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Army National Guard General Questions and Answers:

What is the National Guard?

     The National Guard is one branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Arkansas National Guard contains both an Army National Guard and Air National Guard component. The National Guard is composed of reserve forces - civilians who serve their country on a part time basis. Each state has their own National Guard as required by the constitution - in fact, the National Guard is the only branch of the military whose existence is actually required by the constitution.

What are the service obligations in the National Guard?

     National Guard members are required to attend one drill weekend a month. These are usually during a Saturday and Sunday but sometimes include a Friday night. In addition all guard units have a two week annual training (AT) period every year which is usually during the summer.

How is the National Guard different from the Army Reserve?

     The Army Reserve is completely controlled by the Federal Government and serves as a reserve to the Active Army. The National Guard, on the other hand, is controlled by the state and the federal government - we have a dual mission. The governor can call the Guard into action to assist in the case of local emergencies or civil disturbances. In addition the President of the United States can activate the National Guard to serve along with the Active Army in foreign wars. This was most recently portrayed during the Persian Gulf Crisis and the Bosnian Crisis.

What benefits are there in belonging to the National Guard?

     The Arkansas Army National Guard offers a series of benefits ranging from education assistance to low cost airfare.

How long do I have to join for?

     If you have never served in any branch of the military, there are two enlistment options. The first is the 6 & 2 option which entitles you to serve in the National Guard for 6 years and then in the Inactive National Guard for 2 years (While in the Inactive National Guard you do not have to attend drills or Annual Training; but you may be called to serve in a National Emergency). The other option is the 3 & 5 tour during which you would serve for 3 years in the National Guard and 5 years in the inactive National Guard. Not all benefits are available for a 3 & 5 enlistment. Veterans who have served in any branch of the military have additional options available to them including a "Try One" program which allows a veteran to serve for only one year on a trial basis before committing to a full enlistment.

Do I have to go to Basic Training?

     If you have never served in any branch of the military, you will have to attend the Army's eight week basic training. In addition, you will have to attend a period of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) which teaches your specific Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). The length of AIT varies widely with MOS. Normally new soldiers will attend AIT immediately after Basic Training, however, if you are a student who is only available for training during the summer you have the option of going to Basic Training one summer and AIT the next.

What jobs are available in the National Guard?

     The Arkansas Army National Guard offers a large selection of specialties (MOS's) ranging from infantry to band member. Different MOS's have different qualifications and your recruiter can help you determine which MOS would be best suited for you.

What are the qualifications I must meet to join the National Guard?

     The National Guard has physical, academic, and legal qualifications. You must be in good health and have no major physical handicaps. The minimum age to join the National Guard is 17. Persons under age 18 must obtain the consent of a parent or legal guardian. You must be either currently in High School or have a High School Diploma or GED. You must also obtain a minimum qualifying score on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery exam (ASVAB). Soon after you contact a recruiter, they will take you to where this test is administered to see if you are qualified. Your ASVAB score will also determine which MOS's you are qualified for. Finally, you must have no major criminal convictions. This information is only a basic outline of the qualifications. Before enlisting you will be receive a detailed medical examination and background check. Your recruiter will provide you with more exact information and make recommendations regarding your qualification status.

Once I join the Guard can I switch jobs or units?

     Transfers within the National Guard are handled within the units involved on a case-by-case basis. If you move further than 50 miles away from your unit you will be allowed to transfer.

How will my membership in the National Guard effect my civilian job?

     Your membership within the National Guard should not effect your civilian employment. There are Federal Laws which prevent employers from terminating an employee due to his or her membership in the National Guard. In addition, if you are called to active service, your employer is required by law to allow you to return to the same job you had when you left. The Arkansas National Guard can assist in solving a civilian employment conflict.

How do I join?

     Call 1-800-GOGUARD or click here to be directed to

Are you a prior service veteran?

     Here's some additional information that might be of interest to you: Prior Service FAQ Sheet


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Page last updated on:

30 December 2016