ARLINGTON, Va. - On Dec. 18, 2011, when the final U.S. troops crossed the Iraqi border into Kuwait, the National Guard had deployed more than 250,000 Guard members in support of the war.
Already participating in combat operations in Afghanistan, the National Guard lived up to its motto of "Always Ready, Always There," and answered the call in January 2003 to send troops to Iraq for the beginning stages of what would later be known as Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Serving side-by-side with their active duty counterparts until the last Guard member came home, the Army National Guard deployed 222,485 Citizen-Soldiers for a total number of 259,467 deployments.
Providing air support missions throughout the world for Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, the Air National Guard deployed 34,243 Citizen-Airmen, successfully completing 44,882 deployments.
During those more than 300,000 deployments by the Army and Air National Guard, Guard members back in America answered the call and served on the home front - fulfilling the National Guard's domestic mission.
The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen - said more than once in 2010 and 2011, "We would not be anywhere close to where we are in terms of our execution of mission without the National Guard."