Arkansas National Guard - History


The Arkansas National Guard traces its roots to the creation of the Territorial Militia in 1804. Interest in the Militia in Arkansas generally waxed and waned throughout the 19th century as various national emergencies arose and passed. Arkansas provided troops for the War with Mexico, the American Civil War, and the Spanish-American War during the 19th century. In each case, in answer to the governor's call, local militia companies would turn out and be formed into regiments or battalions for induction into federal service. The militia was also heavily engaged in the violence that characterized the Reconstruction period following the Civil War.

Interest in the militia or Arkansas State Guard as it was know following reconstruction, ebbed and flowed throughout the 19th century, increasing just before or major conflicts, but diminishing in between. Most militia activity was at the local, county and city level, and was often provided for with private funds. It was only late in the 19th century, in the preparations for the Spanish-American war that the State Guard, as it was known then, truly came into existence as a stable organized force.

Following the Spanish-American war, the Arkansas State Guard, along with the militia forces of all other states, was reorganized as the Arkansas National Guard. With the reorganization came the first nationally directed training and increased funding. During World War I, units were stripped of their state designations and were given federal designations upon mustering in to federal service. The National Guard saw a massive expansion and increased funding and training following World War I. A similar increase was seen after World War II. Following World War II, the air component was separated into the Arkansas Air National Guard. Both the air and land components of the Arkansas National Guard supplied forces for the Korean War. In 1967 during a nationwide reorganization of National Guard Units, the Arkansas Army National Guard took on most of its current force structure with one Infantry Brigade, One Field Artillery Brigade, Aviation units, and various Separate Companies under the Troop Command. Arkansas units have served in every major conflict since the Seminole War, with the exception of Vietnam. Arkansas Army and Air units remain fully engaged in the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.

Throughout its service to the nation during times of war, the Arkansas National Guard has continued to perform its role of providing service to the citizens of the state during times of disaster. The Guard has responded to numerous tornadoes, floods and fires, in addition to being called upon to provide security and quell violence in times of civil disturbance. The Guard has also provided support to neighboring states, most notably Louisiana during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike.

The history of the Arkansas National Guard is divided into the following time periods:

Arkansas Territorial Militia 1804–1836
Arkansas Militia and the War with Mexico, 1836–1847
Arkansas Militia in the Civil War, 1848–1865
Arkansas Militia in Reconstruction, 1865–1879
Arkansas State Guard and the Spanish-American War, 1879–1900
Arkansas National Guard during World War I, 1900–1919
Arkansas National Guard and World War II, 1920–1945
Arkansas Air National Guard, 1949–Present
Arkansas Army National Guard and the Korean War, 1949–1954
Arkansas Army National Guard and the Cold War, 1954–1989
Arkansas National Guard and the Integration of Central High School, 1957
Arkansas Army National Guard in Operation Desert Storm, 1990–1991
Arkansas Army National Guard and the Global War on Terrorism, 1992–Present
Arkansas Air National Guard, 1949–Present.

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