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Military of the United States

United States armed forces
Military manpower
Military age 18 years of age
Availability males & females ages 15-49: 73,597,731 (2004 est.)
Reaching military age annually males/females: 2,124,164 (2004 est.)
Active troops 1,427,000 (Ranked 2nd)
Military expenditures
Dollar figure $400 billion (FY2005 est.)
Percent of GDP 2.7% (FY2005 est.)

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

The combined United States armed forces consists of 1.4 million active duty personnel along with several hundred thousand each in the Reserves and National Guard. There is currently no conscription. The United States Armed Forces is the most powerful military in the world and their force projection capabilities are unrivaled by any other singular nation.

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. Unlike certain other countries, 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.)



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. military 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.


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
                              |              | 
                  |           |              | 
                              |             JCOS
                  |           |
                  |           |
 Regional Combatant Commander or Commander (specific command, e.g. STRATCOM)
                Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine 
                Responsible commanding General

Unified Combatant Commands

There are 9 Unified Combatant Commands- 5 geographic and 4 functional. (Listed with their Commander, Home Base, and Area of Responsibility.)

The 5 Geographic Commands
image:Unified Command map s.jpg


Personnel in each service

As of the middle of 2004

Army 500,203
Marine Corps 176,202
Navy 375,521
Air Force 379,887
Coast Guard 40,151

Personnel deployed

As of April, 2004


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

Germany 75,603
South Korea 40,258
Japan 40,045
Italy 13,354
United Kingdom 11,801
Iraq 148,000(2005.05)

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 US military budget

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. The United States and its close 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), dollar for dollar. Military spending accounts for more than half of the United States' federal discretionary spending, which is all of the U.S. government's money not spoken for by pre-existing obligations. [1]

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.

Military expenditures for the Department of Defense in 2004 was $437.111 billion.


  1. The United States Coast Guard has both military and law enforcement functions. Title 14, United States Code, Section 1, states "The Coast Guard as established January 28, 1915, shall be a military service and a branch of the armed forces of the United States at all times." In peacetime it is part of the Department of Homeland Security, but in wartime becomes part of the Department of Defense. Coast Guard units have seen combat in every war of the United States, including the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

See also

External links

Last updated: 05-13-2005 09:59:10
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04