Paramilitary: June 18, 2003

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The United States continues to have problems with it's National Guard troops, mainly because of state control in peacetime. Although the National Guard is supposed to maintain Department of Defense standards in everything it does (organization, training, promotions), this is often not the case. The states, and their representatives in Congress, are touchy about "federal interference" in National Guard affairs and the Department of Defense has learned to back off rather than risk a confrontation with a state's Congressional delegation. Strange things happen in the Guard, especially the Army National Guard (where most Guard personnel serve.) The Air National Guard rarely has problems, and Army National Guard artillery units also tend to stay on the straight and narrow. But all other types of army Guard units, some 300,000 troops, are subject to the whims and fancies of their Guard superiors. Training is often haphazard, and left to the initiative of local officers without any oversight or supervision from above. When the Department of Defense demands (as it can) a reorganization (removing some types of units, like infantry, and replacing them with new support units), units are redesignated quickly without much thought given to retraining. This is made worse by the practice of promoting officers to field grade (Majors and Colonels) based partly on their local political connections. The problems are often not discovered until a Guard unit is mobilized for active duty. At that point, with the Guard unit under federal control, there is a lot of catch up training. Sometimes, the threat of mobilization spurs a lot of training. But this is a hit or miss process and produces enough ill prepared Guard units to give all Guard units a bad reputation.


 


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