What’s the One Thing You Would Change About the Army National Guard?

If you were the Commanding General of the Army National Guard, and you had the authority and power to change anything you wanted, what would be the first thing you changed and why?

Please put some thought into this and share what you would do and explain your justification.  I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer.  I simply want to hear what you think about the subject.  Hopefully, someone at the higher echelons within the ARNG will stumble across our site and get some good ideas to think about.

My Answer:

the # 1 thing you would change about arng
What’s the # 1 thing you would change about the Army National Guard?

If I could change one thing about the Army National Guard I would change the force structure.  During my time in the Guard, I didn’t know of any unit that had 100% strength (battalion and higher).  Sure, there might be some out there, but most of the units I worked with had significant personnel shortfalls ranging from 20 to 40%.

Rather than have hundreds of half manned or even 75% manned units, I would have fewer units and have them all at 100% strength.  Any unit with 50% or less strength would be evaluated for six months and after that deactivated, given a new mission/MTOE, renamed, or combined with another unit.

My Reasoning:

I personally don’t see any value in having a unit with 500 people assigned to it, but only 250 people on the books.  You can’t train as a unit effectively or honestly perform your wartime/peacetime mission with that many personnel shortages.

Your Thoughts

What do you think?  What is the one thing you would change about the Army National Guard if you could.  Just leave a comment to share your thoughts.

11 thoughts on “What’s the One Thing You Would Change About the Army National Guard?”

  1. If I were King for a Day, I would do three things — yes, that’s cheating, but some good points have been made in the comments.

    For the first, I am in total agreement with more ARNG training for domestic emergencies. For example, right now we are having the Ebola scare from the Dallas area. I think any time something like that has the potential to spread out of control, every National Guard unit in the country should begin training on handling an epidemic situation.

    Second, I would definitely upgrade the Guard’s equipment. I remember when my niece’s husband was deployed to Afghanistan and no one in his unit was provided with any type of body armor at all. There were fundraising drives to obtain at least Kevlar vests for all the men in his unit. Disgraceful!

    Third, I would change something you mentioned in one of your other blog entries, Chuck. You talked about separating a soldier when his performance had resulted in stagnation of his career, when he was in “neutral.” I think it’s important to get rid of anyone whose heart isn’t in it. If they are only there putting in time for the paycheck, then send them on their way and let’s get someone who cares about readiness take their place.

  2. Amy Skalicky

    Now that I am thinking about it, I also concur with increasing training for disaster response. In many states, the National Guard actually directs the state’s emergency response and/or the state’s homeland security department. There is a whole lot of training necessary to understand the standardized national structure for preparing for emergency situations, including natural disasters, as well as actual response.

  3. Amy Skalicky

    I would make modernizing National Guard equipment a priority. Most of the equipment is older and more difficult to maintain. In addition, our National Guard also faces a shortage of equipment. This was not as much of an issue in decades past when the National Guard was not called upon very often to serve in combat, but with the change in times, the National Guard has become a heavy-relied upon resource in conflicts overseas. While we are currently drawing down from Iraq and Afghanistan, it is reasonable to expect future situations to develop in which our National Guard will again be a major resource; therefore, we need to better equip them to be able to respond more effectively in the future.

  4. Thanks for writing this article and opening up this conversation. Really good point Kelvin I threat of a natural disaster is constant. Especially in the case of California where you know you will have a gigantic disaster, a regular preparation and training couldn’t hurt.

  5. I have been in the California Army National Guard for more than 5 years and I have never once been called up for any deployment or state emergency. If I have a chance to change the Army National Guard, I would recommend to increase more training in preparation for any future state emergency. As we pull back from Iraq and Afghanistan, we are transitioning into a more peaceful state. Even so, natural disasters or unforeseen events can happen anytime and it is out of our control when it does. Building up supplies, repairing vehicles and training for any state emergency can come in handy one day especially with California’s Earthquake.

    1. That’s a great idea, Kelvin. I definitely thing the ARNG could do a better job preparing its units for state emergencies such as snow storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc. During my time in we never did any “training” for these events. But our units were called up for different real world emergencies.

  6. Great debate topic, Chuck. I think the number one thing that I would change about the ARNG would be how the Company AGR is task organized. I have always believed that the AGR Readiness NCO should be an E-8 1SG. While our E-7s are more than capable of handling the readiness of the Company, this structure often creates awkward relationship and authority structure amongst the troops. For example, an E7 AGR RNCO often times knows a heck of a lot more about what is going on within the Company than the actual 1SG or CO. Other leaders see this and I feel it undermines the leadership and authority of the CO and the 1SG. Troops feel that yeah the 1SG has the rank but I know SFC Soandso really runs the Company… I just believe that is toxic and the AGR RNCO should be the 1SG. But, that is just my opinion!

    1. Having the unit 1SG be the Readiness NCO is a fantastic idea! I wish I would have thought of it myself. Of course, that would keep lots of M-Day Soldiers from every being a 1SG. I think another good course of action is to put the unit’s 1SG on ADOS/ADSW orders while they are the 1SG!

  7. The role of the Guard and Reserves have changed since 9-11. They now deploy in some cases more frequently than the active force. This in large part due to the restructuring that took in the late 80’s in which the Army moved most of it sustained support war-fighting capabilities to the reserves and guard (MPS,s Laundry/Bath, Quartermaster, transportation, etc). As a result of this change in structure we must now reach back to the guard and reserves for these critical capabilities. Yet the benefits for these Soldiers have not changed. If I were king for a day I would allow these Soldiers to draw a retirement check upon completion of their career and not make them wait until their late 50’s or early 60’s.

    1. Good point, Mark. I agree with you. I never understood why the ARNG and USAR troops have to wait to get their pension until they are 60 years old. It just makes no sense to me. Hopefully, the DoD and Federal Government can relook this one day and change the policy.

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