What Is Active Duty in the National Guard?

The United States National Guard acts as a reserve component of the U.S. Army.
... Carolyn Fox/iStock/Getty Images

The United States National Guard is part of the U.S. Army as a reserve component. In contrast to the U.S. Army, the National Guard (which includes the Army and Air National Guard) trains on a part-time schedule--one weekend a month (drills) and two weeks a year (annual training). The National Guard has a duel mission: to aid in times of national emergency and protect the interests of the United States abroad.

1 History

The U.S. National Guard dates to the militias formed in the American colonies. The Constitution stated that the militia should be organized, disciplined and armed, thus creating the National Guard. These militias protected the colonists from hostile forces and were instrumental in the creation of the United States, helping defeat English forces in the Revolutionary War.

The National Guard served in the Mexican War, Civil War and Spanish-American War, and during World War I, the Guard provided up to 40 percent of combat soldiers serving in Europe. In World War II, National Guard soldiers were some of the first to land in Europe. The Guard now provides much of the fighting force in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

2 Federal Service

The National Guard can be mobilized into federal service (active duty) when called upon. The U.S. president has the power to enact this and can call the National Guard into federal service when conditions warrant it. These conditions include the United States and its territories being invaded or threatened with invasion by a foreign enemy, a revolt or threats of revolt against the U.S. government or the president, and a need for extra manpower to enforce executive laws. Examples of this type of duty include deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, border patrol missions, special duties during terror alerts and national emergencies, such as Hurricane Katrina.

3 Training

When a National Guard member goes through basic combat training (BCT) and advanced individual training (AIT-specialty training), he is considered to be on active duty. The amount of time required for these types of training varies. Soldiers on weekend drills or at annual training (AT), which usually is two weeks are more, are also considered to be on active duty. AT is funded by the states and can be done nationally or internationally.

In addition, soldiers who go through active duty training (ADT), which includes specialty schools such as airborne school, non-commissioned officer training and ranger school, are on active duty for the duration of the school.

4 ADSW and AGR

Another active-duty role for the National Guard is active duty for special work (ADSW), a temporary order in which the National Guard soldier works for her unit in different roles and in other assignments. This order is funded by the state.

Title 32 active guard reserve (AGR) is a full-time job within the National Guard. As with any other job, applications must be filled out and submitted and interviews are conducted. These positions depend on availability and needs.

5 Military Technician

A military technician, or mil-tech, is an active-duty pay status apart from the regular National Guard position. Military technicians are paid weekly, along with their National Guard drill pay. Mil-techs provide everyday unit support and are considered full-time soldiers. A military technician also can be a civilian employee of the federal government who works with a National Guard unit on a full-time basis for the purposes of training, maintenance or administrative duties.

Jason Candanedo is currently a student at Empire State College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in social theory, social structure and change. He has been writing since August 2008 on his political blog and since September 2009 as a freelance writer for various websites.