Military Service and the Reserves

Filed in Gather Politics News Channel by on November 14, 2006 0 Comments

I recently encountered a puzzling controversy in response to an article about the war involving military vs civilian control.The question was posed: How can someone who has never served, know better about managing a war than the military leadership? That discussion went back and forth and led to a sharp exchange regarding service in the National Guard vs. the Army Reserves. One side took the position that having been a member of the National Guard does not constitute military service. In researching the matter it turns out that both the Guard and the Reserves have long histories of having served in wars going back to Korea, WWII and further. The reason for the confusion is that the National Guard has historically been defined and controlled at the level of state. They have, however been called to national service by the president for overseas war assignments many times. So, the distinction is not as absolute as some have maintained. Below is a quote that fleshes some of this out.

"The definition of the term "reserve" varies depending on the context. In one context, as used here in this article, it applies to all seven of the reserve components of the U.S. military. In another context, it applies to only the five reserve components directly associated with the five active duty military services but not to the Army National Guard nor the Air National Guard.

In most respects, the Army National Guard and Air National Guard are very similar to the Army Reserve and Air Force Reserve, respectively. The primary difference lies in the level of government to which they are subordinated. The Army Reserve and Air Force Reserve are subordinated to the federal government while the National Guards are subordinated to the various state governments, except when called into federal service by the President of the United States or as provided for by law."

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