What's the Difference Between Title 10 and Title 32 Mobilization Orders?

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Members of the Illinois Air National Guard assemble medical equipment.
Members of the Illinois Air National Guard assemble medical equipment at the McCormick Place Convention Center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago, Ill., March 30, 2020. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Jay Grabiec)

National Guard members being mobilized for active service may find that their orders mention Title 10 or Title 32 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), but what exactly does that mean and what is the difference?

To the average soldier, there is no difference -- so long as their orders are for more than 30 days.

When mobilized (or activated) under Title 10 U.S.C., you are directed by the president to report for active duty in an official capacity. You are being activated for federal active-duty military service. When in federal service, Guard personnel typically participate in military operations and are entitled to the same pay, benefits and legal protections as active military members.

Activation under Title 32 U.S.C. means that your state's governor has been authorized or directed by the president to mobilize or activate the National Guard in your state. You perform on active duty under state control, but with pay and benefits provided by the federal government. As long as your Title 32 orders are for more than 30, you are still entitled to the same federal benefits as someone activated under Title 10 orders.

Mobilization orders may come with different duties. Title 10 service can include overseas mobilizations; Title 32 does not. Normally, Title 32 orders are for natural disasters, while Title 10 orders are for national defense. However, this isn't always the case.

Guard members may also be ordered to active duty solely by command of their state's governor. This is known as "State Active Duty" or "State Call Up" and generally is in response to state-level disasters. When ordered to State Active Duty or Title 32 orders, Guard members may be granted the ability to act in a law enforcement capacity; this is prohibited when they are activated under Title 10 unless authorized by Congress.

When activated in this manner, Guard members are state employees, not federal employees, and their pay and benefits are determined by state law. They are not eligible for federal benefits.

Both Title 10 and Title 32 orders of at least 31 days give Guard members access to numerous federal benefits, such as Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH); lower-cost Tricare coverage; Department of Veterans Affairs benefits like the GI Bill or Home Loan Guaranty program; Space-A travel for themselves and accompanying dependents; and on-base child care.

Members may also contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) retirement program. And they are eligible for federal legal protections under the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

Orders of 30 days or less still give Guard members basic pay and allowances, as well as travel pay to and from their duty station. They also receive BAH, but at a rate that does not vary by location, commonly known as BAH Type II, If they are activated for more than 30 days, the BAH will be paid based on their permanent duty station location, which is generally more. Tricare Reserve Select and the Tricare Dental program are also available to Guard members and their families for a monthly premium. And all service will give them retirement credit.

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