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23 May 2009

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John Minnerath

Or, should we just do away with our current NG and Reserve components as an outdated concept.
And increase our standing "active" forces to higher levels and have the "full time" professionals we expect them to be anyway?

Create a new public service type organization on non military lines to do the civic duties units like the NG are now expected to also perform?

VietnamVet

Colonel,

I had not realized that even before Vietnam the Slackers has infiltrated the Army Reserves. No wonder the hatred of draftees engulfed Donald Rumsfeld and his peers. The natural outcome of this hate is two little colonial wars without enough boots on the ground to pacify the countryside.

The Army’s leaders are on never ending rotations to war, 4th and 5th tours currently. No matter the cause or the belief system, the human psyche cannot withstand constant stress and the loss of buddies and troops under their command, year after year, without changing. I know of no modern army that has fought constantly, generation after generation; except perhaps the British Imperial Army and modern weaponry smashed it.

I don’t know if it is denial or the leadership recognizes the truth but hides it from Americans. The Long War will end. The costs are too enormous.

Everything comes around again. Each new generation is a blank slate. I won’t be here, but the next American War when it comes will have draftees. In Mexico?

William R. Cumming

My belief is that studies of the NG and Reserve roles must number close to 100! Why! LBJ made the decision to fight Viet Nam with draftees, not with NG and reserves. Nixon somewhat agreed although draft ended on his watch. Bush decided that NG and Reserves who had not really fought before his father activated units for Desert Shield and storm to be utilized in his FREEDOM Campaign. NG and Reserves were utilized in the first Bush deployment but only as individuals not as units.
Does any of this make sense? It does if you look at the politics of the whole thing and not from a military standpoint. Should that be the case? Maybe in a democracy (republic) yes? At least for the most part all of our soldiers are citizens or hope to be so. The real politics are driven in part by money. What is the cheapest way to get the forces you need! I am not an expert but it does seem that for many reasons, economics also drives these decisions. What does bother me is that despite the current system of equivalent training and experience (including combat) their are distinct culture differences between NG units and Reserve Units and the "Active Service." Who thinks this is important? Apparently the individuals involved but not so much the system. So not sure where this leaves us except that if the current fighting was largely a drafted military suspect political repercussions would be overwhelming. But maybe not! No one seems to ask anymore Why do we have the military we do have? Could it be different or even better? Whose to evaluate? The politicians? The economists? The Flag Ranks? Society? Very few other countries can even figure out why we do it the way we do. Hoping someone in US understands and thinks it is AOK! My bottom line is it effective and efficient at what it is asked to do? COIN or SysAdmin as some theorists would posit? Time will tell. No audit of systems like combat.

Farmer Don

Colonel,
Still reading your blog everyday. Thank you for all the info.

Why does the USA even have or need a National Guard? What is their mission?

What business do the States have with a military?

Who pays the bills for the National guard? The Feds or the States?

Who controls the National Guard, the Feds or the States?

Please enlighten me.

Sincerely,
Don S.

Patrick Lang

Don

Unlike the Canadian provinces the states are sovereign entities that created the union. Contrary to the baloney about "before the Civil War one said the United states are, and afterward one said the US is..." the states still retain much of their sovereignty.

It is a sovereign right of the states to have armed forces called the militia. No state has ever chosen to give up its right to a militia of its own.

In the later 19th Century the US Army frustrated in ots atttempt to obtain congressional assent to an "expansible army" on the German model, sought to obtain some measure of control of the states militia in order to make them into a usable reserve for mobilization purposes.

This was only partially successful. By agreement with the states some portion of the state's militia was "recognized" by the US Governemt and provided with equipment and money for federal purposes of training and organization.

So far as I know, no state has ever given up its militia rigths and some maintain more or less organized militia forces outside the National Guard. Most National Guard officers hold two commissions, one in the federally recognized NG and the other a state commission.

The National Guard remain state troops but subject to into federal service for a national emergency.

The states pay their expenses when the NG or other militia are undertaking state duties and the federal government pays when Guard units or individuals are in federal service.

The states have been very aggressive and successful politically in defending this set up.

There is a "National Guard Bureau" in the Pentagon for the purpose of defending the Guard's rights and separate status. It exists by law, passed over the Army's opposition.

There has been much talk of having a National Guard full general sit as a member of the Joint Chiefs.

If you think this system complicated, it is and it is unlikely to change.

The Army Reserve has nothing to do with the states. pl

William R. Cumming

The Federal Government pays 95% of the salaries, training costs, and equipment costs of the National Guard. When federalized pursuant to Title 10 of the US Code the Federal Government pays 100% of the costs. When the Guard is under State control it is regulated under Title 32 of the US Code and in fact there is provision for a State Militia even beyond the NG. When the President declares a disaster or emergency pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 100-707)which amended in part, supplemented in part and revoked in part the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-288) the activation by the Guard is by act of the Governor affected by the disaster or emergency but the costs of the NG deployment are paid for by FEMA. If the NG is federalized as for the riot and civil disorder in LA in 1992 which was a declared fire disaster and the NG federalized DOD seeks reimbursement from FEMA.

PeterHug

Dear Pat (and Don),

Please let me know if this is completely wrongheaded - but -
My impression has always been that the current force structure including the divisions between the Regular and National Guard components of the Army, is designed (with malice aforethought if you will) so that no significant ground war can possibly be fought without involving the National Guard. And this is done precisely because such an involvement will get all the US citizens at least minimally involved--to the point that (hopefully) any truly unpopular commitment entered into by an Administration would then be prevented from going forward before it becomes some intractable national commitment.

Clifford Kiracofe

"Time of endless war..."

American citizens might wish to ask themselves just why this republic needs to be in a state of endless war necessitating constant global military intervention?

More fundamentally, what kind of world do we in fact live in from the standpoint of the global "balance of power" or "correllation of forces." It is not bipolar any longer.

Is it then unipolar or multipolar? If unipolar is it a matter for the US to simply "dominate" the planet? Or if multipolar would the issue be how to bring fundamental change to our outdated national strategy?

Our armed forces, however they may be organized, carry out their mission(s)under the requirements of our national strategy which has military as well as diplomatic, economic, and other elements to it.

Has the Obama Administration made any fundamental changes in the national strategy undertaken by the Bush Administration? The underlying concept of the Bush Administration was that the Cold War being over, it was now a situation of a "unipolar" rather than "bipolar" world.

This world, according to our official National Strategy statements, was one in which the US objective would be to maintain "full spectrum dominance" over any power or combination of powers. No multipolar world here with attendent fundamental adjustments in US bipolar stratetgy required.

This was the core of the Neoconservative strategic vision, shared by Rummy-Cheney and the Decider (remember him?),for this republic...global dominance in a "unipolar world." The Iraq War was a part of that vision.

Endless war and imperial policy are core components of such a national strategy.

Now let's turn to the Obama Administration. Has the "Changer" changed the core national strategy of the Bush Administration? Granted the "Eastern Establishment" elite's imperial global strategy has older roots reaching back to the War with Spain. But has Obama CHANGED our national strategy?

It does not appear that he has. Speaking of our military, he just seems to have told the folks at Annapolis that his intention was to maintain US "full spectrum" global "dominance." Read his speech.
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22869.html

As I have posted before, the Cold War militarization of US foreign policy, which includes defense policy, continued under little Bush using the "Clash of Civilizations" theory and thus the "Muslim" (and Chinese and continued Russian) threat replaced the old "Communist" threat.

"Full spectrum dominance" in the multipolar world wer live in is not a realistic national strategy. It wasn't for little Bush and his "Decider" Administration and it not going to be a realistic strategy for the Obama "The Changer" Administration.

On the code word "dominance" as national strategy one can read the Neocons but going back to their mentors such as Brzezinksi and Huntington gives context.

FDChief

Perhaps an alternate solution would be to devise a geopolitical strategy that doesn't involve committing so much of the U.S. land combat forces to chasing raggedy-ass guerillas and local badmashes around the wilds of central and southwest Asia that requires the constant activation of the reserve components? Or at least performing SOME sort of strategic calculation of costs versus benefits of having the RC permanently activated?

Naah.

Let's just throw men and money at the problem without trying to figure out how to deal with it the most efficient and cost-effective way.

Patrick Lang

Peterhug

Creighton Abrams (God Bless his memory) structured it that way when he was chief if staff at the the end of VN. He did it for the reason that you mention. I heard him say so. pl

rfjk


"...any truly unpopular commitment entered into by an Administration would then be prevented from going forward before it becomes some intractable national commitment..."

Unfortunately, it didn't work. Only a universal draft can assure that outcome as it did in Vietnam and why Bushites did not implement it.

John Minnerath

Throwing out of consideration old long range strategical plans for how the NG could be used to maintain a public commitment or support for or against a military involvement somewhere, or how the NG fits into some grand scheme of government policy, in the present the Guard is being used beyond what we have and should expect them to do.

With the current small size of a standing active force, the NG is being called to Federal service more than ever before, there just aren't enough reserves to pick up the slack. The fall back of the Selective Service System to provide massive amounts of manpower for some clash of conventional armies seems an unlikely solution at the present.

Guard units are activated and deployed so often they're no longer the "part time" soldiers they used to think of themselves as. Young friends of mine who joined the Guard after their separation from active duty have been called up so often they no longer have a civilian life. But, at the end of a deployment, they're discarded by the DOD and expected to magically change from their uniforms into their civilian clothes and return to normal civilian life, work and family.
It don't work!

Because of these things, a lot of good people, who would otherwise join the NG, for whatever reasons, decide against it and we come up short again.

I don't know the answer to how to save and repair the old and venerable tradition of the National Guard in the United States, but something needs to be done.
It's time for wise minds to begin to grapple with the problem and come up with a plan that will maintain our military forces and their capabilities while still honoring the traditions of the Guard.

Sorry if this is a rambling comment that provides no answers, but this issue has been a troubling and vexing problem to me for a number of years.

William P. Fitzgerald III

Pat Lang,

Aaah! Camp Drum in the spring and summer! I was there in the 70s with the "Jersey Blues". National Guardsmen didn't use the term active army much. Regular Army being the preferred usage. The Regular Army was admired, except when they came snooping around (inspecting)and interfering (instructing). A brief anecdote, on my first trip up there with my new tank company (I was new, not the company), I returned from a meeting to find that our bivouac had been set up and it resembled Robin Hood and his merry men in Sherwood Forest. So, my first job was to make them sleep by crew and with their tanks and get rid of the gaily colored tents.

More to the point, repeated lengthy activations aren't good for the Guard and will eventually winnow out those who have businesses or responsible jobs.

A final word. Pennsylvanians visiting France should go view the 28th Division monument in the Argonne Forest.

WPFIII

Patrick Lang

WPFIII

I like the Sherwood Forest thing. My memories of the troops that summer range from that sort of whimsy in the Guard to squalor and chaos in the Reserve. I remember your outfit, the 50th Armored Division (the Jersey Blues) with great affection. I would have been happy to serve with them.

I used to take a couple of mermite cans of coffee (five gallon thermoses)plus donuts made in the Regular Army instructional team's mess out to serve to troops at a mid-morning break at training sites. This was almost always gratefully accepted.

One day I watched a company of reserve "troops" from the NY City area (77th Division) mock their company commander, a hapless soul. He ranked me but I told him that this was unacceptable. When he did nothing, I put the ringleader, a Soprano type, in the front leaning rest position. I told him to start doing pushups. He got to 100 plus and collapsed. His littermates started snarling and my three RA soldiers got a couple of axe handles out of our jeep. When superman was carried off, we offered the rest the coffee. None of them (except for the officers and seniot NCOs) would get in line so we poured it out on the ground in front of them. I never had a problem like that with RA soldiers and draftees.

In my opinion the division that these men were from should have been disbanded as worse than worthless. These are the same characters whom I mentioned earlier who buried two new M151 jeeps on post at Drum while they were there. One of the soldiers in the RA instructional team saw them doing it usine a bulldozer out of the division enginner battalion. We went out and probed this suspicious patch of earth in the woods and there they were! Several went to prison for that. I hoped they enjoyed that view of Ft. Leavenworth.

Before you ask, I was threatened once in VN by a soldier who did not want to something I told him to do. That didn't work out well for him. pl

James Joyner

If ANG and USAR soldiers had all of the benefits of Regulars, plus the pay of their civilian jobs, why would anyone be foolish enough to commit to full-time service? You'd essentially reverse the status quo, rendering the Regulars second class citizens.

Patrick Lang

JJ

In re "The Regulars," aren't they now treated as second class citizens? They are not even called that by the generals. They have no name. They are merely "the active force."

I preferred John Ford's evocation of them as "the 50 cents a day professioals in dirty shirt blue. Where they went, there today is the United States." pl

Walter

They gambled and lost.

Most of the guys I know who went into Army Reserves did so to get free college education and other financial benefits betting that that they would not be called into duty, but merely to go on weekends to carry out there obligation. They did not expect to or want to get called into war. They gambled and lost their wager that they wouldnt have to do much in exchange for free money. I can imagine them thinking back in the 1990's "There is no way we are gonna go to war. The Soviet Union is impotent....no enemies on the horizon...National Guard seems like a good deal." I dont mean to sound insensitive but that seems to be the reality to me. Our leaders could probably care less whose lives they destroy and how war effects these guys.

HJFJR

Colonel Lang:

Having been in all three component, the Regular Army, the Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve, let me offer some insights (and opinions) regarding this discussion.

First in answer to the question "Why does the USA even have or need a National Guard? What is their mission?" The answer to why does the USA have a National Guard is very simple it is Constitutionally mandated in Artile 1 Section 8 of the U. S. Constitution. Today's state National Guard are the equivalent of the militias spoken of in the Constitution. I was recognized as such in the 1906 with the passage of the Dick Act and reenforced in the 1921 National Security Act, in which the National Guard was recognized as the principal reserve component of the United States Army. Of course this was over the objections of the Regular Army which wanted the Army Reserve to have this distinction because they were able to control the Army Reserve on a daily basis whereas the Army National Guard remained on the control of the Governors of the respective states.

You are quite correct that the National Guard Bureau, and more specifically the National Guard Association of the United States wields great power within Congress and is quite able to change the direction of the Army (and to a lesser extent the Air Force) on matters related to the National Guard. In the 2008 Defense Authorization Act, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau was authorized to be held by either a Army or Air Guard Officer with the grade of the General; and the National Guard Bureau ceased to be a Joint Bureau of the Army and Air Force but rather became a Joint Bureau of the Department of Defense. The current Chief is General McKinley and Air Guard Officer. While not a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he is routinely invited to the Army and Air Force four star conferences. The creation of a four star billet was one of the recommendations of the "Commission on the National Guard and Reserve" chaired by Arnold L. Punaro Major General (Ret USMCR). There are a number of recommendations which can be found at this link http://www.cngr.gov/Worddocs/March%201%20Report/CNGR%20Second%20Report%20to%20Congress%20.pdf.

Based on my experience I have come to the conclusion that the United States can no longer afford a separate Reserve Components in the Army and Air Force. We are not going eliminate the National Guard so the choice becomes how do we provide a force responsive to the Army but at the same time provide forces which are responsive to the Governors of the respective states when required. We are not going to get around the constitutional requirements. I am not sure what the answer is, but it must be dealt with in any future revisions of the our National Security structure.

Hank Foresman

Patrick Lang

Hank

The best source I have seen for the 19th Century roots of the NG situation is Weigley's "History of the United States Army." pl

HJFJR

Weigley is excellent, there are two other sources that provides great insight one is Samuel Hunington's Soldier and State; and Brian Linn's, The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War. Mike Doubler has written an official history for the National Guard Bureau, Civilian in Peace, Soldier in War: The Army National Guard 1636-2000.

Hank Foresman

William P. Fitzgerald III

Pat Lang,

I should have added to "who have businesses or responsible jobs" - and who are the backbone of the Guard. Many of our people had careers with AT&T, Bell Labs, Bell Long Lines, Dupont etc. My 1st Sergeant owned a construction company and so on. These are the sort of people who can't combine their civilian lives with repeated year long activations. I agree about a lot of the USAR units.

Everyone have a good and reflective Decoration (Memorial) Day.

WPFIII

William R. Cumming

Actually Article I, Section 8 provides an authorization not a mandate for the National Guard. Two clauses mention the militia. First, "The Congress shall have Power To . . .provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Uniton, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions." The Second, The Congress shall have Power to . . .provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress." What I always found interesting is the dual oath that NG personnel take upon entry into the NG. A oath of loyalty to the United States and also to the individual State Guard unit they join, specifically the STATE of X. Confused, so is this system. In the 1980's a challenge to deployment of the NG of the State of Minnesota overseas, without federalization, specifically for training, SCOTUS rules that the dual oath provision should be interpreted as giving precedence to the federal oath. Thus the deployment was determined to be Constitutional and appropriately authorized. I believe the case is Perpich v. US (1983) with Perpich being the then Governor of Minnesota.

Cloned Poster

Weekend warriors never make great troops, pump them with islamophobia, and they gets to be super-human weekend warriors.

After all the ground and pound that they have been called on to deliver, are they doing the job?

John Minnerath

Cloned Poster that is pure BS and you should know better. I've known RAs who were worse than dead wood. And no few AF and USN types who were the same. Don't remember if I ever worked with any USMC who fit that category, but I'm sure there are some there too.

You can't condemn the NG because of a few bad apples or some sub standard units and old misguided stereotypes, they're everywhere.

Andy

Cloned Poster,

Weekend warriors never make great troops, pump them with islamophobia, and they gets to be super-human weekend warriors.

Wow, way to insult the entire guard and reserve - on Memorial Day no less.

I served on active duty for seven years and have been in the guard or reserve for much of the past nine years. In some ways those "weekend warriors" are superior to their active counterparts, so your statement is completely false as well.

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