What's the Difference between the Army and the National Guard?

What’s the Difference between the Army and the National Guard?

The military, including its structure and rules, is often foreign to those who have never served. And the differences across the branches can be especially important information for those who are considering enlistment.

The Army and the National Guard both have similar functions, but there are some key differences. It’s good to be aware of these differences when making a decision about military service—and it’s good to just have general knowledge about how each of these branches contribute to national security.

Time Commitment

Perhaps the biggest difference between the Army and the National Guard is that Army personnel work as full-time military members. Their job is their role within the military.

National Guard personnel work civilian jobs, but may be called upon for service if they are needed by the nation. For this reason, the time commitment for Army personnel is much greater than for those serving in the National Guard.


There are also functional differences between these two branches of the military. The Army is composed of a trained group of soldiers who are prepared to defend the nation against other countries. Members of the Army are often deployed to border regions to uphold sovereignty.

The National Guard, on the other hand, serves both the country and communities. During emergencies, they are often called to supplement the Army and work towards maintaining order by engaging in reconstruction missions, counterdrug efforts, and domestic emergencies.


Because of the community-based nature of the National Guard, each state’s governor is the commander-in-chief of the members of this branch of the military.

By contrast, the President of the United States is the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army.

As you can see, despite the similarities between these two branches of the military, there are some key differences that should be taken into consideration if you are thinking about enlistment in either of these organizations.

The Difference Between the Army and National Guard

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