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Monday, October 10, 2011

10 Years Into Afghan War, National Guard Sees Bigger Role

U.S. soldiers attend during a transfer of authority ceremony from Task Force Red Horse to Task Force Maverick at the U.S. base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan in July. Task Force Red Horse is among two Cavalry regiments with the Iowa National Guard. (AP)

U.S. soldiers attend during a transfer of authority ceremony from Task Force Red Horse to Task Force Maverick at the U.S. base in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan in July. Task Force Red Horse is among two Cavalry regiments with the Iowa National Guard. (AP)

As we mark the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan, we check in on the National Guard, which has been stretched especially thin fighting it.

Members of the Guard used to be known as “weekend warriors,” because they train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. They also help out with disaster response in the U.S.

But they also see combat– almost half of the U.S. fighting force in Iraq and Afghanistan is National Guard, and they’ve historically been involved in wars.

More statistics that were unthinkable a decade ago:

  • Many National Guardsmen and women have been on multiple combat deployments
  • One in 10 troops killed in action since 2001 was a member of the National Guard
  • The suicide rate among the National Guard has increased
  • One study found that Guard members develop PTSD 29 percent more often than active duty military


  • Col. (ret.) Bob Killebrew, senior visiting fellow at the Center for A New American Security.
  • Staff Sgt. J. Winkowski, Iowa National Guard

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://www.fibrowitch.net Jan Dumas

    I really wonder why our military bases around the world are not being emptied out to fight our wars. Instead of pulling citizen out of their homes. If anything our military bases should be staffed by our National Guard, and the war be fought with ordinary military. 
    Option 2, stop the wars and bring all our solders  home!

    • Anonymous

      You join the guard, or the reserves, or the regular military, you get paid and then whine about going to war.  Here’s the deal you entered into a contract, live up to your obligations and quit complaining.  The rest of us did, and we are tired of those impuning the good name of the fighting men and women of this great nation.

      • http://www.fibrowitch.net Jan Dumas

        Well for myself at 4ft 11 inches with a autoimmune disease no service would take me.  I am not in any way impugning any member of the armed forces. I am simply saying we should leave our National Guard here to help with emergencies, and used our real solders to fight wars. Or get out of both countries and close as many of our bases in other countries as possible. We are not the worlds parent or police. 

        • Eletero

          Umm.. National Guard soldiers are “real” soldiers – we train to fight in combat, not to sit around and guard bases at home. We also train to handle domestic emergencies, something our active duty brethren are starting to do as well.

          There is a reason we have Infantry, Armor, Field Artillery and similar combat formations in the Guard – we are meant to deploy overseas and win our nation’s wars. I wouldn’t have joined for any other reason…

          • http://www.fibrowitch.net Jan Dumas

            I am very sorry I did not mean to insult anyone in the National Guard.  In retrospect, I should have said full duty vs emergency call up.  I grew up during the Vietnam war, when the National Guard was not deployed. I did not realize that this was unusual and that many National Guard troops were deployed prior to Vietnam.  I’m very very sorry to have suggested other wise.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/W2LXZ6YVGQK7QRAG7DFXU3YVX4 willie beamn134 at yahoo.com

            i agree jan national guard should be home a special unit for home to protect home but america has it goal abroad now as we see the greed is growing and the majority is letting them make our country look bad we are not the worlds police we losing money fighting to take over other than making the world a better place and some people get offended because their ego where they get into attack mode we tryna make the world safe and forgetting about home look our home is crumbling from financial markets to our schools not being safe to be real and then they wanna blame obama for the 100 year reign of the corrupted

        • Kris

          I find it very disheartening that you don’t consider National Guardsmen as “Real Soldiers”. Being a former Minnesota National Guardsmen and Iraq war veteran I can say that I expected to go to war, as do all members of the National Guard. And we by no means consider ourselves as any less of a solider than any other active Army member.

          • http://www.fibrowitch.net Jan Dumas

            I was trying to describe the difference between a solider who has signed up, lives on a military base and is a part of an active unit. I started to use the work active, then realized that members of the National Guard who had been called up were also active. I am trying to find a word that describes the difference between the two. In doing so I landed on the very worst word I could have used. I’m sorry

        • Michael Goodnight

          Thank you for your apology

      • Kris

        @Happy_Dancing_Monkey:disqus  I think you need to check your self.  Nobody is whining, even though service members get paid that doesn’t mean that you should treat them like crap.  People have the right to complain about their jobs and be treated fairly. I don’t see how this is any different. You get paid to go to work, I doubt you can honestly say you have never whined about your job.

  • Arnie Berger

    President Nixon and National Guard
    We here in Ohio believe that Governor Rhodes sent the Ohio National Guard to Kent State., nor Richard Nixon.  The Nixon connection is that the Kent State demonstrations were in response to his announcement that US troops had been sent in to Cambodia.


    Thank you for covering the state of the Guard and making it clear that we are a leading element in the US military but I find Robin’s heavy emphasis on the maligned history of the Guard from 40 years ago rather patronizing.

  • rici

    Thanks for recognizing and giving credit to all that the guard does. A review of its past present and a glimpse into its future is also appreciated.

  • Durango0351

    National Guard…. Weekend warriors just lik the article states. Ahahahahahahah

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=519928774 Dal JustDal

    What I don’t understand is if they are part time (weekends and 2 weeks of the summer) then how are they sent overseas which requires you to be full time?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kem-Williams/100000451291928 Kem Williams

    Correct me if I’m wrong, But I always believed that the national guards responsibility was to train to protect the US only. In case of foreign invasion here in the US. That there was no deployment unless there was a declared war?
    That seems like the reason they train on weekends, every month, every year. They would actually have more training then regular military, so they are able to protect the US properly?
    I could be wrong, like I said correct me if I am.

  • me


  • SEriousely

    I don’t want anyone fighting in a war for my country who trains two days out of the week and is a civilian the other 5. Sorry, those are NOT soldiers. Teachers, housewives, boyscout troop leaders and Varsity Players who just happen to know a little karate or judo do not soldiers make. They end up getting fragged, completely shell shocked for lack of proper full-time training and killed/raped by unvetted-contractors who find them easy pickings in the middle of a war-zone.

    Get Real, a Marine and a National Guard member are NOT going into the same war with equal training. The National Guard needs to be at home where they can do the most good.

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