The Army National Guard

The Army National Guard is a reserve component of the United States Army that is accountable to both state and federal governments. According to the Department of Defense, the Army National Guard recruited or maintained 49,299 soldiers in fiscal year 2014, compared to the active-duty component recruiting or maintaining 4,210 soldiers in the same fiscal year. While the Active Army is attempting to draw back recruitment numbers, the National Guard is trying to maintain high recruitment and retention. With nearly 50,000 soldiers joining the National Guard or reenlisting in the last year, a potential recruit should be well informed before taking the oath of enlistment.

The Army National Guard offers outstanding financial benefits to its soldiers. The Illinois Army National Guard offers a grant that pays 100% of tuition to all Illinois public colleges and universities. Along with this tuition benefit, the federal government offers a benefit entitled the Montgomery GI Bill that offers students $365 a month to students who attend school full-time.

This benefit does not have to be used towards tuition, and can be used for gas, food, or any other expenses the student-soldier may incur.

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Along with the benefit of paying for education, many employers have a policy that encourages the hiring of military service members and veterans (Dill,

While the Army National Guard offers substantial benefits, the drawbacks overshadow them. Being a Guardsman requires attending drill for one weekend a month and a period of at least two weeks in the summer. The weekend drills may last up to four days.

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Most drills consist of showing up extremely early in the morning and leaving late. Common complaints include the want to receive training on first-aid, weapons maintenance, or artillery skills rather than powerpoints regarding sexual harassment and assault in the military, which is all too common. Morale is extremely low across the entire National Guard. However, soldiers are encouraged to portray the National Guard and the regular Army as a highly professional organization that focuses on excellence. This, in my experience, is all a façade to drive recruitment numbers.

Annual Training is the event that takes place in the summer for a period of at least two weeks. During AT, one will expect to participate in harsh manual labor while suffering through minimal amounts of sleep. One soldier worked for 48 hours straight with no sleep setting up tents, moving heavy equipment, pulling security shifts, prepping artillery ammunition, and moving cannons from one location to the next. While one would expect hard work when joining the military, this hard work was the result of poor planning rather than just being a fact-of-life.

Communication is a failure in the National Guard. There are “too many chiefs and not enough Indians.” The higher ranking officers will issue an order to the higher ranking enlisted soldiers, which will come down to the lower ranking enlisted soldiers in a fashion that would not please the higher ranking officers. This cycle results in a failure to execute the mission. Simple tasks will take hours, or sometimes even days, to execute. Communication breakdowns, contradictory orders, and conflict between leadership are a common occurrence.

The lack of morale, training, and communication in the Army National Guard outweighs its financial benefits. It is not the efficient, trained, well-oiled machine it is portrayed in the movies. Morale is low, training is scarce, and communication is broken throughout the ranks.

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The Army National Guard. (2022, Jun 09). Retrieved from

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