NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Number Inflation in the Army National Guard

December 18, 2001

Army National Guard Units across the nation routinely exaggerate how many troops they have by including soldiers who are no longer in the Guard, according to an investigation by USA Today, based on reports from more than three dozen officers and senior enlisted soldiers.

  • In some units, the proportion of "ghost soldiers" has run as high as 20 percent.
  • If those units were called up, high-ranking Guard officers say, some would be incapable of performing their duties.
  • Most of the phantom troops have stopped going to monthly Guard drills and are no longer being paid -- but they are kept on rosters for months and sometimes years, while replacement troops are recruited or their official discharges are completed.
  • Officials in many states reportedly create the phantom troops because of the difficulties recruiting and keeping soldiers.

It is said that the officials fear the federal government will shift their under-staffed units, and potentially millions of dollars, to states that can recruit enough troops to fill them.

Day-to-day control of the Guard rests at the state level, but 95 percent of its money -- about $13 billion last year -- comes from the federal government. The government doesn't lose money as a result of the ghost soldiers because they are not counted for salary purposes.

Forty-one state National Guard commanders, or adjutants general, earned more last year than the governors of their respective states. Thirteen earned more than the $132,100 paid to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Source: Dave Moniz, "'Ghost Soldiers' Inflate Guard Numbers," and "Most Adjutants Make More than Governors," USA Today, December 18, 2001.

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