National Guard Questions
January 23, 2004 10:21 AM   Subscribe

What exactly is the difference between the National Guard and the Reserves? Now, I know that each branch has their own Reserves set up, even the Coast what then is the National Guard for? And for that matter, the Air National Guard?
posted by taumeson to Law & Government (5 answers total)
Best answer: The Reserve is controlled solely by the Federal Government. It is a 'reserve' to the Military.

The National Guard on the other hand, is controlled by the state they are in. They are the modern day incarnation of the militia.

I was in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, so for example when I signed up I swore an oath to The President of the United States, the Governor of Wisconsin, and to up hold and protect the U.S. Constitution, as well as the State of Wisconsin Constitution.

When you see soldiers doing relief work after a tornado/hurricane and filling sand bags when flooding is happening, those are that state's Guardsmen. Also the soldiers that you see in the airport, or the security at large public events, are for the most part Guardsmen.

The National Guard, in a way, is the State's own Army (or Air Force in the case of the Air National Guard).

I hope that answers your question, if not let me know....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:47 AM on January 23, 2004

This is a great example of finding out the answer to a question I didn't even know I wanted to ask. Great explaination, Steve! Thank you!
posted by jennyb at 11:26 AM on January 23, 2004

What Steve said. It's also important to know that the National Guard can be deployed, and is usally deployed as a unit ahead of reserves. The Oregon Army National Guard is one of the most deployed national Guard units in the nation.

Typically, though, National Guard units have the assigned duty of defending their portion of the country. That means that either they defend their state, or in the case of some Air National Guard units (one in Oregon, one in California, one in Maryland (I think)), they defend the airspace and are the primary 'scramble' intercept units for that area of the country.
posted by SpecialK at 11:38 AM on January 23, 2004

During times of war, like now, The US Coast Guard is under the US Marines.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:05 PM on January 23, 2004

A bit more: prior to 9/11, the US Coast Guard was a branch of the Dept of Transportation, but could be "militarized" (like thomcatspike sez) to fall under the control of the Navy/Marines.

Post 9/11, I believe, the US Coast Guard is now an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, with appropriate taskings falling under either DOT or DOD.
posted by davidmsc at 4:40 PM on January 23, 2004

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