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Changing of the Guard: Evolutionary Alternatives for America's National Guard

NCJ Number
John R. Brinkerhoff
Date Published
May 2002
28 pages
This paper examines alternatives and changes in what the National Guard can and should be relied on to do in the event of an attack on the United States through the provision of homeland security.
Most U.S. military forces are intended for overseas military operations, therefore making them unable to be held responsible for homeland security. However, this increases the importance of the National Guard in providing the necessary military and police forces in defending America. It becomes the critical asset in military and police forces for homeland security. This paper focuses on one aspect of a complex undertaking, clarifying the role that the National Guard has to have in homeland security. The paper begins with an overview of the National Guard, its history, and role in homeland security. In brief, the National Guard functions in two distinct and overlapping worlds, as a Federal force augmenting the Army and Air Force and as State forces providing trained personnel and resources to deal with disasters and civil unrest under the governors. The role of the National Guard in civil support is affected by five major factors: command arrangements, funding, cost, applicability, and availability. If the National Guard is to play a major role in civil support, it must be expanded to offer additional dedicated civil support units. Alternatives to the National Guard discussed included: State Defense Forces, State police reserves, local police reserves, unarmed paramilitary organizations, volunteer firefighters, citizens corps, medical reserve units, locally sponsored logistical groups, company sponsored teams, local fraternal, social, veterans, and faith-based organizations, and community emergency response teams. Decisions in the future about the role and missions of the National Guard will need to be made changing the way the Guard is organized, trained, utilized, and funded. Alternatives are presented on a new National Guard illustrating the range of possibilities. These four alternatives and changes include: (1) restrict the guard to its original militia role; (2) restrict the guard to its Federal role; (3) expand the guard to fill its Federal role and militia role at the same time; and (4) dedicate part of the Guard to homeland security and expand the State guards.