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NGAUS: The National Guard is a State Force Until Mobilized by the President

Press Release

WASHINGTON (Nov. 18, 2021) — Retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS president, issued the following statement: 

“Conflicting statements by officials and commentators the last few days have added to the public’s confusion over who is in command of the National Guard. So, it’s time for a little clarity.

“The National Guard’s state and federal roles and the laws that govern them can certainly be complex to those outside the organization. But there is a bottom line: The National Guard is a predominantly part-time, state military force under the command and control of the governor until mobilized for federal duty by the president.

“This is the fundamental difference between the National Guard and the Reserves, which have a purely federal chain of command and no state responsibilities.

“The nation’s forefathers embedded the National Guard in the U.S. Constitution. The laws that govern the force today are in Title 32 of the U.S. Code. They have been refined by Congress over the decades to ensure the president has access to the National Guard when needed and it promptly returns to the governor when a federal mission is complete.

“This unique arrangement continues to serve the nation very well. It provides a trained force nationwide that can respond quickly to emergencies at home or abroad. Examples of this capability abound over the last two years.

“The federal government does provide the bulk of the Guard’s budget. With this comes federal equipment and training standards. But the appointment of officers and the discipline of the force, unless federally mobilized, is the responsibility of the governor.  

“Disputes between the federal government and states do arise. They are best resolved by following the law and remembering how well this force — as it is currently organized and governed — has served this nation and its citizens for 385 years.”

Reporters, Editors & Producers: Retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson is available for interviews or to appear as a subject matter expert on issues related to the National Guard. Contact John Goheen at 202-408-5882 to schedule an interview or appearance.

About NGAUS: The association includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified National Guard representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment and training by educating Congress on Guard requirements. Today, 143 years later, NGAUS has the same mission.