- As of December 2018, nearly 430,000 Americans served in the US Army and Air National Guard, according to Department of Defence data.
- Guard members sign up to commit one weekend a month and two weeks per year for training – but are often asked to sacrifice much more in service to their state and country.
- Between September 2001 and September 2015, some 428,000 members of the National Guard were sent on deployments.
- These troops also answer the call when disaster strikes their home states, like the recent fires in California and during Hurricane Harvey.
- When it comes to capabilities, no two states are alike – we ranked the top six, measuring everything from sheer size of force to whether the state has special forces, strike, and a brigade combat team. Overall, we found Texas has the most capable National Guard.
Don’t mess with Texas’ National Guard.
Texas has a number of capabilities that elevate the Lone Star State to the #1 position.
Its sheer size is a significant factor – the Texas National Guard is host to nearly 21,000 troops, including its army and air components.
Texas is also home to two companies of the 19th Special Forces Group and Air Guard fighter and attack wings that provide strike and drone capabilities.
California’s National Guard forces nearly equal those found in Texas, including Green Berets in the 19th Special Forces Group.
But because the nation’s most populous state only yields roughly 18,000 troops, they fall in at #2.
Pennsylvania hosts more guardsmen than California, with a force almost 18,500 members strong.
But because the state does not have Special Forces troops – the most elite forces in the Army, who are called upon for the most dangerous missions – it slid back to take the #3 spot.
Though small in geographical size, census data shows Ohio to be the 7th most populated state in the US, so it’s no surprise that it has a highly capable National Guard.
Its 16,500 guard members include Green Berets, jet pilots, and an infantry brigade combat team that has deployed to Afghanistan.
5. New York
Although New York does not have Special Forces, its force is sizable at 15,500 strong.
It hosts not one but two air attack wings – who fly MQ-9 Reaper drones – and an infantry brigade combat team.
Georgia may not have Special Forces, but it hosts the sixth-largest National Guard in the US, with roughly 14,000 troops including an infantry brigade combat team.
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