The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






United States Army

The Army is the branch of the United States armed forces which has primary responsibility for land-based military operations. As of fiscal year 2002 (FY02), it consisted of 480,000 soldiers on active duty and 555,000 in reserve (350,000 in the Army National Guard (ARNG) and 205,000 in the Army Reserve (USAR). The Army was formed on June 14, 1775, before the establishment of the United States, to meet the demands of the American Revolutionary War.


Components of the U.S. Army

In the modern age, the Army is divided into the Regular Army and the Army Reserve. The United States National Guard is an armed force under the command of state governments. Prior to the 21st century, members of the National Guard were considered state employees only unless federalized by the Army in which case National Guard members became members of the Army Reserve. In the modern age, all National Guard members hold dual status: as Guardsmen (and -women) under the authority of the State Adjutant General, and as Army Reservists under the authority of the Army Human Resources Command.

By design, the use of the Army Reserve and National Guard has increased since the Vietnam War. Reserve and Guard units took part in the Gulf War, peacekeeping in Kosovo, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Structure of the U.S. Army

Officially, a member of the U.S. Army is called a Soldier (always capitalized). The U.S. Army is divided into the following components, from largest to smallest:

U.S. Generals, World War II, Europe: back row (left to right): , , , , ; front row: , , , , , , .
U.S. Generals, World War II, Europe:
back row (left to right): Stearley , Vandenberg, Smith, Weyland , Nugent ;
front row: Simpson , Patton, Spaatz, Eisenhower, Bradley, Hodges, Gerow .
  1. Field Army: Usually commanded by a General (GEN; note that abbreviations of military rank are given in all capital letters without a period or other punctuation).
  2. Corps: Consists of two or more divisions and organic support brigades. The commander is most often a Lieutenant General (LTG).
  3. Division: Usually commanded by a Major General (MG).
  4. Brigade (or group): Composed of typically three or more battalions, and commanded by a Colonel (COL) or Brigadier General. (See Regiment for combat arms units.)
  5. Battalion (or squadron): Most units are organized into battalions. Cavalry units are formed into squadrons. A battalion-sized unit is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC), supported by a Command Sergeant Major/E-9 (CSM). This unit consists of a Battalion Commander (CO, LTC), a Battalion Executive Officer (XO,MAJ), a Command Sergeant Major (CSM) and headquarters, 3-5 Company Commanders (CPT), 3-5 Company Executive Officers (1LT), 3-5 First Sergeants (1SG) and headquarters, 6 or more Platoon Leaders (2LT/1LT), 6 or more Platoon sergeants (SFC),and 12 or more Squad Leaders (any NCO).
  6. Company (or battery/troop): Artillery units are formed into batteries. Cavalry units are formed into troops. A company-sized unit is usually led by a Company Commander usually the rank of Captain/O-3 (CPT) supported by a First Sergeant/E-8 (1SG). This unit consists of a Company Commander (CO, CPT), a Company Executive Officer (XO,1LT), A First Sergeant(1SG) and a headquarters, Two or more Platoon Leaders (2LT/1LT), two or more Platoon Sergeants (SFC), and four or more Squad Leaders (any NCO).
  7. Platoon: Usually led by a lieutenant supported by a Sergeant First Class/E-7 (SFC). This unit consists of a Platoon Leader (2LT/1LT), a Platoon Sergeant (SFC), and two or more Squad Leaders (any NCO).
  8. Section: Usually directed by Staff Sergeants/E-6 (SSG) who supply guidance for junior NCO Squad leaders. Often used in conjunction with platoons at the company level.
  9. Squad: Squad leaders are often Staff Sergeants/E-6 (SSG), Sergeants/E-5 (SGT), or Corporals/E-4 (CPL). This unit consists of eight to ten Soldiers.
  10. Fire team: Usually consists of four Soldiers: a fire team leader, a grenadier, and two riflemen. Fire team leaders are often Corporal/E-4 (CPL).

The Army is organized by function. Combat Arms include Infantry, Armor, Field Artillery, Air Defense Artillery , Army Corps of Engineers, Army Aviation, and Special Forces. Combat Support Arms include Signal Corps, Intelligence Corps, Chemical Corps , and Military Police Corps . Combat Service Support troops include the Judge Advocate General's Corps, Adjutant General's Corps, Finance Corps , Transportation Corps , Quartermaster Corps , Ordnance Corps , Medical Service Corps , and Nurse Corps .

Rank Structure

Comparison of ranking structure available at Ranks and Insignia of NATO.

The Officer Corps provides leadership and managerial functions, and is composed of

There are several sources of commissioned officers:

  • The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York
  • Graduates of other military academies of the United States may elect to be commissioned in the Army
  • Enlisted soldiers or College graduates who successfully pass Officer Candidate School (OCS)
  • College graduates who underwent Army Reserve Officer Training Corps courses at a four-year university
  • Lawyers, doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and chaplains may be directly commissioned into their respective corps
  • Enlisted soldiers may also be battlefield commissioned for valor and leadership during actual combat, Audie Murphy received his commission in this manner

Officers receive a commission assigning them to the Officer Corps from the President. All newly commissioned officers receive a commission as a reserve officer. Upon attaining the rank of Major, they can be appointed into the Regular Army by the President with the advice and consent of the United States Senate [1]. Commissioned officers are assigned to a branch of service until they reach the rank of Brigadier General, where it is assumed that they are competent to command soldiers of all branches.

Once commissioned, an officer attends several levels of professional education, starting with branch qualification in their respective branch and concluding in Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Professional education is required for promotion at certain grades.

The Warrant Officer is a single track specialty officer. Initially appointed an officer by the Secretary of the Army via a warrant, he/she is commissioned by the President upon promotion to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Two (CW2). The warrant officer is managed as a company grade officer, but receives limited field grade privilege upon promotion to Chief Warrant Officer Four (CW4).

The primary source for Warrant Officers is the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

The Non-Commissioned Officer Corps (or NCO Corps) is the first line of leadership for the enlisted members of the Army, and includes the ranks of

  • Corporal (CPL; pay grade E-4) (two stripes up),
  • Sergeant (SGT; pay grade E-5)(three stripes up),
  • Staff Sergeant (SSG; pay grade E-6)(three stripes up and one down),
  • Sergeant First Class (SFC; pay grade E-7)(three stripes up and two down),
  • Master Sergeant (MSG; pay grade E-8) (three stripes up and three down),
  • First Sergeant (1SG; pay grade E-8) (which holds the same enlisted pay grade as Master Sergeant, but which carries extra administrative duties - three stripes up and three down with a lozenge in the center),
  • Sergeant Major (SGM; pay grade E-9) (three stripes up and three down with a star in the center),
  • Command Sergeant Major (CSM; pay grade E-9) (three stripes up and three down with a wreathed star in the center)
  • and Sergeant Major of the Army (of whom there is only one, and who advises the Chief of Staff of the Army on matters relating to enlisted personnel - three stripes up and three down with a centered eagle accompanied with two stars).
U.S. Army recruitment poster
U.S. Army recruitment poster

Training for NCOs takes place at any of the various NCO training centers around the world.

Until relatively recent history, most countries depended upon their officer corps to micromanage strategy, tactics and virtually every other aspect of military operations. Current military theory in the U.S. and UK has begun to emphasize the "strategic corporal," recognizing that combat decision-making by NCOs is potentially of vast importance.

The lowest enlisted ranks are:

  • Private (PV1; pay grade E-1) (no rank insignia),
  • Private Enlisted Grade 2 (PV2; pay grade E-2) (one chevron pointing up),
  • Private First Class (PFC; pay grade E-3) (one stripe up and a curved stripe (a rocker below)),
  • and Specialist (SPC; pay grade E-4) (which is the same Enlisted Grade as Corporal, but which requires technical leadership skills, as opposed to the combat leadership skills required of corporal -a dark green patch with an eagle centered). A Specialist ranks below a corporal in terms of chain of command.

Training for enlisted soldiers usually consists of Basic Training, and Advanced Individual Training in their primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) at any of the numerous MOS training facilities around the world.

All members of the Army must take an oath upon being sworn in as members, swearing (or affirming) to "protect the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, both foreign and domestic." This emphasis on the defense of the United States Constitution illustrates the concern of the framers that the military be subordinate to legitimate civilian authority.

The civilian executive is the Secretary of the Army who heads the United States Department of the Army, formerly called the Secretary of War who headed the United States Department of War or the War Office for short, at the founding of the Republic.


The professional head of the United States Army is the Army Chief of Staff. This position is filled by a four star general who sits on the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. As with the other members of that committee, the Army Chief of Staff is not in the direct chain of command. His function is administrative and policy making. The current Army Chief of Staff is General Peter J. Schoomaker.

The most senior Army generals who are directly in the chain of command are those who head up the regional joint commands around the world. An example is General John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command. Three star positions in the Army include some deputy commanders of the regional commands, heads of the army sections of those commands, and the general officers commanding of corps.

Major Commands of the United States Army

Major Commands of the US Army
Major Command and Commanders Location of Headquarters
Intelligence & Security Command (INSCOM)-Major General John F. Kimmons Fort Belvoir, Virginia
Criminal Investigation Command (CID)-Major General Donald J. Ryder Fort Belvoir, Virginia
Corps of Engineers (USACE)- Lieutenant General Carl A. Strock Washington, D.C.
Medical Command (MEDCOM)-Lieutenant General James B. Peake Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Army Materiel Command (AMC)-General Paul J. Kern Alexandria, Virginia
Training & Doctrine Command (TRADOC)-General Kevin P. Byrnes Fort Monroe, Virginia
Forces Command (FORSCOM)-General Dan K. McNeill Fort McPherson, Georgia
US Army South (USARSO)-Major General Jack D. Gardner Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Special Operations Command (USASOC)-Lieutenant General Philip R. Kensinger Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC)- Brigadier General Charles W. (Charlie) Fletcher, Jr. Fort Eustis, Newport News, Virginia
Space & Missile Defense Command (SMDC)-Lieutenant General Joseph M. Cosumano, Jr. Arlington, Virginia
8th US Army (EUSA)-Lieutenant General Charles C. Campbell Yongsan Army Garrison, Seoul
Army Pacific Command (USARPAC)-Lieutenant General John M. Brown III Fort Shafter, Hawaii
US Army Europe & 7th Army (USAREUR)-General B. B. Bell Campbell Barracks , Heidelberg, Germany
Army Central Command (ARCENT)-Lieutenant General David D. McKiernan Fort McPherson, Georgia
Army Reserve Command (ARC)-Lieutenant General James R. Helmly Fort McPherson, Georgia
Army National Guard (ARNG)-Lieutenant General Roger G. Schultz Washington, D.C.

Formations of the United States Army

First Army "First In Deed" (Reserve)

78th "Lightning" Division, Edison, NJ (Training Support)
1st Brigade (Training Support)
2nd Brigade (Training Support)
3rd Brigade (Training Support)
4th Brigade (Training Support)
5th Brigade "We Dare" (Training Support)
85th "Custer" Division (Training Support)
1st Brigade (Training Support)
2nd Brigade (Training Support)
3rd Brigade (Training Support)
4th Brigade (Training Support)
87th Division "Golden Acorn", Birmingham, AL (Training Support)
1st Brigade (Training Support)
2nd Brigade (Training Support)
3rd Brigade (Training Support)
4th Brigade (Training Support)
5th Brigade (Training Support)
Army Units
4th Cavalry Brigade (Training Support)
157th Infantry Brigade (Training Support)
188th Infantry Brigade (Training Support)
205th Infantry Brigade (Separate) (Light)

Third Army: Army Central Command (ARCENT)

Army Prepositioned Stock (APS-3)
Army Prepositioned Stock (APS-5)

Fifth Army (Reserve)

7th Infantry Division "Bayonets", Carson, CO (Light)
39th Infantry Brigade (Light) (Separate)
41st Infantry Brigade (Light) (Separate)
45th Infantry Brigade (Light) (Separate)
75th Division, Houston, TX (Training Support)
1st Brigade (Training Support)
2nd Brigade (Training Support)
3rd Brigade (Training Support)
4th Brigade (Training Support)
91st Division, Houston, TX (Training Support)
1st Brigade (Training Support)
2nd Brigade (Training Support)
3rd Brigade (Training Support)
4th Brigade (Training Support)
Army Units
5th Armored Brigade (Training Support)
120th Infantry Brigade (Training Support)
166th Aviation Brigade (Training Support)
191st Infantry Brigade (Training Support)

Seventh Army: United States Army Europe

V Corps, Heidelberg, Germany
1st Infantry Division ("The Big Red One")
1st Armored Divsion-- Wiesbaden, Germany

Eighth Army: Korea

2nd Infantry Division ("Indian Head" Division)
25th Infantry Division (Light) ("Tropic Lightning")
I Corps, Fort Lewis, Washington ("America's Corps")
3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Light)
1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light)
III Corps, Fort Hood, Texas
1st Cavalry Division
4th Infantry Division (Mechanized)
--III Corps U.S. Army National Guard
7th Infantry Division (Light) ("Bayonet" Division)
XVIII Airborne Corps
3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) ("Rock of the Marne")
3rd Brigade ("Sledgehammer").
10th Mountain Division (Light)
1st Brigade
2nd Brigade
27th Brigade (Orions)-- New York National Guard
82nd Airborne Division
82nd Aviation Brigade
325th Airborne Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment
3rd Battalion 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment
504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
1st Battalion 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
3rd Battalion 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment
505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
1st Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
3rd Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) (Screaming Eagles)-- Fort Campbell, Kentucky
XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery
18th Field Artillery Brigade
2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment
16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne)
18th Aviation Brigade (Airborne)
20th Engineer Brigade (Combat)(Airborne)
35th Signal Brigade (Airborne)
108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade
229th Aviation Regiment (Attack)
1-229th Attack Helicopter Battalion
3-229th Attack Helicopter Regiment
525th Military Intelligence Brigade (Airborne)

Related Articles

See also

External links

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