By Maj. Gen. Donna Martin and Command Sgt. Maj. James Breckinridge
Special to GUIDON
Friday, we celebrate the 383rd birthday of the oldest military force in the Department of Defense — the National Guard.
The Guard traces its lineage to early Massachusetts militias that defended their settlements against attack. In 1636, the National Guard answered the nation’s call to organize into three permanent regiments by region — East, North, and South. Those regiments evolved into all the elements that make up today’s Guard.
There are nearly 450,000 Soldiers and Airmen serving in the National Guard. They make up 20 percent of the joint force.
On any given day, 30,000 Soldiers and Airmen are mobilized overseas, and 10,000 are conducting operations in the U.S. These citizen-Soldiers and Airmen protect the homeland by responding to natural disasters and emergencies. They assist law enforcement agencies in taking billions of dollars in illicit drugs off the street. They also deploy around the world in combat and peacekeeping missions.
The National Guard has transformed from a strategic reserve to an operational force. Since the Global War on Terror began, the National Guard has supported more than 1.1 million overseas deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, the Balkans, Guantanamo Bay, the Sinai, and other locations.
The National Guard continues to serve both community and country. Our military is the greatest in the world due in large part to our National Guard.
To all the Guardsmen that make up nearly 50 percent of Military Police, Engineer and CBRN forces, and to all the Guardsmen that train at Fort Leonard Wood, including the Missouri Army National Guard’s 35th Engineer Brigade, we are proud to serve with you. Happy birthday, National Guard.
Victory starts here — victory through skill.
(Editor’s note: Martin is the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general. Breckinridge is the MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood command sergeant major.)