-trained soldiers.