Military of the United States

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United States armed forces
Military manpower
Military age 18 years of age
Availability males & females ages 18-49: 134,813,023 (2005 est.)
Reaching military age annually males & females: 4,180,074 (2005 est.)
Active troops 1,427,000 (Ranked 2nd)
Military expenditures
Dollar figure $400 billion (FY2005 est.)
Percent of GDP 3.7% (FY2005 est.)

The armed forces of the United States of America consist of the

Approximately 1.4 million personnel are currently on active duty in the military with an additional 860,000 personnel in the seven reserve components (456,000 of which are in the Army and Air National Guard). There is currently no conscription. The armed forces are also members of the United States Uniformed Services. The United States Armed Forces is the most powerful military in the world and their power projection capabilities are unrivaled by any other singular nation (e.g. People's Republic of China, Russia, India) or organization (e.g. the European Union). The United States Department of Defense is the controlling organization for the U.S. military and is headquartered at The Pentagon. The Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military is the President of the United States.

The United States military is a hierarchical military organization, with a system of military ranks to denote levels of authority within the organization. The military service is divided into a professional officer corps along with a greater number of enlisted personnel who perform day-to-day military operations. The United States officer corps is not restricted by society class, education, or nobility. United States military officers are appointed from a variety of sources, including the service academies, ROTC, and direct appointment from both civilian status and the enlisted ranks.

The U.S. military also maintains a number of military awards and badges to denote the qualifications and accomplishments of military personnel.

On July 26, 1948 U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 which racially desegregated the military of the United States. Homosexuals, however, are still barred from serving openly (see Don't ask, don't tell.) By law, women may not be put into direct combat; however, assymmetrical warfare has put women into situations which are direct combat operations in all but name. (Approximately 9% of Army positions available; see [2] as an example).

Military of the United States
Flag of the United States
USA seal U.S. Army | USN seal U.S. Navy | USAF seal U.S. Air Force | USMC seal U.S. Marine Corps | USCG seal U.S. Coast Guard

The American Soldier,Time Magazine's Person of the Year, 2003.
The American Soldier,
Time Magazine's Person of the Year, 2003.



Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equalling, the power of the United States. — President George W. Bush, National Security Strategy, Chapter IX, September 2002.

The United States military is unique in the amount of power it can project globally. Although France and the United Kingdom are capable of projecting limited amounts of power overseas, the United States military is the only military capable of fighting a major regional war at a distance from its homeland. The U.S. is also one of the few nations in the world that has a sizable nuclear arsenal and maintains active doctrines for plausible nuclear attack operations.

As such, much of the U.S. military capabilities are tied up in logistics and transportation, which allow rapid buildup of forces as needed. The Air Force maintains a large fleet of C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster, and C-130 Hercules transportation aircraft. The Marine Corps maintains Marine Expeditionary Units at sea with the Navy's Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. The Navy's fleet of 12 aircraft carriers, combined with a military doctrine of power projection, enable a flexible response to potential threats.

The United States Army is not as portable as the Marine Corps, but Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker announced a reorganization of the Army's active-duty units into 48 brigade groups with an emphasis on power projection. There will be three classes of brigade group: light, medium, and heavy, with a different mix of armored and infantry units. In reorganizing the Army, however, battaltions will still be affiliated with traditional regiments and brigades will still be affiliated with traditional divisions.


Under the United States Constitution, the President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. To coordinate military action with diplomatic action, the President has an advisory National Security Council.

Under the President is the United States Secretary of Defense, a Cabinet Secretary responsible for the Department of Defense.

Both the President and Secretary are advised by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In accordance with the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 (which fundamentally changed the organisation of the Department) the 4 Service Chiefs together with the Chairman and Vice Chairman form the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However operational control flows from the President and Secretary of Defense to the Commanders of the Unified Combatant Commands. (see Goldwater-Nichols Act) Each service is responsible for providing military units to the commanders of the various Unified Commands.

National Command organizational chart

                  |           |              |             |
                  |           |              |             |
                  |         SECDEF ----------|             |
                  |           |              |             |
                  |           |         Chairman JCOS     NSC
                  |           |              | 
                  |           |              | 
               Regional Combatant            JCOS
               Commander or Commanders      
               (functional command)
              Army, Navy, Air Force,
             Marine Corps commanding 

Joint Chiefs of Staff

The 4 Service Chiefs together with the Chairman and Vice Chairman form the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace (USMC)
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani (USN)
Chief of Staff of the United States Army Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker (USA)
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael G. Mullen (USN)
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael W. Hagee (USMC)
Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley (USAF)

Unified Combatant Commands

There are 9 Unified Combatant Commands- 5 geographic and 4 functional.

Command Commander Home Base Area of Responsibility
United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM) Admiral Timothy J. Keating (USN) Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado North American homeland defense and coordinating homeland security with civilian forces.
United States Central Command (CENTCOM), General John Abizaid (USA) Macdill Air Force Base, Florida The Horn of Africa through the Persian Gulf region, into Central Asia.
United States European Command (EUCOM) General James L. Jones (USMC) (also Supreme Allied Commander Europe(SACEUR)) Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany Europe and African and Middle Eastern nations not covered by CENTCOM.
U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) Admiral William J. Fallon (USN) Honolulu, Hawaii The Asia-Pacific region including Hawaii.
U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) General Bantz J. Craddock (USA) Miami, Florida South, Central America and the surrounding waters
The 5 Geographic Commands
image:Unified Command map s.jpg
U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) General Bryan D. Brown (USA) MacDill Air Force Base, Florida Provides special operations for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) Lieutenant General Robert W. Wagner (USA) (acting) (also Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT)) Norfolk, Virginia Supports other commands as a joint force provider.
United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) General James E. Cartwright (USMC) Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska Covers the strategic deterrent force and coordinates the use of space assets.
U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) General Norton A. Schwartz (USAF) Scott Air Force Base, Illinois Covers global mobility of all military assets for all regional commands.



As in most militaries, members of the U.S. armed forces hold ranks and can be promoted, and subscribes to the Officer/Enlisted distinction.


After enlistment new recruits undergo Basic Training, followed by Advanced Individual Training in their primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) at any of the numerous MOS training facilities around the world. Initially recruits without higher education, or college degrees will hold an E-1 rank, and will be elevated to E-2 following Basic Training or soon thereafter. Different services have different incentive programs for enlistees, such as higher initial ranks for college credit and referring friends who go on to enlist as well. Enlistees in the Army can even attain the initial rank of E-4 with a full four year degree, but generally the highest initial rank is E-3.


There are four common ways for one to receive a commission as an officer in one of the branches of the U.S. military (although other routes are possible).

  • Reserve Officer Training School (ROTC)
  • Officer Candidate School (OCS)
  • Military Academy
  • Direct Commission - Lawyers, doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and chaplains may be directly commissioned into their respective corps. There also are opportunities in the Reserves and National Guard for those who have significant professional civilian experience in a related field, and time in service.

Officers receive a commission assigning them to the Officer Corps from the President.

Through their careers, officers usually will receive further training at one or a number of the many U.S. military staff colleges.

Warrant Officer

Additionally, all services except for the U.S. Air Force have a Warrant Officer corps. Above the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Two, these officers are also commissioned officers, but usually serve in a more technical and specialized role within units. More recently though they can also serve in more traditional leadership roles associated with the more recognizable officer corps. With one notable exception, these officers ordinarily have already been in the military often serving in senior NCO positions in the field in which they later serve as a Warrant Officer as a technical expert. The exception to the NCO rule is helicopter pilots in the U.S. Army, although most Army pilots have indeed served some enlisted time, it is also possible to enlist, complete basic training, go directly to the Warrant Officer Candidate school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and then on to flight school.

Personnel in each service

As of the middle of 2004

Service Total Active Duty Personnel Percentage Female Enlisted Officers
Army 500,203 15.2% 414,325 69,307
Marine Corps 176,202 6.0% 157,150 19,052
Navy 375,521 14.5% 319,929 55,592
Air Force 358,612 19.6% 285,520 73,091
Coast Guard 40,151 10.7% 31,286 7,835

Personnel deployed

Main article: Deployments of the U.S. Military


The United States has military personnel deployed in numerous countries around the world, with numbers ranging from merely a handful to tens of thousands. Some of the largest contingents are:

Germany 75,603
South Korea (United States Forces Korea) 40,258
Japan (United States Forces Japan) 40,045
Italy 13,354
United Kingdom 11,801
Iraq 148,000 (May 2005)

Within the United States

Including territories and ships afloat within territorial waters

A total of 1,168,195 personnel are within the United States including some deployments in:

Continental U.S. 1,168,195
Hawaii 35,810
Alaska 17,989
Afloat 120,666

Budget Comparison


see main article U.S. military budget

The military expenditure of the Department of Defence for 2004 was:

Total $437.111 Billion
Operations and maintenance $174.081 Bil.
Military Personnel $113.576 Bil.
Procurement $76.217 Bil.
Research & Development $60.756 Bil.
Military Construction $6.310 Bil.

The United States military budget is larger than the military budgets of the next twenty biggest spenders combined, and six times larger than China's, which places second (it is noteworthy that China however massively underestimates its actual military expenditure). Dollar for dollar, the United States and its closest allies are responsible for approximately two-thirds of all military spending on Earth (of which, in turn, the U.S. is responsible for two-thirds). Military spending accounts for more than half of the United States' federal discretionary spending, which comprises all of the U.S. government's money not accounted for by pre-existing obligations [3].

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2003 the United States spent approximately 47% of the world's total military spending of US$956,000,000,000.


  • The Posse Comitatus Act restricts the armed forces from interfering with civilian affairs, with the exception of the Coast Guard.

See also

External links

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