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The Army National Guard is one of the reserve component branches of the U.S. Army, the other being the U.S. Army Reserves. During times of peace, the National Guard serves under the command of state governors, though all Guardsmen are subject to call-up at any time on the order of the President of the United States and Secretary of Defense. All Guard units have two missions: to fight and win our nation's wars, and to support the governor in the event of a civil emergency or disaster.
Officer Versus Enlisted
If you are a novice to the military system, the first concept to be aware of involves the two broad career paths within the Army: enlisted soldiers and commissioned officers. Enlistees can join right out of high school, though many enlisted soldiers have at least some college and many have college degrees already. The lowest enlisted rank is the private, though over time, privates can earn the rank of private first class, specialist and sergeant. Sergeants are noncommissioned officers, or NCOs, and are leaders promoted from the enlisted ranks. The other career field is the commissioned officer. Commissioned officers generally have at least a bachelor's degree and serve in command, staff and leadership roles. The entry-level rank for commissioned officers is the 2nd lieutenant, though National Guard officers can eventually attain the rank of major general, should they become the adjutant general, or chief Guard officer, for their state.
Generally, National Guard soldiers must serve an initial period of active duty for basic training and for advanced individual training, in which they learn the basic skills for their military occupational specialty, or MOS. After that point, they are typically required to serve roughly one weekend per month plus a two-week training period per year. Occasionally, they will attend other schools or events on top of that. Some will be called up for service overseas, or domestically in the event of an emergency.
The MUTA System
A MUTA, or Mission Unit Training Assembly, is a training event of at least four hours. A typical two-day weekend drill would have four MUTAs. Some drills may have three, while others may have five or six. Soldiers generally get paid a day's basic pay for each MUTA. Soldiers also earn a day's basic pay for every day spent in annual training or other training. Typically, a National Guard soldier will get paid for 48 MUTAs per year, plus 14 days' worth of annual training.
Military Pay Charts
The Department of Defense publishes the daily pay rate for National Guard and Reserve soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen of all ranks every year. As of 2011, a brand-new private with under four months of service can expect to earn $45.24 per day, or per MUTA, or $180.96 for a typical drill weekend. A sergeant with six years of service can expect to earn $87.34 per day or per MUTA, or $378.76 for a typical drill weekend. A new 2nd lieutenant just joining the unit will earn $92.80 per day or MUTA, or $371.20 for a typical drill weekend.
Jason Van Steenwyk has been writing professionally since 1998. A former staff reporter for "Mutual Funds Magazine," he has been published in "Wealth and Retirement Planner," "Annuity Selling Guide," "Registered Rep." "Bankrate.com" and "Senior Market Advisor." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in humanities from the University of Southern California.