26 May 2010

Why Disparage the Nasty Guard?

I have served with a lot of full-time Soldiers. Though we train and fight together, the active duty personnel often have their fourth points of contact comfortably seated on horses of exceeding altitude.

When a disagreement over tactics arises, or when a difference in practice rears its beautiful head, or even when a Guardsman has a simple question; our active forces brethren go to the least clever retort possible: "oh, you're in the Nasty Guard, no wonder..."

Why do active duty Soldiers feel so insecure around Guardsmen? I see it all the time. On a deployment with active and reserve forces we had a "fun-run" (another post on the idiocy of that phrase later), and the active Soldier asked, self-righteously, "what's the uniform?"


"Long-sleeve? short-sleeve? Shorts? Pants?" He threw in the dig that, since a National Guard first sergeant was in charge, we'd all be showing up in different uniform-- which would, in fact, defeat the meaning of that term.

Do we really need to be told everything? I guess the active Soldier is trained to believe that if half of the force wears long sleeves, and the other half short, that somehow al Qaeda or the Taliban are going to destroy us.

My own retort, cleverer than his, I'd like to think, was that Guardsmen are fairly adept at thinking for themselves, and we don't need a higher-ranking folks telling us how to dress each day, thank you very much.

That last point brings me to a more important one: the National Guard is a more effective fighting force precisely because we have a broad array of skills honed in our civilian lives that help us solving battlefield problems.

I know that many active duty forces will vehemently disagree, but that's like a union plumber arguing that a non-union guy can't do his job as well. It's bogus, and it assumes that warfighting is a discrete skill that has no relation to skills necessary outside of war.

Even Soldiers completely absorbed in the Army Way will tell you that soldiering is based on fundamentals of communication, teamwork, leadership, and discipline. All of the above are found in abundance in the civilian careers that compose the National Guard force.

I think, in fact, that America's national interests would be better served with a larger Guard force, even at the expense of the active duty force.

Go ahead, argue away. But you can't disparage Citizen-Soldiers who get much of their training in the world in which the vast majority of Americans live.


  1. I think the comparison to "union" plumbers is an interesting one. I do agree it's better that a soldier be rated on his individual merits rather than on his full-time/part-time status.

    Go Nasties!