Posted on Jan 25, 2015
SGM Gregory Tarancon IV
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Army
Usar
Based on my own personal experiences and having been an individual that throughout his career has serve on Active duty, Reserve duty and the National Guard. I wanted to get some insights from RallyPoint members on this topic.

Like many soldiers made a decision to leave the active duty military to pursue career opportunities beyond the military. I went through some transition assistance, which was pretty beneficial and one take away was to continue to add to my military service by serving in ether the Army Reserve or the National Guard. I followed that advice and ended up serving in the National Guard then now in the Reserves.

The change in culture from Active duty to Reserve duty was an adjustment and it took getting used to. One thing I would like to stress from personal observations on numerous combat deployments is the high degree of professionalism and competence of our reserve forces. I have heard many high ranking general officers make the comment that it seamless and indistinguishable between the Active and Reserve deployed force.

However, I will say that there are some significant difference between the Army Reserves and the Army National Guard. The Army Reserves is mainly composed of Combat Support and Combat Service Support service members and fall under US Code title 10. The National Guard represents the majority of the Reserve Combat Arms force decentralized by states and fall under US Code title 32, unless federalized under title 10.

In my ignorance, I used to think we were all one big happy reserve force and that transferring from one state to another while in the National Guard or from Troop Unit Program (TPU) to individual mobilized reservist (IMA) or even between Reserves and National Guard would be easy. This process was complicated and in some cases there were consequences that were not apparent.

Example – Made the decision to transfer from National Guard to the Army Reserves because I felt I had a better chance of advance and promotion. In the National Guard even if one ends up #1 on the State Promotion List there has to be a vacant slot in that MOS. In my case there wasn’t a vacancy because the and individual who was in the slot for 7 years did not want to leave. What I did not know is transferring to the Reverse also meant waiting two years before one is considered for promotion since you have be in the reserve system for one year and the centralized boards only meet once a year.

Ironically, I am contemplating making the switch back to the National Guard because there are some openings that need to be filled in the Guard. I am interested to hear RallyPoint member’s views on the topic!
Edited >1 y ago
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Responses: 3
SMSgt Operations Superintendent
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I had a similar career path. Active duty Army, Air National Guard, and now Air Force Reserves (IMA). I found a huge difference between the Guard and Reserves in the AF. The Air Guard (ANG) system was difficult to promote in as folks never left. The Reserves were very much more like active duty and gets stuck in the administrative process all too often. Its even worse being an IMA as I am assigned to an active duty unit.

The Guard was the most fun though. Although, I thoroughly enjoy the professionalism in the Reserves.

I think that its important for someone changing to really understand the culture of the unit they are going in to. There are definite differences between the Active Duty and Guard. I find the Reserves and AD to be more alike then different (at least in the Air Force).

If I were to give advice, I would tell someone to visit the unit on a drill weekend and speak to its members. Maybe over a beer or two to determine the real culture of the organization.
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1SG Drill Sergeant
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Interesting question, SGM. I found my career goals changed as I neared the end of my first ARNG contract. I also found my career stonewalled courtesy of the old-boy network.

I joined the USAR to become a Drill Sergeant. Little did I know what a career accelerant it was or that it would lead to four deployments, accelerating my career even further. Career apart, being a drill is probably one of the few jobs where you can leave the Army better than you found it. No way I could have done that being in the CTARNG.
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COL Jon Thompson
COL Jon Thompson
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I commanded a USAR BCT battalion and supported BCT at Fort Benning two years straight. Loved working with my drill sergeants.
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CSM Battalion Command Sergeant Major
CSM (Join to see)
>1 y
TOP (Trainer of Professionals) keep pushing band believe in what you can do and not the good ol boy network. This same thing I am noticing happens when you start a new career and you have to just show the best efforts and excel from there. I understand all of your frustration.
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SMSgt Dr. G. A. Thomas
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Edited 6 y ago
SGM Gregory Tarancon IV

First is are you trying to just stay part-time or do you have the desire to stay full-time but not as a regular component service member. Also, is your purpose for going this route for college or career enhancement. Once we have our minds set on our direction, many of these questions can be addressed. Finally, what service component are you trying to get into as a reservist or guardsman.
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SGM Gregory Tarancon IV
SGM Gregory Tarancon IV
6 y
SMSgt Minister Gerald A. Thomas

Thank you very much for replying to the post. The main purpose of this post is to see if any Rally Point members have found themselves in similar situation while navigating through their military careers as reservist.

The overall point of the post was to share my personal experience that transitioning from active duty to reserves duty. I found continued service in the reserves to be a benefit.

However, I found the transition from active to reserves an adjustment and should have given the decision more serious thought. No doubt, joining the reserve component provided some tangible benefits such as permitting me to finish my degree. The GI Bill paid for majority of my undergraduate education while at the same time serving in a reserve unit and attending monthly drill provided specialized training while drill pay supplemented my monthly income.

In response to your question with regards to my career, first would like to state that I am in a good place professionally. I believe that I was able to attain career enhancing positions because I was willing to assume some risk, venture outside traditional career progression for my Military Occupational Skills (MOS) and be a more diverse individual.

With that said, I would say my consideration to switch components follows a certain logic –

Currently, I am in the Army Reserves and as mentioned above the Army Reserves is mainly composed of Combat Support and Service Support MOS. I am an 18Z which is Special Forces Senior Sergeant and categorized as a Combat Arms MOS. Therefore, if I remain in the reserves there are few opportunities for Command Sergeant Major unless I decide to accept a non-nominative position. The Army National Guard however does have 18Z SGM and CSM positions because Special Forces Reserve units and Special Operations Detachments exist in the National Guard. The down side to the National Guard is the politics which is the main reason for transferring from the Guard to the Reserves.

The questions is should I be content with being a Reserve Operations Sergeant Major or switch back to the National Guard for a chance to make Command Sergeant Major? I already have 24 years of active duty completed, will transferring among components (Reserves / Guard) impact retirement?
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