The United States Army National Guard is a reserve component of the United States Army. The National Guard’s emphasis on combat makes it different from the Army Reserves in this respect. The National Guard, since it part of the reserves, has a part time schedule that differentiates it from active service. The training done during this schedule is referred to as “drills.” In times of emergency and war, the National Guard can be activated by the President to serve in full time duty, such as the Guard’s role in the War on Terror.
The Army National Guard has served in about every major conflict the United States has been involved in, from the American Civil War to World War II and the current War on Terror. The National Guard has roots going back as far as the militias established to protect the American colonies. These same militias were instrumental in the defeat of the British in the American Revolutionary War. Today, the National Guard has a strength of 358,200 soldiers and airmen. The two main components are the ARNG (Army National Guard) and the ANG (Air National Guard). The chain of command leads up to individual state governors during times of non-federal deployment. During times of federal deployment, the President of the United States holds supreme command.
When someone decides to enlist in the National Guard (enlistment terms are discussed with a recruiter), the prospect will be given a choice of what kind of job they want to do in the military—this is referred to as an MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). This can range from infantry to clerk and everything in between. A chosen profession will be determined by the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) score. The ASVAB is a test one must pass to enter the Army National Guard. Once the prospect enters he will undergo an eight-week course called Basic Training in an Army base. After this training is successfully completed, the recruit will be sent to AIT (Advanced Individual Training) training for their MOS in another base. This training is usually longer than Basic Training. When the recruit completes this process they will be assigned to a National Guard unit in their vicinity to begin their term of enlistment.
The following are the regulations regarding National Guard drills. First, drills are for one weekend every month. These training drills with a unit are usually from Saturday to Sunday, but at times can begin on Friday evenings. Drills are MOS-intensive. Soldiers are given drill schedules regarding dates and places of the year’s drills. When soldiers arrive they await for orders regarding the weekend. In addition to weekend drills, soldiers are expected to attend AT (Annual Training), which is a 14 day long drill with your brigade on an Army post. Annual training can also take place in another state or country.
Soldiers must arrive on time for drill formation (gathering of soldiers for headcount and order distribution). If a soldier is running late, he is expected to inform his superior officer or NCO (Non Commissioned Officer). The Army National Guard has the same grooming standards as the full time army and soldiers must adhere to these rules during drills and activations. Male soldiers can have small moustaches if they choose but otherwise they must be shaved clean for drill. They cannot have long hair and must have it cut short (crew cut). Female soldiers can either have their hair cut above their shoulders or wear their hair in a bun. Their makeup must be conservative. Tattoos cannot be exposed. Soldiers are required to show up to drill with ironed and clean uniforms. Uniforms must never be disheveled.
If a soldier is sick or cannot attend a drill, he has to inform his superior officers in advance. In this case they will be excused. If a soldier either misses nine or more drills in a year or annual training unexcused, they will be subject to the disciplinary action of their unit commander. National Guard soldiers are not held to the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) code unless they are federalized. The unit commander can outright discharge an AWOL (Absent Without Leave) soldier with an other than honorable discharge or send a soldier directly to the Individual Ready Reserve, which means that a soldier can still be deployed if called upon for the duration of their enlistment.
Chain of Command
Soldiers have to stick to the chain of command during weekend drills and AT. This is the hierarchy of authority within a unit. A soldier cannot bypass the chain of command under no circumstances. All orders are passed down the chain of a soldier’s superiors and vice versa. During drills, this is imperative as there can be a communication breakdown if not followed properly, which in times of emergency can cause serious disruptions and even fatalities.