Posted on Dec 29, 2019
Ope Oguntoyinbo
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Can anyone please tell me the major differences be serving as a US Army Reserve Officer and serving as a US Army National Guard Officer? Which branch guarantees steady career progression with respect to promotions? Do both branches wear the same uniforms? Do both branches have the same ranks and conditions of service?
Posted in these groups: USARECD3fe61e5 Army Reserve ElementsUS ARNG
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CPT Clinical Provider
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Both are important members of the military. Both support the main armed services in time of need.

Which is better as an officer depends first upon what branch officer you want to be. Medical? JAG? Infantry/line? Next depends on your AOC or job. Guard typically is more limited in terms of what positions are open in your state whereas reserves you could live in 1 state and be assigned to a unit several states away. Me for instance I live in Ohio and I’m assigned to a unit in North Dakota.

Transferring - easier to transfer in the reserves than in the guard as there are nationwide options vs just your state so really it means more choices. Also it means better promotion opportunities in the reserves vs the guard.

There are a lot of benefits of the guard vs the reserves though. Many states don’t tax your drill pay in the guard. Many states give free or reduced tuition for colleges for the state you serve in. You also get the pride of knowing you can serve your own state as well as the nation. This part though can be a double edged sword. You technically serve 2 masters in the guard. Your state and the nation. Both can deploy you and put you to work. Natural disaster in your state? Your governor can pull you from your civilian job and put you on duty. Your governor can also work with the president and congress and deploy you overseas (I’ve seen this done in some states to gain political points for governors looking to move up the food chain). The reserves only congress and the president can put you on orders not a governor.

So those are kind of the major pros and cons of reserves vs. guard.
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LTC Jason Mackay
LTC Jason Mackay
10 mo
Ope Oguntoyinbo its the same rank structure, uniforms, and standards as Active Duty whether you are ARNG or USAR.

As for career progression the ARNG and USAR is all about slots. You have to have the slot at the unit on their MTOE or TDA (manning document) that is by grade and specialty. You might be eligible for promotion but unless you have a slot. You can't advance. The result is you may have to transfer between units for opportunity. There are some ARNG soldiers that may spend 20+ years in the same unit. Others may go back and forth between a handful of units or the state HQ. USAR folks may do this between states in USAR units.
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LTC Program Manager
LTC (Join to see)
10 mo
LTC Jason Mackay - ARNG promotions are only not immediately federally recognized for unit vacancy promotions (most promotions) If you are selected on a centralized board with your peers recognition is immediate.
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CPT Lawrence Cable
CPT Lawrence Cable
10 mo
You don't have to serve in the state that you live, you can join and or Interstate Transfer to any state you are willing to travel to attend drill. As LTC Mackay states above, advancement is all about slots, so if your state has an Engineer Brigade or an Infantry Brigade, promotion through Major is usually relatively comparable to Active Duty. From there up, I think most us give an edge to the Army Reserve.
I think that the biggest advantage for Guard Officers is that you will initially have much more control over you Branch than you do in the Reserves or Active Army.
One other comment, if you look up and follow the rules for Inter State Transfers in the Army Guard, it's really not that big of a deal.
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LTC Jason Mackay
LTC Jason Mackay
10 mo
LTC (Join to see) what I meant was the commission itself. Your point is well taken.
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LTC Program Manager
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Having served in the Regular Army, National Guard and now the Army Reserve I'm actually surprised how different they are. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. If you have a MOS that is prevalent in your states National Guard, That's a good route to go. If you're in a lower density MOS you may need to go to the reserve and travel quite a distance to your unit. Both provide career progression about the same though they work differently. The strengths I saw in the Guard are unit cohesion, Personnel Administration, Officer Career management. The strengths of the Reserve are funding, and a much wider range of jobs to select from. I see the Army reserve as the "Army of One" It's a bunch of individual Soldiers managing their own careers who all show up and form a unit sometimes.

Just my $0.02

Your experience may vary.
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SFC Station Commander
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Typically in the Army Reserves you have more room to grow.
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