The present structure of the US Military is a product of the National Security Act of 1947. The new law calls for the reorganization of the Armed Forces and Intelligence Services as part of the lessons of World War II. It established the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Council. It also called for the creation of the Air Force as a separate branch of service and changed the name of the War Department into the Department of Defense.
The Department of Defense is under a civilian head appointed by the President, who acts as the Commander-in-Chief. The Army, Air Force, and Navy Departments fall is headed by civilian heads as well. The three heads of these departments are under the supervision of the Secretary of Defense.
There are five branches in the US Armed Forces—the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The heads of each branch make up what the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JSC), along with the Vice Chairman and Chairman of JCS, which is nominated by the President and up for approval by the Senate. The Coast Guard is under the Department of Homeland Security. However, in times of war, this branch of service becomes part of the Navy.
The US Army serves as the principal ground forces in the United States. It is the oldest branch of service, having been created by the Continental Congress in 1775. The Army is likewise the largest, with 76,000 officers and 401,000 enlisted personnel. It is tasked with defending the country using ground troops, armor, artillery, tactical nuclear weapons, and others. It is supported by a couple of Reserve Forces which can be activated anytime.
The Air Force is the youngest branch, created only in 1947 via the National Security Act. It primary duty is defense of the United States using air and space. Likewise, it is also charged with operating and protecting military satellites as well as strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. It has 69,000 commissioned officers and 288,000 enlisted personnel. It is also supported by an Air Force Reserve and Air Force National Guard, which can be activated anytime.
Along with the Army, the Navy was established in 1775. Its main responsibility is to safeguard the freedom of the seas. Its job is to make sure that US waters can be used when national interest calls for it. In times of war, the Navy supplements the air power of the Air Force. Aircraft carriers can be deployed to areas where fixed runways are unlikely. Likewise, it is the job of the Navy to transport Marines to areas of conflict. It has 54,000 officers and 324,000 enlisted men. It also has Naval Reserves but no National Guard. However, some states have created their own Naval Militias.
The Marine Corps have often been called as the “Infantry of the Navy.” Their main responsibility is amphibious operations. They specialize in assault, capture, and control of beach heads paving the way for routes for enemy attack from any point. It was established as an independent service in 1798. Although their main responsibility is amphibious operations, they have been doing ground operations lately. Being considered as a “lighter” force, the Marine Corps is capable of immediate deployment.
They are self sufficient so they have their own air capability, made up of attack helicopters and fighter aircrafts. However, for logistics and administrative support, they depend heavily on the Navy. The medics accompanying the Marines are combat ready Navy medics. There are 18,000 officers and 153,000 enlisted men in the Marine Corps.
These are the various service branches of the US military tasked to defend the United States at all times.
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