Center for American Progress

Provide the National Guard and Coast Guard with the Mission and Resources to Defend the Homeland
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Provide the National Guard and Coast Guard with the Mission and Resources to Defend the Homeland

The National Guard and Coast Guard should be designated as the principal homeland security and homeland defense forces to respond in a crisis.

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Homeland security and homeland defense can no longer be treated as “lesser included” missions. The National Guard and Coast Guard should be designated as the principal homeland security and homeland defense forces to respond in a crisis.

The National Guard should be funded, equipped, and trained based on the homeland defense mission rather than overseas combat, as envisioned in the final report of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves. The National Guard could still deploy overseas as the constabulary force for stabilization operations that the United States currently lacks. To compensate for the National Guard’s shift in mission emphasis, the Army Reserve should take on more of the heavy combat reserve role.

The National Guard should be supported in this role by the active military, in the same way that the Navy supports the Coast Guard in its present law enforcement role. In a crisis situation, the emphasis must be to preserve civil authority and continuity in the midst of a traumatic and confusing situation.

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