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United States Armed Forces

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United States Armed Forces
Mark of the United States Army.svg Emblem of the United States Marine Corps.svg Emblem of the United States Navy.svg
Mark of the United States Air Force.svg Seal of the United States Space Force.svg Seal of the United States Coast Guard.svg
Emblems of the U.S. Armed Forces' service branches
Founded14 June 1775; 247 years ago (1775-06-14)[a]
Service branches
HeadquartersThe Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia
Leadership
Commander-in-Chief President Joe Biden
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff GEN Mark A. Milley, USA
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ADM Christopher W. Grady, USN
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman SEAC Ramón Colón-López, USAF
Personnel
Military age17 with parental consent, 18 for voluntary service.[b]
ConscriptionMale only (inactive since 1973)
Available for
military service
17 million[4], age 18–25 (2016)
Reaching military
age annually
2 million[5] (2016)
Active personnel1,358,500[6] (ranked 3rd)
Reserve personnel799,500[7]
Expenditures
BudgetUS$782 billion (2022)[8] (ranked 1st)
Percent of GDP3.42% (2019)[9]
Industry
Domestic suppliersList
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of the United States
RanksCommissioned officer

Warrant officer

Enlisted

The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States.[10] The armed forces consists of six service branches: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard.[11][12] The president of the United States is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and forms military policy with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), both federal executive departments, acting as the principal organs by which military policy is carried out. All six armed services are among the eight uniformed services of the United States.[13]

From their inception during the American Revolutionary War, the U.S. Armed Forces have played a decisive role in the history of the United States. They helped forge a sense of national unity and identity through victories in the First Barbary War and the Second Barbary War. They played a critical role in the American Civil War, keeping the Confederacy from seceding from the republic and preserving the union. The National Security Act of 1947, adopted following World War II, created the modern U.S. military framework. The Act established the National Military Establishment, headed by the secretary of defense; and created the United States Air Force and the National Security Council. It was amended in 1949, renaming the National Military Establishment the Department of Defense, and merged the cabinet-level Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, and Department of the Air Force, into the Department of Defense.

The U.S. Armed Forces are one of the largest military forces in terms of personnel. They draw their personnel from a large pool of professional volunteers. Although military conscription has been used in the past, it has not been used in the U.S. since 1973. The Selective Service System retains the power to conscript males, and requires that all male citizens and residents residing in the U.S. between the ages of 18–25 register with the service.

The U.S. Armed Forces are considered the world's most powerful military.[14] The military budget of the United States was US$693 billion in 2019, the highest in the world.[15] In 2018, that accounted for 36 percent of the world's defense expenditures. The U.S. Armed Forces has significant capabilities in both defense and power projection due to its large budget, resulting in advanced and powerful technologies which enables a widespread deployment of the force around the world, including around 800 military bases outside the United States.[16] The U.S. Air Force is the world's largest air force, while the U.S. Army Aviation Branch is the second largest. The U.S. Naval Air Forces is the fourth largest air arm in the world and is the largest naval aviation service, while U.S. Marine Corps Aviation is the world's seventh largest air arm.[17] The U.S. Navy is the world's largest navy by tonnage.[18] The U.S. Coast Guard is the world's 12th largest maritime force.[19] The U.S. Space Force is the world's only active independent space force.[20][21]

History

The history of the U.S. Armed Forces dates back to 14 June 1775, with the creation of the Continental Army, even before the Declaration of Independence marked the establishment of the United States.[22] The Continental Navy, established on 13 October 1775, and Continental Marines, established on 10 November 1775, were created in close succession by the Second Continental Congress in order to defend the new nation against the British Empire in the American Revolutionary War.[23][24]

These forces demobilized in 1784 after the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War. The Congress of the Confederation created the current United States Army on 3 June 1784.[22] The United States Congress created the current United States Navy on 27 March 1794 and the current United States Marine Corps on 11 July 1798.[23][25] All three services trace their origins to their respective Continental predecessors. The 1787 adoption of the Constitution gave Congress the power to "raise and support armies", to "provide and maintain a navy" and to "make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces", as well as the power to declare war. The President of the United States is the U.S. Armed Forces' commander-in-chief.[26]

The United States Coast Guard traces its origin to the formation of the Revenue Cutter Service on 4 August 1790, which merged with the United States Life-Saving Service on 28 January 1915 to establish the Coast Guard.[27][28] The United States Air Force was established as an independent service on 18 September 1947; it traces its origin to the formation of the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps, which was formed 1 August 1907 and was part of the Army Air Forces before being recognized as an independent service in the National Security Act of 1947.[29] The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps was formerly considered to be a branch of the United States Armed Forces from 29 July 1945 until 3 July 1952, and is now one of the eight uniformed services of the United States [30]

The United States Space Force was established as an independent service on 20 December 2019. It is the sixth branch of the U.S. military and the first new branch in 72 years.[31] The origin of the Space Force can be traced back to the Air Force Space Command, which was formed 1 September 1982 and was a major command of the United States Air Force.[32]

Structure

Presidential command over the U.S. Armed Forces is established in Article II in the Constitution whereby the president is named as the "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States."[33] The United States Armed Forces are split between two cabinet departments, with the Department of Defense serving as the primary cabinet department for military affairs and the Department of Homeland Security responsible for administering the United States Coast Guard.[34]

The military chain of command flows from the President of the United States to the secretary of defense (for services under the Defense Department) or secretary of homeland security (for services under the Department of Homeland Security), ensuring civilian control of the military. Within the Department of Defense, the military departments (Department of the Army, United States Department of the Navy, and Department of the Air Force) are civilian led entities that oversee the coequal military service branches organized within each department. The military departments and services are responsible for organizing, training, and equipping forces, with the actual chain of command flowing through the unified combatant commands.[35]

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in December 2020

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, although outside the operational chain of command, is the senior-most military body in the United States Armed Forces. It is led by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is the military head of the armed forces and principal advisor to the president and secretary of defense on military matters. Their deputy is the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Other members include the chief of staff of the Army, commandant of the Marine Corps, chief of naval operations, chief of staff of the Air Force, chief of space operations, and the chief of the National Guard Bureau.[36] The commandant of the Coast Guard is not an official member of the Joint Chiefs, but sometimes attends meetings as the one of the military service chiefs. The Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman is the most senior enlisted member in the United States Armed Forces.[37]

Leadership of the Armed Forces, to include the president of the United States, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are members of the United States National Security Council, which advises the president on national security, military, and foreign policy matters.[38] The National Security Advisor, Homeland Security Advisor, and the Deputy National Security Advisor may also be members of the United States Armed Forces.[39][40] The National Security Council Deputies Committee also includes the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[41] Military leadership, including the Secretary of Defense, United States Secretary of Homeland Security, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also sit on the National Space Council.[42]

Service branches

Organization of the military services and military departments within the Department of Defense

The United States Armed Forces is composed of six coequal military service branches. Five of the branches, the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, United States Air Force, and United States Space Force are organized under the Department of Defense's military departments. The United States Coast Guard is nominally under the Department of Homeland Security, but may be transferred to the Department of Defense's Department of the Navy (which is the civilian entity that oversees the coequal U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy) at the direction of the president or congress. With the exception of the Coast Guard, the military services only organize, train, and equip forces. The unified combatant commands are responsible for operational control of non-service retained forces.

Army

The United States Army (USA) is the land service branch of the United States Armed Forces and part of the civilian-led Department of the Army, which is led by the Secretary of the Army. The military head of the U.S. Army is the chief of staff of the Army, who is assisted by the vice chief of staff of the United States Army and sergeant major of the Army. It was founded on 14 June 1775 as the Continental Army.

The five core competencies of the Army are to conduct:[43]

  1. Prompt and sustained land combat
  2. Combined arms operations
    1. Combined arms maneuver and wide area security
    2. Armored and mechanized operations
    3. Airborne and air assault operations
  3. Special operations
  4. Set and sustain the theater for the joint force
  5. Integrate national, multinational, and joint power on land
U.S. Army Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division return fire during a firefight with Taliban forces in Barawala Kalay Valley in Kunar province, Afghanistan on 31 March 2011.

The U.S. Army is composed of the Regular Army, United States Army Reserve, and United States Army National Guard. The U.S. Army is organized into four army commands, which conduct the majority of the service's organize, train, and equip functions, ten Army service component commands, which command forces attached to the combatant commands, and twelve direct reporting units. The Army also organizes its personnel into 21 different basic branches.[44]

U.S. Army M1A2 Abrams tanks from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment maneuver in the streets as they conduct a combat patrol in the city of Tall Afar, Iraq, on 3 February 2005.

The four army commands are:

The U.S. Army's field structure is broken into several subdivisions under its commands:[45]

Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 130 - Army Group.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Army group: Only used during large scale wars or as part of multinational commands, consist of four to five field armies and 400,000 to 1 million soldiers. Usually responsible for directing campaigns in a certain geographical area and commanded by a general
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 120 - Army.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Field army: Consists of two or more corps or more than four divisions and consists of up to 90,000 soldiers commanded by a general or lieutenant general.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 110 - Corps.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Corps: Consists of two to five divisions and 20,000 to 45,000 soldiers commanded by a lieutenant general. A corps is the highest level of command that provides operational direction for combat operations, with higher levels concerned with administration rather than operations.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 090 - Division.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Division: Consists of three to four brigades and 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers commanded by a major general and are subdivided into airborne, armored, infantry, and mountain divisions. Each division conducts major tactical operations and sustained battlefield operations.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 080 - Brigade.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Brigade / Regiment / Group: Consists of two to three battalions and 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers commanded by a colonel. Armored and Ranger units are organized into regiments and Special Forces are organized into groups. In 2016, the Army reorganized its brigades into brigade combat teams, which are autonomous modular brigades that most commonly include one combat arms brigade and its assigned support and fire units.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 060 - Battalion.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Battalion / Squadron: Consist of four to six companies and consist of up to 1,000 soldiers commanded by a lieutenant colonel. Battalions are organized into combat arms battalions, combat support, and combat service support battalions by unit type. Armored and air cavalry are organized into squadrons. Battalions and squadrons conduct independent operations of limited scope and duration.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 050 - Company or Squadron or Battery.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Company / Battery / Troop: Consist of three to four platoons and a few dozen to 200 soldiers commanded by a captain. Artillery is organized into batteries and armored and air cavalry units are organized into troops. Companies, batteries, and troops are tactical-sized units that can perform a battlefield function on its own.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 030 - Platoon or Troop.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Platoon: Consists of two to three squads and up to 36 soldiers led by a first lieutenant or second lieutenant.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 020 - Section.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Squad / Section: Consists of two teams and four to ten soldiers led by a staff sergeant.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 010 -Detachment or Squad.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Team: Consists of four soldiers and led by a sergeant or corporal.

Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is the maritime land force service branch of the United States Armed Forces and part of the civilian-led Department of the Navy, which is led by the Secretary of the Navy. The military head of the U.S. Marine Corps is the commandant of the Marine Corps, who is assisted by the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps and sergeant major of the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps was founded on 10 November 1775 as the Continental Marines and disbanded in 1783, before being reestablished as the United States Marine Corps on 11 July 1798.[46]

U.S. Marines with India Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit run on the beach during an amphibious assault demonstration.

The Marine Corps is responsible for amphibious warfare and expeditionary warfare operations, having a very close relationship with its coequal sister service, the United States Navy. The U.S. Marine Corps is composed of the Regular Marine Corps and the United States Marine Corps Reserve. The central unit of the Marine Corps is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, which consist of a command element, ground combat element, aviation combat element, and logistics combat element. The Marine Corps is divided in the Fleet Marine Force and the Supporting Establishment.

The Fleet Marine Force includes:

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft attached to VMX-22 prepares to land on the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) in the Pacific Ocean.

The U.S. Marine Corps' Marine Air-Ground Task Force structure is broken into several levels under the Fleet Marine Force:[47]

Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 115 - Corps Expiditionary Force.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Marine Air Ground Task Force (USMC) (ADRP 1-02, 2015 Dec 07).svg
Marine Expeditionary Force: The largest type of Marine Air-Ground Task Force, consists of a marine division, air wing, and logistics group under a headquarters group and 20,000 to 90,000 marines and sailors commanded by a lieutenant general. The principal warfighting organization of the Marine Corps during larger crisis or contingencies, MEFs' are self-sufficient for 60 days.[48]
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 085 - Brigade Group or Brigade Combat Team.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Marine Air Ground Task Force (USMC) (ADRP 1-02, 2015 Dec 07).svg
Marine Expeditionary Brigade: The medium type of Marine Air-Ground task Force, consists of a reinforced infantry regiment, reinforced composite marine aircraft group, and task organized logistics combat regiment under a command element and 20,000 marines and sailors commanded by a brigadier general. Forward deployed MEUs provide an expeditionary force in readiness and are self-sufficient for 30 days.[48]
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 075 - Regiment Combat Team.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Marine Air Ground Task Force (USMC) (ADRP 1-02, 2015 Dec 07).svg
Marine Expeditionary Unit: The light type of Marine Air-Ground task Force, consists of a reinforced infantry battalion, reinforced composite aviation squadron, and task organized combat logistics battalion command element and 2,600 marines and sailors commanded by a colonel. Forward deployed MEUs provide an expeditionary force in readiness, capable of commencing missions on a six-hour timeline and are self-sufficient for 15 days.[48]

The U.S. Marine Corps' unit structure is broken into several subdivisions under the Fleet Marine Force:[47]

Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 090 - Division.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Marine division / Marine aircraft wing: Consists of three marine regiments or marine aircraft groups and 6,561 marines commanded by a major general.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 080 - Brigade.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Marine logistics group: Consists of three combat logistics regiments and commanded by a brigadier general.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 070 - Regiment or Group.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Marine regiment / Marine aircraft group: Consist of three or more marine battalions or marine aviation squadrons and 2,187 marines commanded by a colonel.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 060 - Battalion.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Marine battalion / Marine aviation squadron: Consists of three or more companies or 24 aircraft and 729 marines commanded by a lieutenant colonel.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 050 - Company or Squadron or Battery.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Company: Consists of three or more platoons and 243 marines commanded by a Captain.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 030 - Platoon or Troop.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Platoon: Consists of three squads and 27 marines commanded by a first lieutenant or second lieutenant.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 020 - Section.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Squad / Section: Consists of three teams and nine marines led by a sergeant.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 010 -Detachment or Squad.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Fire team: Consists of four marines led by a corporal.

Navy

The United States Navy (USN) is the maritime service branch of the United States Armed Forces and part of the civilian-led Department of the Navy, which is led by the Secretary of the Navy. The military head of the U.S. Navy is the chief of naval operations, who is assisted by the vice chief of naval operations and master chief petty officer of the Navy. The Navy was founded on 13 October 1775 as the Continental Navy, which was disbanded on 1 August 1785 before being reestablished as the modern U.S. Navy on 20 January 1794.[49]

The five enduring functions of the Navy are:[50]

  1. Sea control
  2. Power projection
  3. Deterrence
  4. Maritime security
  5. Sealift

The U.S. Navy is composed of the Regular Navy and United States Navy Reserve. The U.S. Navy is organized into eight navy component commands, which command operational forces, fifteen shore commands, which support the fleets' operating forces, five systems commands, which oversee the technical requirements of the Navy, and nine type commands, which administratively manage units of a certain type.

USS Nebraska (SSBN-739), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine underway in the Atlantic Ocean

The navy component commands are:[51]

The U.S. Navy's unit structure is broken into several subdivisions under the operating force:[51]

The U.S. Navy's unit structure is broken into several subdivisions under the type command structure. For Naval Air Forces:[51]

Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 070 - Regiment or Group.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Aviation - Naval - Fixed Wing (NATO APP-6C).svg
Carrier air wing / Wing: Consists of four strike fighter squadrons, one electronic attack squadron, one carrier airborne early warning squadron, on helicopter sea combat squadron, one helicopter maritime strike squadron, and one fleet logistic support squadron under the command of a captain.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 060 - Battalion.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Aviation - Naval - Fixed Wing (NATO APP-6C).svg
Squadron: Consists of several aircraft under the command of a commander.

Air Force

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air service branch of the United States Armed Forces and part of the civilian-led Department of the Air Force, which is led by the Secretary of the Air Force. The military head of the U.S. Air Force is the chief of staff of the Air Force, who is assisted by the vice chief of staff of the United States Air Force and chief master sergeant of the Air Force. It achieved independence on 18 September 1947 from the U.S. Army, but directly traces its history through the United States Army Air Forces, United States Army Air Corps, United States Army Air Service, the Division of Military Aeronautics, Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, to the birth of Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps on 1 August 1907.

F-22A Raptor in flight

The five core missions of the Air Force are:[52]

  1. Air superiority
  2. Global integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
  3. Rapid global mobility
  4. Global strike
  5. Command and control

The U.S. Air Force is composed of the Regular Air Force, United States Air Force Reserve, and United States Air National Guard. The U.S. Air Force is organized into nine major commands, which conduct the majority of the service's organize, train, and equip functions and command forces attached to the combatant commands.[53]

U.S. Air Force B-2A Spirit stealth bombers flying with Royal Air Force F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters

The Air Force's major commands are:

The U.S. Air Force's field structure is broken into several subdivisions under its major commands:[54]

Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 120 - Army.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Numbered air force / Named air force: Consists of multiple wings with a geographic or functional assignment commanded by a general or lieutenant general.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 080 - Brigade.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Wing: Consists of two or more groups commanded by a brigadier general or colonel. Wings typically contain an operations group, maintenance group, mission support group, and a medical group. There are two types of wings: composite wings or objective wings. Composite wings operate more than one kind of aircraft and may be designated as self-contained units designed for quick air intervention anywhere in the world. Objective wings are based on a single purpose, such as an operational, air base, or specialized mission.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 070 - Regiment or Group.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Group: Consists of two or more squadrons whose mission are similar or complementary commanded by a colonel.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 060 - Battalion.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Squadron: Consist of two or more flights commanded by a lieutenant colonel or major.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 050 - Company or Squadron or Battery.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Flight: Consists of individual airmen, sections, or shops commanded by a captain.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 010 -Detachment or Squad.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Element / Section: Consists of two or more airmen led by a staff sergeant or senior airman.

Space Force

The United States Space Force (USSF) is the space service branch of the United States Armed Forces and part of the civilian-led Department of the Air Force, which is led by the Secretary of the Air Force. The military head of the U.S. Space Force is the chief of space operations, who is assisted by the vice chief of space operations and senior enlisted advisor of the Space Force. It achieved independence on 20 December 2019 from the U.S. Air Force, but directly traces its history through Air Force Space Command to 1 September 1982, with even earlier history traced to the Western Development Division established on 1 July 1954.

The Sodium Guidestar at the Directed Energy Directorate's Starfire Optical Range for real-time, high-fidelity tracking and imaging of satellites

The five core competencies of the Space Force are:[55]

  1. Space security
  2. Combat power projection
  3. Space mobility and logistics
  4. Information mobility
  5. Space domain awareness
Boeing X-37B spaceplane after deorbiting and landing

The U.S. Space Force is composed of the Regular Space Force, not yet having organized a reserve component outside of the Air Force. The Space Force is organized into three field commands.[56]

The Space Force's field commands are:

The Space Force's field structure is broken into several subdivisions under its field commands:[56]

Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 080 - Brigade.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Delta / Garrison: Consists of two or more squadrons, or attached Air Force mission support and medical groups for garrisons and wings and a Space Force operations group for wings as well, commanded by a brigadier general or colonel. Deltas are responsible for executing a specific mission, while garrisons are responsible for installations support and management. Space Force wings are a legacy organizational structure inherited from the Air Force that manage a singular base and mission under one organization and are being phased out in favor of deltas and garrisons.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 060 - Battalion.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Squadron: Consist of two or more flights commanded by a lieutenant colonel.
Military Map Symbol - Unit Size - Dark Blue - 050 - Company or Squadron or Battery.svg
Military Symbol - Friendly Unit (Monochrome Dark 1.5x1 Frame)- Unspecified or Composite All-Arms (NATO APP-6).svg
Flight / Crew: Consists of individual guardians commanded by a captain, first lieutenant, or second lieutenant.

Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is the maritime security, search and rescue, and law enforcement service branch of the United States Armed Forces and part of the Department of Homeland Security, which is led by the Secretary of Homeland Security. It is the only military branch outside the Department of Defense, but can be transferred to the civilian-led Department of the Navy, which is led by the Secretary of the Navy, in the case that congress stipulates that when declaring war or the president directs.[57] The military head of the U.S. Coast Guard is the commandant of the Coast Guard, who is assisted by the vice commandant of the Coast Guard and master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard was founded as a military service branch on 4 August 1790 as the United States Revenue-Marine, before being renamed on 31 July 1894 as the United States Revenue Cutter Service. On 28 January 1915 it was merged with the civilian United States Life-Saving Service to form the United States Coast Guard. In 1939, the civilian United States Lighthouse Service was merged into the Coast Guard. The Revenue-Marine, and later the Coast Guard, were organized under the Department of the Treasury, transferring to the Department of the Navy during World War I and World War II. In 1967 it was transferred to the Department of Transportation, where it would reside until 2003 when it was permanently transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.

USCGC Hamilton and TCG Turgutries in the Black Sea, 30 April 2021

The eleven missions of the Coast Guard are:[58]

  1. Port and waterway security
  2. Drug interdiction
  3. Aids to navigation
  4. Search and rescue
  5. Living marine resources
  6. Marine safety
  7. Defense readiness
  8. Migrant interdiction
  9. Marine environmental protection
  10. Ice operations
  11. Law enforcement

The U.S. Coast Guard is composed of the Regular Coast Guard and United States Coast Guard Reserve. The U.S. Coast Guard is organized into two area commands that cover the entire globe.[59]

Combatant commands

Unified combatant commands areas of responsibility

Unified combatant commands are joint military commands consisting of forces from multiple military departments, with their chain of command flowing from the president, to the secretary of defense, to the commanders of the combatant commands. There are eleven unified combatant commands that come in two types. Geographic commands, such as Africa, Central, European, Indo-Pacific, Northern, Southern and Space commands are responsible for planning and operations in a certain geographic area. Functional commands, such as Cyber, Special Operations, Strategic, and Transportation commands are responsible for a functional activity that crosses geographic boundaries. Each service organizes, trains, and equips forces that are then presented to the unified combatant commands through service component commands. Special Operations Command and Cyber Command also present theater special operations commands or joint force headquarters – cyber to other combatant commanders. Army or Marine Corps components are typically dual-hatted as the joint force land component, Navy components are typically dual-hatted as the joint force maritime component, and Air Force components are typically dual-hatted as the joint force air component, with the theater special operations command dual-hatted as the joint force special operations component, and Space Force component typically dual-hatted as the joint force space component.[60]

Budget

Global military expenditures by country for 2019, in US$ billions, according to SIPRI

The United States has the world's largest military budget. In the fiscal year 2019, $693 billion in funding were enacted for the DoD and for "Overseas Contingency Operations" in the War against Terrorism.[15] Outside of direct DoD spending, the United States spends another $218 to $262 billion each year on other defense-related programs, such as Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, nuclear weapons maintenance and DoD.

In FY2016 $146.9 billion was allocated for the Department of the Army, $168.8 billion for the Department of the Navy, $161.8 billion for the Department of the Air Force, and $102.8 billion for DoD-wide spending.[61] By function, $138.6 billion was requested for personnel, $244.4 billion for operations and maintenance, $118.9 billion for procurement, $69.0 billion for research and development, $1.3 billion for revolving and management funds, $6.9 billion for military construction, and $1.3 billion for family housing.[61]

Personnel

Active duty military personnel numbers
  Air Force
  Marines
  Navy
  Army

The U.S. Armed Forces is the world's third largest military by active personnel, after the Chinese's People's Liberation Army and the Indian Armed Forces, consisting of 1,359,685 servicemembers in the regular armed forces with an additional 799,845 servicemembers in the reserves as of 28 February 2019.[62]

While the United States Armed Forces is an all-volunteer military, conscription through the Selective Service System can be enacted at the president's request and Congress' approval, with all males ages 18 through 25 who are living in the United States are required to register with the Selective Service.[63] Although the constitutionality of registering only males for Selective Service was challenged by federal district court in 2019, its legality was upheld by a federal appeals court in 2020.[64]

As in most militaries, members of the U.S. Armed Forces hold a rank, either that of officer, warrant officer or enlisted, to determine seniority and eligibility for promotion. Those who have served are known as veterans. Rank names may be different between services, but they are matched to each other by their corresponding paygrade.[65] Officers who hold the same rank or paygrade are distinguished by their date of rank to determine seniority, while officers who serve in certain positions of office of importance set by law, outrank all other officers in active duty of the same rank and paygrade, regardless of their date of rank.[66] In 2012, it was reported that only one in four persons in the United States of the proper age meet the moral, academic and physical standards for military service.[67]

Personnel by service

2020 Demographic Reports [68] and end strengths for reserve components.[61][69][70][71][72][73][74]

Component Military Enlisted Officer
Male
Female Civilian
 U.S. Army 481,254 387,974 93,280 465,784 69,345 299,644
 U.S. Marine Corps 180,958 159,508 21,450 181,845 15,551 20,484
 U.S. Navy 341,996 286,337 55,659 265,852 62,168 179,293
 U.S. Air Force 329,614 265,369 64,245 270,462 50,750 174,754
 U.S. Space Force 6,434 3,692 2,742
 U.S. Coast Guard 42,042 32,782 8,239
Total active 1,347,106 1,137,916 236,826 1,219,510 210,485 681,232
Seal of the United States Army National Guard.svg Army National Guard 336,879 291,865 45,014
Seal of the United States Army Reserve.svg U.S. Army Reserve 190,699 153,064 37,635
Marine Forces Reserve insignia (transparent background).png U.S. Marine Corps Reserve 38,473 34,079 4,394
United States NR Seal.svg U.S. Navy Reserve 57,650 43,596 14,054
US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg Air National Guard 106,549 91,274 15,275
AFR Shield.svg Air Force Reserve 68,216 54,658 13,558
United States Coast Guard Reserve emblem.png U.S. Coast Guard Reserve 6,142 5,086 1,056
Total reserves 807,562 673,622 130,986
Other DoD personnel 108,833

Rank structure

Rank in the United States Armed Forces is split into three distinct categories: officers, warrant officers, and enlisted personnel. Officers are the leadership of the military, holding commissions from the president of the United States and confirmed to their rank by the Senate. Warrant officers hold a warrant from the secretaries of the military departments, serving as specialist in certain military technologies and capabilities. Upon promotion to chief warrant officer 2, they gain a commission from the president of the United States. Enlisted personnel constitute the majority of the armed forces, serving as specialists and tactical-level leaders until they become senior non-commissioned officers or senior petty officers. Military ranks across the services can be compared by U.S. Uniformed Services pay grade or NATO rank code.[75]

Officer corps

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Uniformed services pay grade Special grade O-10 O-9 O-8 O-7 O-6 O-5 O-4 O-3 O-2 O-1 Officer candidate
 United States Army[76]
General of the Army General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain First lieutenant Second lieutenant Various
General of the Army General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain First lieutenant Second lieutenant Cadet / Officer candidate


 United States Marine Corps[77]
US Marine 10 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O9 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O8 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O7 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O6 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O5 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O4 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O3 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O2 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O1 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Navy OC shoulderboard.svg
(Various insignia)
General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain First lieutenant Second lieutenant Midshipman / officer candidate


 United States Navy[78]
US Navy O11 insignia.svg US Navy O10 insignia.svg US Navy O9 insignia.svg US Navy O8 insignia.svg US Navy O7 insignia.svg US Navy O6 insignia.svg US Navy O5 insignia.svg U.S. Navy O-4 insignia.svg US Navy O3 insignia.svg US Navy O2 insignia.svg US Navy O1 insignia.svg US Navy OC shoulderboard.svg
(Various insignia)
Fleet admiral Admiral Vice admiral Rear admiral Rear admiral
(lower half)
Captain Commander Lieutenant commander Lieutenant Lieutenant
(junior grade)
Ensign Midshipman / officer candidate


 United States Air Force[79]
US Air Force O11 shoulderboard.svg US Air Force O10 shoulderboard.svg US Air Force O9 shoulderboard.svg US Air Force O8 shoulderboard.svg US Air Force O7 shoulderboard.svg US Air Force O6 shoulderboard.svg US Air Force O5 shoulderboard.svg US Air Force O4 shoulderboard.svg US Air Force O3 shoulderboard.svg US Air Force O2 shoulderboard.svg US Air Force O1 shoulderboard.svg (Various insignia)
General of the Air Force General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain First lieutenant Second lieutenant Cadet / Officer trainee


 United States Space Force[78]
US Space-force O10 (interim).svg US Space-force O9 (interim).svg US Space-force O8 (interim).svg US Space-force O7 (interim).svg US Space-force O6 (interim).svg US Space-force O5 (interim).svg US Space-force O4 (interim).svg US Space-force O3 (interim).svg US Space-force O2 (interim).svg US Space-force O1 (interim).svg (Various insignia)
General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain First lieutenant Second lieutenant Cadet / Officer trainee


 United States Coast Guard[78]
USCG O-10 insignia.svg USCG O-9 insignia.svg USCG O-8 insignia.svg USCG O-7 insignia.svg USCG O-6 insignia.svg USCG O-5 insignia.svg USCG O-4 insignia.svg USCG O-3 insignia.svg USCG O-2 insignia.svg USCG O-1 insignia.svg Various
Admiral Vice admiral Rear admiral Rear admiral
(lower half)
Captain Commander Lieutenant commander Lieutenant Lieutenant
(junior grade)
Ensign Cadet / officer candidate


NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Uniformed services pay grade Special grade O-10 O-9 O-8 O-7 O-6 O-5 O-4 O-3 O-2 O-1 Officer candidate

Officers represent the top 18% of the armed forces, serving in leadership and command roles.[80] Officers are divided into three categories:[75]

Officers are typically commissioned as second lieutenants or ensigns with a bachelor's degree after several years of training and education or directly commissioning from civilian life into a specific specialty, such as a medical professional, lawyer, chaplain, or cyber specialist.[81][82]

Officers are commissioned through the United States service academies, Reserve Officer Training Corps programs, and the Officer Candidate and Officer Training Schools. During a time of war, officers may be promoted to five-star ranks, with general of the Army, fleet admiral, and general of the Air Force the only five-star ranks currently authorized.[83]

Warrant officer corps

NATO rank WO-5 WO-4 WO-3 WO-2 WO-1
Uniformed services pay grade W-5 W-4 W-3 W-2 W-1
 United States Army
US-Army-CW5.svg US-Army-CW4.svg US-Army-CW3.svg US-Army-CW2.svg US-Army-WO1.svg
Chief warrant officer 5 Chief warrant officer 4 Chief warrant officer 3 Chief warrant officer 2 Warrant officer 1


 United States Marine Corps
USMC CWO5.svg USMC CWO4.svg USMC CWO3.svg USMC CWO2.svg USMC WO1.svg
Chief warrant officer 5 Chief warrant officer 4 Chief warrant officer 3 Chief warrant officer 2 Warrant Officer 1


 United States Navy
US Navy CW5 insignia.svg US Navy CW4 insignia.svg US Navy CW3 insignia.svg US Navy CW2 insignia.svg US Navy WO1 insignia.svg
Chief warrant officer 5 Chief warrant officer 4 Chief warrant officer 3 Chief warrant officer 2 Warrant officer 1


 U.S. Coast Guard
USCG CW4 insignia.svg USCG CW3 insignia.svg USCG CW2 insignia.svg
Chief warrant officer 4 Chief warrant officer 3 Chief warrant officer 2
NATO rank WO-5 WO-4 WO-3 WO-2 WO-1
Uniformed services pay grade W-5 W-4 W-3 W-2 W-1

Warrant officers are specialists, accounting for only 8% of the officer corps.[80] Warrant officers hold warrants from their service secretary and are specialists and experts in certain military technologies or capabilities. The lowest-ranking warrant officers serve under a warrant, but they receive commissions from the president upon promotion to chief warrant officer 2. They derive their authority from the same source as commissioned officers but remain specialists, in contrast to commissioned officers, who are generalists. There are no warrant officers in the Air Force or Space Force.[75]

Warrant officers are typically non-commissioned officers before being selected, with the exception of the Army Aviation where any enlisted grade can apply for a warrant. Army Warrant officers attend the Army Warrant Officer Candidate School.[84]

Enlisted corps

NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Uniformed services pay grade Special E-9 E-8 E-7 E-6 E-5 E-4 E-3 E-2 E-1
 United States Army[76]
Army-USA-OR-09-SEAC (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-09a (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-09b (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-09c (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-08a (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-08b (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-07 (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-06 (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-05 (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-04a (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-04b (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-03 (Army greens).svg Army-USA-OR-02 (Army greens).svg No insignia
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Sergeant Major of the Army Command sergeant major Sergeant major First sergeant Master sergeant Sergeant first class Staff sergeant Sergeant Corporal Specialist Private first class Private Private
 United States Marine Corps[77]
USMC-E9-SEAC.svg USMC-E9-SGMMC.svg USMC-E9-SGM.svg USMC-E9-MGyS.svg USMC-E8-1SG.svg USMC-E8-MSG.svg USMC-E7.svg USMC-E6.svg USMC-E5.svg USMC-E4.svg USMC-E3.svg USMC-E2.svg No insignia
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sergeant major Master gunnery sergeant First sergeant Master sergeant Gunnery sergeant Staff sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance corporal Private first class Private


 United States Navy[78]
SEAC
Pending Approval
MCPON FMCPO FMCPO E-9 E-8 E-8 E-7 E-6 E-5 E-4 E-3 E-2 No insignia
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Fleet/force master chief petty officer Command master chief petty officer Master chief petty officer Command senior chief petty officer Senior chief petty officer Chief petty officer Petty officer first class Petty officer second class Petty officer third class Seaman Seaman apprentice Seaman recruit


 United States Air Force[79]
USAF SEAC.svg E9d USAF CMSAF.svg USAF Senior Enlisted Advisor for the National Guard Bureau.svg E9c USAF CCMS.svg E9b USAF 1STSGT3.svg E9a USAF CMSGT.svg E8b USAF 1STSGT2.svg E8a USAF SMSGT.svg E7b USAF 1STSGT1.svg E7a USAF MSGT.svg E6 USAF TSGT.svg E5 USAF SSGT.svg E4 USAF SAM.svg E3 USAF AM1.svg E2 USAF AM.svg No insignia
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau Command Chief Master Sergeant First sergeant Chief master sergeant First sergeant Senior master sergeant First sergeant Master sergeant Technical sergeant Staff sergeant Senior airman Airman first class Airman Airman basic


 United States Space Force[85]
Insignia pending USSF CMSSF Flat.svg USSF CMSgt Flat.svg USSF SMSgt Flat.svg USSF MSgt Flat.svg USSF TSgt Flat.svg USSF Sgt Flat.svg USSF Specialist 4.svg USSF Specialist 3 Flat.svg USSF Specialist 2 Flat.svg USSF Specialist 1 Flat.svg
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force Chief master sergeant Senior master sergeant Master sergeant Technical sergeant Sergeant Specialist 4 Specialist 3 Specialist 2 Specialist 1


 U.S. Coast Guard
MCPOCG MCPOCG CMC MCPO E-8 E-7 E-6 E-5 E-4 E-3 E-2 E-2
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve Command master chief petty officer Master chief petty officer Senior chief petty officer Chief petty officer Petty officer first class Petty officer second class Petty officer third class Seaman Seaman apprentice Seaman recruit
NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Uniformed services pay grade Special E-9 E-8 E-7 E-6 E-5 E-4 E-3 E-2 E-1
Air Force basic trainees in a base defense exercise at Air Force Basic Military Training

Enlisted personnel consist of 82% of the armed forces, serving as specialists and tactical leaders.[80] Enlisted personnel are divided into three categories:

  • E-1 to E-3/4: Junior enlisted personnel, usually in initial training or at their first assignment. E-1 to E-3 in the Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard and E-1 to E-4 in the Army, Air Force, and Space Force. In the Army, specialist (E-4) are considered to be junior enlisted, while corporals (E-4) are non-commissioned officers.
  • E-4/5 to E-6: Non-commissioned officers in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force and petty officers in the Navy and Coast Guard. In the Air Force and Space Force, E-5 is the first non-commissioned officer rank. Non-commissioned officers and petty officers are responsible for tactical leadership.
  • E-7 to E-9: Senior non-commissioned officers in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force and chief petty officers in the Navy and Coast Guard. Serve as senior enlisted advisors to officers.

The rank of senior enlisted advisor is the highest rank in each service, serving as the primary advisors to their service secretary and service chief on enlisted matters. Prior to entering their service, enlisted personnel must complete their service's basic training. In the Army, after completing Basic Combat Training recruits then go to advanced individual training for their military occupational specialty. In the Marine Corps, after completing Recruit Training, marines attend the School of Infantry, going to the Infantry Training Battalion for infantry marines, with non-infantry marines completing Marine Combat Training before advancing to technical training for their military occupational specialty. In the Navy, after completing Recruit Training, sailors advance to their "A" schools to complete training for their rating. In the Air Force and Space Force, recruits complete combined Basic Military Training before going to technical training for their Air Force Specialty Codes. In the Coast Guard, after completing Recruit Training, sailors advance to their "A" schools to complete training for their rating.

Women in the armed forces

All branches of the U.S. military enlisted women during World War II. The Woman's Army Auxiliary Corps was established by the Army in 1942. Also formed during this time were the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), the Navy's Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES), the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, and the Coast Guard Women's Reserve (SPARS).[86] Women saw combat during World War II, first as nurses in the Pearl Harbor attacks on 7 December 1941. In 1944, WACs arrived in the Pacific and in Normandy. During the war, 67 Army nurses and 16 Navy nurses were captured and spent three years as Japanese prisoners of war. There were 350,000 American women who served during World War II and 16 were killed on duty. In total, they gained over 1,500 medals, citations and commendations.

After World War II, demobilization led to the vast majority of serving women being returned to civilian life. Law 625, The Women's Armed Services Act of 1948, was signed by President Truman, allowing women to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces in fully integrated units during peacetime, with only the WAC remaining a separate female unit. During the Korean War of 1950–1953, many women served in the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals. During the Vietnam War, 600 women served in the country as part of the Air Force, along with 500 members of the WAC and over 6,000 medical personnel and support staff. The Ordnance Corps began accepting female missile technicians in 1974[87] and female crewmembers and officers were accepted into Field Artillery missile units.[88][89]

Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester, awarded the Silver Star for direct combat

In 1974, the first six women naval aviators earned their wings as Navy pilots. The congressionally mandated prohibition on women in combat places limitations on the pilots' advancement,[90] but at least two retired as captains.[91] The 1991 Gulf War proved to be the pivotal time for the role of women in the U.S. Armed Forces to come to the attention of the world media; there are many reports of women engaging enemy forces during the conflict.[92]

In the 2000s, women can serve on U.S. combat ships, including in command roles. They are permitted to serve on submarines.[93] Women can fly military aircraft and make up 2% of all pilots in the U.S. Military.

On 3 December 2015, U.S. defense secretary Ashton Carter announced that all military combat positions would become available to women.[94] This gave women access to the roughly 10% of military jobs which were previously closed off due to their combat nature.[95] These restrictions were due in part to studies which stated that mixed gender units are less capable in combat.[96] The decision gave military services time until January 2016 to provide plans on how they will enforce the policy change.[97] Many women believe this will allow for them to improve their positions in the military, since most high-ranking officers start in combat positions. Since women are now available to work in any position in the military, female entry into the draft has been proposed.[98]

No woman has ever become a Navy SEAL.[99][100] However, in July 2021, the first woman graduated from the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) training program to become a Special Warfare Combatant craft Crewman (SWCC). The SWCC directly supports the SEALs and other commando units, and are experts in covert insertion and extraction special operation tactics.[101][102]

ADM Linda L. Fagan, the first female four-star admiral and first female Commandant of the Coast Guard

Despite concerns of a gender gap, all personnel, both men and women at the same rank and time of service are compensated the same rate across all branches.[103] On 1 June 2022, ADM Linda L. Fagan assumed command of the U.S. Coast Guard thus becoming the not only the first woman to serve as Commandant of the Coast Guard but also the first woman in American History to serve as a service chief in the U.S. Military.[104]

A study conducted by the RAND Corporation also suggests that women who make the military their career see an improved rate of promotion, as they climb through the military ranks at a faster rate.[105]

As per the Department of Defense’s report on sexual assault within the U.S. Army for the fiscal year of 2019, 7,825 cases of sexual assault had been reported with the service members either victims or subjects of the assault. There has been a 3% increase in the number of cases as compared to the 2018 report.[106][107]

As of 2020, there are 229,933 women in the military, representing 17.2% of the total active duty force. Compared to 2010, the percentage of women enrolled as active duty members has increased by 2.8%.[68]

Order of precedence

Under Department of Defense regulation, the various components of the U.S. Armed Forces have a set order of seniority.[108] Examples of the use of this system include the display of service flags, and placement of soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, guardians, and coast guardsmen in formation.

While the U.S. Navy is older than the Marine Corps,[109] the Marine Corps takes precedence due to previous inconsistencies in the Navy's birth date. The Marine Corps has recognized its observed birth date on a more consistent basis. The Second Continental Congress is considered to have established the Navy on 13 October 1775 by authorizing the purchase of ships, but did not actually pass the "Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies" until 27 November 1775.[110] The Marine Corps was established by an act of the Second Continental Congress on 10 November 1775. The Navy did not officially recognize 13 October 1775 as its birth date until 1972, when then–chief of naval operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt authorized it to be observed as such.[109]

The Coast Guard is normally situated after the Space Force, however if it is moved to the Department of the Navy, then its place in the order of precedence changes to being situated after the Navy and before the Air Force.[109]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ With the establishment of the Continental Army.
  2. ^ Maximum age for first-time enlistment is 35 for the Army,[1] 28 for the Marine Corps, 34 for the Navy, 39 for the Air Force[2] and 27 for the Coast Guard.[3]

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