Educate Yourself About the Military Branches

The United States government employs approximately 2.15 million service members and more than 732,000 civilian employees in a variety of defense jobs. Government agencies that are involved in defense operations are organized within ten commands, each of which is responsible for protecting the interests of a specific region or initiative.

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Members of all branches of the military are deployed within each command, depending upon the mission they are currently serving. The United States Central Command, for example, figured prominently in several Middle East operations.

Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have been deployed to geographic locations in the Middle East in support of various initiatives that fall under the Central Command. Each branch of the service has its own leadership, but they consolidate their operations under the auspices of the Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD is headquartered at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia.

United States Army

The United States Army was created on June 14, 1775 to fight in the Revolutionary War and became known as the Continental Army. An act of Congress officially established the United States military on September 29, 1789. The United States Army was originally tasked with protecting domestic interests within the borders but its role expanded over time to include international operations. The first selective service act was passed in 1917, making the draft mandatory for males between the ages of 18 and 35.

During the Cold War, members of the United States Army and scientists collaborated on the development of the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project, as this effort became known, was an earlier example of a joint effort among branches of the military. In time, collaborative missions among members of different branches would include the Vietnam War, the Iraq War and Operation Desert Storm.

United States Navy

The United States Navy was founded on October 13, 1775 by a resolution that was passed by the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The resolution established the Continental Navy, which defended national interests during the Independence War. The Navy played a significant role in protecting American interests during the Cold War. This branch was active in the Vietnam War and blockaded Cuba during the Missile Crisis. The Navy has continued to develop its technological capabilities, including new weapons and aircraft.

Today's Navy is the largest in the world and has more than 320,000 active duty personnel. Another 100,000 individuals are part of the Navy Reserve corps. The Navy operates nearly 4,000 aircraft and is the third largest branch of the military, behind the Army and the Air Force. The Chief of Naval Operations is the top-ranking member of the Navy.

United States Air Force

The United States Air Force (USAF) began in 1907 as part of the Army's Signal Corps. The National Security Act of 1947 officially established the USAF as a branch apart from the Army. The USAF has expanded over time in response to developing technologies that support longer deployments and more complex air missions. The USAF Basic Military Training, which is popularly known as boot camp, is a 7 1/2 week intensive course that takes place at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. All candidates who expect to serve in the USAF are required to successfully complete this training in order to become enlisted personnel.

United States Marines

The United States Marines Corps (USMC) was established on November 10, 1775 and initially consisted of two battalions of Continental Marines. The original function of the Marines was to enhance the capabilities of the naval forces during the American Revolution. The present-day USMC, however, has the capacity to fight both on land and at sea. Marines are required to complete several phases of training before they can become fully enlisted personnel. After completing Basic Training (boot camp), they are entitled to take a ten-day leave. Marines must then report for further training at the School of Infantry, after which they will receive training that is specific to their first assignment.

Present-day military academies include West Point and Annapolis. Ongoing training occurs at multiple military bases across the United States and overseas. Readers who would like more information about any branch of the United States military can visit the Department of Defense website. To learn about available government jobs, prospective applicants can visit the official United States government jobs site. The local military recruitment center can provide information about applying to specific branches of the service.

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