Lessons of Desert Storm Phantom Army

For the most part the National Guard fought well in the gulf. But some outfits, plagued by no-shows and poor training, never got to the front.

Few institutions are as quintessentially American as the National Guard. Founded by the colonists in 1607, blooded in the Revolution as the Minutemen, the Guard has served in every major U.S. conflict, and acts as a first line of defense when natural disasters strike. The 574,000 Guard members enrolled in 4,000 units are the military's link to civilian society: part-time soldiers who are supposed to devote a minimum of 12 weekends and one two-week period each year to prepare themselves for battle.

Since 1973, when the Pentagon abandoned the draft and installed the all- volunteer armed forces, the Guard, along with...

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