The Five Branches of the U.S. Military

The five branches of the American military are a proud part of American history. The exploits of the Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Coasties go back to 1775, when the Army, Navy and Marines were officially established by the first Continental Congress.

U.S. Marines

Established 10 November 1775. The smallest of the fighting services (2013: 180,000), the Marine Corps is considered the world's finest fighting force. They fight as a "Marine Air-Ground Task Force" (MAGTF); meaning the Marines come as a self-contained force with it's own infantry, tanks * other armored vehicles, artillery, air, and logistics; the doctrine is called "Combined Arms" and no other force in the world does this.

Famous Marine battles include Belleau Wood, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Chosun Reservoir, Hue City, and Fallujah. Famous Marines includes Art Buchwald, Gene Hackman, Fred Smith (FedEx), Bea Arthur, Ted Williams, and Sen John Glenn.

U.S. Navy

Established 13 October 1775. The Navy can be divided into three sections; the "Blue Water Navy" that includes the nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, cruisers, and other deep-water fighting ships. The "Gator Navy" consists of the amphibious assault ships and similar ships that transport the Marines and their equipment worldwide, and the purely logistical vessels such as oilers, supply and the pre-positioned ships stationed worldwide with ammunition, arms, and other equipment.

The Navy is the world's undisputed leader in maritime combat capability, with 11 nuclear aircraft carriers and supporting battle groups while the rest of the world combined has none.

Famous Navy battles include Midway, the submarine fight against Japan, and the Battle for the Atlantic. Famous sailors include six US Presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, George HW Bush, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Jesse Ventura, Bill Cosby, Henry Fonda, and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

U.S. Army

Established 14 June 1775, the Army is the oldest and largest of the service branches. Tasked to defend the United States in land operations, in 2011 the Army consisted of 561,400 active-duty, 361,500 Army National Guard, and 204,800 Reserves.

Combat-arms Military Occupational Specialties (MOS's) today includes Infantry, Field Artillery, Armor, Air Defense Artillery, Aviation (primarily helicopters), and Special Forces.

With the 1990 breakup of the Soviet Union, the Army lost it's Cold War enemy, and since approximately 2008 has been working on transforming itself into a force that can operate and fight across the full spectrum of conflicts that can include either or both conventional and unconventional-irregular opponents.

Famous battles include the Normandy Invasion and the battle of the Bulge. Famous Soldiers include Vice President Al Gore, SectState Colin Powell, Sen. George McGovern, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, and Glenn Millar

U.S. Air Force

Established as a separate branch of service 18 September 1947; previously it was a part of the Army known as the Army Air Force. Prior to the National Security Act of 1947, land-based air operations were the Army's responsibility; however the Navy is still responsible for carrier-based operations, while Marine Air flies from both land and the Navy's amphibious assault ships.

Although the Air Force's bombing campaign during 1991's Operation Desert Storm was very successful in destroying Iraq's military capacity, since 9/11 the role of the Air Force as a fighting force has been greatly reduced. Unconventional enemies such as al-Qada or the Taliban do not have an air force, leaving the Air Force to search for an enemy or a relevance that includes more than conventional bombing or fighter operations. The rising importance of drone operations, however, is an Air Force responsibility, as is cyber warfare.

Famous battles include the bombing campaigns over both Germany and Japan, as well as dropping the two atomic bombs. Famous airmen include Jimmy Stewart, Errol Flynn, Chuck Norris, and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC)

U.S. Coast Guard

Established 4 August 1790 by Alexander Hamilton. The Coast Guard now operates under the authority of the Dept. of Homeland Security. It's role, dating back to Hamilton's guidance, is one of maintaining maritime law in both domestic and international waters, U.S. port security, as well as a military mission if required. Although known for providing safety to boaters off America's beaches and harbors, the Coast Guard is also responsible for drug interdiction, as well as Caribbean refugee rescue and interdiction operations from it's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba base.

In today's world, the five service branches work together in conducting joint operations; the Navy and Marines conduct amphibious operations worldwide as a "Blue-Green Team," the Air Force is needed to fly Marines and Soldiers around the world, while the Army and Marines often fought together in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although the requirements to fight a WW2 Conventional war are long gone, the need for America's five service branches to defend against today' irregular enemies remains high.

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