Administered by the National Guard Bureau (a joint bureau of the departments of the
Army and Air Force), the National Guard consists of both the Army National Guard (ARNG) and the Air National Guard (ANG). The National Guard has both a federal and state mission involving combat and non-combat army and air force units. Throughout its long history, Guard army units have been deployed overseas to fight in America’s wars, including the recent Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) campaign launched by the Bush administration. The National Guard is also charged with assisting state governments during times of natural disasters. However, some state National Guards have reportedly found themselves stretched too thin from overseas deployments of men and equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan, which has prevented Guard units from adequately responding to state emergencies.
The National Guard is the oldest component of the U.S. military. Before there was the National Guard, there were state or colonial militias. The guard’s lineage dates back to 1636 when the Massachusetts Bay Colony organized three militia regiments to defend against the growing threat of the Pequot Indians. Patterned after the English Militia systems, all males between 16 and 60 were obligated to own arms and take part in the defense of the community.
The National Guard has participated in every U.S. war, beginning with the French and Indian War (before “National Guard” was coined). In the War for Independence, more than 164,000 militiamen from the 13 colonies served under the command of the former Virginia militia colonel, George Washington. While the Continental Army, with militia support, fought the main battles of the Revolutionary War, other militia regiments kept British forces in check by harassing, foraging, and raiding parties and limiting the royal troops to the cities.
The term “National Guard” originates from the Marquis de Lafayette, who commanded a Virginia brigade during the Revolutionary War. Lafayette coined the phrase “Garde Nationale” for his French Revolutionary Army during the French Revolution in the 1790s. Lafayette popularized the term in the United States during a return visit in 1824, by applying it to all organized militia units in America. The term immediately began to appear in newspapers and magazines as popular slang for the militia.
The 2nd Battalion, 11th Regiment of Artillery, New York Militia voted to rename itself the “Battalion of National Guards” in 1824 in tribute to Lafayette’s command of the Paris militia. New York, by state statute, adopted the term National Guard for its militia during the Civil War. Many states followed New York’s lead after the Civil War by renaming their militias “National Guard.” The term was not recognized as the militia’s formal title by federal legislation until the 1916 National Defense Act.
With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, close to 165,000 National Guardsmen volunteered for active duty. Although only a few National Guard regiments were sent to Cuba, many Guardsmen were shipped to the Philippines to fight. One of the most famous regiments of the war was the Rough Riders, made up of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas Guardsmen who, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, assaulted San Juan Hill (which in actuality was Kettle Hill). Despite heavy enemy fire, the Rough Riders seized the heights overlooking the city of Santiago, which led to the Spanish surrender two weeks later.
The modern image of today's National Guard began to emerge in 1903, when the landmark Militia Act (also called the Dick Act) established procedures for a more direct and active role by the federal government in organizing, training and equipping the National Guard in line with Army standards. The legislation divided all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 45 into the organized militia (National Guard) and the reserve militia. In addition, it mandated that, within five years, the organization, pay, discipline, and equipment of the National Guard equal that of the Army.
Increased federal funding compensated Guardsmen for summer training camps and joint maneuvers with regular Army. States were required to hold at least 24 drills (instructional periods) each year, and some National Guard officers attended Army schools. The War Department assigned Army officers to each state as advisers, instructors, and inspectors and enabled states to exchange outdated weapons and equipment for current issue. The War Department also created the Division of Militia Affairs, the forerunner of the National Guard Bureau, to oversee National Guard organization and training.
Membership in the National Guard remained voluntary, and governors retained control over National Guard mobilization. The Dick Act limited federal service by Guardsmen to nine months. However, a 1908 amendment lifted the nine-month restriction as well as permitted Guardsmen to serve outside the continental United States.
In June 1916, the National Defense Act essentially created the modern National Guard. The act provided increased federal support and regulation of the Guard. When officers and units reached Army standards in regard to strength, equipment, and skill, they were federally recognized and eligible for federal support. These changes proved pivotal when America involved itself in World War I, with more than 379,000 Guardsmen ordered to active duty. During the war the National Guard supplied 17 combat divisions, or about 40% of the entire American Expeditionary Forces.
Following a rapid and haphazard demobilization after the end of the war, many states had to rebuild their Guard units, while the National Guard as a whole was reorganized into four cavalry divisions and 18 infantry divisions. The National Defense Act of 1920 established that the Army of the United States would consist of the regular Army, an Organized Reserve Corps, and the National Guard when called into federal service.
An amendment to the National Defense Act passed in 1933 created a new Army component, the National Guard of the United States. This component, while identical in personnel and organization to the National Guard of the states, was a part of the Army at all times and could be ordered into active federal service by the president whenever Congress declared a national emergency. Thus it became possible for the National Guard to be given an Army mission without having to wait for a “call” to be issued by state governors.
In August 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the National Guard of the United States into active service. Between September 16, 1940, and October 6, 1941, the National Guard brought into federal service more than 300,000 men, in 18 combat divisions, as well as numerous non-divisional units, including 4,800 men from the 29 National Guard observation squadrons. The number of Guardsmen federalized doubled the strength of the active Army, and the National Guard observation squadrons, due to their high state of training, helped to expand the U.S. Army Air Force.
During World War II, National Guard units participated in 34 separate campaigns and numerous assault landings in Europe and the Pacific. Guard units served well, with 148 presidential citations awarded for outstanding performance of duty or for conspicuous valor or heroism. Individual Guardsmen received 20 Medals of Honor, 50 Distinguished Service Crosses, 48 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and over 500 Silver Star Medals.
Once the war was over, the Secretary of War approved plans calling for the reorganization of the National Guard and giving it a dual status and mission. The National Guard of the United States, as a reserve component of the Army, was to be an “M-day” (Mobilization Day) force, thoroughly trained, equipped and ready for immediate service to the nation in case of enemy aggression or a national emergency. The National Guard of the states was to provide organizations and personnel for the Reserve (federal) Component and to preserve peace, order and public safety in their states during local emergencies. The Secretary of War's policies provided that the federal government supervise military instruction, furnish field training facilities, pay, uniforms, equipment, and ammunition and contribute a fair portion of the expenses for construction of National Guard armories.
The other major post-war change for the Guard was the establishment of the Air National Guard (ANG). On September 18, 1947, the same day that U.S. Air Force was officially established, the Air National Guard too was born. The ANG was a product of the politics of postwar planning and inter-service rivalry during World War II. The men who planned and maneuvered for an independent postwar Air Force during World War II didn't place much faith in the reserves, especially the state-dominated National Guard. They were convinced that reserves could not operate complex modern weapons without extensive post-mobilization training.
But decisions by the White House forced Air Force leaders into accepting a place for the ANG. President Harry Truman wanted not only to trim defense spending but also split defense dollars evenly among the Army, Navy, and Air Force. This compelled the Air Force to plan for a far smaller active duty force than it had envisaged during World War II. The Air National Guard had to help fill the gap.
Another key post-war development for the Guard occurred in 1946 when New Jersey became the first state to officially integrate its National Guard, two years before the Army stopped segregating African-Americans in separate units. In spite of this move, the Guard remained an almost exclusively white organization throughout the 1950s. In 10 states with large black populations, Guard units still had no black soldiers or airmen in their ranks as late as 1961.
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara tried to encourage voluntary integration in the early 1960s, with little success. The Guard’s leadership disputed McNamara’s legal authority to force integration while the Guard was under state control. It had also argued that integration would be political suicide for some governors and would hurt the military capabilities of their units. Despite these concerns, Guard units played key roles during the Civil Rights Era. In 1957 President Dwight Eisenhower federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard to prevent segregationist governor Orval Faubus from using it to stop the court-ordered integration of Little Rock High School. The scene was replayed in 1962 during the desegregation of the University of Mississippi. In both cases, Guardsmen obeyed the President and helped enforce the law, even though real progress in effectively integrating the Guard itself did not come until the 1970s.
The National Guard again was heavily involved in the Korean War, with more than 183,000 National Guard personnel serving on active duty. Air Guardsmen flew 39,530 combat sorties and destroyed 39 enemy aircraft during the Korean War. But the ANG paid a high price in Korea as 101 of its members were either killed or declared missing in action during the conflict.
No massive call-ups of National Guard troops occurred during the Vietnam War. This was due to President Lyndon Johnson’s attempt to portray the war as a limited conflict that could be fought with resources already available to the regular Army. Approximately 7,000 Guardsmen did wind up serving in Vietnam, mostly in response to the Tet offensive launched by North Vietnam in 1968.
Many National Guard units saw action of a different sort during the 1960s. Beginning with Newark, New Jersey, in 1964, racially motivated riots broke out in many large American cities. Units of the National Guard were called out to stop burning and looting in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Detroit, and a host of other cities. Guardsmen also were used to maintain order during large demonstrations protesting the Vietnam War. The most controversial moment came on the campus of Kent State University in 1970 when, during a protest over America’s invasion of Cambodia. Ohio National Guardsmen shot to death four students.
The 1970s were a watershed time for the National Guard. The administration of President Richard Nixon implemented a new military doctrine that further integrated the Guard with the Army for the purpose of gaining political support for overseas military campaigns. “Total Force Concept” required increased reliance on the combat readiness of the National Guard and the reserves. General Creighton Abrams, United States Army Chief of Staff, reorganized the “Total Army” so that the regular Army could not conduct an extended campaign without mobilizing the Guard and Reserves, thus gaining the involvement and, hopefully, the support of small-town America.
During the 1970s, as America entered the “all-volunteer era” and the Total Force Policy was implemented, the National Guard began receiving more modern equipment in larger quantities than it had in decades, including newer helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, upgraded tanks, artillery pieces, and antitank missiles. The Guard also began taking in more women during the decade. The first female in the National Guard was a nurse, First Lieutenant Sylvia Marie St. Charles Law, who was commissioned in the Air National Guard in January 1957. During the 1950s and ’60s, nurses were the only women in the Guard. A 1968 law authorized prior-service enlisted women to join the Guard, but the numbers recruited were small. In 1971 non-prior-service women were allowed to enlist. As all branches of the military began opening previously restricted jobs to women, the number of women in both the Army and Air National Guard rose dramatically.
With more modern equipment and communications capabilities, the Guard was used more for state missions in the 1980s than ever before in the Guard's history. Floods, forest fires, tornadoes, snow emergencies and energy shortages led to hundreds of call-ups during the decade. Civil disturbances, police and firemen’s strikes and walkouts by state prison employees resulted in other call-ups for domestic emergencies to maintain safety and law and order.
The Eighties also saw the Guard become part of the Reagan administration’s war on drugs. In 1984, when the National Guard was asked to take active roles in the nation’s effort to stop the flow of illegal drugs, 14 states participated in anti-drug missions. The 1989 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the Secretary of Defense to provide funding to governors who submitted plans to use their National Guard members to support drug enforcement agency requests. Since that time, the National Guard has played a major role in supporting federal, state, and local anti-drug operations.
With the invasion of Panama in 1989, the Guard found itself at the beginning of a new era of involvement in overseas military operations. Missouri’s 1138th Military Police Company and Minnesota’s 125th Public Affairs Detachment participated in Operation Just Cause in Panama to oust strongman Manuel Noriega. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Air National Guard units helped fly elements of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division to Saudi Arabia in rapid deployment to protect the kingdom. During the Gulf War, the mobilization of the National Guard affected units in 51 of the 54 states and territories.
In the first real test of the Total Force Policy, Guard units were on active duty only two weeks after Operation Desert Shield began. A majority of the first Guard units to be mobilized were transportation, quartermaster, and military police units. Later, two field artillery brigades arrived in Saudi Arabia. When coalition forces launched their ground offensive in 1991 against Iraq, National Guard units, fully integrated into the coalition forces, supported attack. The Oklahoma Army National Guard was one of the many Guard units assigned to support the advance into Iraq.
During the remainder of the decade, Guard units participated in other, smaller military campaigns. Guard Special Forces and aviation soldiers took part in Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti in 1995. Also that year, the 4th Battalion, 505th Infantry, consisting of 70% Guard soldiers, deployed to the Middle East as part of the Multinational Force and Observers that monitors the border between Egypt and Israel. Beginning in 1996, Guard personnel began taking part in Operation Joint Endeavor, now Joint Guard, as part of the NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia.
On September 11, 2001, New York National Guardsmen were among the first responders to the attack on the World Trade Center, arriving on the scene without any orders from superiors or the state governor. Concurrently, Guardsmen from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia fighter wings engaged in patrols of Washington.
In 2005, more than 300,000 Guard members and reservists were deployed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, comprising 43% and 55%, respectively, of the overall fighting forces. During the past decade in those two conflicts, the Guard comprised 28% of the 2.3 million total service members deployed, with 37% of the Guard engaging in multiple deployments, 700 of its troops killed and more than 9,000 wounded in action. As a result of this mammoth investment of human resource, the U.S. found itself with a dearth of manpower to address domestic crises, as well as a doubling of the suicide rate in the Guard in 2010 and reaching a record high in 2011.
Between late 2005 and early 2007, Guard troops from eight states participated in security and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; criticism of the federal government’s poor response to the disaster included claims that the Guard was short-staffed due to overseas deployments.
In 2010, President Obama deployed 1,200 Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to bolster security against narcotics and weapons trafficking and illegal border crossings. In 2012 the troop numbers were reduced to 300 and repositioned from ground security to aerial surveillance. Both the deployment and its subsequent drawdown where met with controversy.
On December 31, 2011, the National Guard became a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The six four-star generals who made up the Joint Chiefs each expressed opposition to the decision, claiming it would reduce their authority and cause confusion. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also opposed it, saying that Joint Chiefs membership should “be reserved for those who have direct command and direct budgets that deal with the military.” Guard historians hailed the news as the most significant development since the Militia Act of 1903.
Administered by the National Guard Bureau (a joint bureau of the departments of the
Army and Air Force), the National Guard consists of both the Army National Guard (ARNG) and the Air National Guard (ANG). Both Guards have a federal and state mission, resulting in Guardsmen holding membership in both the National Guard of their state and in the U.S. Army or the U.S. Air Force. The National Guard is organized into 54 separate entities: the 50 states, the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
The National Guard’s federal mission is to maintain well-trained, well-equipped units available for prompt mobilization during war and provide assistance during national emergencies (such as natural disasters or civil disturbances). During peacetime, units carry out missions compatible with training, mobilization readiness, humanitarian, and contingency operations.
The Army National Guard currently consists of 15 enhanced Separate Brigades, eight divisions, and three strategic brigades. The ARNG also maintains two Special Forces groups. Between September 2001 and February 2012, 379,736 National Guardsmen and 285,718 reservists had deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Air National Guard provides almost half of the Air Force's tactical airlift support, combat communications functions, aeromedical evacuations and aerial refueling. In addition, the Air National Guard has total responsibility for air defense of the entire United States.
When National Guard units are not under federal control, the governor is the commander-in-chief of his or her respective state, territory (Guam, Virgin Islands), or commonwealth (Puerto Rico). A governor can activate National Guard personnel to “State Active Duty” in response to natural or man-made disasters or homeland defense missions. The President commands the District of Columbia National Guard, although this command is routinely delegated to the Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard. Each of the 54 National Guard organizations is supervised by the Adjutant General of the state or territory who also serves as the director or commanding general of the state military forces (in D.C,. only the Commanding General title is used).
A map of the country with links to all state National Guard offices can be found here.
Whether it is fighting overseas or helping to maintain law and order at home during disasters, the Guard has multiple programs and mission operations to perform its myriad duties. In recent years special Guard units have formed as part of the United States Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). These units include those skilled in dealing with weapons of mass destruction, in which case the Guard can deploy its Civil Support Team or Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (pdf). The Guard also has a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force (pdf) it can put into action, along with its rapid response Reaction Force (pdf) designed to handle incidents before federal authorities or army units can arrive on scene. Reaction Forces are organized as temporary task forces and perform their missions primarily under the command of the governors of their home states. The Guard also maintains Critical Infrastructure Protection-Mission Assurance Assessments (pdf) detachments that can assist with maintaining transportation, communications and water systems in states during a crisis.
The Guard continues to support the federal government’s war on drugs through its
National Guard Counter Drug Program (pdf). In 2011 the Guard claimed to have supported law enforcement with analysis, aerial and ground support that resulted in the seizure of $18.5 billion worth of drugs, property, weapons, and cash. In 2009 its efforts reportedly led to the seizure of more than 14.4 million marijuana plants, and 2.7 million ecstasy pills and other “designer drugs.” It was also involved in the arrest of 75,624 individuals.
In preparation for military assignments with the Army and Air Force, the Guard participates in several military exercises. In March 2012, Texas Guard members were jolted out of their beds at 3:45 a.m. to respond to a simulated terrorist incident involving a hazardous materials attack, explosion, and partial hospital collapse. In April Missouri Army Guard members joined the Honduran military in a Beyond the Horizon exercise at a Honduran remote operating base, where military engineers and medical professionals were deployed to train and provide services to rural communities. In June 2012 South Dakota Guard’s Operation Golden Coyote two-week exercise saw more than 2,200 service members (including some military personnel from foreign countries) conduct training for combat support and service to the public. A simulated 10-kiloton nuclear device detonation dubbed the Vigilant Guard Exercise was staged in May 2007 with units from Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio . The National Guard of Alaska practiced what to do in case terrorists attacked the country’s northern most state in the Northern Edge Exercise (pdf). Seven New England states sent Guard units in 2007 for the HURREX Exercise, a simulated category-3 hurricane (Hurricane “Yvette”) that hit Newport, Rhode Island.
Other important Guard sections include: Modular Airborne Firefighting System (pdf); Joint CONUS Communications Support Environment (pdf); Expeditionary Medical Support (pdf); Emergency Management Assistance Compact (pdf); Joint Force Headquarters State (pdf); and Joint Task Force State (pdf).
From the Web Site of the National Guard Bureau
As extensions of the U.S. Army and Air Force, National Guard units utilize much the same weaponry and equipment, most of which is provided to the U.S. government through defense contractors. Some of the largest are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and BAE Systems. These six are among the top defense contractors, according to FedSpending.org. General Dynamics manufacturers the M1 Abrams tank, the Guard’s and Army’s main battle tank. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle, another mainstay of armored units, is built by BAE Systems Land and Armaments. The primary assault rifle used by Guardsmen has been the M16, built by Colt, in use by the military since Vietnam. However, the Army and Guard replaced the M16 with the M4A1, supplied by Colt in 2011, and which will be produced by Remington Arms through 2014.
The Air National Guard, like the Army National Guard, has numerous contractor stakeholders. Some of the largest are the same as the ARNG, such as Lockheed Martin, builder of the C130 Hercules and the mammoth C5 Galaxy transport jets and the F-16 Falcon fighter jet. Boeing manufactures the C17 Globemaster transport jet and F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet. The top 25 defense contractors providing weaponry and equipment for the Air Force and Air National Guard received $67.5 billion in contracts in 2010.
The National Guard spent more than $5.7 billion on 9,318 contractor transactions between FY 2002 and FY 2012, according to USASpending.gov. The top five types of products purchased were guard services ($1,627,914,362), vessels ($962,846,070), ground effect vehicles ($513,384,595), engineering ($504,774,010), and radio navigation ($331,597,739). The top five contractors that were recipients of contractor spending during that period were:
1. Integrated Coast Guard Systems LLC $836,371,749
2. Oshkosh Corporation $603,692,128
3. Northrop Grumman Corporation $489,780,494
4. Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. $482,760,000
5. G4S PLC $384,196,021
Drones Positioned for Use in the U.S.?
At least one state National Guard was in the early stages of using drones in the United States, a development already underway among law enforcement and the U.S. military.
Following approval from President Barack Obama in February 2012 that accelerated the timetable for the domestic use of aerial drones, the Illinois National Guard was reportedly conducting training flights of its Shadow drone within state airspace.
“The use of drones on domestic operations requires approval by the Secretary of Defense,” Maj. Brad Leighton, Illinois National Guard public affairs director, told Medill Reports. “We currently have the authority to operate training missions out of two locations within Illinois.”
In January 2013, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published several thousand pages of new drone license records that demonstrated drones were regularly flying in U.S. airspace all around the country.
That is worrisome to watchdog groups like the ACLU because of the surveillance equipment the drones carry and the fact that police don’t need warrants to spy on private property from the public airspace.
The prospect of drones spying on its citizens concerned Virginia enough that its state legislature took the extraordinary action in February 2013 of calling for a two-year moratorium on the use of the aircraft (with the exceptions of emergencies or searching for missing children or the elderly) over its territory.
Aerial drones set to intrude on Illinois airspace (by Nolan Peterson, Medill Reports)
Fears Confirmed: Domestic Drones 'Fly Regularly' in US Airspace (by Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams)
Va. Government Consider Laws to Block Drone Use for 2 Years (by David J. Barton, ExecutiveGov)
America’s Got Talent Contestant Questioned about National Guard Service
A National Guard soldier who appeared as a contestant on NBC’s America’s Got Talent was exposed for being a liar and possibly mentally ill.
Timothy Michael Poe told audiences in 2012 that he stuttered due to combat injuries he sustained while serving in Afghanistan. He claimed to have spent 14 years in the military and suffered a broken back and brain injury from a grenade explosion.
But the media investigated Poe’s story and found no military record of his alleged injuries with the Minnesota National Guard. In fact, he sent the show a photo of another staff sergeant taken from the Web site of the Defense Department and the Minnesota National Guard said his records indicated he was only in Afghanistan for about a month and was not injured by a grenade while he was there.
Although Talent judge Howie Mandel admitted that Poe’s tearful story did help him advance in the competition, Poe was ultimately eliminated even before the truth had come out.
Later, in a local television news interview, Poe said: “I mean, as far as everything I said, I believe it wholeheartedly myself. … But I feel like I’m going crazy.”
“America’s Got Talent” Controversy: Michael Poe Great Actor Or Another Injured War Hero (by DiMarkco Chandler, Guardian Express)
A Sobbing Timothy Poe Says He's Sorry (by Teresa Woodard, WFAA)
'America's Got Talent': Tim Poe Eliminated Without Controversy (by Carina Adly MacKenzie, Zap 2 It)
Controversy over George W. Bush’s National Guard Service
Weeks before the 2004 presidential election, CBS News’ Dan Rather presented a controversial story on 60 Minutes about President George W. Bush’s National Guard service during the Vietnam War.
The story delved into whether Bush completed the requirements of his National Guard service—a claim that was refuted by conservative supporters of the president. At the heart of the post-story media storm were a series of memos that purportedly substantiated an interview with former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes, a Democrat, who said he pulled strings to get Bush into the Guard in 1968 and avoid service in Vietnam. It also was said that Bush missed a physical and months of drills.
But the documents, allegedly written by one of Bush’s former commanders, the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, were eventually discredited.
Executives at CBS News backtracked on the story, and after conducting an internal review, decided to fire the story’s producer. Rather, who had spent more than four decades at the network, resigned from his anchor job in disgrace.
Three years later, Rather sued his former employer for $70 million, claiming his contract was breached and that he lost job opportunities following the controversy. But his lawsuit was dismissed by two courts.
In 2010, Bush published his memoir, Decision Points, in which he reportedly gloated over how the National Guard story blew up on Rather and CBS News. The book also suggested that the Bush White House may have had a larger role in discrediting the memos than was known at the time.
Rather continued to stand by the story. In 2012, he published his own memoir (Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News) and used media appearances promoting the book to make the case that there was truth to what was reported. He also insisted that CBS pulled its support because its corporate parent, Viacom, was more interested in making nice with the White House than telling the truth.
Bush Gloats Over Dan Rather's Ouster (by Robert Parry, Consortium News)
George W. Bush Military Service Controversy (Wikipedia)
Dan Rather Was Right About George W. Bush (by Joe Hagan, Texas Monthly)
Killian Documents Controversy (Wikipedia)
A Look Back At The Controversy (by Chris Hawke, CBS News)
Appeals Court Tosses Dan Rather's $70M Suit Against CBS (by Jose Martinez, New York Daily News)
Bush Guard Service (Media Myth Busters)
Still At It: Dan Rather Insists Bush’s National Guard Service In Question (by Jeff Poor, Daily Caller)
Controversy over National Guard Joining Joint Chiefs
The National Guard ’s top officer officially became a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in 2012, despite opposition from top military advisers.
President Barack Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which included a provision adding the Guard’s current leader, Gen. Craig McKinley, to the JCS, which advises the president on national security matters.
While the legislation was moving through Congress, where the Guard now carries a lot of clout, the four service chiefs—Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines—on the JCS voiced opposition to the Guard joining them. They claimed the proposal would create unnecessary confusion and reduce their authority. Besides, the Guard was already represented on the JCS by the Army and Air Force chiefs (there is no Marine or Navy National Guard).
The move was also opposed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. For the past 20 years, members of the Guard have been deployed almost continuously, but Panetta’s concern was that the JCS should be reserved for direct military commands and budgets.
National Guard Gets Joint Chiefs of Staff Slot For No Apparent Reason (by James Joyner, Outside the Beltway)
National Guard's Senior Officer Elevated To Joint Chiefs Of Staff (by Jim Greenhill, U.S. Air Force)
Top Guard Officer Joins Joint Chiefs Of Staff (Army Times)
Kent State Shootings—New Evidence
New evidence about the infamous Kent State shootings surfaced in 2010, prompting survivors of the protest to call for a new investigation into what happened.
On May 4, 1970, a group of National Guardsmen opened fired on unarmed demonstrators speaking out against the U.S. wars in Cambodia and Vietnam. Four students were killed and nine others injured during the shootings.
Officials and protestors were left wondering why the Guardsmen fired on the crowd in the first place.
But a review of a 42-year-old audiotape from the incident indicated someone fired four shots from a revolver a minute prior to the soldiers opening up with their weapons. Although he denied having fired any shots, the person with the handgun was identified as Terry Norman, a former police and Federal Bureau of Investigation informant who was taking photos that day. President Richard Nixon’s Commission on Campus Unrest, which looked into the National Guard’s actions, found that Norman had played no part in what the Guard did.
Seven survivors came forward following the news of the audiotape and called on state and federal officials to launch a new review of the tragic event.
Kent State Tape Indicates Altercation And Pistol Fire Preceded National Guard Shootings (by John Mangels, The Plain Dealer)
Kent State Shootings (Wikipedia)
New Kent State Video Evidence Points Towards FBI Provocateuring (by Steve Watson, Infowars)
May 4th Wounded From Kent State Shootings Want Independent Review Of New Evidence (by John Mangels, Plain Dealer)
Controversy over Breastfeeding
Air National Guard soldiers Christina Luna and Terran Echegoyen-McCabe got caught up in a 2012 media storm after they posed in photos showing them breastfeeding their children.
The women, stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State, were part of a breastfeeding support group called Mom To Mom, which hoped to bring the needs of military mothers to light.
The photos were used for a campaign at a base health center to create support for breastfeeding.
But officials within the National Guard objected to the images—which the photographer posted on Facebook, where they went viral—saying Luna and Echegoyen-McCabe did not obtain permission to appear in uniform for the shoot.
A National Guard spokesperson told the media that military regulations prohibited the use of “the uniform, title, rank or military affiliation to further a cause, promote a product or imply an endorsement…for example, military members may not wear their uniform to a political rally, a protest or to sell a product.”
Both women were reprimanded by their superiors.
Photos Of Breastfeeding Military Moms In Wash. Draw Controversy (by Ashley Korslien, KREM.com)
Breast-Feeding In Uniform: Brave Or Brazen? (by Amita Parashar, NPR)
Several members of California’s National Guard, including its former commander, got into trouble for getting paid twice for their service.
Gen. William H. Wade II, who led the California National Guard from 2005 to 2010, was removed from active service in 2011 after he refused to pay back the money he was improperly given.
According to the California controller, Wade received $155,000 in improper pay while he served as the Guard’s adjutant general. He was ordered to return $80,720.
Wade rejected the order, contending that state rules limiting dual pay did not apply to him as adjutant general.
That same year, 12 California National Guard pilots were punished for improper dual compensation while serving at the Fresno-based 144th Fighter Wing. The government reportedly sought the repayment of $450,000 from the officers.
And in 2012, three California Army National Guard captains pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of fraud involving incentive payments they received in return for getting bonuses for would-be service commitments. Each officer faced up to a year in prison, fines, and restitution of funds stolen.
National Guard General Removed After He Refuses To Pay Back 'Double-Dip' Earnings (by Charles Piller, Sacramento Bee)
12 California National Guard Pilots Disciplined In Dual-Pay Scandal (by Charles Piller, Sacramento Bee)
Lawsuit Raises Issue of National Guard "Double Dipping" Pay (by Calvin Wolf, Yahoo!)
3 California Army National Guard Captains Plead Guilty to Fraud (by Charles Piller, Sacramento Bee)
Linguist Fired after Admitting He’s Gay
A National Guard officer was discharged in 2010 from the service for admitting he was gay.
Lt. Dan Choi, an Arabic-speaking linguist and West Point graduate, was dismissed from the Army National Guard under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy after publicly coming out on the Rachel Maddow Show in 2009.
Choi, who served in Iraq, was suspended from his unit while the National Guard convened a review panel. He was allowed to return to active duty for a brief time, but was eventually discharged (honorably) from the service.
After the courts and the Obama administration revoked Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Choi said he intended to reenlist in the military. He began the reenlistment process in September 2011, but was unsure how his acceptance would be affected by that fact that he was arrested three times for having protested the discriminatory policy.
Lt. Daniel Choi Honorably Discharged From The Army (The Rainbow Collective)
Dan Choi Intends to Rejoin the Military (by Mike Vilensky, New York Magazine)
Gays in the Guard
When President Barack Obama signed the act repealing the U.S. military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in 2010, some conservatives still sought to keep homosexuals out of the National Guard.
In Oklahoma, Representative Mike Reynolds (R) proposed legislation to reinstate the policy in the state’s National Guard. In fact, Reynolds’ bill would have expanded Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, not only prohibiting openly gay members from serving in the Oklahoma National Guard, but also allowing government officials to directly question Guardsmen about their sexual orientation.
In 2012, Oklahoma’s House of Representatives rejected a bill that would have required National Guard members to reveal their sexual orientation if asked.
Virginia state lawmaker Bob Marshall also wanted to extend Don’t ask, Don’t Tell for the Virginia National Guard. The move prompted a Democratic state delegate, Joseph Morrissey, to introduce his own legislation making it okay for homosexuals to serve in the Guard.
Oklahoma Lawmaker Pushes For Gay Ban In National Guard (by Eric Dolan, Raw Story)
The End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Obama Signs Repeal Legislation (by Chris Prevatt, Liberal OC)
Oklahoma House Blocks State's Heinous 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Bill (Instinct Magazine)
In July 2009, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested at his home by police responding to a report of men breaking into the residence. The arrest resulted in a series of events that turned into a national story about racial profiling.
During the controversy, a Boston police officer, Justin Barrett, who also was a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, sent an email to fellow Guardsmen and to the media in which he called Gates “a banana-eating jungle monkey.”
Barrett said he wrote the email in reaction to media coverage of Gates’ arrest.
In the email, Barrett wrote: “If I was the officer he [Gates] verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC [oleorosin capsicum, or pepper spray] deserving of his belligerent non-compliance.”
Boston police reacted to the email by stripping Barrett of his gun and badge and putting him on administrative leave. The Massachusetts National Guard also suspended Barrett.
Barrett was later fired from the police force in February 2010. He responded by suing the city, claiming his civil rights were violated.
Henry Louis Gates Arrest Controversy (Wikipedia)
Boston Police Officer Justin Barrett Finally Fired (The Second Age)
National Guard Suicide Rate Increases
While reporting good news regarding the U.S. Army, officials revealed that the number of National Guardsmen who took their own lives doubled from one year to the next.
Government figures showed suicides within the National Guard and the Army Reserve went from 65 in 2009 to 145 in 2010.
During the same period, the total of Army suicides went down.
Department of Defense leaders said suicides among National Guard personnel may have gone up due to a host of factors. They noted it can be more difficult for Guardsmen to receive counseling services than active duty military, due to being more geographically isolated.
Also, difficulties maintaining employment while serving in the National Guard can put more pressure on so-called “weekend warriors.” And they often “lack the ready camaraderie” of soldiers serving on active duty, Pentagon officials said.
Statistics showed about half of National Guard troops who committed suicide in 2010 had never been to combat, demonstrating that the problem was not entirely related to deployment.
Pentagon Seeks Answers To Why Suicides Doubled In National Guard And Reserve (by Anna Mulrine, Christian Science Monitor)
Army To Report Rise In National Guard, Reserve Suicides (by Barbara Starr, CNN)
Military Suicides Reached Record High In 2012 (by Robert Burns, Associated Press)
Army Suicides Reach One a Day; Epidemic Spreads to National Guard and Reserves (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Local Resources Sent to Iraq and Afghanistan
The ongoing deployment of National Guard units to Afghanistan (and previously to Iraq) has caused considerable strain on this branch of the armed services. According to a report (pdf) by the Center for Transatlantic Relations, every Enhanced Brigade in the National Guard (Enhanced Brigades are the Guard’s most important combat units) has been deployed at least once overseas since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and two have been deployed twice. In 2005 alone, 14 of the Guard’s 25 brigades were stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
This reliance on Guard units to help carry out GWOT has created problems for numerous states when disasters have struck. Guard units in the U.S. “are practically nullified now because all states have [Guard] people in” overseas conflicts, said former New Mexico National Guard Major General Melvyn Mantano in 2008. “If you have four or five states around you [in need], where are they going to get their equipment from? Because they all have been deployed.” That year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged that Army National Guard equipment levels were the lowest they had been since 9/11, and in 2007 the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves reported that nearly 90% of Guard units were unprepared for domestic and foreign crises. “We cannot sustain the [Guard] on the course we’re on,” said then-Guard Commission Chairman Arnold L. Punaro.
In May 2007 a tornado largely destroyed the Kansas town of Greensburg. Emergency assistance was slow in large part because the Kansas National Guard was without much of its equipment, which had been shipped overseas. For nearly two days after the storm, which struck on a Friday, there was a lack of heavy machinery and an army of responders. By Sunday afternoon, more than a day and a half after the tornado, only about half of the Guard troops who ultimately responded were in place. It was not until Sunday night that significant numbers of military vehicles started to arrive, many streaming in a long caravan from Wichita about 100 miles away.
When Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) complained about the state of her state’s Guard units, the Bush White House shot back and blamed the governor. Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, said the governor should have followed procedure by finding gaps after the storm hit and asked the federal government to fill them—but did not. “If you don’t request it, you’re not going to get it,” Snow said in The New York Times. The debate was similar to the Bush administration’s skirmishes with Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana, also a Democrat, after Hurricane Katrina.
At the time of the tornado, the Kansas National Guard was operating with 40% to 50% of its vehicles and heavy machinery. Ordinarily, the Guard would have had about 660 Humvees and more than 30 large trucks to traverse difficult terrain and transport heavy equipment. When the tornado struck, the Guard had about 350 Humvees and 15 large trucks. The Guard also had only 30 of its 170 medium-scale tactical vehicles available to transport people and supplies.
Other states’ officials expressed similar concerns about their Guard units. In Ohio, the National Guard reported a shortage of night vision goggles and M-4 rifles. Col. Jon Siepmann, a spokesman for the Guard in California, said, “Our issue is that we are shortchanged when it comes to equipment. We have gone from a strategic reserve to a globally deployable force, and yet our equipment resources have been largely the same levels since before the war.” Gov. Mike Beebe (D) of Arkansas echoed Sebelius’ concerns. “We have had a significant decrease in equipment traditionally afforded our National Guard, and it’s occasioned by the fact that it’s been sent to the Middle East and Iraq.” All 50 governors signed a letter to President Bush asking for the immediate re-equipping of Guard units sent overseas.
Two reports supported the concerns of the nation’s governors over the readiness of the National Guard. The Commission on the National Guard and Reserves released a report saying: “In particular, the equipment readiness of the Army National Guard is unacceptable and has reduced the capability of the United States to respond to current and additional major contingencies, foreign and domestic.” Likewise, the Government Accountability Office concluded that then-ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have “significantly decreased” the amount of equipment available for National Guard units not deployed overseas, while the same units face an increasing number of threats at home.
Kansas Tornado Renews Debate on Guard at War (by Susan Saulny and Jim Rutenberg, New York Times)
Bush Policies Are Weakening National Guard, Governors Say (by Robert Pear, New York Times)
Abuse of Detainees
Three California Army National Guard sergeants were imprisoned and four other soldiers sentenced to hard labor in 2005 for abusing Iraqi nationals who were mistaken for insurgents and abused.
The men were part of 1st Battalion of the National Guard’s 184th Infantry Regiment, which was the subject of an investigation into allegations of misconduct.
The Iraqi victims were subjected to the use of a stun gun while being handcuffed. The stun gun was used on at least one man’s testicles, according to one soldier.
The unit in just one month was involved in numerous violent encounters with insurgents and suicide bombers, leaving four soldiers dead. During 2005, the battalion had 71 combat-related injuries and seven soldiers killed in action, meaning that about 10% of its soldiers were either wounded or killed.
More Tumult Besets Guard Unit in Iraq (by Scott Gold and Rone Tempest, Los Angeles Times)
A Look Inside A National Guard Unit Known For Valor, Dysfunction (by Scott Gold, Los Angeles Times)
How A Black-Sheep Guard Unit Came Home Heroes (by César G. Soriano and Martin Kasindorf, USA Today)
Spying on Anti-War Grandmothers
According to Robert Dreyfuss, writing in Rolling Stone (April 18, 2006), “In May 2005, a California group called the Raging Grannies ran afoul of military spies when it helped organize a peaceful Mother’s Day demonstration to protest the war in Iraq. Unbeknownst to them, their action was brought to the attention of a new intelligence unit at the California National Guard—a program that went by the cumbersome title of Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management, and Intelligence Fusion. According to internal e-mails, the Guard forwarded information about the protest ‘to our Intell folks who continue to monitor.’
Asked why the Guard was spying on the Grannies, a spokesman suggested that terrorists might try to take advantage of the activists. ‘Who knows who could infiltrate that type of group and try to stir something up?’ Lt. Col. Stan Zezotarski told reporters. ‘After all, we live in an age of terrorism, so who knows?’
Joe Dunn, a California state senator, was having none of it. He launched an investigation and helped force the Guard to shut down its intelligence center. ‘What got us to the point of the National Guard setting up units in which, at least in California, they start down the path of domestic spying?’ he asks. ‘Our fear is that this was part of a federally sponsored effort to set up domestic surveillance programs in a way that would circumvent the Posse Comitatus Act.’”
The Pentagon’s New Spies: The military has built a vast domestic-intelligence network to fight terrorism -- but it's using it to track students, grandmothers and others protesting the war (by Robert Dreyfuss, Rolling Stone)
New Jersey Guard Strafes School and Sets Wildfire
In New Jersey, Guard units found themselves in local news reports over mishaps involving the accidental strafing of an elementary school and causing a brush fire that forced the evacuation of thousands of residents.
An Air National Guard F-16 Viper from the 121st FS/113th FW at Andrews AFB was on a nighttime training mission when it fired 25 rounds of ammunition that tore through Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School. The only one at the school at the time was a custodian who was unharmed by the bullets. The pilot of the F-16C was supposed to fire at a target on the ground three and half miles away from school. It was unclear how the pilot made such a mistake.
Another ANG F-16 from New Jersey dropped a flare during a routine training sortie over the Warren Grove Gunnery Range in Ocean County that caused a fire and forced thousands to flee the area. A Guard spokesman said the pilot had dropped the flare during a routine exercise to practice the use of the F-16’s self-defense system to decoy heat-seeking missiles. “Sometimes during the training, the flare goes slightly off and hits a patch of woods, but we see it and are able to quickly put it out,” said the spokesman. “In this case, the flare may have been taken by the wind to where we couldn't see it go down and it was able to spread.” The fire burned 12,000 acres.
F-16 "Fly-by shooting" on New Jersey school (by Lieven Dewitte, F-16.net)
Flare from F-16 ignites wildfire (by Asif Shamim, F-16.net)
Calls for Increased Funding of National Guard for Disaster Readiness
In the wake of the U.S. government’s response to Hurricane Irene, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommended more funding for National Guard operations during disasters.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in 2011 that federal officials should consider putting more money into a fund that allows the Department of Defense to pay governors for the use of their National Guard forces during an emergency. In addition, Fugate favored adopting a dual command enabling federal troops and state troops to work in unison more quickly in a disaster.
The topic came up while rumors circulated that the federal government wanted to take control of the response to Hurricane Irene on the East coast through reliance on Title 10 active-duty troops, instead of using National Guard units.
FEMA and the Pentagon used Title 10 troops because the government lacked funding to pay governors for Title 32 (National Guard) troops.
Fugate said he lacked the authority to make such a funding decision himself, but would not oppose the Office of Management and Budget exploring such an idea.
Federal Govt. Should Consider More Funds For National Guard In Disaster Response, Fugate Says (by Mickey McCarter, HSToday.us)
National Guard Should Get More NYS Money (by Zachary Stieber, Epoch Times)
Limit or Halt Use of National Guard Troop Deployments During Wartime
The use of National Guard units in Iraq and Afghanistan became increasingly unpopular in many states whose soldiers were deployed again and again to fight the wars.
In 2005, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer asked the Department of Defense to return his state’s Guardsmen from Iraq in order to help combat wildfires. The request was denied.
Maryland Senator Richard Madaleno Jr. in 2009 sponsored legislation to allow the governor to prohibit the federal deployment of the Maryland Guard unless Congress authorized the use of military force or passed a declaration of war.
The Democratic state senator said the Maryland Guard had exhausted its resources and equipment from repeated deployments, and was needed at home in case of an emergency, such as a natural disaster.
The following year, a ballot initiative was offered up Idaho that would have authorized the governor to bring members of the National Guard home from international deployment. It also prohibited Guard deployments without congressional authorization for use of military force or a declaration of war.
Bill Would Restrict Federal Deployment of Md. National Guard (by Christian Davenport,
Our National Guard: Too High a Price (Veterans for America)
Is there a need for a federal law against military service, including National Guard deployment, being used as a sole reason to revoke child custody?
American soldiers, including National Guardsmen, have complained for years about state laws that allow their spouses to use their military service against them in child custody battles.
Some troops have spent years fighting their husbands or wives in court after their children were taken away while the soldiers were stationed overseas.
To rectify this situation, U.S. Representative Michael Turner (R-Ohio) sponsored legislation seven years in a row that would prohibit state courts from changing permanent child custody arrangements while a service member is deployed. The bill also prevented military service from being the sole reason for denying or repealing child custody for an active or reserve member.
Turner, however, has run into opposition each time from the U.S. Senate.
In addition, the Uniform Law Commission, a group of 350 attorneys appointed by all the states, has considered the Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, a set of uniform codes that state legislatures could adopt to standardize custody rights for parents who are deployed.
Pro: For a Federal Law
Turner and many soldiers argue active-duty mothers and fathers need guarantees that lapses in parental care, meaning leaving home due to deployment, related to military service won’t discredit them from being awarded custody.
“No parent courageous and honorable enough to volunteer to serve in the U.S. military should have their time spent overseas in defense of our nation used against them in child custody disputes,” Turner told the Marine Times.
He said the new law would establish that the mere absence of a military parent from a state would not be used to deprive that state of custody jurisdiction.
Supporters of the legislation point out that for most people, a move is a purely voluntarily thing. But for service members, a move is not voluntary and that involuntary move should not be punished by the loss of jurisdiction.
Debate Is Renewed Over Child Custody Rights (by Rick Maze, Marine Times)
Custody Battle: Panel To Standardize Rights For Military Parents (by Kristin M. Hall, Associated Press)
Con: Against a Federal Law
Opponents of Turner’s bill say they don’t want the federal government interfering with issues traditionally left to states.
The Defense Department and the National Military Family Association have added that the number of cases is so small that it doesn’t warrant such a change in law.
Other critics have said the legislation is too vague and would create unnecessary complexity in an already complicated area of law.
Debate Lingers Over How To Protect Deployed Troops' Custody Rights (by Charlie Reed, Stars & Stripes)
Panel: Improve Child Custody Rules For Military (USA Today)
Should the National Guard be cut down in size?
With the Iraq war over and the Afghanistan conflict winding down, supporters of the National Guard have fought attempts to reduce funding for this reserve military force.
Critics have questioned whether the size of the Guard—which reached an all-time high of 476,500 in 2010—should be reduced as defense budgets begin to tighten. Supporters have argued that Guard strength should be maintained or even expanded, so it can handle homeland security missions that have been ignored because of the wars.
Pro: Fund the Guard at Current Levels
Guard proponents argue that the funding should be maintained, or even expanded, given the service’s war-related and homeland duties.
Supporters worry that the federal budget fight could result in downsizing the Guard, and that could result in a dramatic loss of military readiness.
“Traditionally after most conflicts in our nation, we’ve put the Guard and reserves back into the can on the shelf and it atrophies and has gone back to a state of disrepair,” chief of the National Guard Bureau, Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, told National Defense. McKinley did not want to see that happen again. The Guard should not have to end up like a firework that burns brightly for a short time and then fizzles out, he said.
National Guard Chief: ‘Our Weaknesses Are Here At Home’ (by Grace V. Jean, National Defense)
Air National Guard Lobbies Successfully Against Budget Cuts (by James Dao, New York Times)
Con: Cut the Funding
Critics of maintaining funding levels for the Guard argue that the federal government needs to reexamine the relationship between the active force and the Guard and reserve. They even note that the country needs some mobilization capability beyond the Guard and reserve.
“What is the role of the Guard? How much of it is an operational reserve? How much is a strategic reserve? How much should it have an enhanced role for homeland issues? All of these need to be rethought, because if there are missions that can be adequately or better done in the Guard or reserve, it’s cheaper. That takes some of the pressure off the active force,” said Stephen Hadley, co-chair of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.
Experts said there will be serious competition for resources among the services following the end of the wars and the active-duty forces may take precedence.
A-10s, F-16s Targeted In Latest Budget Talks (by Brian Everstine and Jeff Schogol, Air Force Times)
Governors Ask for Guard Representation on Air Force Structure Commission (Defense Communities)
Should the United States station troops at the Mexican border?
A 2009 proposal to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to fight drug trafficking triggered a debate within the Obama administration.
On one side was Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who favored sending troops to the border, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who opposed the idea. President Barack Obama supported Napolitano’s position, while saying he did not want to militarize the border.
The debate was characterized as a turf war over which agency should direct the use of Guard units to assist in the battle against Mexican cartels and which one should pay for them.
The Pentagon had been trying to cut funding for state drug-fighting operations due to the financial strain of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and military officials said governors should pay for their own Guard units. But governors argued that securing the border was a federal responsibility.
Pro: Station Troops at the U.S./Mexico Border
Napolitano and the governors of Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico argued there was a legitimate need for troops to back up border agencies against violent drug cartels. They also insisted the Guard deployment would not represent a new military mission, citing a 1989 law that authorized the National Guard to assign 577 troops to help states with anti-drug programs.
Brian de Vallance, an adviser to Napolitano, said the secretary believed the federal government had an obligation to do “whatever we can do to disrupt” illegal drug smuggling. “It comes down to whether folks want to be as aggressive as we can be against the cartels and take every advantage of this historic opportunity” of cooperation between Mexico and the United States, he said.
Homeland Security, Pentagon Clash on Military's Role at Mexico Border (by Spencer Hsu, Washington Post)
U.S. Contingency Plan Would Deploy National Guard Troops Along Mexican Border (by Mary Beth Sheridan, Spencer S. Hsu and Steve Fainaru, Washington Post)
Con: Don’t Militarize the U.S./Mexico Border
Gates and military generals objected to the National Guard plan.
General Victor E. Renuart Jr., head of U.S. Northern Command, told The Washington Post: “It should not be that we always rely on the Department of Defense to fulfill some need.” He added that law enforcement agencies should have adequate funding to do their jobs, and the Guard should only be utilized for capabilities “that do not exist elsewhere in government.”
Critics cited a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that said the use of National Guard troops on the border could hurt recruitment efforts and make long-term border security planning more challenging. The GAO also said the presence of active duty guards on the border could be seen as militarizing the border, even a hostile act, which could get in the way of agreements between the U.S. and Mexico.
Drawbacks Seen With Having National Guardsmen on Border (by Julián Aguilar, Texas Tribune)
Obama Could Send 1,500 National Guard Troops To Mexican Border (by David Montero, Christian Science Monitor)
Readers Debate Obama's Decision To Deploy National Guard Troops To Mexican Border (by Doug Feaver, Washington Post)
General Craig R. McKinley 17 Nov 2008 - Present
Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum 11 Apr 2003 - 16 Nov 2008
Major General Raymond F. Rees (Actg) 4 Aug 2002 - 10 Apr 2003
Lieutenant General Russell C. Davis 4 Aug 1998 - 3 Aug 2002
Lieutenant General Edward D. Baca 1 Oct 1994 - 31 July 1998
Major General Raymond F. Rees (Actg) 1 Jan 1994 - 31 July 1994
Lieutenant General John B. Conaway 1 Feb 1990 - 1 Dec 1993
Lieutenant General Herbert R. Temple, Jr. 16 Aug 1986 - 31 Jan 1990
Lieutenant General Emmett H. Walker, Jr. 16 Aug 1982 - 15 Aug 1986
Lieutenant General La Vern E. Weber 16 Aug 1974 - 15 Aug 1982
Major General Francis S. Greenlief 1 Sep 1971 - 23 Jun 1974
Major General Winston P. Wilson 31 Aug 1963 - 31 Aug 1971
Major General Donald W. McGowan 20 July 1959 - 30 Aug 1963
Major General Winston P. Wilson (Actg) 1 Jun 1959 - 19 Jul 1959
Major General Edgar C. Erickson 22 Jun 1953 - 31 May 1959
Major General Earl T. Ricks (Actg) 16 Feb 1953 - 21 Jun 1953
Major General Raymond H. Fleming 14 Aug 1951 - 15 Feb 1953
Major General Raymond H. Fleming (Actg) 5 Sep 1950 - 13 Aug 1951
Major General Kenneth F. Cramer 30 Sep 1947 - 4 Sep 1950
Major General Butler B. Miltonberger 1 Feb 1946 - 29 Sep 1947
Major General John F. Williams (Actg) 31 Jan 1944 - 31 Jan 1946
Major General John F. Williams 31 Jan 1940 - 30 Jan 1944
Major General Albert H. Blanding 31 Jan 1936 - 30 Jan 1940
Colonel John F. Williams (Actg) 17 Jan 1936 - 30 Jan 1936
Colonel Harold J. Weiler (Actg) 1 Dec 1935 - 16 Jan 1936
Major General George E. Leach 1 Dec 1931 - 30 Nov 1935
Major General William. G. Everson 1 Oct 1929 - 30 Nov 1931
Colonel Ernest R. Redmond (Actg) 29 Jun 1929 - 30 Sep 1929
Major General Creed C. Hammond 29 Jun 1925 - 28 Jun 1929
Major General George C. Rickards 29 Jun 1921 - 28 Jun 1925
Major General Jesse Mcl. Carter 26 Nov 1917 - 15 Aug 1918
Major General William A. Mann 26 Oct 1916 - 26 Nov 1917
Major General Albert L. Mills 1 Sep 1912 - 18 Sep 1916
Brigadier General Robert K. Evans 15 Mar 1911 - 31 Aug 1912
Colonel Erasmus M. Weaver, Jr. 14 Feb 1908 - 14 Mar 1911
General Craig R. McKinley has served as chief of the National Guard since November 2008, and in the process became the first four-star general in history to command the Guard.