Three Tips to Improve Your Army National Guard Unit Readiness

As small unit leaders we are responsible for the readiness of our units.  This includes personnel and equipment readiness, in addition to training.  At all times we must be prepared to deploy at a moment’s notice and complete our wartime mission.

In the real world, most ARNG units have many readiness challenges that the Active Duty Army does not have.  We basically have one weekend a month to do what the Active Duty Army has 30 days to do.  Plus, we have Soldiers who are civilians MOST of the time.

Dealing with these issues, and finding creative solutions is really the key to success.  In order to improve your unit readiness, I would like to share three helpful tips you can implement right away.  Let’s get started.

# 1 Get Rid of the Dead Weight: You must be vigilant with your Unit Manning Roster.  You must constantly scrub the report to look for ways to improve your unit’s readiness.  In most units, there are 5-10 soldiers who negatively affect the unit readiness.  This includes repeat APFT failures, soldiers who are non-MOSQ, problem soldiers, non-deployable soldiers, and more.   You need to find ways to reform or separate poor performing soldiers who do not meet the Army standards.  This will require lots of time and counseling, but it is worth your time.

# 2 Be Proactive with Unit Maintenance: It simply amazes me how few Army National Guard Units place a high priority on unit maintenance.  I completely understand that there are lots of things to do during drill weekend.  Sometimes you feel like you’re trying to put 10 pounds of dirt into a 5 pound bag.  However, unit maintenance is one area you cannot avoid.  You must make unit maintenance a high priority.  Schedule PMCS on your training schedule every month.  Participate in motor stables with your subordinate leaders.  Be involved and show your subordinates that maintenance is a top priority of yours.  Also, make sure your maintenance personnel are trained, have the required tools and equipment, along with command support.  It would also be a good idea to build a good relationship with your FMS and CSMS Shops.

# 3 Be Training Focused: Whenever possible, train as if you are fighting. Schedule unit training outside the armory so you can work on your unit’s collective (METL) tasks.  Also, make sure your soldiers are proficient with their Warrior Tasks and MOS Related Skills.  Make sure your soldiers get the required NCOES and Professional Development Schools.  Each month, review the status of your unit’s collective and individual training.  Identify problem areas and find ways to make continuous improvements each month.  You will be glad that you did.

Final Thoughts

These are my favorite three ways to improve your unit’s readiness.  Your success as a leader boils down to your ability to get the “most important” things done and done right.  In order to do that, you must have priorities and you must take daily action.  Just focus on getting a little bit better every day and your unit will do a complete 180 in a short amount of time.

What are your thoughts?  What tips can you share that you use to improve your unit’s readiness?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

In addition, if you have any questions in which I may be able to help you with solving issues in your unit’s readiness, just post them below and I will attempt to provide an answer.

Thanks for visiting and have a great day.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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8 thoughts on “Three Tips to Improve Your Army National Guard Unit Readiness”

  1. Goals are the best way to move yourself forward in everything, but it is also important to factor in the unexpected. Especially in an organization as unpredictable as the Army. Having those short term, stepping stone goals will keep you on the right path while giving you a sense of accomplishment along the way even when life throws your plan a curveball.

    1. One of the reasons I have been so successful in my career is because I always had written goals. I had long-term, mid-term and short-term goals in my goal book. I carried it with me at all times. I updated it monthly and referred to it daily. I did the same thing in the military for myself and for my unit. The payoff was huge. I wish more military leaders would set goals.


      1. Candace Ginestar

        Chuck, I know I’ve commented before on your goal setting methods. I think they are great. I think the fact that you do it personally, as well as for your unit and Soldiers, is great. It really shows that you care.

  2. I’m interested in your point about getting rid of the dead weight. From my experience, you’re absolutely right about there being those few people who have a negative impact on a unit’s readiness. But what’s the best way to deal with that? You talk about reforming or separating them, but I’d love to hear more details of how that works, as I think it could be quite tough. Have you written about it anywhere else on the site?

    1. I believe everyone has the potential to be great, but I’m also smart enough to realize that some people won’t develop their potential. I’ve always believed in the three strike rule with soldiers. The first time you mess up big, it’s on you. The next time it happens it’s on me. And the third time you are gone!

      Two or three bad soldiers can ruin a good unit. It’s the leadership team’s job to try and reform them with counseling and training. If that doesn’t work, the leaders need to do their job and separate the soldier from the military. It might be painful and time consuming, but that’s one a leader’s responsibilities.


      1. To improve the readiness in your unit you should:

        1. Track each Soldier on an individual basis
        2. Have clear written goals
        3. Monitor the progress of your unit each month
        4. Identify areas of weakness and create action plans to fix those weaknesses
        5. Train, train, train!

        That is a good starting point.

  3. If you don’t think maintenance is important, get called up for hurricane duty with less than 24 hours’ notice. See how many vehicles never make it out of your motor pool. See how many end up scattered along the highway to be picked up by the battalion maintenance element. See how you find yourself struggling to allocate vehicles to execute all assigned missions. I’ve seen it happen. Maintenance isn’t exciting, and rarely will your junior soldiers perform a proper PMCS without close supervision and consistent review of the 5988-Es, but it’s absolutely crucial.

    1. Good maintenance will make or break a unit. It’s one of the most important, yet most overlooked areas. Most non-maintenance folks don’t worry about it too much, unless their vehicle breaks down.

      Drive by an armory in America, and you will probably find some seriously neglected vehicles and equipment. It’s not always the case, but it is more often than not.


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