UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


California Army National Guard

The California National Guard is a broad based organization with more than 23,000 men and women performing many different types of operations. This state military Department is comprised of the California Army National Guard with more than 18,000 members and the California Air National Guard with 4,900 members.

Unlike the active duty military, the National Guard not only has a Federal mission, but a state mission that provides emergency support to civil authorities directed by the Governor, and community support as approved by proper authority. It is the Federal mission that determines what type of units are needed and how they are equipped and trained.

During FY99, the California Army National Guard provided mission-ready forces and deployed worldwide to over a dozen countries. The 126th Medical Company supported Operation Joint Alliance in Bosnia for seven months and the 69th Press Camp Headquarters carried out an active duty rotation in Tuzla, Bosnia. As a major player in the State Partnership Program with the Ukraine, California shared its expertise in military support to civil authority and peacekeeping operations training.

California has had its share of disasters over the years, including floods, fires, earthquakes and riots, and is regularly involved in the search and rescue of individuals throughout the state and at sea. California receives more than 33% of all requests for military support to civil authorities in the United States.

As a result of the changing requirements of the US Army, the CAARNG was provided a mix of equipment and units that improves its ability to support the needs of California as well as its mission in support of the US Army. This reorganization reflects the most significant impact to the CAARNG in recent history. As the CAARNG completes this major modernization and reorganization, it enhances its ability to protect the life, property and interests of all Californians.

The California National Guard has a proud history that attests to how well its soldiers and airmen have performed their Federal mission in service to the nation during all major U.S. conflicts since the California Guard's founding in 1849.

For more than a century, the California National Guard has had a proud history of serving the State of California as well as the Nation. The first volunteer militia companies organized rapidly. By December 1854, California had within her boundaries 24 Companies numbering 1,500 men, organized, armed, equipped and ready for immediate service. Companies were organized for various reasons: some to protect settlers, others to preserve law and order in mining communities and some were more social in nature.

All were uniformed at each member's expense. Old records tell of the Sacramento Hussars, who in colorful uniforms with feather-adorned fur caps and red and yellow boots formed a mounted escort for the first Pony Express rider to reach Sacramento from Placerville on March 3, 1860.

The call for troops from California during the Civil War came "by telegram to the farthest point west and then by Pony Express to California." In 1861, the State responded. Companies were assigned to the Second Massachusetts Cavalry Volunteers and participated in 25 engagements. Other California outfits guarded the Overland Mail route and formed the California Column which marched into New Mexico and Texas.

During 1898, California again responded to the call during the Spanish-American War, and her troops trod the soil of the Philippines.

California's modern National Guard originated with the Dick Law of 1903, which brought about greater Federalization and Standardization of all State Military Forces. Colorful 1903 Units received almost all their supplies, arms and uniforms from the Federal Government.

In 1916, California troops saw Mexican Border service and with only a brief respite were called into Federal Service for World War I. The 40th Infantry Division was organized in August 1917, composed of National Guard Units of California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. As a Unit, the 40th saw no active duty service at the front during World War I, but its Officers and men formed part of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 26th, 77th and 69th Divisions at Saint Michele and the Argonne.

The year 1917 is the point where the nucleus of what is now the California Air National Guard was formed. Although it has changed names and functions many times, the 115th Bombardment Squadron, U.S. Army Air Force was activated at Kelly Field, Texas and served in France in World War I. By 1924, the 115th was designated an observation squadron and assigned to the 40th Infantry Division. 1636-That's the year the National Guard began. Since then, it has had an unbroken history of service longer than any other military branch of the United States. The "MINUTEMAN" was born when he answered the call at Lexington and Concord.

The National Guard was established by the Constitution and guaranteed against disbandment by the Bill of Rights. It was named the "NATIONAL GUARD" in honor of Lafayette, the famous French General who aided the United States during the Revolution. The troops who defeated Cornwallis and won American Independence at Yorktown were, almost without exception, volunteered soldiers.

In World War I, almost half the Infantry divisions sent to France were National Guard. Divisions saw actions that pierced the Hindenburg line, helped crush the Saint Michele Salient and finally smashed to victory through the Meuse-Argonne. Wilhelm Kaiser and the German General Staff rated each (8) American divisions as excellent to superior. Of these, six (6) were National Guard Divisions. And it must also be kept in mind that the German soldier was a professional fighter, born and bred to war. The American Guardsman was a citizen-soldier.

During World War II, eighteen (18) National Guard Divisions were sent overseas. Nine (9) of these divisions crossed the Atlantic to Europe, and the other (9) fought on many fronts on the Pacific. The 29th National Guard Division was one of two that made the initial beachhead landing in Normandy on "D-Day". The 28th National Guard Division fought valiantly at the "Battle of the Bulge" along with other Guard Divisions. The 45th National Guard "Thunderbird" Division established a brilliant record on the countries of Africa, Italy, France and Germany.

About those National Guard divisions sent to the Pacific, former Secretary of War Robert E. Patterson said,"...from Bataan to Okinawa, they made a brilliant record on every fighting front. They proved once more the value of the citizen-soldier." Once again, we fought armies that had for many years been preparing for war.

Fresher in out minds is the Korean Conflict. Eight (8) National Guard Divisions were called to Active Duty during this emergency. Two of these, the 40th Division from California Air National Guard Units, were called to support the Country's effort.

The National Guard is ever ready to fight and serve our Country in time of emergency and, to accomplish this end, Guardsmen attend training assemblies one weekend per month, and an Annual Training Pension for two weeks each year, training with the most modern weapons currently available in the Country's inventory.

Almost every day of the year, the National Guard is performing local and state emergency missions saving millions of dollars in property damages, countless numbers of animals and human life.

About 5,000 of California's 21,000 National Guard soldiers had been called to active duty since Sept. 11 -- among the largest mobilizations in the state Guard's history.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:34:15 ZULU