The United States National Guard began in 1636 and was known as the English Colonial Militias. The name change occurred in 1824 and since then was organized into the Air Guard and Army Guard components. All 50 U.S. states and organized U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia is home to either an Air or Army Guard. Every December 13th recognizes the birth of the National Guard.
The Mission of the National Guard
The Guard has a unique dual mission, with both federal and state responsibilities. During peacetime, Guard forces are commanded by the governor through a state adjutant general. The governor can call the Guard into action during local or statewide emergencies, such as storms, drought, and civil disturbances. In addition, the President can activate the National Guard to participate in federal missions, both domestically and overseas. When federalized, Guard units fall under the same military chain of command as active duty and reserve troops.
Did You Know?
- The Spanish military town of St. Augustine mustered the first militia force on September 16, 1565.
- Up until the 1600s, the US maintained a minimal army and heavily relied on the National Guard Units.
- The National Guard is part of the first line of defense for the United States.
- There is not a Naval or Marine Corps component of the National Guard.
Q: How old do you have to be to join?
A: To enlist, you must be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien. Age requirements differ between branches of service, but in general, you must be between the ages of 17-42 with no prior service (NPS). Note: Seventeen-year-olds need parental consent.
Q: How long is Basic Training for the National Guard?
A: Basic Training for the Air and Army Guard will be anywhere from 8 ½ weeks to 10 weeks long. Plus, you will have to attend a technical school, which will range in time from 6 weeks to 52 weeks.
A: Yes. Your Guard service is only part-time - typically one weekend per month, and one two-week period each year. Plus, the Guard can help you pay for college.
Q: How often does the National Guard get deployed for active duty?
A: Before 9/11, guard units were rarely called up to active duty and then only for short periods of civil unrest and natural disasters. Just after the attacks, some Guard units were mobilized for deployment. In fact, they are more deployable than active duty Air Force or Army. This is because the National Guard answers to two different commands: State and Federal.