Military Mama: The difference

By Jade Stone

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked “What’s the difference between the Army Reserves and the Army National Guard?” This is a very common question to the general public who are generally uninvolved with the military. Certainly it would appear that they all do very similar things, however, appearances can be misleading. 

The Army Reserves is a federal reserve of soldiers. These soldiers can be activated and mobilized by the president individually or as an entire unit to help fill in the gaps the Army may have. They support only the military occupational specialties (MOSs) and serve as combat support.

The Army National Guard (ARNG) technically serves two masters — the federal government as well as their respective state. Every state and US territory have their own National Guard that can be activated  as units at anytime by their respective governors for statewide needs, or by the Army in an effort to increase its overall size of forces, depending on the specific need. The ARNG is organized in Brigade Combat Teams with the overall capability to provide both support and combat MOS’s. For example, the Guard can provide different specialties from Apache Helicopters and M1 Abrams tanks to Special Forces and Airborne, just to name a few. The Reserves does not have this capacity.

As for the type of benefits available between the two, they are similar. Both receive funding to pay wages and training costs however, the ARNG also gets state benefits that the Army Reserves do not. There is speculation that because the Guard gets funding from two sources, their equipment is newer and more people have the opportunity to get additional training, however, much of this depends on the individual state. There are certainly units in various states that still operate of equipment used in the Vietnam era simply because of the way the budget was appropriated.

So, as with so many other things in this world, it basically boils down to funding and where it comes from. As for the sociopolitical differences, that’s a totally different story. For whatever reason, there is considerable animosity between regular Army, the Reserves, and the National Guard.

When my husband deployed the first time their troops were often times ridiculed for being “part-timers” and were constantly the butt of many a joke. However, whenever the Army was broken down somewhere and unable to make it back to a base, who did they call? That’s right, my husband’s National Guard Unit’s Blackhawks for a ride back.

Neither of us has ever understood why the tremendous prejudice. I have a hard time understanding how a person who has a daily job but is willing to put their lives on hold when duty calls to fulfill the training requirements and accomplish the mission can be ridiculed at all.

Soldiers all wear a uniform that represents something greater than themselves, no matter what the duty or where that duty might be. And certainly, in a time of war, those same soldiers will fight side by side one another with the same goals in mind. All politics aside, regardless of the funding or whether they are Army, Army reserves, Army National Guard or any other branch of the military, in any given battle, they all bleed red.

k-and-j-heads1thumbnail.jpgJade welcomes your comments here as well as any suggestions you may have for her future posts. You may also e-mail her at To read previous Military Mama posts, CLICK HERE.