In this article, I want to educate you about the Army AGR Program. We’ll cover the different parts of the program, why you should consider it, and how to pursue a career in the AGR.
First, here is a simple explanation of what the program is:
Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Soldiers serve full-time and enjoy the same benefits as Active Duty Soldiers. With an Active Guard Reserve job, you receive full pay, medical care for you and your family, and the opportunity for retirement after 20 years of active service. Active Guard Reserve Soldiers are stationed at thousands of Army Reserve units throughout the United States. AGR Soldiers serve full-time on Active Duty in units and organizations of the Army Reserve, or that directly support the Army Reserve. The Active Guard Reserve program allows Soldiers transitioning off active duty the opportunity to compete for AGR positions closer to home. ~ USAR.army.mil
Full-timers, AGR, FTUS…they have many names but if you are in the Army National Guard or Army Reserve, you definitely know the Active Guard and Reserve Soldiers that serve in your unit. Such roles typically provide administrative, organizational, recruiting, instruction, logistics or training support and keep the National Guard rolling along smoothly. Jobs such as Readiness NCO, Supply Sergeant, Training NCO, and Operations NCO are usually filled with AGR personnel.
Title 10 AGR Program Overview
However, what many people do not understand is the difference between Title 10 and Title 32 AGR positions. Here is a quick synopsis to provide a Title 10 AGR Program Overview.
Basically speaking, Title 10 Orders in the AGR program are Federal level orders. Title 10 Orders are essentially the same as serving under Active Duty but maintaining your position within the Army National Guard or Army Reserve. Title 10 AGR Soldiers serve full-time and get to enjoy the same benefits and perks that the Active Duty component receives such as leave, educational benefits, and medical, among others. Additionally, Title 10 Soldiers can be stationed anywhere within the United States.
While most AGR positions you will encounter are Title 32 (which we will cover below) there are plenty of Title 10 orders out there. Soldiers can volunteer for Title 10 Orders. For example, you may be required to be partially mobilized during a national emergency declared by the President. This typically does not last any longer than 24 months. In rare cases, the use of militia and armed forces to enforce federal authority may be exercised and the National Guard is called up in support.
Other positions typically lie within the NGB, or National Guard Bureau, which has a full-time role in providing staff and operational functions of the National Guard at the Federal level. Most of the work done within the NGB is to develop and coordinate programs that support the National Guard and can be found in every state where National Guard units exist. Obtaining these positions can be a bit complicated but follow the typical procedure for most things in the Army; 1) finding a vacancy; 2) putting together a packet; 3) applying for the positions, and 4) interviewing for the job.
Soldiers who are interested in AGR positions should visit the GKO (Guard Knowledge Online) for information about who to contact and how to apply!
Title 32 AGR Program Overview
Soldiers serving under Title 32 Orders are primarily “state active duty” or “full-time Nation Guard”. Title 32 positions are typically at the state and unit level and support a more personal, direct role within the National Guard (when compared to Title 10 AGR). The Governor maintains the authority and command and control of the Soldiers and Airmen under Title 32 Orders.
Why the difference between Title 10 and Title 32? Well, it is a bit complicated, but it boils down to a principle called Posse Comitatus. Remember when you took your oath during your enlistment/Commission? Well, you took an Oath to swear true faith and allegiances to the United States, the Constitution, etc. as well as the Constitution of your state. It is this duality, Title 10 and Title 32 which delineate whether your status falls under service in your State Militia or under Federal Service.
When considering a position as an AGR Soldier, take a look at what the position is. If it falls under Title 10 Orders, there is a good chance that it is a Federally funded assignment and serves at a higher level within the NGB or National Guard. Title 32 Orders are the most typical type of orders you will see AGR Soldiers fall under within your state.
Reasons to Join the AGR Program
Listed below you will find what I believe are the top 10 reasons to join the Army AGR Program. Please keep in mind these points are simply my opinion about the program.
# 1: Job Stability: In today’s economy job stability is pretty much a thing of the past, unless you work for the government. With the AGR Program, you will have good job stability. Of course, you could get fired if you have unsatisfactory performance, but it’s highly unlikely. In most cases, once you get in the program, you don’t have to worry much about getting fired or downsized.
# 2: The Retirement : Just like the Active Duty Army, you can retire in just 20 years and get a pension for life. And unlike the traditional one weekend per month Soldiers, you won’t have to wait until you are 60 to collect your pension.
# 3: Steady Pay: You will get paid on the 1st and the 15th of the month like clockwork! If you like the thought of a steady paycheck, this is probably just what you are looking for.
# 4: Limited Deployments: AGR Soldiers can deploy, but it doesn’t happen much unless the entire unit deploys. Compared to most Active Duty Soldiers who have deployed two or more times, many AGR Soldiers have never deployed at all. Of course, if you want to deploy you can simply volunteer.
# 5: Opportunities to Travel: With the military, you will have opportunities to travel. This includes deployments, military schools, training exercises, and potential PCS moves.
# 6: Four Day Work Week: Many states offer a four day work week (not all of them though). This is great when you get to have a three day weekend every week.
# 7: Health Care: With the AGR Program, you get access to TRICARE for you and your family. You will have health, dental, vision and life insurance and at a very affordable cost.
# 8: Limited PCS Moves : If you are part of the National Guard AGR Program, you will pretty much have your entire career in one state. It’s not like Active Duty where you will move all over the world every three years. Yes, you will change jobs every 2-4 years, but normally your place of work won’t be very far away from where it is now.
# 9: Transfer from State to State: If you want to, you can transfer to another state. For example, if your spouse gets relocated for work, there is a good chance you will be able to transfer to the new location (although it’s not guaranteed).
# 10: Serve Soldiers: Some people might not say this is a benefit, but I think it is. Most AGR Soldiers work in a support role, where they support the part-time Soldiers assigned to the unit. Personally, I think this is an important job, and it’s also very fulfilling.
Five Reasons NOT to Go AGR
To keep this article interesting, I will present 5 Reasons Not to Go AGR. Enjoy!
#5: Extremely Overworked. Many of the AGR staffers I talk to express their frustration with being pulled 1,000 different ways by 100 different people. While I was in command, our Readiness NCO answered to me, the Battalion Staff Officers, and ultimately our Battalion Commander. While that is expected, it is also a bit much for some men. Now, our Readiness NCO was one exceptional Soldier…but I do not see many NCOs ever being able to fill his boots.
#4: Limited Career Progression. AGR locks you into a certain position. Once you are AGR, it is often difficult to progress career wise within your unit and within the AGR structure. I’ve seen many AGR personnel not get promoted because of slot restrictions. Sadly, many of these folks were at the top, or near the top, of the promotion list.
#3: Limited Mobility. Coupled with the limitations for career progression is the limitation on physical mobility. For example, an AGR position that is secured in one state may not be available in another state. Suppose the difference between you advancing career wise meant leaving your state. If you make that move, there’s no guarantee that you would be granted an AGR job in that state…which could be extremely problematic if you do not have a civilian job. Also, what if your spouse moves for their job? Same restrictions…
#2: Compensation. While the steady paycheck and good health insurance are nice, if you were to factor in the one weekend a month they must work, plus their regular work week, their hourly wage isn’t all that great. You might have better paying options in the civilian world, depending on your career and job skills.
#1: Keep Drill Separate from Civilian Life. One great thing about remaining an M-Day Soldier is you can walk away and live two lives. Basically, you have your civilian career during the week and once a month, you put on your uniform and do something cool. Compare that to the AGR folks who do “Army training” every day, plus one weekend per month.
Finding AGR Vacancies
If you’re considering the AGR Program, and you want to find a job that might be a good fit for you, here are some simple things you can do.
# 1: Talk with Your S1
The first thing you can do to find AGR Vacancies is to sit down with your S1 NCO or Officer. Have them print off a list of openings in your state. You can also ask them if there are (or will be) any AGR openings in the Battalion or Brigade. This is a wonderful place for you to get started since most people in the chain of command already know who you are. Make sure you follow up with them at least once a month to see if there are any new openings.
# 2: Visit the GKO or State S1 Website
Your next place to look for AGR Vacancies is on the GKO or State S1 Website. By law, the states are required to post each job for a specific amount of time. Make sure you visit these websites at least once a week to see if any new jobs have been posted. This will give you “statewide” visibility, in addition to your own unit.
# 3: Network with Other AGR Officers & NCOs
Another smart thing to do is to network with other AGR Officers and NCOs. Many of these folks might know about jobs that will open up in the immediate future but aren’t posted yet. Let them know you are interested in an AGR Job and ask them if they will keep an eye out for job openings for you. This is one of the best things you can do to get an AGR Job.
# 4: National Guard Bureau (NGB) Website
If you are looking for an AGR Job outside of your current state, you might want to check the NGB website. This is a great place to find jobs at the National Guard Bureau and in other states.
These are four simple ways to find more Active Guard Reserve Vacancies in your state. Your key to success is to be persistent and consistent. Sometimes new job openings happen quickly and other times they are much slower. Make sure you keep looking every week and follow the advice mentioned above.
In conclusion, the Army AGR Program is a great career opportunity for the right person. While it is similar to serving on Active Duty, in the regular Army, it also has many differences.
If you’re considering the program, I recommend you talk with several current and former AGR Soldiers. Ask them for their input. Find out what they suggest. Get answers to your questions and do what is best for you and your family.
What are your thoughts about the Army AGR Program? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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