What is the Tennessee State Guard and what is its mission?

The Third Tennessee "Alvin C. York" Regiment is one of four regiments that, along with a directorate headquarters, make up the Tennessee State Guard. The regiments are located strategically throughout the state, with directorate headquarters in Nashville.

The mission of the Tennessee State Guard is to provide a professional complement of personnel to support the state mission of the Department of Homeland Security by assisting the Tennessee Army National Guard as a force multiplier--assisting civil authorities with disaster relief, humanitarian causes, ceremonial service, and religious and medical support for the promotion of the well-being and safety of the citizenry of Tennessee.

Put another way, the Tennessee State Guard (TNSG) is to the Tennessee Army National Guard what the National Guard is to the United States Army. The TNSG is an all-volunteer organization that, like the Tennessee Army National Guard, is a part of the Tennessee Military Department. The TNSG has no federal mission and is responsible to the Governor of Tennessee and the orders of the Adjutant General of Tennessee. The TNSG differs from the Tennessee Army National Guard in the following primary ways:

  • TNSG membership is purely voluntary, although citizens who are accepted into the organization must take a military oath before they can wear the uniform and begin official duties.
  • Since the TNSG's commander-in-chief is the governor of the state and not the President of the United States, TNSG units can not be "federalized"---called into active duty national service as can the Tennessee National Guard.
  • TNSG units can not be mobilized and deployed anywhere outside the state of Tennessee.

Since all National Guard units are now affiliated with regular national forces, a call-up by the President of the United States of any or all of the Tennessee Army National Guard would leave the governor without sufficient military force at his/her disposal--either in specific areas or statewide. It is for this reason that part of the mission of the Tennessee State Guard is to replace federalized guard units and become custodians of vacated armories, military facilities, and equipment left behind by departing units. In addition, the TNSG responds to any call by the governor for emergency state duty in the same manner as the Tennessee Army National Guard and becomes, as stated above, a force multiplier for the Army National Guard. Statewide emergency duty serves to protect the lives and property of Tennessee citizens in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, civil disturbance, or any situation that requires the maintenance of law and order. The TNSG is also tasked to work closely with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

For a complete history of the Tennessee State Guard (dating back to 1780), visit the TNSG Directorate Headquarters Web site.

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