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Army National Guard History

The Army National Guard is the oldest component of the United States armed forces. Militia companies were formed with the first English settlement at Jamestown in 1607. The first militia regiments were organized by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636, and from the Pequot War in 1637 until the present day, the Army National Guard has participated in every war or conflict the US has fought. The militia stood their ground at Lexington Green in 1775 when the opening shots of the War of Independence were fired. They fought the British and their Indian allies from the Great Lakes to New Orleans during the War of 1812, and provided 70% of the troops that fought in the Mexican War.

The majority of the troops that fought in the Philippines during the Spanish American War were National Guardsmen, and the greatest number of combat divisions to fight the Germans during World War I came from the Guard - including six out of the eight that the German General Staff rated as "Excellent" or "Superior."

The Guard doubled the size of the Regular Army when it was mobilized in 1940, more then a year before Pearl Harbor, and contributed 19 divisions to that war, as well as numerous other units, to include Guard aviation squadrons. Over 138,000 Guardsmen were mobilized for Korea, followed by numerous smaller mobilizations for the Berlin Crisis, Vietnam, and numerous strikes and riots at home. Over 63,000 Army Guardsmen were called to serve in Desert Storm, and in the decade since then, Guardsmen have seen a greater role then ever before conducting peacekeeping in Somalia, Haiti, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

Beginning in 1991, the Army National Guard began significant cuts to its force structure as part of the downsizing of the U.S. military after the end of the Cold War. The Guard inactivated several hundred units to include three separate brigades and two divisions.

Army Guard Special Forces and aviation soldiers took part in Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti in 1995. Also that year, the 4th Battalion, 505th Infantry, which consisted of 70 percent Guard soldiers, deployed to the Middle East as part of the Multinational Force and Observers. Beginning in 1996, both Army and Air Guard personnel began taking part in Operation Joint Endeavor, now Joint Guard, as part of the NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia.

The Guard has entered new areas in concert with its theme of "adding Value to America" by establishing programs for youths at risk such as Challenge, Star Base and the Youth Conservation Corps. The Guard also plays a significant role in many communities by sponsoring drug demand reduction programs. The Guard is also continuing its efforts in assisting law enforcement agencies in the seizure of illegal drugs.

The Guard continues to play a major role in assisting civil authorities during natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, snowstorms and hurricanes. During the past several years, nearly every state had Guard personnel on state active duty assisting their neighbors by providing food, shelter, security, and in many cases, by performing life saving missions.



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