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While both the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserves serve a similar function, the two of them are very different. If someone intends on joining one or the other, it's important that they understand those differences.

Reserves

The Air Force Reserves are more closely tied to the Air Force as a branch of the military, and the reserves are considered federal.

Guard

Air National Guard troops are considered to have both a federal and a state loyalty. The state comes first, unless the guard troops are called upon by the federal government.

Disasters

The Air National Guard are more often the ones called upon to help deal with domestic crises. During the Hurrican Katrina emergency for instance, the Air National Guard was called upon to help maintain order.

Combat

While both the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserves may be called upon to enter combat, the reserves will typically be activated before the national guard troops.

Size

The Air National Guard has fewer individuals in it than the Air Force Reserves currently do.