Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Guard Recruiting Article

Here's a link to a story from the Associated Press that I just read about Army National Guard recruiting. This confirms something I learned on a trip down to Camp Curtis Guild (Reading, MA) a few months ago and have written about here -- contrary to the myths about desparation among military recruiters, the Guard these days is ratcheting standards up and turning would-be recruits away in droves.

The prevailing theory mentioned in the article is that the Pentagon is trying to simultaneously grow the active-duty force and shrink the Guard in order to rely on the active troops more in wartime. Active troops, of course, are far less *visible* to non-military Americans because they're more likely to be residentially clustered on or near military bases, and they don't hold full-time positions that go unfilled during call-ups. Therefore, it's less abrasive politically to mobilize active-duty troops for repeated tours of duty than it is to use Guardsmen, who hold a special sort of status within the military in that they're Governor-owned and also ready for tasking in case of domestic emergency.

Still, that doesn't change the reality for anyone in the Guard who's either overseas now, has just gotten back, or is just about to go. I'd say that about sums it up for every Guardsman or Reservist that I know (assuming we can say "just gotten back" extends a couple years).

If you're interested in this sort of stuff, it's worth a read. And if you didn't already know that the vast majority of American high school graduates are ineligible for military service, either due to poor physical fitness, background disqualifications, medical conditions, or subpar ASVAB scores, well, now you do.


C R Krieger said...

OK, I confess.  I didn't read the article, but this is the second time I heard about it.

Two quick points.

First, after the debacle known as Viet-nam, the Army Chief of Staff, General Creighton Abrams, in creating the all volunteer Army gave it a political twist.  He put key critical units into the Reserve Component so that if a future President and Congress wanted to again send the Army overseas they would have to call up members of the Army Reserve and National Guard.  The point would be to ensure there was the "political will" to carry through with the commitment to war,

Second, contrary to popular myth, only about 50% of the eligible males made it into uniform for WWII, the big one.  Various reasons, including disabilities and critical skills.  Little known fact is that in the First World War the French and Germans were demobilizing certain troops by December of 1914 in order to get them back into the factories so the soldier workers could get armament production up to the levels needed to continue the war. And that military dependency on the economy, and the intervention of Bernard Baruch, is why we have an Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Regards  —  Cliff

The New Englander said...


Thanks for adding both points. I think the Guard got the combat arms (while the Reserve got more combat support and combat service support) to help further drive home what Abrams wanted to create. The WWII and WWI points are both interesting and, as, you said, not well-enough known..maybe because they go against the 'dominant narrative.'