Military News

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Guardsmen are proven in battle, trusted at home

by Col. Pierre B. Oury
USAFE-AFAFRICA Air National Guard Advisor

12/10/2015 - RAMSTEIN AB, Germany -- December 13th marks the 379th birthday of the National Guard.

On this date in 1636, the first militia regiments in North America were organized in Massachusetts. Based upon an order of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's General Court, the colony's militia was organized into three permanent regiments to better defend the colony.

So, what exactly is the National Guard? In a nutshell, it's part of the Army and Air Force reserve component. The guard is composed of military units in each of the 54 states, 3 territories, and the District of Columbia.

What makes the Guard truly different from its reserve and active-duty counterparts is that when not mobilized, the governor in each respective state or territory is the commander-in-chief of the units. The governor, in turn appoints a senior joint military commander called The Adjutant General or TAG. The only exception is in South Carolina where the TAG is an elected position and not appointed by the governor. This command structure allows the Guard to react to national disasters swiftly and precisely.

No other force in the nation is able to rapidly provide military equipment and capabilities during a domestic emergency like the National Guard.  Called to duty by the governor, the National Guard is typically already working with first responders before any federal emergency is declared. National Guard members were called up 286 times by their governors in Fiscal Year 2015 for 53 natural disasters, 27 structural fires, 53 explosive ordinance disposal events and 117 search-and-rescue missions. They also provide support to law enforcement, border security, counterdrug support and protect America's skies by providing fighter and tanker alert response.

The Guard is also a global partner with 70 partnerships around the world through its State Partnership Program that started in 1993. Why? Because the Department of Defense has recognized that pairing a State National Guard to a partner nation provides unparalleled enduring relationships. The US has seen many successes thanks to this program. For example, as a result of Michigan's 22 year partnership with Latvia, USAFE and the Air National Guard executed the first MQ-1 Predator training deployment to the Baltics with great success in September. As a colleague once said, "You can't surge trust."

But the true key to the Guard's success is its people.

Roughly 70% of Guard members are part-time soldiers and airmen and only 30% are fulltime. We are police officers, airline pilots, plumbers and teachers in our communities who make a seamless transition to Soldiers and Airmen when our states, territories or Nation call. It's because of this makeup that I see examples of where innovative civilian skills complement military training in operations both overseas and at home time and time again.

This combination of civilian and military attributes has enabled the National Guard to do three things extraordinarily well: Fighting America's Wars, Protecting the Homeland, and Building Global Partnerships.

So, now that you understand the National Guard take a moment to celebrate the generations of citizen-soldiers who continue to defend community and country.

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