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The United States Army is the largest and oldest branch of the armed forces of the United States. Like all armies, it has the primary responsibility for land-based military operations.
The modern Army had its roots in the Continental Army which was formed on June 14, 1775, before the establishment of the United States, to meet the demands of the American Revolutionary War. Congress created the United States Army on June 3, 1784 after the end of the war to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The Army considers itself to be descended from the Continental Army, and thus dates its inception from the origins of that force.
Control and operation of the Army is administered by the Department of the Army, one of the three service departments of the Department of Defense. The civilian head is the Secretary of the Army and the highest ranking military officer in the department is the Chief of Staff. As of August 31, 2007, the Regular Army reported a strength of 519,471 soldiers. By the end of 2006, the Army National Guard (ARNG) reported 346,288 and the United States Army Reserve (USAR) reported 189,975, putting the approximate combined component strength total at 1,055,734.
The Medal of Honor
is the highest military decoration
awarded by the United States
. It is often colloquially referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor
because the President
presents the award "in the name of the Congress". It is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself "…conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States…"
Members of all branches of the U.S. military are eligible to receive the medal, and each service has a unique design (although the Marine Corps uses the Navy's medal and a specific Coast Guard's version of the medal has never been awarded. The Medal of Honor is often presented personally to the recipient or, in the case of posthumous awards, to survivors, by the President of the United States. Due to its high status, the medal has special protection under U.S. law.
A shell casing flies out with a trail of smoke as U.S. Army PFC Michael Freise fires an M4 carbine rifle during a firing exercise.
Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Day, defenselink.mil
The Black Beret and ACU
Replacement of Black Beret by Patrol Cap one of several changes made by uniform board
After polling Army personnel for input, the Army's uniform board has instituted several changes to the Army's attire. First and foremost, the Black Beret will be relegated to the Army's service dress uniform. Velcro is also being made optional for some closures. Soldiers will be provided the chance to sew patches to their uniform.
The beret has been the standard headgear for the Army's ACU combat uniform since June 2001. The beret is worn on base and for ceremonies while the patrol cap is worn in the field. Soldiers disliked the beret for its nonexistent practical purpose and the redundancy of having to carry both a beret and hat at all times. “The [ACU] signifies a uniform that should be worn in combat or training for combat, yet a beret doesn’t even make the cut on the deployment packing list,” said one NCO. The Army will now issue only one beret to each soldier for a cost savings of $6.5 million over the lifecycle of the ACU.
Soldiers will still wear their berets with their Army Service Uniform. Soldiers are pleased overall with the appearance of the beret on the ASU. The change does not effect Special Forces soldiers such as the Army Special Forces who wear distinctive Green Berets.
Velcro replaced buttons on the digital ACU replacement for the BDU. Velcro was received as being too noisy, messy, and unprofessional looking by early users after the new ACU uniform was adopted by the Army. Soldiers voiced their opposition to velcro to the Army's Uniform board earlier this year prior to the decision.
Sources: AT:Beret going away?, AT:Army dumps Beret, ANS:Velcro optional, Patrol Cap default
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