Army National Guard (United States)

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In the United States, the Army National Guard (ANG) has two roles, one at a state and one at a Federal level, although the funding is national. At the state level, the Guard reports to the state governor, usually through a Guard officer designated as the State Adjutant General, usually with a rank of major general. Guard units conduct their routine training under the state command, and have been used frequently in disaster response, both in their own states and, still under state command, to assist other states through an agreement between Governors. Depending on the state, they may be able to participate in law enforcement activities, which is forbidden, by the Posse Comitatus Act, to forces under Federal command.

The Guard forms one of the three parts of the United States Army:

  • Regular Army
  • United States Army Reserve
  • Army National Guard

By Presidential order, however, Guard units are federalized and come under command of the United States Army, reporting to a Unified Combatant Command. During the Gulf War, most Army divisions expected to "round out" with the third of their three brigades coming from the Guard. In practice, the round-out brigades were not combat-ready in the needed 60 days. The National Guard Bureau is the Federal coordinating agency for both the Army and Air National Guard (there are Navy reservists, but not a Navy guard); it is headed by a lieutenant general.

National Guard units are routinely called for extended service in the Iraq War, and other operations such as Kosovo. There has been considerable political concern over lengthy Guard deployments, given the assumption that they were intended for major wars; there is disagreement if the Total Force Concept simply meant them to be a lower-cost extender for the Army, or if it was a deliberate check on Presidential authority.

Another politically sensitive matter concerns the restructuring of the United States Army to a brigade-oriented structure. There is a general assumption that the level of constant training needed by the brigade combat teams can only be maintained by full-time soldiers, so there has been pressure to convert Guard infantry and armored brigades to other functions. As one state Adjutant General put it, "we like our tanks"; many Guard members dislike such redesignation. Guard BCTs have served well in current deployments, but in lower-intensity occupation and peace operations duty.