Academic journal article Military Review

Army National Guard: Korean War Mobilization

Academic journal article Military Review

Army National Guard: Korean War Mobilization

Article excerpt

Between 1950 and 1952,138,600 Guardsmen made up 43 percent of the Army force. The US Army National Guard (ARNG), including eight divisions, three regimental combat teams (RCTs), 98 battalions, 67 companies and 94 detachments, received mobilization orders in 1950.

Like the regular Army and the organized reserve corps, the ARNG was not ready for war; all had serious problems with manpower, equipment and training. The performance of guard units was like that of regular and reserve units-a few excelled, most were good to adequate, and a few failed. And, like regulars and reserves, a guard unit's performance rested on leadership, training and acceptance of service.1

The 1950 Army National Guard

In June 1950, the best guard units were cadres that could quickly expand into combat-ready units. Because the Army had mobilized or deleted every guard unit during World War fl and discharged all guardsmen afterward, the guard had to reorganize and begin training every unit in the new troop list. Congress and President Harry S. Truman provided enough funding to fill only 350,000 of the 617,500 positions in the postwar ARNG, forcing the National Guard Bureau (NGB) to place units on reduced tables of organization (TOs).

As with regulars, most guard units did not have full complements of required equipment, and what they did have was often obsolete or worn out. Army planning, based on World War 11 experience, assumed there would be sufficient time for mobilized guard units to receive enough recalled reservists, trained draftees and equipment to bring them to full strength and to conduct adequate predeployment training.2

In 1950, the quality of unit leadership was uneven. Most general and senior field grade officers had extensive guard or reserve service or active-duty experience from one or both world wars. Many had graduated from special guard versions of Army post-commissioning schooling. The majority of company grade and some junior field grade officers had received commissions during World War 11, but often not in their postwar guard branches. Few had attended the "associate" versions of basic and advanced courses, and those lacking wartime service in their branch had experience only in weekly drills and two weeks of summer field training.

Many units with links to the 1940 troop list retained a cadre of proven officers; units without such links often had trouble finding trained, experienced officers. In some units, World War II veterans dominated senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) ranks, and the majority of enlisted men were drawn from those who had been too young to participate in World War II. These recruits brought great enthusiasm but also created problems, especially personnel turbulence.3

The young enlistees' greatest effect was on unit training. The NGB's three-year n-dining plan was keyed to a three-year enlistment tour and focused on individual soldier skills. While some units held additional drills for staff training, the two-week summer field training was often the only opportunity for staff and unit collective training.

An Army Field Forces (AFF) report noted that with continuous personnel turnover, "it is doubtful if the training and overall efficiency of the guard will ever reach its desired standards." Variations in competence among officers and NCOs, equipment shortages, inadequate armories, few training areas, failure to fill all regular Army instructor billets and time constraints further complicated training management.4

Mobilization and the Manpower Shortage

During July 1950, the Army stripped its general reserve in the Continental United States to provide Eighth Army reinforcements and replacements to be deployed to Korea. By early August, the cupboard was nearly bare. The Army had to order thousands of inactive and volunteer reservists to Korea. Planning had allotted many of these reservists to mobilized guard units, so most units, except those slotted in autumn 1950 for Korea, did not receive all the reservists needed to fill junior officer, NCO and technical specialist positions. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.