25 November 2014

Don't Call Us "Nasty," or the Superiority of the National Guard

We are the “Nasty Girls.”

I don’t hear that indignity much these days, but I understand it used to be quite popular among the warrior classes.

Nasty sounds kind of like "national," you see. So the National Guard Soldiers were disparaged as "Nasty Guard," which quickly morphed into a sexualized insult.

Anyway, I really haven' heard that honorific on deployments. Why isn’t it a sentiment anymore? Probably because so many active duty types have served alongside National Guardsmen that they know we kick ass.

How much ass do we kick? Up to 400% more than an active duty Soldier, depending on which formula you use. But there are still some hard heads in the regular Army that refuse to deal with reality. And the reality is this: National Guardsmen are better Soldiers in almost every way. We are smarter, we have a broader skill set, we are more adaptable, and we are better looking, generally. That last part is pretty easy to verify by doing a few minutes of people watching at any major Army post.

Not only do some regulars not realize how superior we are, but they still think they are better!

This post is a big dose of tough love for my active duty friends. Just the other day I heard a colleague in the public affairs world disparage the National Guard. She is a perfect example of the truth of the reality mentioned above (and, as immature as it sounds, especially with regard to the last point).

It would take a monumental effort to develop a metric to measure Soldier effectiveness, since there is no single ideal Soldier. And there are no "industry standards" with which to compare. The American military does things no other can or will do, and so the American Soldier stands alone in his own category.

So it’s kind of problematic to measure Soldier effectiveness, but here are a few metrics that could be combined in an index that we can call—and I’m just spit balling here—the Soldier Performance Index. Go ahead and consider it copyrighted:

  • Cost: what does it take in dollars and time to train a Soldier?
  • Longevity: what is the burn-out rate?
  • Value-added: what additional skills and capabilities does a Soldier bring to the military mission above what she is trained to do by the Army?

Ultimately, we want to measure a Soldier’s performance in operations. Sometimes that means combat, but most of the time it does not. In the three main domains described above, the average Guard member exceeds his active-duty counter part. Some variables would be easy to measure, like cost and longevity. The third domain is supported by plenty of anecdotal evidence.

Think for a moment what would motivate someone to join the National Guard. Think of me, for example. I was 29 when I enlisted, with a master's degree and a secure job. I certainly didn't join for employment. And though I knew I was volunteering during war time, I wasn't eager to go to combat. Nevertheless, I brought my whole background of teaching and learning experience to the fight.

I am not extraordinary for a Guardsman.

Of course the regulars would say that they, as full-timers, have much more training and operational experience thatn we do.

Yes, they might be more familiar with Army organization and paperwork, but we train regularly, and we deploy nearly as much as they do. Besides, operations and battlefield requirements change quickly and frequently, and Guard members are more flexible.

We can do everything an active Soldier can do, plus more, and do it more cheaply and efficiently. This is because we have jobs and lives that don’t foster a reliance on Big Brother, jobs that often enhance our warrior skills. We undergo the same training that active Soldiers do, but we cram it into several weekends a year. We go on the same deployments.

In fact, the main difference between us and the regulars is that we don’t get paid for sitting around between overseas tours.

We might be nasty, to be sure, but we all know that Soldiers love nasty girls. 

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