National Guard Bureau

national guard bureauThe National Guard is typically administered at the state level. Although each state is in charge of maintaining its own force, they operate under authority and coordination of a federal entity called the National Guard Bureau.

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What is the National Guard Bureau?

The National Guard Bureau was once a joint entity controlled by the Air Force and Army. This arrangement changed in 2008, when Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. This law made the National Guard Bureau a part of the Department of Defense. It also elevated the National Bureau Guard Chief from a Lieutenant General to a General with four stars.

Despite these changes, the National Guard still coordinates its efforts with the Army and Air Force. In many cases, the National Guard Bureau uses its guardsmen to supplement Army and Air Force troops.

Army and Air National Guards

The National Guard Bureau manages and coordinates the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. The Army National Guard focuses on military and humanitarian programs that take place on the land. The Air National Guard uses airplanes, helicopters, and other aviation vehicles to complete their missions.

The National Guard of the United States

The National Guard Bureau should not be confused with the National Guard of the United States. The National Guard of the US refers to the state militias that respond to calls of duty. It is actually a part of the National Guard Bureau, which oversees and administers it.

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National Guard Bureau Youth Programs

In addition to providing military and humanitarian support, the National Guard Bureau has been heavily involved in youth programs. These programs include

  • Guard Fit Challenge
  • Partners in Education
  • Youth Challenge Program


The Youth Challenge program is probably the most well-known of the group. This program attempts to help young people at risk of making poor life decisions find better direction. Youth how participate in the program include boys and girls between 16 and 18 years old. Participants must be high school dropouts who do not use drugs.

The National Guard Bureau Chief

The incumbent Chief of the National Guard Bureau is General Frank Grass. General Grass oversees the bureau’s operations. He took the position in September 012 after the retirement of General Craig R. McKinley. Regardless of who holds the position, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau is also a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This was finalized at the end of 2011.

This position is filled by a presidential appointment. There are, however, some stipulations determining who is qualified to serve as Chief of the National Guard Bureau. For instance, the commissioned officer must have a rank of major general or above. He or she must also have at least 10 years of experience working with the Army or Air National Guard.

The President’s nominee for the position must be accepted by the Senate. It is a four-year term that the President can terminate or extend at any time.

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