Guard gets JCS slot, arguments on both sides

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Guard gets JCS slot, arguments on both sides

Ran across this yesterday and had a different take from where I read it.  First, the background:

The National Guard Bureau’s top officer is now a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A provision in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law Dec. 31 by President Obama, adds the Guard leader to the nation’s highest military advisory group.[...]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff advises the president on national security matters.

Its members voiced firm opposition during a hearing on Capitol Hill in November as lawmakers pushed to create a seat for the Guard.

Before the authorization act was passed and signed into law, the Joint Chiefs was made up of the four service chiefs — the Army chief of staff, Air Force chief of staff, chief of naval operations and Marine Corps commandant — and a chairman and vice chairman appointed by the president.

I served National Guard for about 8 years, and served on two deployments with the Virginia Guard, to Bosnia and Afghanistan.  Anyway, a man I have immense respect for generally, James Joyner of Outside the Beltway disagrees with this legislative action. 

In a move that makes no sense whatsover, Air National Guard General Craig McKinley has become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

So, the entire Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense opposed this move and yet it was made anyway? Why? The article doesn’t say but, presumably, it’s because the Guard has an enormous amount of clout in Congress and because sympathy for the institution is at an all-time high after a decade of more-or-less continuous deployment.

His argument essentially centers on this:

Simply put: Either the Guard is a state militia that’s only part of the United States Military when called to national service–in which case it has no business on the Joint Staff–or it’s a part of the Total Force and therefore already represented on the Joint Staff by the Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Air Force. (There is no Navy or Marine Guard.)

Additionally, I’d note that the inclusion of the Guard would seem to undermine the very Mission of the Joint Staff:

"The Joint Staff assists the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in accomplishing his responsibilities for: the unified strategic direction of the combatant forces; their operation under unified command; and for their integration into an efficient team of land, naval, and air forces."

As of yesterday, it’s less unified, less efficient, and less integrated.

Here's my problem with that, I don't accept that when called up the Guard is treated as part of the Total Force.  I am absolutely ambivalent on whether the Guard deserves a position on the JCS, but one thing I do know is that the treatment of the Guard while on active duty is NOT the same as regular army units.  I saw the breakdown in two specific areas.  The First was that the default position of active units I was attached to as a Guardsman was to take their Guard unit and use them for assignments no one else wanted.  Generally this took the position of Force Securuity (guard tower duty).  This one in particular was galling, and the reason I got out of the Guard the first time.  As the Guard Infantry unit stood in towers in areas that saw no action at all, the Regular Army was making up comb at patrols from active duty butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.  If the Guard is truly part of the entire force, they should be used where their training could best be used, and sleeping in Guard Towers always seemed a misallocation of forces.

Second, anyone who has gone through the medical side knows that there are huge differences.  In fact, the very first question on every medical sheet I ever filled out was what branch someone was.  Why would that be?  I have no clue why, but I specifically remember being with about 40 Guard guys suffering from extensive (VERY EXTENSIVE) poison ivy rashes and heat injuries at Ft. Bragg, and we were made to wait on the lawn at the medical center because we had been on a 15 day FTX and smelled bad.  (No showers will do that.)  The 82nd guys were walking right buy and on it to get treatment with no such hassles.

Same with out guys when they got injured and came back.  When an active duty guy suffers, they come back and get assigned to the rear guard or WTB here, while our guys were coming back in ones and twos and being assigned tasks at the WTB that they had no business doing.  In point of fact, one of my fellow bloggers came back with sciatic nerve damage and (while hopped up on pain killers) had to drive a bus around post for the other WTB guys.

Now, I am not sure whether having a Guard advocate will change that, but something should be done.  Myobservation would be that they are now sending larger Guard units so they can be self-contained and that would seem to help.  For instance, when my battalion went to Afghanistan, we were assigned to the Division Artillery.  Again, we were infantry.  So the former Artillery guys, who's guns were largely useless in the Bagram area were pulling patrols, and the infantry guys had to stand in towers.  I don't know that the inrceased clout of this position will change that, but any step in the right direction for us seems a good idea.


Posted in the burner | 18 comments
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Excellent idea - Reserve elements need a voice to stop abuses. When I took OCS at Fort Benning, Georgia the treatment of reserve personnel was so atrocious that a reserve Lt. Colonel was stationed with us to see that things did not continue to go overboard. RA's have always treated reserves as a deaf, dumb, and retarded step child and this needs to cease. This is not to mean special treatment - just equal treatment.

Having served 10 years in the NC Army National Guard I have seen similar acts at Ft Bragg as well. I can only hope that someone from Guard Bureau can help create better unification. Reserve and active soldiers were sleeping and eating in the Good Barracks and chow halls while Guardsman got the antiquated WWII barracks with bunks and mattress that seemed as old. not to mention the out dated equipment that only in the last decade has seen and upgrade to what the Active side is using. from a strategic stand point I see the Guard spot being used on the Homeland Security side of the house. The Guard is not only used to deal with state disasters but they get tasked with assisting the border patrol, port security and airport security during heighten states of alert. So I am hopeful they will now see better training, better equipment and better use of their shills and experience that many have gained from doing the same job on the civilian side as they do on the Military side.

John M Vaudo
SPC4(SW) NC Army National Guard (Ret)
Vice Commander American Legion Post 19
Vice Commander Div 1 Dist 4 Dept of NC American Legion
Rider Director American Legion Riders Post 19
Tar River Basin CBA/ABATE of NC

I think it is terrible that the National Guard gets a seat on the Joint Chiefs - they are a component of the Armed Services, not a service unto themselves. If this is true, why doesnt the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps Reserves get a seat at the table? The reason for that is simple - we have integrated into the Total Force to a greater extent and realize that the name tape we wear on our combat uniforms has US Army, or Navy, or Air Force or Marines on it... and nothing about Reserves. I have been deployed several times and yes, we arent treated the same as the Active Component - I got that! But, I truly hope that the National Guard did not receive a 4 star General officer billet (with the attendant increase in salary and staff, etc) and a seat at the JCS table to worry about poor billeting and mistreatment at a post. As for inequalities in duties while deployed (i.e. tower guard duty v combat patrols), I maintain that the best qualified servicemembers get the best assignments and it is up to the leaders (O6-O3 and E9-E8) to bring to the higher headquarters attention the quality of their troops. When I was deployed, they relieved an Active Duty officer and replaced him with myself - a Reserve officer. So, instead of seeking more "power" at the table... they need to do what the military is being tasked with - work smarter and more efficiently.

This all started when the USAF failed to make the Air National Guard a Major Command, even though the Air Guard is larger than any current Air-force MAJCOM. They didn't want to relinquish any control. Well, I bet they would love to make the Air Guard a MAJCOM now and remove them from the JCS.

I think it's long overdue. While quality life is part of the equation, quality of pre combat training and quality of equipment given to us in combat situations are much more. I led an ARNG Trans Co around Iraq for 15 months in '03-'04. We rolled through the Sunni Triangle with incomplete body/vehicle armor, Vietnam era vehicles and with dated communications equipment. It wasn't a matter if "deploying with the Army you wish you had," it was that we were treated like the Active Army's red-headed step child. Through this all, the fact that we completed 100% of our missions, mostly outperformed our active duty counterparts and despite near daily IED/Sniper/Ambush threats not to mention the ever present mortars ---- we didn't lose a single Soldier and minimal equipment losses was a tribute to the Soldiers themselves .... most of them REAL truck drivers in civilian life whose knowledge of transportation was not limited to the FM 55-10. Regardless, fact is, we were sent in without the full benefit of the Active Army's training and equipment and it could have cost someone their life. If you have not been in this situation, refrain from commenting, or as we have been taught: shut your mouth, salute smartly and drive on. A JCS seat for the Guard was long overdue as the only way of ensuring that Guard units NEVER lose a Soldier because the Active Army's occasional criminal selfishness with regards to training facilities and equipment.

I think its a good thing that the CG has a chair on the joint chiefs. I have have experienced several "attitudes" from the active duty Army towards the NG. I spent 18 years in the Army NG as infantry and ADA ( Stinger manpads). We did several JRTC and NTC rotations, along with other operations with the Active duty. Our unit had done lots of excillent training back home. I was the first sergeant for our unit that was mobilized to Iraq in 2004, we spent time in Ft Bliss, TX getting trained by the 5th Army. I have never been so disrespected and offered so many bone head instructors in my life. They treated us like we were dirt and walked around with I am active duty attitudes, pathetic. I also spent 4 years in the Marine Corps infantry prior to joining up with the Guard. I know infantry and on several occations would take over the training of my men after the instructors were gone to show them what is proper infantryman skills. We all survived our year in Iraq, so the NG must know something. It sure was not the training that the 5th Army gave us. I did have a first sergeant from the 101st Airborne Div that relieved us from our battle space tell me that he was not sure that his unit could fill our shoes. He was sincere and was one of the first times I had an active duty senior NCO admit what the active duty Officers and Generals will not. 1. there is a good number of former active service members in the Guard. 2. the education and maturity level is much greater 3. The skill sets are unbalieveable, Teachers, electricians, plumbers, businessmen, cops, firemen, lawyers and farmers that make up an infrantry company and I am just talking about the enlisted men. pretty amazing. bottom line is that the NG is being treated as active duty with the number of deployments state side and overseas. They need to have a say at the table. I think this appointment and law is now showing the respect that the NG deserves, has earned and is now seen as an equal and important piece of the military. Not just a bunch of gofer boys.

This is a bad mistake. During non deployments the Guard works for the State Governor, during deployment (in federal service) they work for the commander of that specific command. By putting this individual on the JCS the command structure will be clouded. It worked for 200 hears why do we have to change a system that was not broke to stoke some egos.

obama said so..............he is the almighty.....

While the Guard is first a member of its State National Guard, it is simultaneously a Reserve of the Army. We train to federal standards but have the primary responsibility for homeland defense. We do that under State control and, thus, we can perform missions the Regular forces and federal reserve forces cannot outside of the Coast Guard who guard our navigable waters. The JCS have been there since about 1947. The Chief NGB has been an invited guest for the last handful of years. We recently came under the OSD. The Chief is aware of the relationships and his role, and will perform his duties admirably and effectively to make sure that the Guard has what it needs to have to perform our missions that our out of the scope of the Army and Air Force and when we are not in active federal service.

To star I have been active ,guard and a reserveist so I do know the difference and what each does .I served many years ago as active with duty as Infantry in Korea [67-68] .Just by saying that I know not all troops are treated the same back then we were treated as step children because we were in Korea not Vietnam .That never worked right ether It almost got us in WW3,in 1968 they forgot we needed help and could have been a very bad mistake if not for seer luck .
I never joined any thing till 1980 when I joined the guard on a whim. made 12 1/2 years there and did a good job I unlike most there had been active and had some combat experience [remember the Jan 68 attack on the Korean situation or when they took the boat ] ,not many do .The men I met in the guard was a shock they were untrained and most were hold over from the 60's trying to beat the draft .They did things completely different from any thing I had ever seen . Lets be fair it was a party for them . Well it was being looked at and things did change it had too . If there had not been the changes then they if they had been activated would have not been good. It did change some god some not . The state controlled the money and states let be canned took money and ran . Most training was never done or some how it was done the guard way ! Thank god that stopped ,we got some of the training not all but some . Training for out of state never hardly happened accept for those at state level . If you got to go to regular training at Army level it was few and far between . In the time there there was one man who got to go to Ranger school and jump school ,he when he came back asked to go active it took 6 months for that to happen but it was a start.
I had to leave the Guard in 1991 as after the Desert Storm there was a draw down and because I was a trouble maker I was not asked to stay with the unit it took me 3 month to get out and transfer to the Reserves. I was trouble maker because I had said we were in trouble if activated and would have very bad time if we went to combat we were not fully trained . they did not like what I said even if it was true . I then went to the Army Reserve to become a trainer .A year later I was the head of their training program . Got a little flack there as I requested that all senior NCO's have training to up grade their skills ,in case we got activated . They too did not like to face facts . Luckily I did my time and finished as Senior Instructor of General Subjects and Master trainer . While in Reserves I saw still more disrespect of us from Regular Army who said we always needed thing done their way ,note not the Army way but their way .
Where does this lead well its like this we even if they say it are not a combine force ,we are not they treat National Guard and Reserves different and they just dont get it . well maybe they are right but as it goes it may never be changed .Only thing that will change is if we ever do have a real war and they call everyone up and have a real war . After WW2 all the services knew what was up and yet politicians control the military ,that's the way its all ways been and they control every thing .to end this let hope the addition will help but then only time will tell.

Joseph, What's a real war? Vietnam, Korea, Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afganistan? not real wars?

I spent from 8/68 until 8/97 in the USAR with about 66 months active duty. While at Ft Sam for PA school, about 60 days from graduation from phase 1, we were standing for inspection by the Bn. Commander when he got to me, he chewed me up one side and down the other as was whering my resvere patches and unit creasts ( I was atached, not assigned to the class) and he asked if I had anything to say after he finished. This was my statement to him,"I serve in the greatest tradition of the military, as there was a guard or reserve 150yrs before there was a standing army, and the only one we lost was the one without a general moblation.

I've been Active Duty for 11 years now, after beginning my military career with 4 years in the Army National Guard.

Most of the post so far center on how a Guardsman on the JCS might change the treatment of Guard and Reserve Soldiers by Active Duty Units / Installations. I agree that these are valid points (I experienced similar treatment myself), but not this members sole or most important function. Homeland Defense has become a prominent piece of our National Security strategy in recent years, and the Army and Air National Guards are uniquely suited to perform this role. For example, deployment of Guard Soldiers to the Mexican Border, and the Air Guard units that are on call to respond to threats inside our airspace. Federal disaster response often includes integrating National Guard units (even when movement is initiated by state authorities). I think there can be a lot of value in having a National Guard general officer advising the president on the most effective ways to employ this unique formation as the military component of Homeland Defense and Civil Support missions.

I started my military life began with the United States Army National Guard and not per se with the State guard, and yes there was a difference at the time. When I went through Basic and AIT, I was treated as a hated stepchild. But I did 14years as guardsman, including 8years as a active duty guardsman, and it is well over due, that there is a Guardsman on the JCS. Most of the people that don't believe so has never thought of the guard as being a part of the services anyway, and this is the problem. I served with guard Special Forces and Intelligence, and believe me we did and could do everything that was assigned to us by the JCS. But we still were not looked upon with the same level of respect as our counterparts in active Army or even the reserve for that matter. There was even a special forces Guard training program down at JFKSWC. Hopefully by having a full 4 star general officer on the JCS, our "brothers and sisters" on active duty will remember that we are not only just one of them but also their backbone, and do many missions in which they cannot!

Is wearing a "Legion Patch" on a parade uniform if you are a S.A.L. or Auxillary member considered Stolen Valor?

Stolen Valor only applies to certain combat awards, and is only for federal medals, the Legion patch would not be covered.


I was active duty Army. During that time several of us went to another state to assist the NG/Reserve Infantry components in their MOS qualification testing (required ongoing testing for active and reserve). My biggest complaint was that many had hair cuts well beyond regs, they didn't know their jobs, they didn't seem to care, they were disrespectful when offered assistance and resented the fact that we MADE them perform instead of just signing off on their qualifications. Well below a fifty % failure rate..(which somehow was raised to 88% passing after we were gone). Their NCOs had no control or respect nor were the officers even available. We got tired of hearing comments like "Dude we're just hear for the extra beer money" etc. I can only speak for this one unit and it could very well be representitive of a very small number of NG units but it did leave a bad taste in my mouth. At that time none of us would have went to combat with any of them. I will say that moral/dedication would be tough to keep up when they are always getting used, outdated equipment, not enough training time and many hassled by employers. I was lucky enough to be assigned to a unit that seemed to always get the good equipment first and was mortified at what they were expected to operate with. I would hope that this position is created to address only concerns along these lines. I would also add that after the last ten years of deploying these troops their effectiveness could only be getting better. I don't blame the individual soldier, it is a leadership problem. We also must remember that while we were training 6 days a week and deploying often, these units must have their training crammed into one weekend a month. How can we expect them or they expect to be thrust straight into a combat assignment/patrol in an active war? That said, I also must mention that the Marines are usually treated as "Bastard Children" when it comes to equipment and that's just a pity. The budget should reflect the expected mission not the number of people.

I have been both active duty, and guard. There are both advantages, and disadvantages to each one. To say the Director of the National Guard should not sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a full-fledged member would be a disservice to the American people. It is the guard that defends the Homeland. The active duty is forbidden by federal law. It is the guard that comes to the rescue of their neighbors. Again, the active duty is forbidden by federal law. It is the guard whose members VOLUNTEER to deploy for extended periods of time to support the freedoms of this great nation. The active duty is ordered to send personnel. Another advantage of the guard is for the most part they work, live, and serve, right next to the same people for years. Everybody knows everybody else and their families too. That is called a team. However, just like any family the guard members may not always get along, but in a time of need you will only see one person helping out their fellow members. To go against one is to go against them all.

The guard also takes the concept of doing more with less to a new level. The budget that is allocated to the National Guard is pennies on the dollar compared to the active duty. Yet, the guard manages to outperform their active duty counterparts on many occasions. The guard can take the active duty hand-me-downs, and turn those hand-me-downs into a shiny new piece of equipment that will last for years. The guard does the same for their people. Most of the younger enlisted are using the guard to pay for college. The guard also has an abundance of professionals among their ranks. From apprentice carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians, aircraft mechanics, auto mechanics, and police, to lawyers, doctors, community leaders, congressional members, and even Presidents. Another little known fact is the guard experiences less disciplinary problems per capita when compared to the active duty.

The guard is not a separate branch. It is just time for its equal share. This is the 21st Century, and this isn’t the guard of the past. These are equal members of the Army and the Air Force that happen to fall under the US Code Title 32. Lastly as pointed out by a good friend. A little fine tuning of a law writtent in 1860's, ie; Posse Commitatas would enable the Guard to do even more in the communities in which they live, in times of need with less delay.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.