The National Guard’s role is changing as this country’s military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan diminishes. But the change might not be in the direction some might expect.
American troops are out of Iraq and are due to leave Afghanistan in about two years. Military involvement in both countries has required multiple call ups of National Guard units for the last decade. But the head of the National Guard Association of the United States does not expect the Guard to be less active when the withdrawals are complete.
Missouri Adjutant General Steve Danner heads the association. He says anticipated cuts in Pentagon spending are creating a unique situation for the National Guard. He says the reduction of active forces will call upon the Guard to take a greater role in protection the nation’s security.
Danner says the National Guard can operate a unit for about 15 percent of the cost of a regular army unit.
He does not think the change will damage the concept of the citizen soldier. He says only about 15 percent of Army Guard members and 30 percent of Air Guard members are full-timers and as long as there is predictability in Guard call ups, the concept of the citizen soldier should not change.