U.S. Military Branches and communities

Air Force

The United States Air Force is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. Initially established as a part of the United States Army on August 1, 1907, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on September 18, 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence.

 

The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated ISR, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control. Along with conducting independent air and space operations, the U.S. Air Force provides air support for land and naval forces and aids in the recovery of troops in the field with with 318,415 active duty personnel, 140,169 civilian personnel, 69,200 Air Force Reserve personnel, and 105,700 Air National Guard personnel.

Airmen deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., pose for a photo
Red River Army Depot

Army

The United States Army is the land warfare service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Army is largest military branch, and in the fiscal year 2017, the combined-component strength was 1,018,000 soldiers.

 

As a branch of the armed forces, the mission of the U.S. Army is “to fight and win our Nation’s wars, by providing prompt, sustained, land dominance, across the full range of military operations and the spectrum of conflict, in support of combatant commanders”. The branch participates in conflicts worldwide and is the major ground-based offensive and defensive force of the United States.

Army Veterinary Corps

The Army Veterinary Corps is one of the six corps of medical specialists that make up the U.S. Army Medical Department. It is composed of professionals with military, public health, and specialty skill sets rarely found in the private sector. These highly trained specialists have a unique role in our nation’s defense strategy. U.S. Army veterinarians ensure the strength of our veterinary public health capabilities through veterinary medical and surgical care, food safety and defense, and biomedical research and development.

 

The Veterinary Corps also provides military veterinary expertise in response to natural disasters and other emergencies. These professionals act as our nation’s veterinary corps, charged with conducting and overseeing all Department of Defense veterinary service activities—in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force—at installations from Washington, D.C., to San Diego, California and Hawaii, and in more than 90 countries around the world.

Army Veterinary Corps

Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission (with jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters) and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. It operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Navy by the U.S. President at any time, or by the U.S. Congress during times of war. As one of the country’s five armed services, the Coast Guard has been involved in every U.S. war from 1790.

 

The Coast Guard has 40,992 men and women on active duty, 7,000 reservists, 31,000 auxiliarists, and 8,577 full-time civilian employees, for a total workforce of 87,569. The Coast Guard maintains an extensive fleet of 243 coastal and ocean-going patrol ships, tenders, tugs and icebreakers called “Cutters”, and 1650 smaller boats, as well as an extensive aviation division consisting of 201 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. While the U.S. Coast Guard is the smallest of the U.S. military service branches, in terms of size, the U.S. Coast Guard by itself is the world’s 12th largest naval force.

Intelligence

The United States Intelligence Community (IC) is a group of 17 separate United States government intelligence agencies, that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities to support the foreign policy and national security of the United States. Member organizations of the IC include intelligence agencies, military intelligence, and civilian intelligence and analysis offices within federal executive departments. The IC is overseen by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) making up the seventeen-member Intelligence Community, which itself is headed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who reports to the President of the United States.

 

Among their varied responsibilities, the members of the Community collect and produce foreign and domestic intelligence, contribute to military planning, and perform espionage. The IC was established by Executive Order 12333, signed on December 4, 1981, by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The intelligence community includes 854,000 people holding top-secret clearances.

National Reconnaissance Office
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-HIckam

Joint Bases

A joint base (JB) is a base of the United States military utilized by multiple military services; one service hosts one or more other services as tenants on the base. In most cases, joint bases have interservice support agreements (ISSAs) to govern how the host provides services to the tenants. The joint basing program, established by recommendation 146 of the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission, represents the department’s efforts to optimize the delivery of installation support across the services. The BRAC Report created 12 joint bases from 26 service installations that were in close proximity or shared a boundary.

Marines

The United States Marine Corps, also referred to as the United States Marines, is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for conducting amphibious operations with the United States Navy.

 

The Marine Corps has been a component of the U.S. Department of the Navy since June 30, 1834, working closely with naval forces.
The USMC operates installations on land and aboard sea-going amphibious warfare ships around the world. Additionally, several of the Marines’ tactical aviation squadrons, primarily Marine Fighter Attack squadrons, are also embedded in Navy carrier air wings and operate from the aircraft carriers.

 

The history of the Marine Corps began when two battalions of Continental Marines were formed on November 10, 1775 in Philadelphia as a service branch of infantry troops capable of fighting both at sea and on shore. As of 2017, the USMC has around 186,000 active duty members and some 38,500 reserve Marines. It is the smallest U.S. military service within the DoD.

Cherry Point Marines
Members of the 219th RED HORSE Squadron of the Montana Air National Guard prepare to board a 120th Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules transport aircraft

National Guard

The United States National Guard, also commonly referred to as just the National Guard, is part of the reserve components of the United States Armed Forces, is a reserve military force, composed of National Guard military members or units of each state and the territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, for a total of 54 separate organizations. All members of the National Guard of the United States are also members of the militia of the United States. National Guard units are under the dual control of the state and the federal government.

 

The majority of National Guard soldiers and airmen hold a civilian job full-time while serving part-time as a National Guard member. These part-time guardsmen are augmented by a full-time cadre of Active Guard & Reserve (AGR) personnel in both the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, plus Army Reserve Technicians in the Army National Guard and Air Reserve Technicians (ART) in the Air National Guard.

The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world, with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world’s largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction.

 

With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second largest and second most powerful air force in the world.

 

The 21st century U.S. Navy maintains a sizable global presence, deploying in strength in such areas as the Western Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean. It is a blue-water navy with the ability to project force onto the littoral regions of the world, engage in forward deployments during peacetime and rapidly respond to regional crises, making it a frequent actor in U.S. foreign and military policy.

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