C 5 (National Guard)

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  • 1. Always Ready. Always There. Defending our Country The National Guard is the oldest component of the US Armed Forces and one of the nation’s longest-enduring institutions, celebrating its 370th birthday in 2006. Responsible for their own defense, the colonists drew on English military tradition and organized their able-bodied citizens into militias. California Air National Guard conducts fireline training near Yosemite National Forest (USAF photo by MSgt Dan Kacir) Throughout the 19th century, the size of the Regular Army was small, and the militia provided the bulk of the troops during the Mexican War, the early months of the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. In 1903, important national defense legislation increased the role of the National Guard (as the militia was now called) as a Reserve force for the US Army. In World War I, which the US entered in 1917, the National Guard made up 40% of the US combat divisions in France; and, in World War II, National Guard units were among the first to deploy overseas and the first to fight. Following World War II, National Guard aviation units, some of them dating from World War I, became the Air National Guard, the nation’s newest Reserve component. The Guard stood on the frontiers of freedom during the Cold War, sending soldiers and airmen to fight in Korea and to reinforce NATO during the Berlin crisis of 1961-1962. During the Vietnam war, almost 23,000 Army and Air Guardsmen were called up for a year of active duty; and, some 8,700 were deployed to Vietnam. Over 75,000 Army and Air Guardsmen were called upon to help bring a swift end to Desert Storm in 1991. 19th Special Forces search and rescue exercise (USAF photo by MSgt Kevin J. Gruenwald) Since then, the National Guard has seen the nature of its Federal mission change, with more frequent call-ups in response to crises in Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq. Most recently, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, more than 50,000 Guard members were called up by 123rd Special Tactics Squadron load rescue equipment for deployment to coastal Texas (photo by Dennis Flora) both their States and the Federal government to provide security at home T and combat terrorism abroad. In the largest and swiftest response to a he National Guard traces its history back to the domestic disaster in history, the Guard deployed more than 50,000 troops earliest English colonies in North America. in support of the Gulf States following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The colonial militias protected their fellow Today, tens of thousands of Guard members are serving in harm’s way citizens from Indian attack, foreign invaders, and in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the National Guard continues its historic dual later helped to win the Revolutionary War. Follow- mission, providing to the states military units trained and equipped to ing independence, the authors of the Constitution protect life and property, while providing to the nation units trained, empowered Congress to “provide for organizing, equipped and ready to defend the United States and its interests, all over arming, and disciplining the militia.” However, the globe. recognizing the militia’s state role, the Founding Fathers reserved the appointment of officers and training of the militia to the states. Today’s National Tel +1.800-Go-Guard Guard still remains a dual state-Federal force. www.1800GoGuard.com/CitizenSoldier 20 Best of DC Best of DC 2 149th Infantry Regiment, SFC Michael Dobbs on patrol in Baghdad (US Army photo by SSG Jon Soucy)