National Guard What you should know about the oldest part of the US Armed Forces

The US National Guard is a reserve military force and is the oldest component of the US armed forces.

Its birthday is celebrated each December 13.

It was formed in 1636 as a militia of the colonists in North America, and is guaranteed by the US Constitution

The term "national guard" actually came from the Marquis de Lafayette, the American Revolutionary War hero from France who popularized the term on an 1824 visit to the US.

It consists of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard.

Each US state, territory and Washington, DC, has its own National Guard

The National Guard takes an oath to perform state or federal missions and can be deployed for either. A governor can call up troops during civil disturbances or national disasters.

The president can order troops for federal missions both domestically and in foreign nations.

In times of peace, the National Guard trains or "drills" one weekend a month and two weeks during the year.

Members of the National Guard have fought in every US war since 1637.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, they've had at least 850,000 deployments overseas.