This debate has been around since…well, the Army. The negative stigma and “bad blood”, if you will, between Active Duty Soldiers and National Guard Soldiers is legendary. One trains one weekend a month, two weeks out of the year. The other trains all year. This basic difference sparks the debate: Are Active Duty Soldiers Better than National Guard and Reservists?
Well, in my opinion when you are talking NG and Reserves…it all depends on what State and Unit you are in whether or not Active Duty has any respect for you. As an Officer in the 56th SBCT PAARNG, I have never received any negative flack from any Active Duty Officers…other than a slight joke every now and then for being a Guardsmen. Most respect me on the fact that they recognize my “Keystone” and can relate to the experiences they know my unit has endured.
Despite what your opinion might be…when you go down range, you will both go where you’re told and you’ll fight where you go. This is something that has become more and more true since 9/11 and the National Guard has been activated more and more. Now your gear and equipment may suck, but when adding up prior service Soldiers and leadership, plus incorporating civilian skills and thinking, I’d place the National Guard leadership, cohesion, and esprit d’corps on the same level, if not higher than the Active Army.
In fact, with specialized skills hard to find among full-time Active Army personnel, Guardsmen and Reservists possess unique abilities that will be useful in the complex military missions of the future.
In my experience, Active Duty units are full of professionals who view Soldiering as a profession such that they become careerist and are hesitant to make hard decisions in the interests of the men fearing that their next NCOER or OER might be a poor reflection. I do not see that as much in the National Guard. Active Duty leaders are also rigid and are often incapable of dealing with change as well as their resilient counterparts. Many military experts and leaders believe that National Guard and Reserve Soldiers are better suited to fulfill the complex, ever changing counter insurgency and stabilization type missions we face today.
As a Guardsmen I am obviously biased and feel that my dual skills as a Soldier, leader and engineer make me a better Soldier and leader in the Army…and vice versa. Despite the arguments between Active Duty and the National Guard, to me it comes down to leadership and the willingness to think outside the box and make hard decisions. A lot of people look down on the Guard—I felt the fact that we all came from the same place enhances our pride and esprit d’corps. We looked out for each other. Whether you are a Reservist or Active Duty, making it home is the most important thing. Like they said in “Black Hawk Down”, the politics and the reason for why you are there all go out the window once that first shot is fired. You look out for your brother and you go home.
Let’s hear your opinions, but try to be civil. If you have comments or questions, you can post those below.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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