Difference Between Army Reserve and National Guard

Army Reserve vs National Guard

To a casual observer or to someone who is not aware of the structure of the army in United States, there might not be any difference between Army Reserve and National Guard. However, this is not true and, despite similarities, the two forces have quite a few differences. In fact, though they share the same army uniform, they are two different organizations and do different duties. This article intends to clarify the differences between the two once and for all.

It is true that superficially, they look alike because of the uniform and rank structure, which is same as the US army. They have the same number of soldiers in a squad and a particular number of squads make up a platoon in both, just like the US army. However, the biggest difference between them and the US army lies in the fact that they are reserve type units, which means that they are not full time or active army units. The soldiers in these units train at least one weekend in a month and also take part in an annual training lasting two weeks. But this is where similarities between the two units end.

What is Army Reserve?

As the name implies, it is a reserve force that is used to augment regular forces. Army Reserves become activated as soon as they are called on active duty. When pressed into active duty, they become just like regulars and then they are regular army. Many of the soldiers in army opt to be placed as Army Reserve after their tour in active service. These soldiers are a link between the army and the reserves as they provide their wealth of experience to the reserves and also maintain their links with the army.

What is National Guard?

Though members of this organization are part of the overall army structure, in a sense they are not federal troops. They belong to states and are in fact state militia. The Governor of the state is their commander in chief though it is the President of the country that is the overall commander in chief of the entire army.

Difference Between Army Reserve and National Guard

Though, in theory, National Guard can be activated and pressed to serve the army, in practice they remain troops of the state and serve the state whenever it needs them. They are mostly used to quell civil unrest or a riot, and also used commonly in times of natural disasters. Whenever a state of emergency is declared in a state, it is the National reserve that is pressed into action by the Governor. These troops help local police in their effort to maintain law and order.

What is the difference between Army Reserve and National Guard?

• Army Reserve is a part of the army that become active only when the orders are given. Until then, they are not active.

• National Guard can be identified as the army of each state.

• For Army Reserve, President is the leader. For National Guard, it is the Mayor of the State. However, National Guard can also be a part of the army, if necessary.

• When activated Army Reserve serve the country while National Guard serve their states.


Army Reserve vs National Guard

It is clear that Army Reserve consists of troops that are federal in nature and serve as reserves to the national army, while National Guard are troops of the state and work close to home. While National Guard is used to face a national disaster in a state, Army Reserve is pressed at international borders when activated.


Images Courtesy: National Guard via Wikicommons (Public Domain)