"…On his first day, he woke up early, showered and beat his housemate out the door. Normally, the traffic during his commute to his new office in Charlottesville would have driven him crazy, but not today. He was thrilled to inch along the highway with everyone else on their way to work, and grateful that his new employer didn't seem to have a problem with his Guard service.
Still, he did not mention the rumors that had been floating around the 2-224th for several weeks. In the summer of 2009, the unit's two weeks of annual training were supposedly going to be in the snow-capped mountains of Canada, where the pilots could get used to flying at high altitude.
Which some speculated meant one thing for the battalion: Afghanistan as early as 2010. " Washingtom Post
It is often said now that there will be no surrender ceremony to mark the end of these wars. The end can not be foreseen. What can be foreseen is that Craig Lewis' dilemma will continue to be shared for many "part time" soldiers for a long time.
There was a time when the National Guard was a bit of a joke to the "real Army." I spent a summer in the early '60s (1963 – well before VN) training National Guard and Army Reserve units from the northeastern U.S. at what was then Camp Drum, New York. They were a very mixed lot.
There were states like Massachusetts and New Jersey that possessed division sized National Guard commands with ancient names and pride to match. There was a brigade sized National Guard from the Connecticut suburbs of New York City. That outfit had a battalion of infantry in which riflemen were commonly Wall Streeters, lawyers, businessmen, etc. They were an amazing group. You did not have to tell them anything more than once. There was a "bluestocking" National Guard infantry unit from New York in which the officers had their meals catered in the field from a famous New York City restaurant. Units like these reflected the social structure of their home towns and were a kind of exercize in civic duty. There were also National Guard units from rural and relatively poor parts of the northeast. In those units it was clear that the small amount of money that came to the Guardsmen in drill pay was a major incentive for service.
On the Army Reserve side of things, the service units, medical, etc. were full of professionals from their civilian careers. They were fine, but the combat units of the Army Reserve were just awful, undisciplined, slovenly, disrespectful, and full of hostile, resentful refugees from the draft. In many of these units, the officers were plainly afraid of the men. One reserve division buried two jeeps out in the woods while they were at Drum. Somebody wanted to come back for them after they went home.
That was an era that has little or nothing to do with today's National guard and Army Reserve. The Army Reserve is now made up largely of Combat Support and Combat Service Support units (and individuals). Combatant units (infantry, armor, artillery, etc.)are in the National Guard where they are supported psychologically by state tradition and hometown support.
There no longer is much of a difference between the Army's reserve components and what the generals like to call "the active force." Reserve units have served so much on full time duty and have been trained and equipped to "active force" standards that they are largely indistinguishable from the fulltimers.
Question – Is a mobilized reserve component unit part of "the active force?" If it is not, then the Uptonian nonsense of calling the Regular Army the "active force" is truly unmasked. Want me to explain that?
In any event, people like Captain Craig now have all the burdens of an "active force" career with few of the advantages. A life in whch a man or woman is regularly uprooted from civilian surroundings, sent to war and then put back into civilian life with its very different mores and lifestyle is not a viable life.
Some of you will say. "Oh, good. They won't be like the brutal alienated professional soldiery!"
Unfortunately, you and all the therapists in the world do not seem to understand that soldiering is, in fact, a life apart and to some extent must remain that if long and serious wars are to be fought.
These militia soldiers should be kept on full pay and benefits between deployments. pl