FACTSHEET | Sept. 23, 2020

Army National Guard FAQs

How do I enlist?
Go to www.nationalguard.com/get-started. Fill out a short form with your contact info, and we’ll put you in touch with a Guard recruiter who can answer all your questions and walk you through the enlistment process. You’ll have to meet certain eligibility requirements, and your recruiter can help determine if you qualify. 
 
What is the National Guard?
The National Guard is a unique element of the U.S. military that serves both community and country. The Guard responds to domestic emergencies, overseas combat missions, counterdrug efforts, reconstruction missions and more. Any state governor or the President of the United States can call on the Guard in a moment’s notice. Guard Soldiers hold civilian jobs or attend college while maintaining their military training part time. Guard Soldiers’ primary area of operation is their home state.
 
What jobs are available in the National Guard?
There are over 150 different jobs available in the Guard. Infantry, Air Defense, Medical and Military Police are examples of Guard career fields. Opportunities are also available in intelligence, technology, engineering, aviation, and many other fields. Learn more at www.nationalguard.com/careers or talk to a recruiter to match up your talents and skills with Guard roles.
 
Am I eligible to join the Guard?

Recruits need to meet certain standards of height, weight, age, fitness and education in order to enlist. Your Guard representative will have complete information. Find out if you’ve got what it takes.

Can I become an aviator through the National Guard?

If a career in aviation is your goal, becoming a helicopter pilot is a first-class ticket. Helicopter pilots fly highly advanced aircraft like the UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook, UH-72 Lakota and AH-64A Apache helicopters. Along with other requisite training, you’ll attend the Warrant Officer Flight Training (WOFT) program to attain your piloting skills.

There are a couple of ways to become an aviator, depending on your military or civilian status. Both require that you qualify and complete Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) and Warrant Officer Flight Training (WOFT) through the U.S. Army. You need to be at least 18 years old, and not have reached your 33rd birthday by the time of selection. Find out what it takes to be a helicopter pilot.

Can I make a short-term commitment to see if I like the Guard?
You can enlist for as few as three years, with an additional commitment to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). IRR Soldiers don't train with a unit, but can still be called up in the event of an emergency.
 
Can doctors or lawyers enter the Guard as officers?

Highly qualified candidates with expertise in legal or medical fields may be eligible for a Direct Commission through the ARNG Direct Appointment Program. To be considered for this elite program, you must have at least a Bachelor of Science degree (or equivalent) and receive a nomination and selection from your Commanding Officer. Find out about Specialty Officer careers.

Could I be sent into combat?
Yes. Because of the National Guard's dual state-federal mission, Guard members can be mobilized to protect and defend America in battle domestically or overseas. Should this happen, you'll be trained, ready and prepared to go, mentally and physically.
 
How are warrant officers different from commissioned officers?

Warrant officers are a unique group. They are, in fact, commissioned officers, but they're also considered to be in a class by themselves due to their highly specialized technical expertise in specific areas. Put another way: commissioned officers are generalists, warrant officers are specialists. Learn about all Warrant Officer opportunities.

How do I become an officer?

There are different ways to become an officer. If you’re heading to college, the ROTC program is the way to go. If you're already in the enlisted ranks, you can attend Officer Candidate School. And candidates with special qualifications, such as attorneys, chaplains and medical professionals, may be eligible for direct commission. Learn more about what it takes to become an officer.

How is the Army National Guard different from other military branches?

Our mission makes us different. Unlike the other branches, Guard Soldiers can be deployed by the governors of their resident states to support communities stricken by natural disasters like floods and hurricanes. Guard Soldiers can also be deployed by the president of the United States to defend our country or support our allies overseas. This dual role for the Guard is what makes us unique. Learn more about our history and mission.

How long could I be deployed?
The length of time for deployments will vary, depending on the situation. State active duty missions usually run from 15-60 days, while federal deployments are usually a minimum of 12 months. Guard Soldiers may also choose to volunteer for active duty assignments (for example, Border Patrol), and again, the length of deployment will vary.
 
How long is my commitment?
Your total enlistment period will be eight years, but you can serve as little as three or six years, and spend the remainder in IRR Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). IRR Soldiers don't train with a unit, but can still be called up in the event of an emergency. Your local recruiter can explain how this works, discuss your options with you, and help you make the best choice for your needs.
 
How long will I have to train for my Guard job?

The training period varies for each job based on the MOS you choose. Some schools take as few as 4-9 weeks, while other more specialized or critical jobs take up to 64 weeks. For Special Forces, training is even longer. Find out about training for your MOS.

I’m still in high school. Can I enlist before I graduate?

Yes. High school students can enlist and undergo drill periods prior to graduating but can’t begin Advanced Individual Training. Learn more about options for current high school students.

What is Basic Combat Training like?

It's hard. Intense. Demanding. You'll love it. Basic Combat Training (BCT) is a 10-week intensive course of exercises and drills designed to toughen you up inside and out. The time is broken down into three phases of roughly three weeks each, designed to take you from an ordinary civilian to Citizen-Soldier®. Learn more about what to expect at BCT.

What is the ASVAB?

The ASVAB, or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, is a series of tests used to determine an applicant's qualification for military service and help determine their intellectual and occupational strengths. See what the ASVAB is like.

What is the role of the Chaplain in the Guard?

Chaplains are the spiritual leaders of the Army National Guard, providing emotional and religious support to Soldiers and their Families. You'll perform religious ceremonies, offer guidance and help Soldiers adjust to their military lives and experiences. Read about life as a Chaplain in the Guard.

What kind of job will I do in the Guard?

That's up to you. When you enlist, you'll choose a job—known as a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), which is Guard speak for “your job.” Every job title in the Guard has a code, using a number and letter. For example, a Cavalry Scout is MOS 19D (19 Delta).—from more than 150 options in several career fields. Aviation, Infantry, Military Police (MP) and Public Affairs are just a few of the many fields we offer. See all of the available careers.

When will I serve?

You'll train (also called “drill”) one weekend per month plus a two-week period each year. For most of the training weekends, you'll be with us Saturday and Sunday only, though occasionally you'll be asked to report for duty on a Friday night. Annual training can run slightly longer, depending on your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). In case of Active Duty, you will serve whenever you are needed and called. Learn more about life in the Guard.

Where will I serve?

That depends on a combination of things, including your current Military Occupational Specialty. Technically, it could be anywhere. Most likely, you'll attend drill at the armory nearest your hometown, and if called to action, remain in-state. However, in major emergencies, such as in Hurricane Katrina, you could be sent to another state to help. It's also possible you'll be deployed in support of combat operations, such as to the Middle East to assist in the War on Terrorism. Find out what it is like to serve in the Guard.

How is the National Guard different from Active Duty Army?

When you join the Active Army, your military service becomes your full-time job, and you will most likely be relocated to live on a military base. It’s a 24/7 commitment for the length of your enlistment. When you join the Guard, you will be required to attend a paid drill one weekend a month and attend paid Annual Training for two weeks every summer. When needed, you can be called into full-time, Active-Duty service. But the rest of the time, you live in your local community and have more flexibility to pursue your career or education.

Also, Active Duty Army fulfills a federal mission, while the National Guard serves a unique dual mission. Either the president of the United States or your state’s governor can deploy the Guard as needed, which means you might get called up to help out after a disaster in your city or state.

How is the National Guard different from the Army Reserve?
Both Guard Soldiers and Army Reserve Soldiers train one weekend per month and two weeks every summer. Both Guard Soldiers and Army Reserve Soldiers can be called into full-time service to support Army combat missions. The main difference is that Guard Soldiers serve a dual mission. They can be called on by their state governor or the federal government. Reserve Soldiers do not have a state mission and cannot be called to respond to floods and hurricanes, for example.