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Resources > Fact Sheets > Basic Facts About the National Guard


Posted 12/5/2007 Printable Fact Sheet

The National Guard originated on 7 October 1636 with the formation of the Old North and East Regiments of the Massachusetts Colonial Militia. The 1st Regiment of Middlesex is now the 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry and the Militia Regiment of Essex County is now the 101st Engineer Battalion, Massachusetts Army National Guard. It is the oldest military force in the nation and has participated in all major U.S. conflicts from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam.

By Act of Congress, the Guard is the primary backup force of the Army and the Air Force. In peacetime, it is commanded by the State Governors, and serves in State emergencies, natural disasters and civil disturbances.

Although not a direct Federal or State Mission, the National Guard performs a unique third role in service to the nation -- its ability to provide local communities with community service programs. Unique in the fact that its members are part of the local community it serves, the Guard participates in almost every conceivable way--from helping the handicapped to working with youth groups. Its bulldozers transform Boy Scout trails into serviceable roads, its aircraft fly mercy missions to help the seriously injured or sick. Although some of the expended man-hours are performed on a "drill status," most of the time and energy devoted to these programs are accomplished on the Guard members' own time. The number of youths and adults being reached by this program is averaging in the hundreds of thousands annually.

The Air National Guard operates on accredited NCO Academy providing professional military training for senior NCOs of the Army and Air National Guard, the active Air Force and the Air Force Reserve. The Air National Guard also operates two additional schools at the Professional Military Education Center at McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base, Knoxville, Tenn. These schools include the Academy of Military Science and the Air National Guard Leadership School.

The great majority of equipment and vehicles furnished to the Army and Air National Guard are maintained by Federal dollars allocated to the State by the National Guard Bureau, a joint Department of the Army and Air Force office in the Pentagon, which administers Guard related activities.

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