One of my website visitors asked me a great question last week. They asked me “why is there such a discipline problem in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves?” I want to do my best today to answer that question. I don’t expect you to agree with everything I say. In fact, this is simply my opinion on the question.
First and foremost, every unit in the Army National Guard is different. Some units are highly disciplined, while other units are slackers. Since ALL units are a direct reflection of their leader, you will have naturally have disciplined and undisciplined units. I’ve found units where everyone is highly trained, highly motivated, and highly disciplined. And I’ve been to units where ALL of the Soldiers would talk to a General Officer with their hand in their pockets. Why does this happen? Because leaders either enforce the Army standard and expect discipline from their team, or they don’t.
Next, if you were to compare the National Guard or Army Reserves Soldiers with the Marines, or even with the Active Duty Army, there would be NO comparison when it comes to discipline. Why? Because our organization is different. We do not eat, breathe, and sleep the Army 24/7. We have civilian lives, jobs, families and many responsibilities OUTSIDE of the Army. Does this make us worse? No. We are just different. So you can’t really compare apples to oranges.
I will admit that the overall discipline has diminished in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves over the past 10-20 years. You can blame that on liberal government policies, lower standards for recruits, the politically correctness obsession, and the new “touchy-feely” Army. At the unit level, we don’t really have much say about those things. But we can control how we run our unit. We can control our leadership style and our personal example. We can control whether or not we enforce the Army Standards in our unit.
So, is there really a discipline problem in the Army National Guard? In some units, the answer is YES. But, I will be the first to admit that the Army National Guard and Army Reserves have done and EXCEPTIONAL job working as an OPERATIONAL FORCE since the Global War on Terrorism began. We’ve proved time and time again that our Citizen Soldiers have what it takes to succeed in combat and peace-keeping operations. We might not be as pretty, as experienced, in as good shape, or as disciplined as the Active Duty Army, but we always find ways to get the job done, and done right. And to me, that is what matters most.
I would like to close this post with a challenge. If discipline in your unit sucks, I challenge you to do something about it. Start out by looking yourself in the mirror and making sure you are a good example for others to follow. Once you do that, set a high standard and enforce it. Your Soldiers will resist at first, but if you stick with it, your troops will eventually become disciplined warriors. It might take a period of months, or even years, but units can change. I don’t expect you to change the entire Army Reserves or National Guard. Just do what you can at your level, whether it’s with five Soldiers or 5,000 Soldiers.
What are your thoughts about the discipline problem in the Army National Guard? Leave a comment and let us know.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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