The difference between Guard and Reserve

The Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard are the two components of the Air Force which make up the Total Force. From a daily operational viewpoint, there are distinct differences between the ANG, established in 1903 by the "Militia Act" and the AF Federal Reserve, established in 1948 by Congress.

When you consider missions with "kill chain" implications there are very distinct differences between the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.

An operator of a remotely piloted aircraft is not only conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities, but in the case of a MQ-9 Reaper or MQ-1 Predator, is also in the "kill chain" and can deliver kinetic effects. The same can be said in cyberspace where one can go from computer network exploitation to computer network attack with the click of a mouse.

An RPA operator can deliver kinetic effects while in U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Title 10 status supporting federal missions. However, an RPA operator can perform ISR but not deliver kinetic effects in Title 32 status used exclusively by the ANG.

This is just an example where we can see a difference between the Reserve and Guard, based on who governs the force, a state or the federal government. The same can be said about the reserve and Title 32 status, as the majority of daily situations and missions are handled by the state and do not rise to the combatant commander or a Title 10 engaged threshold.

The following is a comparison chart on specific differences:

  Air Force Reserve  Air National Guard
Legal Status
Title 10 Title 32
Command and Control Full-time and part-time service, under command of the President

Full-time and part-time service, under the control of the state Governor.

If Mobilized or volunteer for Active Duty, under command of the President.

Homeland Support

Restricted under Posse Comitatus Act.

100 % weather reconnaissance (Hurricane Hunters), 100 % aerial spray, 25% aerial firefighting squadrons.

Can be mobilized with 12304a authority.

In state role, not restricted under Posse Comitatus Act.

100 % air defense, 75% aerial firefighting squadrons.

Federal Accessibility

Available/accessible via established voluntary and/or involuntary mobilization authorities.

Additional access to 790,000 (Individual Ready Reserve, Standby Reserve, Retired Reserve and Retired Active Duty) with mobilization.

With consent of state, available/accessible via volunteerism via established mobilization authorities.
Active Duty Integration

Approximately two-thirds of AF's Total Force Integration associations.

Approximately 10% of selected reserve force are individual reservists serving throughout DOD staffs.

Approximately one-third of AF's TFI associations.
HQ Management Single MAJCOM, three Numbered Air Forces and a directorate on Air Staff to support dual-hatted Chief of the Air Force Reserve. National Guard Bureau, Air National Guard Readiness Center and 54 national Guard Joint Force Headquarters-State.
Senior Leader As Chief of the Air Force Reserve, advisor to SecAF and CSAF. Director of Air National Guard reports to Chief of National Guard Bureau.
Federal Funding 100% federally funded.

100% of personnel funding for federal missions and training.

91% federal funding for National Guard installation's base operations and maintenance costs, other 9% state funded.

Full-time vs Part-time

17% Full-time  83% Part -time

30% Full-Time  70% Part-Time