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National Guard in the Cold War

The Secretary of War approved plans on October 13,1945, calling for the reorganization of the National Guard. Under those "approved policies" the Guard was established with a dual status and mission. The National Guard of the United States (NG US), as a reserve component of the Army of the United States (AUS), was to be an "M-day" (Mobilization Day) force, thoroughly trained, equipped and ready for immediate service to the nation in case of enemy aggression or a national emergency. The National Guard of the sever2l states was to provide organizations and personnel for the Reserve (federal) Component, and to preserve peace, order and public safety in their states and during local emergencies. The Secretary of War's policies provided that the federal government was to supervise military instruction, furnish field training facilities, pay, uniforms, equipment and ammunition, and contribute a fair portion of the expenses for construction of National Guard armories. The federal assistance in armory construction marked a new development in the history of the Guard.

The first four post-World War II Guard units were granted federal recognition on June 30, 1946, as was the first Air National Guard unit to reorganize, the 120th Fighter Squadron of Colorado. On September 18,1947, with the establishment of the U.S. Air Force, a new reserve component was established, the Air National Guard, and since that date the National Guard has consisted of the Army and Air National Guard.

Black National Guard units had survived since Reconstruction in a few states. In 1946, New Jersey became the first state to officially integrate its National Guard, two years before the integration of the active Army. But many states in the Deep South with large black populations had rio blacks at all in their National Guards. This could have been a problem during the civil unrest that sometimes accompanied desegregation in the 1950s and 60s. In 1956, President Eisenhower federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard for a month to prevent the segregationist governor from using it to stop the court-ordered integration of Little Rock High School. The scene was replayed in 1962 during the desegregation of the University of Mississippi. In both cases, Guardsmen obeyed the President and helped enforce the law.

On June 30th, 1950, five days after North Korea invaded South Korea, President Truman signed the Selective Service Extension Act. It continued the draft that had been in effect since 1948 and authorized the call-up of reserve component units for Federal service not to exceed 21 months (later 24 months.

The Korean War brought more than 183,000 Army and Air Guard members to active duty. Army Guard units included eight infantry divisions and three regimental combat teams. The Air Guard call up included 22 wings and 66 tactical squadrons. During the Korean War, two Army Guard infantry divisions, the 28th of Pennsylvania, and the 43rd of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont, and four Air Guard wings were sent to Europe; four divisions and 17 wings remained in the United States; and two infantry divisions, the 4Oth of California, and the 45th of Oklahoma, and two air wings fought in Korea. Each Guard division was credited with four campaigns, and four out of 36 jet aces of the Korean War were Air Guard pilots.

While a small mobilization was planned at first, the disastrous setbacks of those first few weeks of the war made it apparent that a far larger number of Guard and Reserve units would be needed. In early September four National Guard Infantry Divisions were called to active duty - the 40th (California), 45eh (Oklahoma), 28th (Pennsylvania) and 43d (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont). The 40th and 45th would both see combat in Korea, while the 28th and 43d would be sent to Germany to help bolster NATO against the ever-present threat of Soviet invasion.

These four divisions were among the first of over 700 Army National Guard units (including four additional divisions) mobilized for the Korean War. The 138,600 Guardsmen called represented 37 % of the Army National. In addition to the 40th and 45th Infantry Divisions, 42 other Army Guard units were sent to Korea and thousands of individual Guardsmen went as replacements.

Most Guard units began arriving in Korea in early 1951, at the same time massive Chinese and North Korean attacks were pushing UN forces south. That spring, as UN forces regrouped and repulsed these massive attacks, three National Guard Artillery battalions, the 196th (Tennessee) the 937th (Arkansas) and the 300th (Wyoming), and a Transportation Company - the 252d Transportation Truck Company (Alabama)- won Presidential Unit Citations, the highest award that the Army can bestow upon a unit. A fifth Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to Pennsylvania's 176th Armored Field Artillery battalion for heroic action in June 1953; in addition, 18 Army National Guard units in Korea were recognized for their superior service with the Army's Meritorious Unit Commendation.

By the summer of 1951, UN forces were mounting successful limited attacks and peace negotiations had begun. Meanwhile, the 40th and 45th Divisions remained in Japan, where they had trained and served as the defensive garrison for the island since April 1951. The UN Commander, General Matthew Ridgeway, was reluctant to send these divisions to Korea, preferring instead to use their soldiers as individual replacements for units already there. Finally, under pressure from Congress and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Ridgeway agreed in November 1951 to a "swap in place" of the two Guard divisions for two of his combat-worn divisions.

The following month Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Division switched places with the 1st Cavalry Division, and in January 1952 California's 40th Infantry Division switched places with the 24th Infantry Division. While the Guardsmen complained about the miserable condition of the vehicles and equipment they "inherited" from the units they replaced, the relative lull in combat brought on by the frigid Korean winter gave them time to make repairs before more active hostilities resumed in the spring.

By the spring of 1952, most of the Guardsmen who had been called up in the late summer of 1950 were nearing the end of their term of active Federal service, and began rotating home in the summer of 1952. While the Guardsmen went home, the Guard units - now filled with draftees and enlistees - continued on active duty, even after the war ended in July 1953. Not until 1957 was every unit Federalized for service in Korea returned to state control.

During the Berlin Crisis of 1961-62, two Army Guard divisions, the 32nd Infantry Division of Wisconsin and the 49th Armored Division of Texas were mobilized on October 15,1961, along with 104 other non-divisional units, for a total Army Guard call up of more than 45,115. None of the Army Guard units were sent overseas.

Prodded by the National Guard Bureau, the states began to recruit more blacks and minorities, a process hastened by the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1965. By 1984, minorities made up one quarter of the Army National Guard, and almost 10 percent of its officer corps.

No massive call-ups of National Guard troops occurred to meet the country's military manpower requirements during the Vietnam War. Mobilization of large numbers of Guardsmen would have been inconsistent with President Lyndon B. Johnson's attempt to portray the war as a limited conflict that could be fought with resources already available to the regular Army. Johnson chose to rely on an increased draft and a one-year tour of duty rotation policy to fight the Vietnam War instead of activating significant numbers of National Guardsmen.

The popular perception that National Guardsmen were not used in Vietnam, however, is incorrect. On May 13, 1968, in response to the Lunar New Year (Tet) communist attacks on South Vietnam, President Johnson activated 20 Army National Guard combat units and 12 combat support and combat service support units. Of the 12,234 mobilized, 2,729 reported to Vietnam with their units. Of the 9,505 initially remaining in the United States, 4,311 subsequently were assigned to Vietnam, bringing the total number of mobilized Army Guard members in the Republic of Vietnam to 7,040. All Army Guard units were released from active duty by December 12, 1969. Included among the more than 4,000 awards earned by Army Guard members in Vietnam were 55 Silver Stars, 681 Purple Hearts, one Distinguished Flying Cross, 16 Distinguished Service Medals, six Legions of Merit, and over 1,000 Bronze Stars.

Company D (Ranger) of the 151st Infantry, Indiana Army National Guard arrived in country in December of 1968. The Indiana Rangers were assigned reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering missions. Operating deep in enemy territory, Ranger patrols engaged enemy units while conducting raids, ambushes and surveillance missions. "Delta Company" achieved an impressive combat record; unit members earned 510 medals for valor and service.

Many National Guard units not mobilized for the Vietnam War saw action of a different sort during the 1960s. Beginning with Newark, New Jersey in 1964, racially motivated riots broke out in many large American cities. Units of the National Guard were called out to stop burning and looting in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Detroit, and a host of other cities. As the anti-war movement gathered momentum in the late 1960s, Guardsmen were called out to maintain order during large demonstrations.

Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird explained the new "Total Force Concept" in a press conference on 21 August 1970. Laird explained that the president's requested reductions of defense expenditures would require reductions in all facets of the active forces and increased reliance on the combat and combat support units of the National Guard and the Reserves. He further stated that "a total force concept (would) be applied in all aspects of planning, programming, manning, equipping, and employing Guard and Reserve forces. The Total Force Concept brought a new level of support for the National Guard and Reserves. General Creighton Abrams, United States Army Chief of Staff, reorganized the "Total Army" so that the Regular Army could not conduct an extended campaign without mobilizing the Guard and Reserves, thus gaining the involvement and, hopefully, the support of small-town America.

During the 1970s, as America entered the "all-volunteer era," and the Total Force Policy came into being, the Army and Air National Guard began to receive more modem equipment in larger quantities than it had in decades. Following was the Army's "Steadfast" reorganization in 1972-73. Under this program the Army greatly increased the manpower available to assist the Army Guard in advisory and training missions. The Army's "affiliation" program also came into being; whereby Army Guard battalions and brigades were affiliated with active Army combat units with whom they would train and later deploy. Newer helicopters and fixed wing aircraft were received by the Army Guard in addition to upgraded tanks and artillery pieces, while infantry units replaced their recoilless rifles with TOW and Dragon antitank missiles.

The designation of the Field Training Equipment Concentration Site (Con-Site) was changed to Annual Training Equipment Pool (ATEP) in 1970. A series of Secretary of Defense (OSD) tests were initiated in 1971 in an attempt to maximize reserve components readiness. One of these tests, known as OSD Test 3, occurred mainly at Fort Irwin. The objective of the test was to determine if higher battalion level proficiency is a attainable and maintainable for select Reserve Component units when such units are closely associated with and supported by active Army units. A test group and a control group, each consisting of three National Guard battalions (one armor, one infantry and one artillery), were compared as to readiness improvement during a year period. The greatly increased training requirements of OSD Test 3 put an extremely heavy work load on the 44 Fort Irwin ATEP technicians. Aggressive training of OSD Test 3 units and other supported units caused equipment issues to be made three weekends per month. ATEP technicians worked 6 days a week to make the issues to the brigade. ATEP personnel only had time to repaired equipment required for issued and by the end of September 1973 the maintenance deadline rate for the 559 vehicles on hand was 38%. With Fiscal Year 1975, the designation of Annual Training Equipment Pool (ATEP) was changed to Mobilization and Training Equipment Site (MATES).

Women found a place in the National Guard in the 1970s. Because the Militia Act of 1792 and the National Defense Act of 1916 had both referred specifically to males, legislation was required to allow women to enlist. The first female in the National Guard was a nurse, commissioned in the Air National Guard in 1956. For the next 12 years, nurses were the only women in the Guard. A 1968 law authorized prior-service enlisted women to join the Guard, but the numbers recruited were small. In 1971 non-prior-service women were allowed to enlist. As all branches of the military began opening previously restricted jobs to women, the number of women in both the Army and Air National Guard rose dramatically.

Opportunities for realistic training began to increase during the 1970s. The first Army National Guard units went overseas to train in 1977. The first battalion-sized overseas deployment was in 1980, and in 1983 the first Army Guard unit deployed overseas with its equipment. In the winter of 1986, some 8,000 Guardsmen, including the entire 32nd Brigade from Wisconsin, were sent to Germany for REFORGER, NATO's major military exercise. Other overseas deployments sent Army Guard units to Korea for Operation Team Spirit and to Central America, where Guard and Reserve engineers joined forces to conduct major road-building exercises throughout the region.

With more modern equipment and communications capabilities, the Guard was used more for State missions in the 1980s than ever before in the Guard's history. Floods, forest fires, tornadoes, snow emergencies and energy shortages resulted in hundreds of call-ups during the 80s. Civil disturbances, police and firemen's strikes and walkouts by state prison employees resulted in other call-ups for domestic emergencies to maintain safety and law and order.

In the 1980s the Army Guard embarked on the most ambitious modernization program in its history with a goal to be fully equipped with the Army's best equipment by FY-91. By the end of the 1980s, the Guard had 77 percent of its "go to war" equipment on hand, but needed to procure additional equipment to be fully combat-ready. By FY-91, the Guard had received 315 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 557 Improved TOW Vehicles.

In 1984, when the National Guard was asked to take active roles in the nation's war against illegal drugs, 14 states participated in 14 support missions. The number of states participating and the number of missions supported has increased each year.

The 1989 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the Secretary of Defense to provide funding to governors who submit plans to use their National Guard members to support drug law enforcement agency requests. Since that time, the National Guard has played a major role in supporting Federal, state, and local drug enforcement agencies.

Both the Air and Army National Guard were active participants during Operation Just Cause, the United States' invasion of Panama in December 1989. Missouri's 1138th Military Police Company and Minnesota's 125th Public Affairs Detachment were both in Panama for annual training at the start of Just Cause. The 1138th MP Co. was, at the time, the only military police unit in Panama trained to process prisoners of war.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:34:19 ZULU