102nd Cavalry

Soldiers of the 102nd Armored Cavalry, New Jersey National Guard, (Essex Troop) aboard an M-24 Chaffee tank at Camp Drum, NY in the 1950s. Present day units of the 102nd Cavalry are stationed in Hackettstown, Dover, Westfield, and West Orange.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How is the New Jersey Army National Guard different from the Army Reserve?
The Army Reserve is completely controlled by the federal government and serves solely as a federal reserve to the Active Army. The New Jersey Army National Guard, on the other hand, may be controlled by either the state or the federal government, depending on the circumstance. The New Jersey Army National Guard force structure consists of Combat, Combat Support and Combat Service Support units, while the Army Reserve force is primarily comprised of Combat Support and Combat Service Support. The ARNG consists of approximately 350,000 soldiers versus just over 200,000 in the USAR. Both organizations are part of The Army, which consists of the Active, Guard and Reserve components.

Q. What is the New Jersey Army National Guard's mission?
The Guard has a unique dual mission, with both federal and state responsibilities. During peacetime, Guard forces are commanded by the Governor through the State Adjutant General. The Governor can call the Guard into action during local or state-wide emergencies, such as storms, drought and civil disturbances. In addition, the President of the United States can activate the National Guard to participate in federal missions. Examples of this are the many Guard units deploying to participate in operations all over the world to include: Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Egypt, Germany, Kosovo, etc.

Q. How long do I have to join for?
If you have never served in any branch of the military, there are several enlistment options. Soldiers can serve for as little as three years, six years, or as long as eight years initially, with longer periods available as well. Some benefits are based upon the length of your initial enlistment. Veterans who have served in any branch of the military may have additional options available to them. Your recruiter can provide further details.

Q. How will my membership in the New Jersey Army National Guard affect my civilian job?
Generally, membership in the Guard has a positive influence on civilian jobs. The skills and leadership you acquire are sought after by many employers. Some soldiers find that their civilian and military jobs complement each other. Others seek to add diversity to their lives by serving in a capacity quite different than their civilian occupation. Regardless, your membership within the New Jersey Guard should not have a negative impact on your civilian employment. Federal laws prevent employers from discriminating against an employee due to his or her membership in the National Guard. In addition, if you are called to active service, your employer is required by law to allow you to return to the same job you had when you left. The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve organization has a web site located at http://www.esgr.org/ that can provide additional information.

Q. What are the qualifications I must meet to join the National Guard?
The New Jersey Army National Guard has physical, academic and legal qualifications. You must be in good health and have no major physical handicaps. The minimum age to join the National Guard is 17. The maximum age is your 35th birthday unless you have prior military service and qualify. Persons under age 18 must obtain the consent of a parent or legal guardian. You must be either currently in high school, seeking a GED, or have a high school diploma. You must also obtain a minimum qualifying score on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery exam although some exceptions apply. Finally, you must have no major criminal convictions. This information is only a basic outline of the qualifications. Before enlisting you will be receive a detailed medical examination and background check. Your recruiter will provide you with more exact information and make recommendations regarding your qualification status.

Q. What are the service obligations in the National Guard?
National Guard members are required to attend one drill weekend each month and one annual training period each year. Weekend drills are usually scheduled over one weekend - a Saturday and Sunday each month but can occasionally include reporting for duty on Friday night as well. In addition, units have a two-week Annual Training period every year. AT is usually scheduled during the summer. Initially, all personnel are required to attend Initial Entry Training and or the Recruit Sustainment Program. Either can usually be scheduled to meet civilian occupation or schooling schedule requirements. Duration and location of IET or RSP varies. Your recruiter can provide specific information for each program.

Q. Do I have to go to Basic Training?

If you have never served in any branch of the military, you will have to attend the Army's ten-week basic training. In addition, you’ll have to attend a period of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) which teaches your specific Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). The length of AIT varies with each MOS.

Q. What jobs are available in the New Jersey Army National Guard?
The New Jersey Army National Guard offers a large selection of Military Occupational Specialties (career fields) which are divided into three major categories.

  • Combat: Infantry, Artillery, Aviation,
  • Combat Support: Engineer, Chemical, Military Police, Signal, Military Intelligence
  • Combat Service Support: Finance, Public Affairs, Personnel, Supply, Maintenance, Transportation

Different MOS's have different qualifications and your recruiter can help you determine which MOS would be best suited for you.

Q. Can I serve full-time in the New Jersey Army National Guard?
Yes. The Guard has several types of full-time employees. Within the state there are full-time personnel who manage the day-to-day operations of our units. These soldiers serve in a status known as "Title 32", which refers to the section of the US Code that they are governed by. In addition to their full-time positions, these soldiers serve with a unit in a traditional status (drilling on weekends) as well. These positions are managed by our Military Personnel Office, part of the State Area Command (STARC). There is also a federal active duty force, which is centrally managed by National Guard Bureau and the Army National Guard Directorate in Washington, DC. These soldiers serve in a "Title 10" status and are not required to drill with units. The core of the Title 10 force is stationed at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, VA, a few miles from the Pentagon.

Q. What benefits are there in belonging to the National Guard?
The Guard offers a series of benefits ranging from competitive pay and education assistance to insurance and retirement benefits. A broad range of skills are learned through schools and job training and the leadership opportunities are numerous. Beyond these tangible benefits, most Guard members agree that the greatest benefit is the opportunity to serve their country, state and community.

Q. What types of opportunities exist for women interested in serving?
The majority of Military Occupation Specialties (career fields) are open to female soldiers. The New Jersey Army National Guard is a diverse force with an increasing proportion of female soldiers each year.

Q: How do I join?
The most direct route is to contact a local Guard recruiter.

Have you served in any branch of the military?

Q. Can I switch branches or specialties?

Yes, your experience may qualify you for an occupational specialty other than the one you held when you left the service. You can also change your specialty by attending an active or reserve component service school.

Q: Can I keep the same rank?
Yes, you can normally keep the same rank you held before. Please contact your local recruiter for further information.

Q. What benefits will I receive in the New Jersey Army National Guard?
Here are just a few of the benefits: education benefits such as 100% tuition and/or Student Loan Repayment if you qualify; Sign-on bonuses if you qualify; Promotion opportunities to include becoming a Warrant or Commissioned officer; Great pay; and Serviceman's Group Life Insurance.

Q. What will my pay be?
For each training assembly (usually four or more during a drill weekend) you attend, you will receive a full day's pay for your grade and number of year’s service. You can visit the Defense Finance Service web site (www.dod.mil/dfas/) for the specific pay amount per month.

Q. Why does the New Jersey Army National Guard want veterans?
Your local Guard unit needs your recent experience with advanced military equipment, weapons and tactics as well as your leadership skills. You can help train other citizen-soldiers and share with them the strength and maturity you have gained throughout your years in the military.

Q. Why should I continue my military service with the New Jersey Army National Guard?
Thousands of veterans from all branches of service join the Guard each year. It allows them to continue serving while also allowing them to pursue civilian careers or education with the New Jersey Army National Guard’s 100% tuition. In the Guard you keep many of the benefits you received in active service, including your service counting toward pay and retirement benefits. By joining the New Jersey Guard, you can improve technical and leadership skills you have already acquired. You also get the chance to serve your state, nation and community while staying close to home.

Q. Will I have to go to Basic Training?
If you never completed Army or Marine Corps basic training then you will have to attend Army Basic Combat Training (BCT). The only exception is USAF and USN personnel who have completed special operations training. If you elect to serve in a new Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) you may have to qualify in that MOS through available schools.

Q: What benefits will I receive in the Guard?
Civilian and military education benefits, promotion opportunities to include becoming a Warrant or Commissioned officer, good pay, Serviceman’s Group Life Insurance, free space available air travel, retirement benefits at age 60 - after 20 years of combined active and reserve service, some medical and dental service and insurance programs, PX and commissary privileges, and the list goes on and on.

Q: How do I join?
The most direct route is to contact a local Guard recruiter.

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