Peace Time: January 3, 2002


A new investigation has found that some National Guard units have been overstating their actual strength by as much as 20%. This is a chronic situation that has been going on since the National Guard was created, but it has gotten worse lately. What happens is this. National Guard units continually recruit new soldiers, a percentage of whom lose interest and drop out. Some move without telling their units where they went. Units are supposed to discharge non-performing soldiers, but often give those who do not attend drill "one more chance" (several times) to start showing up. Any National Guard unit has always had a certain percentage of "dropouts pending discharge", but some units have been more diligent than others in processing them out. What has caused the problem is the moves since the end of the Cold War to shrink the Guard and realign its units. If a unit in a given city cannot keep its strength up, it is vulnerable to being closed down when the state headquarters has to decide which unit to disband to meet new (lower) strength limits. Units which fear the axe are more likely to keep these "ghost soldiers" on the books as to admit their inability to recruit replacements makes them a target.--Stephen V Cole


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