New National Guard Directive News

Future of State Defense Forces in Jeopardy: New National Guard Bureau Directive Announced

The National Guard Bureau recently released CNGBI 5500.01, the directive that guides National Guard Interaction with State Defense Forces (SDF). The National Guard Bureau worked with the Adjutant General’s (TAG – Senior National Guard General) of many states to develop the document. Now the document has some major changes for State Defense Forces / State Guards and nearly all of those are negative.

The Good

The NG will consider the SDF as any other State entity with respect to preparation for and participation in civil support operations, and the related use of Federal equipment, except for the specific restrictions in section 109 of reference a.

This will allow The State Defense Forces to utilize Federal equipment, supplies and vehicles. Previously State Defense Forces were unable to drive any vehicles owned by US Military / The National Guard, or utilize any of their equipment. This can open up missions where State Defense Forces / State Guards can drive US Military vehicles if such missions require the relocation of such vehicles or assets to other parts of the state.

(3) Earned Federal awards are authorized for wear.

State Defense Force / State Guard troops have been authorized to wear the awards on their they earned while serving in The US Military. These awards include The Purple Heart, National Defense Service Ribbon, etc.

The Bad

The NG will not spend Federal funds, to include pay and allowances, subsistence, transportation, medical care and treatment, or use of Federal equipment for activities with the primary purpose of training or otherwise for the support of SDFs.

State Defense Forces are paid by the State for all their equipment, uniforms, food, vehicles and other supplies so this will not affect State Defense Forces. However this will cause doubt and confusion when State Defense Forces work with their National Guard counterparts during Joint Task Force missions. National Guard forces will have to ensure no money is attributed or related to State Defense Force expense. It also contradicts the previous statement of the allowed use ‘of Federal equipment’ earlier in the document.

The Ugly

Only active military Service members may wear a uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces, IAW section 771 of reference b. The prohibition includes any distinctive part of the uniform or anything similar to a distinctive part of the uniform. States wishing to adopt a modified version of the current Army service and utility uniforms for SDF use must follow the specific guidelines outlined below


States that choose to use a modified version of the Army service uniform may not wear the following items:

(a) U.S. flag. SDF members may wear full-color (not subdued) State flag.

State Guards / Defense Forces like Georgia State Defense Force, Washington State Guard and Puerto Rico State Guard will have to remove The US Flag on their right shoulder of their OCP uniform and transition to a State Only Flag.

(b) Qualification badges earned from any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

State Defense Forces / State Guards will no longer be allowed to wear any Qualification Badges they earned while serving in The US Military. This includes badges such as the Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, etc.

(c) No organizational patches from any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to include combat patches are authorized for wear.

For years The State Defense Forces / State Guards were allowed to wear Combat Patches they earned while serving in a Combat Theatre during their time serving in The US Military. That is no longer an option.

(e) Buttons bearing the Great Seal of the U.S. or of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

State Defense Forces / State Guards wear Dress Blues or similar Army uniforms. The buttons of these uniforms represent the seal of The United States. Soldiers will now have to find vendors that can create similar buttons and sew such items onto their Army uniforms. This will vastly increase expenses for State Defense Force troops but also demoralize troops.

The Ugly

(c) Officer shoulder boards will have a red background only, except for general officers.

(d) Red nametags may be worn on the right breast pocket flap with the Service member’s name and State defense force in white lettering, for example, SMITH and VIRGINIA DEFENSE FORCE.

(4) States who choose to wear a modified version of the Army utility uniform are to implement the following guidance (See Figure 1). Per reference c, name tapes will be red. For covers and rank insignia, red is shown in the guidance below, however, the State may use any distinguishable solid color

No longer are State Defense Forces / State Guards allowed to wear camouflage nametapes, rank or cover (hat). They are now to wear Bright Red Nametapes, rank and cover. This will cause a great deal of confusion when State Defense Forces / State Guards interact with citizens as many will be perplexed at the Bright Red elements of their uniform, confusing them, which can result in the failure of missions and possibly risking lives during statewide emergencies.

The introduction of Bright Red elements into the uniforms of State Defense Forces or State Guards could lead to significant misunderstandings and complications during their interactions with the public. When citizens encounter State Defense Force troops, especially in times of crisis or emergency, the unconventional and striking color could distract or confuse them. Unlike the traditional and more subdued military attire that people are accustomed to, the vivid red may not immediately be recognized as a symbol of authority or emergency response. This discrepancy in public perception is not just a matter of aesthetics but it has practical implications for the effectiveness of these forces during critical operations.

In the midst of statewide emergencies, where time is of the essence and clear communication is paramount, any hesitation or doubt sown among the public could impede the swift action required to mitigate disaster. The presence of Bright Red in the uniform, instead of instilling a sense of urgency and compliance, might lead to questioning and delays. For instance, during evacuation procedures, search and rescue operations, or the establishment of temporary shelters, the need for immediate recognition and trust is crucial. If citizens are spending valuable time trying to understand who they are dealing with, this confusion can lead to operational failures, endangering lives and property.

Here is further detail on what the new uniforms will look like:

Compare this with the current uniform many State Defense Forces currently wear:

(a) Red name tapes with white letters over the right breast pocket and a red SDF tape with white letters over the left breast pocket that includes the full title of the SDF, for example the Virginia Defense Force would be “VIRGINIA.”

(b) Rank insignia is to be in white with a solid-colored background.

(c) A full-color (not subdued) State flag on the right shoulder.

(d) A solid-colored hat or cover with non-subdued pin on rank.

(e) A solid-colored patch with the letters SDF in white on the left shoulder.

(f) A full color (non-subdued) organizational patch may be worn on the left shoulder below the SDF patch.

(g) State defense force specific skill badges (such as the Military Emergency Management Specialist badge) will be centered above the red State name tape.

These changes conflict with every State Defense Force / State Guard current uniform policy. It seeks to disrupt the identity of the SDFs and cast them in a less professional and official manner. This is the most radical & hostile recommendation set forth by The National Guard Bureau in its entire history with The State Defense Forces / State Guards which dates back to the early 20th century.

We at believe the entire reason for this drastic alteration to the uniform policy is due to some in The National Guard Bureau leadership distaste of State Defense Forces. This hostility towards State Defense Force from Senior National Guard officials is quite worrying as it can result with the end of State Defense Forces in their entirety, which will affect National Security, and will endanger the lives of Americans during emergencies.

This directive will drastically affect morale of every State Defense Force soldier across the nation. Enlistments, Re-enlistments & Commissions will see a drastic reduction. We’ve seen such uniform alterations in other State Defense Forces by their Adjutant General such as Oregon State Defense Force & Alabama State Defense Force. Those alterations eventually lead to the force being depleted of soldiers and officers.

People join their State Defense Force to serve their community, state and country. They seek to support, assist and augment their National Guard and do so in a respected uniform. With this drastic uniform alteration we fear State Defense Force soldiers will look foolish to their fellow servicemen & women and the citizens they serve.

What Are We Doing About It

A few months ago we launched a Political Lobbying Program and are consulting with many former and active US Military & State Defense Force advisors. We had expected the release of this directive and based on our analysis we didn’t expect to stop it considering its was completed and pending publication.

We decided to work more on the state level, to work with State Legislators and States’ Adjutant General. We are working with a high profile advisor in The US Army and State Defense Force community. We are in the process of developing documentation that promotes the use of State Defense Forces within States that currently have them and the development of State Defense Forces in States that currently don’t have them. This documentation will be utilized during our meetings with State legislators and TAG’s to advocate for State Defense Forces. Within this documentation will be explicit wording to keep State Defense Force uniforms as is, we expect to fight this National Guard Bureau recommendation at the state level rather than the Federal one.

The National Guard Bureau is working with The Adjutant General of each state to implement this new policy. So we need to act quickly and reach out to each and every Adjutant General, State Legislator and even Governor to explain the dangers of implementing such a uniform change, how it can affect missions and risk lives during emergencies.

That said, we have tried to work with The State Guard Association of The United States (SGAUS) to coordinate our efforts, as well as get a status update of their lobbying efforts in DC. They have confirmed with us they have lobbyists working within many States and in Federal government but have seen little to no information of this. We have had little to no communication with SGAUS since the discovery of this new updated directive. We have attempted to reach out multiple times to coordinate our lobbyists with no success.

This drastic news has illuminated that we cannot rely on SGAUS to promote State Defense Forces. We were informed through internal sources which we have not shared until now that their funding is split 50/50. 50% is attributed to the annual conference it holds each year in a different city. The other 50% is attributed to developing new curriculum similar to MEMS, for State Defense Forces troops to train and obtain certification on. That the promotion and expansion of State Defense Forces receives little to no funding or attention.

We plan on doubling on our efforts to lobby for State Defense Forces. We plan on ensuring your State Defense Force / State Guard doesn’t undergo such a uniform change as described in this new directive. BUT we need your help to make this happen. We need you to help fund and facilitate a budget similar to that of SGAUS so we can devote multiple personnel in multiple states to lobby for and promote State Defense Forces.

But the future of State Defense Forces / State Guards are in your hands, if we don’t get the funding & resources we need now and stop the spread of this uniform transition the future of State Defense Forces / State Guards will come to an end.

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To read the full document:

CNGBI 5500_01A_20240307

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If you wish to do more, you can contact your congressman or woman at This Site, as well as your Senator at This Site and express your disapproval of the new National Guard Bureau Directive – CNGBI 5500.01.

Source: National Guard Bureau

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