Posted on Jan 1, 2015
CPT Public Affairs Officer
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Alright guys, I'm transitioning into civilian life and will be starting graduate school at IU in a week or so. My ETS date is 18 FEB and am giving some serious thought to serving in the Reserves or the Guard back home in Indiana, but unsure which one is the best route since I've only know active duty since 2003.

Can anyone give me some good advice? Any senior NCOs or Officers serving back in the great Hoosier State wanna help a guy out?

Thanks in advance everyone, and I hope you have a blessed New Year!
Edited 6 y ago
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Responses: 11
CPT All Source Intelligence
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You are going to have to separate individual experiences from facts in this thread. Just because something happened to someone doesn't mean it would happen to you. Just because the regs say X, Y, Z, it doesn't mean that is exactly how things will fall for you.

I am in the TXARNG and I can tell you that in the last two years, I have worked with 38th ID and I think they are a tight outfit. I say this after working closely with 6 DIV HQs in the NG and they and the 34th are top notch (of those I worked with). Note that I live in DE but fly to TX for drill because the quality of the unit and the opportunities available to me in TX.

I knew I was leaving AC at the end of my deployment. The 1LT I did right-seat/left-seat with was Reserves and warned me that he had been in the Reserves for less than 3 months when he got orders to Iraq. He said, "if you do not want to be shaking my hand in a year, go Guard." We have a boutique high-demand skill set and it was his opinion that having a state to protect me would be beneficial. I left AC for family reasons and if I wanted to deploy, I would have just stayed on active duty.

I did run into promotion issues in the NG, but it had more to do with the month-to-month nature of the Guard. I got my packet together and it took the better part of a year to get everything through even though I was in a slot. Consider that so many pieces of your packet expire: APFT, PHA, etc. As soon as I would get one thing fixed, something else would happen...oh, your company had a change of command so now you need a new letter from your company commander; your dental will expire next month before the packet is presented...really one thing after another. I doubt it would be different in the Reserves.

All in all, I have been happy in the NG. I have several friends in the Reserves that have said (warning: these are rumors) that it would be much easier for me to pick up full-time orders if I was in the Reserves (and willing to relocate). I was interested in full-time orders at one point, but that is not a factor for me any more. I would say it is pretty unrealistic to think you can come off active duty and walk straight into an AGR slot in the NG. I know we have had our AGR slots slashed in TX an the slots we do have are greatly coveted by our current M-Day Soldiers.

Good luck! Hit me up with questions anytime if you think I could help. (Goes for anyone)
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CPT Public Affairs Officer
CPT (Join to see)
6 y
Thanks Ann! This is all new to me, so that's why I'm asking the dumb questions I guess. I know I can research online via Army sites and whatnot, but I find it better to listen to my fellow teammates and hear what they have to say -- just like yourself.

I'll hit you up when I'm back at the computer, as typing on my iPhone is cumbersome.

Thanks again!!!

Jonathan
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CPT All Source Intelligence
CPT (Join to see)
6 y
Do not worry about "dumb questions!" I realized randomly last night that next month I will have as much time in the NG as I had on AD, but I still totally see myself as "new to the Guard." There are a lot of things that go on at HRC totally behind the scenes on AD that you have a much more active role in with the Guard. Politics have a much bigger role. People know each other and it is hard to get away from difficult relationships. When will that guy PCS? Never. For officers, even more so. In a few years, you will probably have interacted with most of the people at your same rank/branch and will have distinct opinions about them, especially in smaller states. You have more influence about who is on the team than you do on AD. I get asked a lot about LTs/CPTs who want to come to DIV and a thumbs up/down is pretty much going to decide it (we have enough slots in the state where people can find a spot; this might not be true in smaller states).
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COL Director, J5/7 Cyber National Mission Force
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Edited 6 y ago
CPT (Join to see), congratulations on considering your continuum of service. There are other discussion threads already established with general comments and views on reserve component service and I would highly suggest you search for those (one I did for "advice to new reserve component soldiers" is at https://www.rallypoint.com/answers/advice-to-new-reserve-component-soldiers).

The main difference between the Army National Guard (ARNG) and the US Army Reserves (USAR) is that USAR is a reserve component of the title 10 active Army and the ARNG is a mainly a title 32 force that is under the control of the Governor of the state/territory (there are 54 different states and territories, each with their own Air and Army National Guard forces). There are many other differences, but for your consideration, this is the big one.

Both reserve components (Active Army is Component 1 (COMPO 1), ARNG is COMPO 2, and USAR is COMPO 3) operate very much the same way - the differences are largely at the upper levels. You have a traditional force of M-day soldiers supported by a small full-time cadre to take care of the day-to-day business. At the higher levels, you have more full-time staff (soldiers or military technicians) providing the infrastructure so that the M-day units can operate.

Contrary to what 1LT(P) Steve Philpot stated, the promotion process in the ARNG and the USAR are the same - there has to be a vacancy that you can be slotted against in order to be promoted (normally ... there are exceptions and they are mostly political). If you're a Field Artillery officer and there aren't any Field Artillery units around, you're only going to be promoted in an branch immaterial position or you're going to have to travel to find a position. Because of this, RC soldiers can simultaneously hold three MOSes. For example, there might not be any Field Artillery positions around, but there's a unit nearby that has a vacancy for an Infantry officer ... just become branch qualified (on active duty you would transfer ... in the reserve component, you just pick another one up).

Some things to keep in mind about your transition.

RYE date - Most active duty soldiers have no idea what this is. Your RYE date (Retirement Years Ending date) is the day which your 'retirement year' closes out. This is different for each soldier and is based on you came in to the military. For straight active duty soldiers, this will usually be your BASD. Look through my post about retirement points to understand why this is important.

ARNG vs USAR benefits - Since the ARNG has a dual-status (T32/T10), all of the T10 federal benefits will apply, and possibly some additional state benefits. For example, many states will exempt your National Guard pay (or a portion of it) from state taxes, provide free tuition to National Guard members attending state educational institutions, etc. This varies from state to state, but is something you would want to look at.

You've heard before that you are your own career manager. Well, in the RC this is doubly true. On active duty, 'Big Army' will generally keep you on a correct glide slope for your career by putting the round pegs in round holes and generally you have to fight for the good assignments (or at least let your branch manager know that you're interested). In the RC, you have be involved in your assignments, promotion boards, etc. If you are in a Troop Program Unit (TPU - the standard unit you generally think of when you think of a reserve component unit), then the readiness NCO will generally try to keep you on track with things you should be worried about (upcoming promotion boards, assignments available, etc) - but that really depends on the strength of the readiness NCO.

If you have any specific questions regarding the INARNG or USAR units in Indiana, I would suggest you start with the "Explore by Units" or "Explore by Location" under the Networking drop-down and find people in that area that are on RallyPoint. I and others can answer general questions or can access databases (for example, I pulled a general vacancy report for the INARNG and see that there is just one O-3 vacancy for a 14A but there are 19 01A (branch immaterial) positions there. Looking at HRC's website on USAR vacancies, there are 15 01A positions and none for 14s or 49s within the state.
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CPT Public Affairs Officer
CPT (Join to see)
6 y
Sir, thank you for the very thorough and articulate response. You probably gave me the best advice/guidance I've received thus far. I'll do some research on here before asking any particulars, but I truly appreciate it. 
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COL Director, J5/7 Cyber National Mission Force
COL (Join to see)
6 y
1LT(P) Steve Philpot, I can't comment on your specific situation, but I've been involved in over thirty company grade promotions in the ARNG and USAR, and both follow the same process - there must be a MTOE/TDA slot with a documented paragraph/line number that your are MOS qualified for in order to be processed for promotion.

I pulled a quick vacancy search for O3 positions in the state of Tennessee and it shows that there are 1 x 19C, 6 x 01A (branch immaterial), and 4 x 02A (combat arms, branch immaterial) positions without anyone slotted against them. Unfortunately, since I don't belong to the TNNG, I can't give you specifics on those positions (not that it matters to you now).

As to the promotion timelines, they are identical for the USAR and ARNG (timelines are based on federal law - section 14304 of Title 10). Both RC components promotions are governed by the same regulation (AR 135-155) - There is no difference. Again, I don't know about your situation but there might have some other factor impacting (BOLC not completed it the big one for LTs with the other is that the records aren't accurate that are being used to determine who is boarded or not).
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COL Vincent Stoneking
COL Vincent Stoneking
6 y
While you are correct - a valid position needs to exist[1] in order for you to get promotion orders into it, it is not the actual promotion that is the issue, it is the promotion selection...

One important difference.... In the NG, there are TWO promotion boards. There is a STATE (or territory, I guess) promotion board as well as a FEDERAL board. You have to either:
1. Get selected by both boards
or
2. Get selected by one and "recognized" by the other.

I only ever saw this is the selected by state, recognized by feds, but I don't know that it only works that way. In practice, in my state, the State board seemed to be held after the release of the fed board, and largely rubber stamped the results of the fed board. But largely is the key word. A few who were fed selected would NOT be state selected (which often led to moves to the USAR) and the state would always select a few that the feds had not, which led to a request for federal recognition (always granted, I think).

Next comes the acquisition of the position. In my experience (it's dated, but still vivid), it can be challenging - especially when you don't know all the ins and outs of the system AND the politics - to get a position at the next higher grade in the NG system. What do I mean?
1. You may well not KNOW that the position is actually existing, vacant, or about to be so. I know that that now seems impossible to me now, but I remember banging my head against a wall just to find out what positions existed in my state.
2. If you find one, you have to get TRANSFERRED into the position. 99 out of 100 times, that is a voluntary transfer request - which the losing unit does not have to sign.

It may be argued with respect to #2 above, that "nobody would refuse to sign...." To which I throw the BS flag. I am currently in the USAR because of exactly that. Without going into gory details, the unit I was in refused to slot me into a promotional slot and refused to sign off on my voluntary transfer. However, I had over 8 years of National Guard service and resigned my NG commission, reverting to the IRR and getting immediately promoted. (and found a USAR unit in no time flat). I personally know at least 10 currently serving USAR Officers with some version of that exact same story, including one that I am currently serving with on ADOS.
I had a similar story on promotion to CPT, except I
1. was a little less savvy then
and
2. had a NG service obligation remaining at the time.

In that case, I was selected by the 1997 federal board and not actually promoted until 1999. I have omitted the details of some "administrative irregularities" in this case, but suffice it to say I wish I knew then what I know now. This obviously impacted my TIG requirements for promotion to any future ranks.

So, yes they are the same, except that they are not.

[1] Or transfer to the IRR, upon which the promotion is effective immediately, at which point you can find a unit at your leisure.
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COL Vincent Stoneking
COL Vincent Stoneking
6 y
It is also worth stating that when you go before the board in the USAR, you are competing against projected vacancies in your rank and branch (now area?) across the US, vice just your State. This makes it easier for competitive Officers to get selected. Though you might have to travel 100's or 1000's of miles to get a slot that you can actually be promoted into.
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SGT Justin Singleton
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Just keep in mind that the National Guard makes up 51% of the entire Combat Force, with Active Army making up 48%, and the Reserves making up 1% (all training positions). So, the difference between Guard and Reserves is mainly combat related. Very many support units are reserve (which is considered federal), and Guard units sort of act more like state militias (the Commander and Chief is in fact the governor until the unit is federalized) and are therefore more combat related. So...what is your preference?

One more thing, if you are wanting to go to graduate school, the Guard is likely your best option. On top of your education benefits now, different states have more options. Ohio, for example, offers 100% tuition, whereas the Reserves barely offer anything at all (not beneficial for anyone to join the Reserves solely for education benefits these days.

I'm not a senior NCO, but I was Ohio Guard for 6 years and presently finishing a PhD. I used Ohio Guard tuition for my undergrad, Post 9/11 GI Bill for my Master's and half of my PhD, and now I am out of money, lol.
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