By Debbie Gregory.
On December 13, 1636, the Massachusetts General Court in Salem issued an order requiring all able-bodied men between 16 and 60 years old to create a standing Army for protection. With that order, what we now know as the National Guard was born.
Celebrating its 381st anniversary, the National Guard is integrated with the active Army and Air Force to meet the demands of our Nation’s security and our local communities. Our Soldiers and Airmen actively serve at home, and overseas. Since 9/11, Guard members have deployed over 850,000 times, and today we have, on average, over 30,000 Guardsmen mobilized around the world in support of our warfighting commanders.
When the U.S. entered WWI 100 years ago, the bulk of the initial U.S. forces for the first year were comprised of National Guardsmen. The branch’s casualties were high, with more than 100,000 troops killed or wounded.
Traditionally, most National Guard personnel serve “One weekend a month, two weeks a year”, although those in high demand units (pilots, navigators and aircrewmen in active flying assignments) serve far more frequently. But the “One weekend a month, two weeks a year” slogan has lost most of its relevance since the Iraq War, when the country has relied far more on the participation of the National Guard.
What many people are not aware of, Agricultural Development Teams (ADTs) of soldiers and airmen from the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard provide classroom instruction and teachings about farming practices, most recently in Afghanistan. Agricultural education improves lines of communication and builds trust between the people, the U.S. government, and the Host Nation.
More than just a slogan, “Always Ready …Always There!” is the mantra that has seen the service branch go from defending Massachusetts Bay in 1636 to protecting the U.S., at home and abroad, from harm, threats, and natural disasters.