Issues & Advocacy

Issue: Cost Effective Force

The National Guard is a modern, accessible military force that trains and performs to the same standards as their active duty counterparts at a fraction of the cost.

Issue Overview

The National Guard is unquestionably the most cost-effective military force our nation has. They provide operational use to both the state governors while in Title 32 status and our federal military when called upon by the President of the United States in Title 10 status at no additional cost to the taxpayers. A 2013 report published by the Reserve Forces Policy Board concluded that the fully-burdened cost per capita of a National Guardsman is less than one third of his Active Duty counterpart.

After a decade at war and numerous domestic operations, today’s National Guard is a modern, accessible military force that trains and performs to the same standards as their active duty counterparts. In this cost-conscious budgetary environment, the answer to an affordable defense force lies not in cutting the reserve, but in a return to our roots, a well trained and equipped, community-based, force. 

The Army National Guard:
  • represents nearly 32% of the total Army Force at just 11% of the Army’s budget.
  • manages approximately 43% of the Army’s total aviation and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).
  • costs about $45,000 per soldier if not mobilized, or roughly 31% of what an Active Component (AC) soldier costs at approximately $146,000.
  • costs slightly less than the Active Component (AC), per soldier, if mobilized and on active duty.
The Air National Guard:
  • represents 19% of the total Air total personnel and 35% of the fighter, tanker and airlift capabilities in the United States Air Force (USAF) for just 6% of the Air Force budget.
  • provides over 30% of all deployed Air Force aircraft needs, with 90% of all deployments filled with volunteers.
  • operates 17 of 18 of the nation’s air defense alert sites in dispersed smaller bases.
  • operates 75% of their facilities in dual use with civilian airfields providing valuable air traffic control and communications capabilities to the region.
  • yields 89 wings for $5 million per year compared to 1 Active Air Force wing for $4 million per year.
  • has more experience, on average – Air National Guard maintainers average 15 years of experience at 7+ skill level compared to Active Air Force maintainers with 7 years experience average and only 25% at a 7+ skill level.
National Guard Members: 
  • have to wait until the age of 60 to begin drawing retirement while active duty members receive retirement pay without delay the day of retirement (as young as 37 years old) for the rest of their lives.
  • do not receive the 24/7 support of being on an active duty installation, including housing for active duty service members and families, schooling for dependents, and    daycare and recreational facilities, to name a few.
  • do not require installation support services, including military police, places of worship and ongoing utility maintenance and building expenses.
  • do not receive reimbursements for moving and travel expenses as active duty members and their family do during normal duty rotations.
  • are not provided with full time medical care for members and their families.
  • do not require the full time civilian employee network and office space needed to administer all of the above services and benefits.

In addition to the numerical facts, National Guard soldiers and airmen have a unique combination of experience, ranging from geographic dispersion throughout communities across the nation, specialized equipment knowledge, and civilian-acquired skills that allow them to respond quickly to both domestic and overseas missions.

The National Guard Provides Fulltime Readiness for a Part Time Cost

In an effort to reduce defense spending while maintaining operational readiness, the National Guard has emphasized its ability to provide a cost-efficient operational reserve as the answer to defense draw downs.