What Does the National Guard Do? 27 Cool Facts

There are a wide variety of people that visit Part Time Commander. Many of those who come here know what the differences are between regular Army, Army National Guard and the Army Reserves, but there are some that do not.

We want to help individuals understand what the Army National Guard is, so in today’s post, I will explain 27 cool facts about what the National Guard does. I hope you will find this article interesting and enlightening.

1: The First Guard

It is a claim that the National Guard is actually older that the United States of America. This comes from the formation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony regiments that were formed to protect the interests of the Massachusetts Bay Company. This happened in 1636.

2: Protection

The United States Army National Guard is in place to protect United State’s domestic interests both on the mainland, and overseas.

3: State And Federal

Unlike the regular Army, who answers to only federal missions, the Army National Guard answers to both State and Federal missions. This means National Guard units can be deployed by either their State’s Governor or the President of the United States.

4: State To Anywhere

Army National Guard units are based in the State they are recognized in, but they can be deployed to any other State or overseas at a moments notice.

5: Just In Case

National Guard soldiers train part time and close to home. They do this to be prepared for those “just in case” emergencies or needs.

6: Training

After completing Basic Combat Training (BCT), and Advanced Individual Training, a soldier in the Army National guard will train one weekend every month, and one 2 week period every year.

7: Individual Mobilization

Unless it is through a Temporary Duty Assignment (TDY) or a voluntary transfer, members of the Army National Guard cannot be individually mobilized. Mobilization has to be the whole unit.

8: Enlistment Period

The enlistment period is 8 years, but a person can serve for either 3 or 6 years and spend the rest of the time on Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). IRR personnel do not train with a unit, but they can be called up in case of an emergency.

9: Commander In Chief

For units in the regular Army, their Commander In Chief is the President of the United States. Each State’s National Guard units call the Governor of that State their Commander In Chief.

This reminds me of my Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia in the early 1980’s. A young soldier who was there via the Louisiana National Guard. To enter the mess hall, we would be asked a question we should know, or we were sent to the back. That soldier was right in front of me and when asked who the Commander In Chief was, he said Dave Treen. While he was headed to the back, I was asked the same question. Trying not to laugh, I answered correctly with Ronald Reagan. That soldier was both right and wrong, and the Drill Sergeant explained why. When you enter BCT even from the Guard, you become regular Army until your training is complete.

10: National Guard-State Defense Force?

While the National Guard of each State is, in a way, a State Defense Force, around half of the States have their own State Defense Force. The National Guard receives funding from the Federal government, but State Defense Forces don’t. The members of State Defense Forces are volunteers.

11: Requirements

To join the Army National Guard, the individual must meet certain standards in:

  • Age

  • Height

  • Weight

  • Education

  • and Physical fitness

12: Accepted Age

To become a member of the Army National Guard, an individual must be between 17 and 42 years old.


To determine what job a person is suited for in the Army National Guard, the person is given the ASVAB test. ASVAB stands for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

14: Joint Administration

While many think the National Guard is strictly Army, I have news for you. The National Guard is administered by the National Guard Bureau. This is a joint administration from the Department of Defense which envelops both the Army and the Air Force. The Chief of the National Guard Bureau is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

15: Jobs

Jobs in the National Guard are coded the same as in the regular Army. These are called Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), and they have a number and letter following which classifies the job you have. My MOS was 11B, which was infantryman.

16: National Guard Enlistment Oath

Upon joining the Army National Guard, a soldier must take the enlistment oath. It is:

“I, (your name), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of (your State) against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of (Your State) and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to law and regulations. So help me God.”

17: 3 Ways To Become A National Guard Officer

There are 3 primary ways a person can become an officer in the National Guard. They are:

  • Direct Commission: This is for lawyers, medical professionals, chaplains, etc…

  • ROTC: If you are attending college, you can join the ROTC program and earn your way as a National Guard officer.

  • OCS: If you are enlisted, you can attend Officer Candidate School and rise to an officer level.

Great Benefits

18: Education

Members of the National Guard are eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill for Select Reserve. This provides money to attend college and also allows you to receive your National Guard paycheck.

19: Insurance

The National Guard offers some of the best health and life insurance benefits available to any part time workers.

20: Military Exchange

Another great benefit is tax free shopping at the military exchanges located on bases all around the country. As a National Guard member, you and your family will be able to shop there.

Guard Status

21: Inactive National Guard

If you leave the Guard before your enlistment is over, and unless you request to be put in IRR, you will be placed on Inactive Guard Status. You won’t be paid, but you do have to present yourself once yearly, and you will be subject to mobilization in case of emergency.

22: Individual Ready Reserve

IRR is similar to Inactive Guard Status, but you can still be promoted and you earn retirement points. You will not be affiliated with any unit, so to maintain your retirement points, you have to find a unit you can attend annual drill with.

23: Standby Reserve

These are for members of the Guard who want to keep their military affiliation, but perform even Ready Reserve functions. Usually, these are Federal employees such as Congressman and Senators and others who still play roles in National Security.

24: Civilian Employer Responsibilities

By law, civilian employers have to allow National Guard members the ability to attend military training, and if deployed, they must hold their job. The employer must treat the employee as if they had never left the job with all pay raises and credit for vacation. For any voluntary orders a National Guard member accepts, the employer only has to hold the job open for 60 months.

25: Timeline Of Laws In Regard To The National Guard

This timeline has laws that were passed that dealt with the National Guard. You can click the links to see more:

  1. The Militia Act of 1792

  2. The Insurrection Act of 1807

  3. The Militia Act of 1862

  4. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878

  5. The Militia Act of 1903

  6. The National Defense Act of 1916

  7. The National Defense Act of 1947

  8. The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007

  9. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008

26: Notable National Guard Members

Over the years, there have been some individuals who served in the National Guard you may not have known about. People such as:

  • President Harry Truman

  • Vice President Dan Quayle

  • Tom Selleck

  • Babe Ruth

  • Rick Story

  • Audie Murphy

27: Memorable National Guard Acts

There have been newsworthy moments when National Guard units have been on the scene. Consider:

The Little Rock 9

In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower ordered the Arkansas National Guard to aid the entrance of 9 African American students into a Little Rock High School.

The Watts Riots

During the 1965 riots in the Watts area of Los Angeles, Governor Edmund Brown ordered the California National Guard to restore order.

Kent State

In 1970, students at Kent State University had the Ohio National Guard involved and several students were shot and killed.

Branch Davidians

In 1993 when the Branch Davidians were holed up in Waco, both the Texas and Alabama National Guards were called in to aid Federal authorities

These are just a few of National Guard acts. The Army National Guard has had numerous units deployed to Vietnam, Korea, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Final Words

I know the owner and manager of Part Time Commander, Charles Holmes was a Commander with the National Guard. The National Guard has been a huge reason we have the best military in the world.

So what does the National Guard do?

They train to protect and defend our great nation and all of us, while they also work civilian jobs. It is men and women in the National Guard who we owe a lot of thanks, because they work part time at full time defense.

If you are a National Guard soldier or officer, here is where we would like to hear from you. Tell us your name, rank and what unit you are with. You can do so in the comment section below.

Thank you for your service. Have a great day!

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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