Learn the basics about the National Guard.
The National Guard serves both the state and the nation.
The National Guard serves both state and federal governments. The difference between the Guard and other branches is that while Guard units are combat-trained and can be deployed overseas, they are just as likely to serve in their home communities—training just one weekend per month, and one two-week period each year.
During local emergencies, Guard units assist residents endangered by storms, floods, fires and other disasters. Guard units deployed overseas may see combat, but are often found building schools and hospitals, training local peacekeepers or teaching local farmers more efficient techniques and better uses of their land.
The National Guard is the oldest military branch.
The National Guard’s roots date back to 1636, when colonial militias—made up of ordinary citizens— put down their plows and picked up their weapons to protect Families and towns from hostile attacks. Today, Citizen-Soldiers hold civilian jobs or attend college while training part time, staying ready to defend America in the event of an emergency.
You choose your commitment to the National Guard.
When you enlist in the National Guard, you can choose to serve three, six or eight years—typically training just one weekend a month and two weeks a year. If you choose only three or six years, you’ll spend the remainder of the time in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR)—which means you won't train with a unit, but you can still be called up in the event of an emergency during the balance of your total eight-year commitment. Find out how your Guard commitment lets you live and serve in your home community.
Learn more about the Guard:
- Learn all about Basic Combat Training. Find out what to expect, what to take—and what not to take—and how to prepare mentally and physically.
- Get information for parents. See how the National Guard offers up to 100% college tuition, career training and leadership opportunities and benefits, while serving part time.
- F.A.Q. – Find answers to the questions we hear most often. If you haven't found the information already, it's probably in our Frequently Asked Questions section.
- Unit Finder – Use our map feature to find the Guard units or other helpful military sites closest to your home—or anywhere else.