Champagne unit
Champagne unit is a pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 term used to describe US military units that had been staffed by celebrities or people from wealthy or politically powerful families. Such units were often part of the National Guard
United States National Guard
The National Guard of the United States is a reserve military force composed of state National Guard militia members or units under federally recognized active or inactive armed force service for the United States. Militia members are citizen soldiers, meaning they work part time for the National...

, and assigned to lower-risk duty inside the United States. The connotation is that such units were havens for those with connections who wish to avoid conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 into more dangerous duty while still gaining the prestige afforded in the United States to military service. Over a century earlier, a term used to describe the same type of unit was silk-stocking regiment after the New York's 7th Regiment
7th New York Militia
The 7th Regiment of the New York Militia aka "Silk Stocking" Regiment, , was an infantry regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War....

, whose well-heeled members actually built their own armory, the Seventh Regiment Armory
Seventh Regiment Armory
The Seventh Regiment Armory, located at 643 Park Avenue also known as in New York, New York, United States, is an historic brick building that fills an entire city block on New York's Upper East Side.- History :...

 on Park Avenue in the upper East side of Manhattan.

Vietnam War

During the Vietnam war, service in the National Guard and Reserve components were seen as a way to avoid combat. Although some number of Guard and Reserve units were in fact "called-up" to combat duty in every US war since they were founded, the risk was especially low in the 1970s. Only 8700 of these soldiers were sent to Vietnam, 0.3% of the personnel who served. Furthermore, a greatly disproportionate number of famous, wealthy, and/or politically connected young men received slots in the Guard or Reserves during Vietnam, including 360 professional athletes such as Bill Bradley
Bill Bradley
William Warren "Bill" Bradley is an American hall of fame basketball player, Rhodes scholar, and former three-term Democratic U.S. Senator from New Jersey. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party's nomination for President in the 2000 election.Bradley was born and raised in a suburb of St....

 and Nolan Ryan
Nolan Ryan
Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr. , nicknamed "The Ryan Express", is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. He is currently principal owner, president and CEO of the Texas Rangers....


Commenting on this disparity, General Colin Powell
Colin Powell
Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position. During his military...

 wrote in his autobiography, "I am angry that so many sons of the powerful and well placed and many professional athletes (who were probably healthier than any of us) managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units. Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to our country."

147th Fighter Group

One well known champagne unit was the Texas Air National Guard
Texas Air National Guard
The Texas Air National Guard is the air force militia of the U.S. state of Texas and a component of the Texas Military Forces...

 147th Fighter Interceptor Group, at Ellington Field
Ellington Field
Ellington International Airport is a joint civil-military airport located in the U.S. state of Texas within the city of Houston— southeast of Downtown. Established by the Army Air Service on 21 May 1917, Ellington Field was one of the initial World War I Army Air Service installations when...

 in Houston. During the Vietnam War many well-connected sons landed in this posting, sometimes with the help of politicians such as Ben Barnes.
  • Lloyd Bentsen Jr., son of Lloyd Bentsen
    Lloyd Bentsen
    Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Jr. was a four-term United States senator from Texas and the Democratic Party nominee for Vice President in 1988 on the Michael Dukakis ticket. He also served in the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1955. In his later political life, he was Chairman of the Senate...

  • George W. Bush
    George W. Bush
    George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

    , son of George H. W. Bush
    George H. W. Bush
    George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

  • John Connally III, son of John Connally
    John Connally
    John Bowden Connally, Jr. , was an influential American politician, serving as the 39th governor of Texas, Secretary of the Navy under President John F. Kennedy, and as Secretary of the Treasury under President Richard M. Nixon. While he was Governor in 1963, Connally was a passenger in the car in...

  • the son of John Tower
    John Tower
    John Goodwin Tower was the first Republican United States senator from Texas since Reconstruction. He served from 1961 until his retirement in January 1985, after which time he was the chairman of the Reagan-appointed Tower Commission that investigated the Iran-Contra Affair. He was George H. W...

  • James R. Bath
    James R. Bath
    James Reynolds Bath is a former director of Bank of Credit and Commerce International , and also former part owner of Arbusto Energy with George W. Bush, with whom Bath served as a member of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War...

  • seven members of the Dallas Cowboys
    Dallas Cowboys
    The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football franchise which plays in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference of the National Football League . They are headquartered in Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas...

No More Champagne

The Total Force Policy, implemented in the aftermath of the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 by General Creighton Abrams
Creighton Abrams
Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. was a general in the United States Army who commanded military operations in the Vietnam War from 1968–72 which saw U.S. troop strength in Vietnam fall from a peak of 543,000 to 49,000. He served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1972 until shortly...

, has eliminated the Guard's and Reserve's shelter from combat. In 2004, National Guard and Reserve units comprised 40 percent of all US forces serving in Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. As of 2006, 270,000 Guard members (60% of the total force) had been deployed overseas for the maximum amount of time allowed by military regulations.

External links

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