(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The oldest military force in the Department of Defense — the National Guard — celebrates its 385th birthday on Monday, Dec. 13.

With lineage tracing to the early Massachusetts militias that defended their settlements against attack, the National Guard answered the nation’s call in 1636 to organize into three permanent regional regiments. The National Guard has continued to lead, grow and evolve for nearly four centuries into the phenomenal force of today with around 450,000 Soldiers and Airmen serving.

The National Guard has transformed from a strategic reserve to an operational force. For the past two decades, the National Guard has supported more than 1.1 million overseas deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, the Balkans, Guantanamo Bay, the Sinai and other locations.

In addition, teammates in the National Guard are instrumental in protecting and caring for our homeland, with efforts spanning disaster relief, support to civil unrest and responses to natural disasters and COVID-19.

The National Guard serves both community and country. Our military is the greatest in the world due in large part to the professionalism, adaptability and dedication of our Guardsmen and women.

To all the Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard, who make up approximately 50 percent of Engineer, CBRN, and Military Police forces, and to all the Guard members who train at Fort Leonard Wood — including the Missouri Army National Guard’s 35th Engineer Brigade — we are proud to serve with you. Happy birthday!

Victory Starts Here — Victory Through Skill!