Attrition: Too Good To Lose


November 16, 2007: In some units of the United States National Guard, soldiers who're interested in switching to the Active Army, are finding their paperwork going astray. Apparently Guard units would like to discourage seasoned personnel from leaving for the regulars. Some Guardsmen who are interested in joining the Active Army have, however, found a work-around; by checking in with their local Army recruiter they can initiate the transfer from the Army's side. That cannot be blocked by the National Guard brass.

Thousands of National Guard troops have been answering the regular army's call for experienced reserve troops to join the regular army. For many National Guard troops from rural area, such a move means a substantial raise, and better benefits. But most National Guard troops go full time for patriotic motives.

The National Guard is a unique force of 350,000 troops. Descended from the local militias of pre-colonial times, it first evolved into the armed forces of the individual states. But about a century ago, the present relationship between the state National Guard commander, and the federal government was worked out. That is, the federal government can, under certain circumstances, call the state National Guard units into federal service. Normally, these units answer to the state governor, and are used mainly for natural disasters, or civil disorder. These reforms also made the National Guard units indistinguishable, in terms of uniforms, equipment and training, from the rest of the military.


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