Oklahoma National Guard

Oklahoma National Guard

Insignia of Oklahoma's Joint Forces Headquarters
Active May 16, 1951 present
Country  United States of America
Allegiance  State of Oklahoma
Size 7,385 (Army Guard)
2,570 (Air Guard)
Part of U.S. National Guard
Garrison/HQ Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Governor: Mary Fallin
TAG: Major General Robbie L. Asher
Distinctive unit insignia

The Oklahoma National Guard, a division of the Oklahoma Military Department, is the component of the United States National Guard in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. It comprises both Army (OKARNG) and Air (OKANG) National Guard components. The Governor of Oklahoma is Commander-in-Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard when not on federal active duty. The state's highest-ranking military commander, the Adjutant General of Oklahoma (TAG), serves as the military head of the Guard and is second only to the Governor. The TAG is served by three Assistant Adjutants General, all brigadier generals, two from the Army Guard in the state, and the other the Air Guard chief. These positions are held by Army BG Michael C. Thompson,[1] Army BG Hopper T. Smith,[2] and Air Force BG Gregory L. Ferguson.[3] The two components each have a senior noncommissioned officer, State Command Sergeant Major for Army, currently CSM Tony Riggs,[4] and State Command Chief Master Sergeant for Air, currently CCMSgt Ronald D. Teague.[5] The TAG is also served by his Director of the Joint Staff or Chief of Staff, who has direct oversight of the state's full-time National Guard military personnel and civilian employees. This position is held by COL Jon Harrison.[6]

The Governor may call individuals or units of the Guard into state service during emergencies or to assist in special situations which require the Guard. In its state role, the Guard serves to execute state laws, protect the public health, suppress insurrection, and repel invasion.

The National Guard may be called into federal service in response to a call by the President of the United States or U.S. Congress. When National Guard troops are called to federal service, the President serves as Commander-in-Chief.


The National Guard has two missions, a Title 10 federal mission and the other a Title 32 state controlled mission.

Federal mission statement:

During peacetime each state National Guard answers to the leadership in the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. During national emergencies, however, the President reserves the right to mobilize the National Guard, putting them in federal duty status. While federalized, the units answer to the combatant commander of the theatre in which they are operating and, ultimately, to the President. Even when not federalized, the Army National Guard has a federal obligation (or mission.) That mission is to maintain properly trained and equipped units, available for prompt mobilization for war, national emergency, or as otherwise needed. The Army National Guard is a partner with the Active Army and the Army Reserves in fulfilling the country's military needs.

State mission statement:

The Army National Guard exists in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. The state, territory or district leadership are the commanders in chief for each Guard. Their adjutants general are answerable to them for the training and readiness of the units. At the state level, the governors reserve the ability, under the Constitution of the United States, to call up members of the National Guard in time of domestic emergencies or need.

Current units

Oklahoma National Guard, Joint Forces Headquarters


One of the first accomplishments of the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature was the creation of the Oklahoma Territorial Militia in 1890 The militia was officially renamed the Oklahoma Territorial National Guard on March 8, 1895. This first National Guard in what would become Oklahoma consisted of separate infantry companies, cavalry troops and artillery batteries and total strength was limited to 500 men.[9]

Between 1864 and 1895 the militias of the State of Colorado and the Territories of New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arizona grew more organized as they continued to counter incursions and harassing attacks by Native Americans against white settlers. These militias would eventually organize into most of the National Guard units which would make up the 45th Infantry Division.[10] In 1890 the Militia of the Territory of Oklahoma was formed. The four militias were mobilized in 1898 during the Spanish–American War but only forces in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico were deployed, and fought in Cuba and The Philippines.[11] In the early 1900s the National Guard was employed putting down various labor disputes.[12]

With no pay or benefits for members, and officers required to furnish their own uniforms and horses, nevertheless, these militia forces maintained peace and assisted in emergencies in their territories. They also stood ready to serve the nation if wars were to come.

Spanish–American War

Governor Lee Cruce

After the sinking of the Battleship Maine on February 15, 1898, war was declared between the United States and Spain. Congress passed a volunteer bill allowing National Guard units to serve in the regular army as state units, with the approval of their governors. The Oklahoma National Guard was not federalized during the Spanish–American War, but numerous officers and enlisted men served with the Rough Riders and with the First Territorial Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the latter, (predecessor to today's 1-180th Cavalry Squadron) was mobilized, but not deployed before the war ended. Many of those early Guardsmen who served could not be recognized by the federal Army at their ranks and positions, especially the officers, and so they enlisted as privates, with many swiftly demonstrating their abilities and being promoted accordingly.

In 1899, the Oklahoma National Guard was reorganized as the First Oklahoma Infantry Regiment, supported by a signal company. In 1903, an engineer company was added. Federal allotments to support the troops would later double and the Territorial legislature voted to expand support in money and men. With statehood, in 1907, the Territorial status of the Oklahoma National Guard came to an end. Units were moved from western Oklahoma (former Oklahoma Territory) to eastern Oklahoma (former Indian Territory), and a hospital unit and two cavalry troops were added. Before World War I the guardsmen were used by Gov. Lee Cruce (pictured left) to combat illegal boxing and horse racing operations and liquor- and blue-law violations.[9]

Mexican border duty

The National Defense Act (The Dick Act) passed on June 3, 1916 which formally created the National Guard as a reserve component of the US Army, and fifteen days later the Oklahoma National Guard was called into federal service for duty along the Mexican border. After mobilization in Oklahoma City, the guardsmen moved to San Benito and Donna, Texas.[9] They returned home after guarding the border, tedious duty, but one which gave them valuable field experience, and were mustered out on March 12, 1917. Colonel Roy Hoffman commanded the regiment, and Captain W. S. Key was in charge of a company from Wewoka. Both were later to be commanders of the 45th Division. They returned to Oklahoma to be discharged just in time to be called up for World War I.

World War One

The First Oklahoma Infantry was mobilized for service in World War I on March 31, 1917. At Camp Bowie, Texas, the First Oklahoma combined with the Seventh Texas Infantry to form the 142d Regiment of the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division. The guardsmen arrived in France on July 31, 1918, and in October served around Blanc Mont Ridge and in the Ferme Forest.[9] One of the machine gun companies was commanded by Captain Raymond S. McLain, who in World War II would attain the highest combat command position ever to be reached by a National Guardsman. This was as commanding general of the XIX U. S. Army Corps. The 142nd Regiment was part of the capture of St. Etienne on October 9, 1918. They were in reserve when the war ended on November 11, 1918. The troops were discharged in July 1919.

General Raymond McLain

One of the more significant contributions was the origination of the Native American "Code Talkers." The 142nd had a company of Indians who spoke 26 languages and dialects. Two Indian officers were selected to supervise a communications system staffed by 18 Choctaw. The team transmitted messages relating to troop movements and their own tactical plans in their native tongue. Soldiers from other tribes, including the Cheyenne, Comanche, Cherokee, Osage and Yankton Sioux also were enlisted to communicate as code talkers. Previous to their arrival in France, the Germans had broken every American code used, resulting in the deaths of many Soldiers. However, the Germans never broke the Indians' "code," and these Soldiers became affectionately known as "code talkers."

Other Oklahoma units, smaller than regiment, several of which would later be combined to form today’s 700th Support Battalion, the element of today's Brigade with the most combat credit, became part of the Rainbow, or 42nd Infantry Division, and conscripts went to the 90th Texas-Oklahoma Infantry Division. All three of these divisions saw combat in France.

Homefront between the wars

To replace the guardsmen on active duty, in 1918 the Second and Third Oklahoma Infantry Regiments (the future 1-179th Infantry Battalion) and a separate infantry battalion were recruited. These units later combined and constituted the Oklahoma National Guard until 1920. In 1919 these troops were sent to Drumright, Henryetta, Coalgate, and Haileyville during a labor disturbance.[9]

In 1920, William S. Key, having attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, was discharged from the US Army after World War I to resume his commission in the Guard. He was appointed Captain, Field Artillery, Oklahoma Army National Guard and assigned to organize a tight artillery battery at Wewoka, Oklahoma. This horse drawn 75mm battery was federally recognized as Battery A, 1st Oklahoma Field Artillery on July 28, 1920. As white horses served as artillery animals, Battery "A" became known as the "White Horse Battery". Other artillery elements were organized in the Oklahoma National Guard, and on 18 July 1921, the 1st Oklahoma Field Artillery Regiment, consisting of a Regimental Headquarters and two firing battalions was federally recognized. In October 1921, the 1st Oklahoma Field Artillery became the 160th Field Artillery Regiment, consisting of the 1st and 2nd Battalions.

Between the World Wars the Oklahoma National Guard was frequently called to state duty. In 1921 the guardsmen were rushed to the Tulsa Race Riot. Gov. Jack C. Walton used the troops to prevent the legislature from convening during his impeachment. Gov. William H. Murray dispatched the National Guard thirty-four times during his administration, and Gov. Ernest W. Marland used guardsmen to allow the drilling of oil wells on the Capitol grounds in Oklahoma City.[9]

World War II and Korea

The history of the Oklahoma National Guard is largely the history of the 45th Infantry Division. The division was activated in 1940 and sent to Fort Sill, then to Camp Barkeley, Texas, where it was enlarged, then divided. The 158th Regiment and the Second Battalion of the 158th Artillery, were separated to form the 158th Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which served in the Panama Canal Zone and in the Southwest Pacific. Another battalion deployed to Alaska to help build the Alcan Highway and participate in the invasion of Okinawa, and another was posted to Asia to help construct the Burma Road. The remaining components of the 45th Division were sent to Sicily in 1943, where they fought in the campaigns of Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France, Rhineland, and Central Europe. After returning from Europe, the unit was deactivated on December 7, 1945.[9]

The New Millennium

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the US Gulf Coast in September 2005. Soon after returning from Afghanistan, the 180th Infantry Regiment sent 200 soldiers to Louisiana in support of relief operations immediately following Katrina. Oklahoma's response to Katrina was so rapid and so well prepared that the commander of the Oklahoma contingent was made the commander of the 13,000 person multi state and service task force on the ground. In support of relief operations the 180th saved many lives and received numerous awards.[13]

In late 2005 the 180th was notified of an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in support of Task Force Phoenix V, as the security force for the Oregon Army National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade. Companies C, D, and Headquarters Company deployed in March 2006. Members of other companies accompanied the battalion to provide needed critical skills. While in Afghanistan the 1-180th received eight Purple Hearts and several citations for valor. The 180th lost its first combat casualty in the conflict in Afghanistan when Sergeant Buddie Hughie of Poteau was killed in action while performing duties as a combat medic on 19 February 2007.[14]

Adjutants General of Oklahoma

Territorial government

BG Carson Jamison December 23, 1894 July 10, 1897
BG Phil C. Rosenbaum July 10, 1897 March 26, 1898
BG Bert C. Orner (acting) March 26, 1898 March 11, 1899
BG Harry C. Barnes March 11, 1899 September 4, 1901
BG E.P. Burlingame September 4, 1901 February 28, 1906
BG Alva J. Niles March 1, 1906 November 16, 1907

State government

Command Sergeants Major of Oklahoma

Oklahoma National Guard state awards[16]


  1. "Assistant AG- Army". Oklahoma Military Department.
  2. "Assistant AG- Army". Oklahoma Military Department.
  3. "Assistant AG- Air". Oklahoma Military Department.
  4. "CSM Army National Guard". Oklahoma Military Department.
  5. "CCMSgt Air National Guard". Oklahoma Military Department.
  6. "Director, Joint Staff". Oklahoma Military Department.
  7. "90th Troop Command Overview" (PDF). Oklahoma National Guard.
  8. "45th Fires Brigade Retirees' Brief" (PDF). Oklahoma National Guard.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Kenny A. Franks. "Oklahoma National Guard." Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Accessed July 27, 2015.
  10. Whitlock 2005, p. 14
  11. Whitlock 2005, p. 15
  12. Whitlock 2005, p. 16
  13. Wombwell, James A. "Army Support During the Hurricane Katrina Disaster" (PDF). The Long War Series.
  14. Meek, Danny L. "SECFOR Duties of Task Force Phoenix V". USASMA. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  15. 1 2 Wood, COL Billy R. (2011). Lords of Darkness: A History of the 45th Avn Bn (Sp Ops) and OKARNG Aviation. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. pp. 601–603. ISBN 978-1-4620-2724-8.
  16. OMD Regulation 672-1. Oklahoma Military Department. 2010.
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