The National Guard is a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces in which its service members act whenever called upon to help in domestic emergencies including natural disaster, terrorism, and war efforts such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each state has a separate National Guard overseeing it and is commanded by the governor, while it also receives orders from the U.S. President. Qualifications for the National Guard refer to eligibility criteria and tasks that must be accomplished for acceptance as a service member. The National Guard requires applicants to be in the age range of 17 to 35 years old and be citizens of the United States. Age allowances are made for applicants over 35 years old holding specialized qualifications, such as being a licensed health care professional or an attorney.
Educational qualifications for the National Guard require that applicants successfully pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), an examination that covers fundamental areas including reading comprehension, mathematics, and science. In addition to academics, the exam assesses vocational knowledge in auto mechanics and electronics. The ASVAB not only determines eligibility, but also occupational assignments after being accepted into the National Guard. All applicants must possess a high school diploma as well. People who are in their last year of high school can still join while finishing and help is available for those who did not complete high school.
As part of the physical qualifications for the National Guard, applicants must fall within certain height and weight guidelines. Values vary according to age, sex, and whether there is a history of previous service in the military. A physical fitness endurance test is also given, called the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), which assesses the total number of sit-ups and push-ups that can be completed within two minutes for each exercise. The two-mile run is also required and results are determined by a score given corresponding to certain guidelines by age and sex. Everyone in the Armed Forces is required to take the APFT twice each year, as it is a very important factor in establishing whether physically-demanding duties can be successfully executed.
After enlistment, a ship date is confirmed for the completion of Basic Combat Training (CBT), included in the qualifications for the National Guard. CBT is an arduous, 10-week training that every military recruit completes for the development of mental and physical skills necessary for carrying out required duties. During the first three weeks, soldiers learn how to put together, take apart, and carry an M-16, as well as crowd dispersion techniques and hand-to-hand combat. Learning how to become a good marksman, read maps, and conduct convoy operations mark the middle weeks. Completed lastly, the End of Cycle Test (EOCT) must be passed, which consists of over 200 tasks, and the APFT is then taken once again before graduation.