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The National Guard, America's citizen soldiers

The first group of US National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from more than 25 US States travel to Washington, DC for the 57th Presidential Inauguration on January 18, 2013The National Guard is a centuries-old militia network that has served crucial roles in several US security operations, testing its mettle in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as on riot-plagued streets back home. Whether rushing to help the hurricane-battered US Gulf Coast in 2005, conducting counter-terrorism or peacekeeping operations abroad, or facing off with deadly consequences against unarmed anti-war demonstrators in 1970, the National Guard has served important but often controversial roles. In 1933 Congress brought them under a nationalized system that formed the basis of a US military reserve force. Today’s US Army and Air Force National Guard is 460,000 strong, mostly reservists — teachers, farmers, engineers and the like who commit to serving “one weekend a month and two weeks a year.”

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