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Old 09-21-2009   #1
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Default US Army Reserve/National Guard units fighting COIN

In regards to the Reserve and National Guard units of the US Army that are serving or have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I heard that these units were quite good and innovative at fighting a counter-insuregency at least in Iraq in comparison to the regular Army forces?

I wanted to know if there was any truth to this or not?

Also I apologize if this question has been raised before.
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Old 09-21-2009   #2
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Default Reverse applies too


I've also read of criticism of Reserve / National Guard units staying in their operating bases and rarely venturing out. Don't please ask for a citation it was a long time ago.

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Old 09-21-2009   #3
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My experience as both a NG and active soldier is that it depends. Some units bring in a great deal of talent and knowledge from the civilian careers and experiences of the unit's soldiers and combine it with effective leadership. Some units benifit from low personel turn-over and are very effective working as a unit. Some units are saddled w/ poor leadership, and uncommited soldiers.NG and reserve units are hampered to a degree by the comparitive lack of training time compared to the Active units. Guard and reserve units seem to have improved in effectiveness since I first joined the NG in 2001. Back then there was a very disticnt difference between prior service guardsmen and those that had only been in the NG. Now it is hard to tell, due to the deployment tempo, who is prior service and who is not.
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Old 09-21-2009   #4
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Default Reed, it's always been that way.

The closer the RC unit's job is to thecivilian skills of its members the better it tends to be, The longer it has been together the better it tends to be. Stability can even substitute for training time. RC artillery units traditionally shot better than their Ac counterparts although they may not have moved or communicated as well. A classic case from the 1991 gulf War is the USMC reserve tamk company that was attached to the Army's Tiger Bde and very much outperformed it. Of course its home station was Yakima Range... My old Reserve PSYOP Bn -the 13th - was better at what we did than any of the AC PSYOP battalions (in the early 80s). Course, I may be a little biased...


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Old 09-22-2009   #5
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My background includes ARNG and Active Duty service - deployed with both. I found the advantage of the ARNG was older, more mature Soldiers who brought a lot of civilian skill sets to the table. Whether those skills are leveraged varies widely from unit to unit. It could be a little more valuable in a peacekeeping mission, like in Bosnia, though I would be hesitant to conclude that this makes the ARNG any better suited for the overall mission.

In an operation like Iraq of Afghanistan, my suspicion is that some active duty units will be leery of employing the ARNG units as aggressively as active units. There is still some prejudice / reluctance to view ARNG as being on par with active units. I have seen it go both ways - sometimes the ARNG unit gets to prove itself and other times they get stuck on FOB security because they're "just" a guard unit.

As for whether one is significantly better than another, I think it varies unit by unit, not component by component. Saying that ARNG units are better than active units (or vice versa) at something as broad as COIN is like saying that Marines produce better infantrymen than the Army - kind of broad, sweeping, and overly general to the point of absurdity. I mean, if that comparison were true, then how was it that I led the best infantry platoons in history - while serving in the Army? You got to judge unit by unit, imo.
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Old 09-22-2009   #6
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Default Kevin (and David too)

It seems that Reed, Schmedlap, and I all come up with a similar answer to the question - it depends on the unit and has for a long time. I would add that the biggest change over time is that RC unit (the generic term for reserve and guard) have improved as units collectively due to many factors including regular deployments. But it still remains an issue of unit by unt evaluation.


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