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"One weekend a month, two weeks a year" is a former recruiting slogan used by the U.S. Army National Guard. It indicated the amount of time an individual would need to spend actively in the Guard to be a Guardsman with benefits. It was dropped during the Iraq War after it became clear that Guardsmen were now serving considerably more time in service.


Usage of the slogan

The slogan "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" has been most commonly seen by Americans in recruiting ads for the National Guard. Although the slogan is no longer directly used in advertising, as of 2004 the slogan is still used to describe the duties of at least some military posts. [1]

The slogan has also been used to contrast the commitment that a National Guard member would give during those times when his country was not at war. Other forces have used this slogan as something against which they can contrast their own dedication, [2] showing that, as members of the special forces, they are not mere "weekend warriors".

Understanding among the enlisted

Understanding the meaning of the slogan to those enlisted in the National Guard requires understanding the historical context in which it was given. During World War II the National Guard was called up to defend their country, and this was repeated in the Korean War even when American soil was not directly threatened. At this time, joining the reserves could clearly be seen as a route to service overseas. However, at the time of the Vietnam War, President Johnson made it clear that the National Guard's role was to defend the country and not to be involved in overseas adventures. At the time this meant that those who joined the force could be fairly sure of not seeing action in the war.

"One Weekend a Month, My Ass!!" sign posted on a vehicle in Iraq.

The National Guard remains less well equipped and trained than front line combat units. [3] This is a typical situation in the "self defense" forces of many countries. These forces expected to act as a second line of defense, primarily motivated by the fact that they are defending their own homes and families.

The commitment to Iraq has meant that many National Guards feel the terms in which they understood their recruitment have been breached. The slogan has now become known in a changed form, "One weekend a month my ass", [4] as a comment on the perceived mistreatment of the National Guard reservists. The phrase was coined in the 1993 Mystery Science Theater episode The Beginning of the End.

Real service requirements contrasted to expectations

During some periods of the 2003 war in Iraq, the National guard represented 41% of the personnel deployed [5]. The majority are supposed to serve for six months or a year. However, some specialists in the reserve forces have been required to serve for up to two years.

In the meantime, the role of the National Guard which, in the Vietnam War, largely revolved around home defense and policing, [6] has changed so that in Iraq "about 20 percent of the U.S. military deaths in that conflict" [7] have been carried by reserve and Guard units.

It has been claimed in the U.S. media that the change in expectations on the National Guard is a deliberate change in policy by military planners in response to the Vietnam War. [8] The need to use the National Guard is designed to reduce the possibility of "half-hearted" wars in future. Actual legal changes were made by the US Congress and in the 1980s which moved final decision from their commanders in chief, the state governors, to the federal government. These new laws were successfully defended against challenges from state governors in the U.S. Supreme Court. [9]

Other Usages

"One weekend a month, two weeks a year" was also formerly used as a descriptor in television advertisements for the Australian Army Reserve.


  1. ^ ""10 Steps to Joining the Military: Step 4: Meet the recruiter"".,13898,rec_step04_questions_guardreserve,,00.html. Retrieved 2006-05-12.   "As a member of the AGR [Active Guard and Reserve] you are assigned a full time mobilization slot or billet in the unit you serve in on that one weekend a month/two weeks a year."
  2. ^ ""The Special Forces Soldier"". Alabama National Guard. Retrieved 2006-05-12.   "… the Guard SF soldier operates way outside the normal 'one weekend a month - two weeks a year' of regular National Guard duty. The monthly drills and yearly deployments are nearly twice as long as the normal Guard requirements."
  3. ^ "Talking Points: "Neglecting the National Guard and Reserves"". Center for American Progress. July 19, 2004. Retrieved 2006-05-12.  
  4. ^ "Photo Gallery". Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL). Retrieved 2006-05-12.  
  5. ^ Graham, Bradley (July 1, 2005). ""Army to Use Fewer National Guard Troops in Iraq"". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-05-17.  
  6. ^ Rigney, Jr., Ernest G.. ""The Kent State Tragedy"". The Vietnam War, 25 Years After. College of Charleston. Retrieved 2006-05-12.  
  7. ^ Dodge, Dani (June 27, 2004). ""New war role strains reserves"". Ventura County Star.,1375,VCS_226_2994507,00.html. Retrieved 2006-05-12.  
  8. ^ ""Calling on the National Guard"". The Week. March 19, 2004. Retrieved 2006-05-13.  
  9. ^ ""National Guard - Tug of War"". Governing Magazine. August, 2004. Retrieved 2006-05-13.  

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