United States Army
The United States Army is the branch of the United States
armed forces that has primary responsibility for land-based military operations.
As of fiscal year 2004 (FY04), it consisted of 485,500 soldiers (including
71,400 women) on active duty and 591,000 in reserve (325,000 in the Army
National Guard (ARNG) and 246,000 in the United States Army Reserve (USAR)). The
Continental Army was formed on June 14, 1775, before the establishment of the
United States, to meet the demands of the American Revolutionary War. Congress
created the United States Army on June 3, 1784 after the end of the American
Revolutionary War, to replace the disbanded Continental Army. However, the US
Army considers itself to be an evolution of the Continental Army, and thus dates
its inception from the origins of the Continental Army. As of 2006, there are
over 700,000 soldiers enlisted in the army.
Components of the U.S. Army
Between 1775 and August 7, 1789, the established Federal
Army was the Continental Army. On the latter date, the Continental Army was
replaced by the United States Army under the newly-established War Department.
The structure of the US Army was constitutionally established as the Regular
Army, the units of the State Militias when called to federal service, and units
of Volunteers that were established for the duration of the emergency. This
remained the normal scheme of things until the Civil War, when the first
Conscription took place. The concept of the National Army as a Conscript Army
was thus established in all but name, since units were established to
accommodate the use of the conscripts in combat. The last time that the
Volunteer Units were utilized was the Spanish-American War in 1898. From that
time forward, the Regular Army, the State Militias, and the National Army were
codified as standard. In 1908, the Organized Reserve Corps was established to
provide trained Officers and Enlisted Men for immediate use in time of war.
During the First World War, the "National Army" was
organized to fight the conflict. It was demobilized at the end of World War I,
and was replaced by the Regular Army, the Organized Reserve Corps, and the State
Militias. In the 1920s and 1930s, the "career" soldiers were known as the
"Regular Army" with the "Enlisted Reserve Corps" and "Officer Reserve Corps"
augmented to fill vacancies when needed.
In 1941, the "Army of the United States" was founded to
fight the Second World War. The Regular Army, Army of the United States, the
National Guard, and Officer/Enlisted Reserve Corps (ORC and ERC) existed
simultaneously. After World War II, the ORC and ERC were combined into the
United States Army Reserve. The Army of the United States was re-established for
the Korean War and Vietnam War and was demobilized upon the suspension of the
Currently, the Army is divided into the Regular Army, the
Army Reserve, and the United States National Guard. Prior to 1903 members of the
National Guard were considered state Soldiers unless federalized by the
President. Since the Militia Act of 1903 all National Guard Soldiers have held
dual status: as National Guardsmen under the authority of the governor of their
state and as a reserve of the US Army under the authority of the President.
Since the adoption of the total force policy, in the
aftermath of the Vietnam War, reserve component soldiers have taken a more
active role in US military operations. Reserve and Guard units took part in the
Gulf War, peacekeeping in Kosovo, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Various State Defense Forces also exist, sometimes known as
State Militias, which are sponsored by individual state governments and serve as
an auxiliary to the National Guard. Except in times of extreme national
emergency, such as a mainland invasion of the United States, State Militias are
operated independently from the U.S. Army and are seen as state government
agencies rather than a component of the military.
Although the present-day Army exists as an all volunteer
force, augmented by Reserve and National Guard forces, measures exist for
emergency expansion in the event of a catastrophic occurrence, such as a large
scale attack against the US or the outbreak of a major global war. The current
"call-up" order of the United States Army is as follows:
The final stage of Army mobilization, known as "activation
of the unorganized militia" would effectively place all able bodied males in the
service of the U.S. Army. The last time an approximation of this occurred was
during the American Civil War when the Confederate States of America activated
the "Home Guard" in 1865, drafting all males, regardless of age or health, into
the Confederate Army. A similar event, albeit in a foreign country, occurred
during World War II when Nazi Germany activated the Volkssturm in April and May
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:
Selected excerpt from William Addleman Ganoe's "History of
the United States Army"
In these post Revolutionary years the army passed through
swift periods of rise and fall. It was the thermometer of the nation's fear. At
first, under the constitution, it was barely 1 regiment, then 2 in 1789, 3 in
1791, a legion corresponding to 5 in 1792, 6 in 1796, 9 in 1798, 6 in 1800, and
3 again in 1802. In 1808 it suddenly sprang to 11 regiments each having 8, 10,
or 20 companies depending on the law by which the particular organization was
born (April 1808 - "...war with Great Britain was threatening. again the army,
which recently bee cut down, was increased; 5 regiments of infantry, 1 regiment
of riflemen, 1 regiment of light artillery and 1 regiment of light dragoons, to
be enlisted for five years were added. p.111)
Peace promised to prevail, so that during 1796 and 1797 the
entire Army was reduced, and the size of regiments and companies as well. For
scattered use, a large complement of officers and small companies filled the
bill. All too soon the sense of security evaporated as war loomed with France.
In consequence, the establishment swelled precipitately, and the strength of
units with it. By 1799 a total of forty infantry regiments was authorized,
although none but the 1st through the 4th ever attained the required strength.
Only 3,400 men were raised for the 5th through the 16th, and none at all for any
others. Fortunately, the war with France never took shape; by 1800 the crisis
was over and the immediate need for more infantry gone. In addition, a new
administration took office in 1801, an administration that almost pathologically
feared a standing army. Accordingly, under Thomas Jefferson the infantry was cut
back in 1802 to two regiments, the 1st and 2d.
Jefferson's administration had only a brief chance to test
its convictions regarding a strong militia and a small standing army, for war
clouds were gathering once more. The United States almost began the second war
with England when the British warship Leopard attacked the American Chesapeake
in 1807. This aggression caused Congress to add five Regular infantry regiments
in 1808, the 3d through the 7th, and also to constitute the Regiment of
Riflemen. The latter was a product of the Revolutionary experience and the first
rifle unit since the end of the Legion in 1796. Rifle elements re-entered the
service through the agency of Brig. Gen. James Wilkinson, commanding the army,
and Henry Dearborn, Secretary of War, both of whom had had firsthand experience
with them in the last war.
Aside from the augmentation of April 1808 there was no
further preparation for a fight until just six months before the second war with
England. At that time, that is, in January 1812, Congress constituted ten new
regiments of Regular infantry. The act of 11 January 1812 which created them was
remarkable in at least two ways: first, it provided for the largest regiments
and battalions authorized in the United States before the Civil War and, second,
it established an organization that was at variance with the seven existing
regiments. As a result, in the first six months of 1812 there were three
different-sized infantry regiments, besides one of riflemen. The 1st and 2d
regiments made up the infantry of the "military peace establishment," and they
had ten companies in them of seventy-six enlisted men. The 3d through the 7th
regiments, authorized in 1808, were called the infantry of the "additional
force," and comprised ten companies with two more officers and two more enlisted
men each than the 1st and 2d had. The 8th through the 17th in no way resembled
the others, for they had eighteen companies of 110 enlisted men, arranged in two
Although some of the bulky eighteen-company regiments were
raised, several never acquired their second battalions. Recruiting was so
difficult that they lacked the time to raise many men before Congress voted a
fresh reorganization. Late in June 1812, the legislators changed the law.
According to the new arrangement there were to be twenty-five regiments of
infantry, exclusive of the rifle regiment, each containing ten companies of 102
men. Thus all the infantry regiments were made uniform on paper, and a standard
of organization was established that persisted throughout the conflict. This
standard was more often than not honored in the breach. Once constituted, all
the twenty-five regiments organized and recruited actively, but during the first
two years of the struggle their efforts brought in less than half of the total
number of infantrymen authorized.
Regulars at first could only enlist for five years, but
late in 1812 newcomers were given a chance to enroll "during the war." All the
while the states competed with the Federal government for soldiers, and the
shorter "hitches" they offered drew men into their service. To combat this
Congress directed the creation, in January 1813, of twenty new infantry
regiments enlisted for just one year. Nineteen of them were raised and
designated as the 26th through the 44th Infantry. Later, they were converted
into long-term outfits (five years or the duration) , but all the units
constituted after 1811 had men in them enlisted for different terms. For
example, there were in a single regiment one-year regulars, eighteenmonth men,
three- and five-year men, and some in for "during the war."
Early in 1814 four more infantry regiments and three more
regiments of riflemen were constituted. Finally, therefore, forty-eight infantry
regiments, numbered from the 1st to the 48th, came into being, plus four rifle
regiments, the 1st through the 4th. This was the greatest number of infantry
units included in the Regular Army until the world wars of the twentieth
century. A mighty effort was made in 1814 to raise the Army to strength, and
nearly 27,000 men came in, but in spite of this, four of the regiments had to be
consolidated because they were too small. The 17th, 19th, 26th, and 27th were
joined to form a new 17th and a new 19th, while the two highest numbered, the
47th and 48th, were redesignated the 27th and 26th, respectively.
No sooner was war over than Congress scrambled to rid
itself of its more than 30,000 infantrymen. An act of 3 March 1815 set the peace
establishment at 10,000 men, divided among infantry, rifle; and artillery
regiments. Cavalry was eliminated, and eight infantry regiments and one rifle
regiment arose from the ruins of the forty-six and four in existence. The rifles
were consolidated and the infantry, after many rearrangements.
The eight remaining infantry regiments were smaller than
their war predecessors because, although the number of companies in each
remained at ten, every company contained 78 men instead of 103. There was no
effort to preserve the honors or traditional numbers of any of ,the prewar
regiments. The 1st was merged with other regiments and redesignated the 3d, and
the old 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th were likewise lost in the remains of
disbanded regiments. The new numbers were founded on the seniority of the
colonels, the senior colonel commanding the 1st, and so forth. As a consequence
of the reduction, 25,000 infantrymen were separated from the service. Another
consequence was that the form of the infantry establishment was set roughly for
the next thirty years. Not until the Mexican War, thirty-one years later, was it
The Germinal Period., 1816-1860
After the reorganization of 1815, the Regular infantry
fluctuated in size with the whole military establishment. Prospects of peace
appeared to improve, and in 1821 Congress felt safe enough to cut expenses by
disbanding the Rifle Regiment and the 8th Infantry. Having reduced the infantry
establishment to seven foot regiments, which were thought adequate to meet all
contingencies, the legislators next sliced the size of companies to fifty-one
enlisted men, the smallest ever. This arrangement endured for fifteen years
when, as usual, the Indians forced an enlargement. "
The US mobilized sixty-seven infantry divisions in World
War II. They were the 1st-9th, 10th Mountain, 24th-38th, 40th-45th, 63rd, 65th,
66th, 69th-71st, 75th-81st, 83rd-91st, 92nd and 93rd Colored, 94th-100th,
102nd-104th, 106th, and Americal Infantry Divisions, 11th, 13th, 17th, 82nd, and
101st Airborne Divisions, and the 1st Cavalry Division, which was dismounted and
utilized as infantry. Forty-two of the infantry divisions and four of the
airborne divisions served in the ETO and MTO, the remainder served in the PTO.
The first permanent divisional organization in the U. S.
Army appeared in World War I. Nine of these infantry divisions continued to
exist through the 1920s and 1930s. These were "square" (two two-regiment
brigades) organizations which were replaced, after considerable arguments and
field tests, by a "triangular" organization of three regiments. By early 1942
the division was organized substantially the way it would be used in battle,
with, in addition to its three infantry regiments, four artillery battalions
(three twelve-tube 105mm light battalions and one twelve-tube 155mm howitzer
medium battalion), a cavalry reconnaissance troop, and division service troops.
A major general commanded the division. A brigadier general was assistant
division commander and a second brigadier general was division artillery
commander. Colonels commanded the infantry regiments and lieutenant colonels the
battalions.... In addition to the divisions, there were also a large number of
separate infantry, parachute infantry, and glider infantry regiments and
battalions. Most of them were utilized as garrisons or for guard lines of
communication. For example, only a single separate armored infantry battalions
(the 526th) saw combat, the remaining fourteen were disbanded or converted to
Six Ranger battalions (1st-6th) were formed. Three of the
battalions, the 1st, 3rd, and 4th, were disbanded in late 1944 after suffering
heavy losses at Anzio. The 1st-5th battalions fought in Europe and Italy, the
6th Battalion fought in the Pacific.
The separate infantry units that saw combat service were:
In the ETO; the 3rd, 29th, 65th (Puerto Rican), 118th,
156th, 159th (arrived March 1945 after service in the Aleutians) 442nd (Nisei),
473d (organized by the Fifth Army in Italy on 19 December 1944 from three AAA
battalions), and 474th (organized in France on 6 January 1945, with the 99th
Battalion and remnants of the 1st, 3d, and 4th Rangers and 1st Special Service
Force), and 517th Parachute regiments; and the 1st-5th Ranger, 99th (Norwegian),
100th (Nisei, which in mid 1944 replaced the old 1st/442d which was disbanded --
the 100th retained its original designation), 509th Parachute, 526th Armored,
550th Glider, and 551st Parachute battalions.
In the PTO: the 4th, 24th Colored, 102d (elements only),
111th, 147th, 158th, 475th (final designation of the 5307th Composite Unit
[Provisional], "Merrill's Marauders"), and 503rd Parachute regiments. In
addition, the 112th and 124th Cavalry were dismounted and fought as infantry.
Officers Rank Insignia
The size of the Army does not permit Army officers in
charge of a large group to know all in their command by their name, nor is it
possible to know all the duties of the various individuals of an organization if
placed in a command, but by means of insignia of grade anyone trained in
military organizations and tactics may quickly have a title by which he or she
may address an individual and based on the responsibilities commensurate with
each grade, they may issue orders intelligently. General Washington was chosen
by the Continental Congress and was informed on June 16, 1775 that he was to be
general and commander-in-chief to take supreme command of the forces raised in
defense of American liberty. Just thirty days later, on July 14, 1775, a General
Order was issued which read: "To prevent mistakes, the General Officers and
their aides-de-camp will be distinguished in the following manner: The
Commander-in-Chief by a light blue ribband, worn across his breast, between his
coat and waistcoat; the major and brigadier generals by a pink ribband worn in a
like manner; the Aides-de-Camp by a green ribband."
On July 23, 1775, General Washington states "As the
Continental Army has unfortunately no uniforms, and consequently many
inconveniences must arise from not being able to distinguish the commissioned
officers from the privates, it is desired that some badge of distinction be
immediately provided; for instance, that the field officers may have red or pink
colored cockades in their hats, the captains yellow or buff, and the subalterns
Our present system of officers grade insignia began on June
18, 1780 when it was prescribed that Major Generals would wear two stars and
Brigadier Generals one star on each epaulette. In 1832, the Colonels eagle was
initiated and in 1836, leaves were adopted for Lieutenant Colonels and Majors,
while Captains received two bars and one bar was prescribed for First
Lieutenant. Second Lieutenants did not receive the gold bar until December,
Warrant Officers were provided with an insignia of
identification on May 12, 1921, which also served as their insignia of grade. In
1942, Warrant Officers were graded and there were created a Chief Warrant
Officer and a Warrant Officer (Junior Grade), and separate insignia of grade
(gold and brown enamel bars) were approved June 14, 1942. A grade of Flight
Officer came into being in 1942, and the insignia was prescribed to be identical
to Warrant Officer (Junior Grade) except the enamel was blue instead of brown.
Other than the dates of authorization, nothing has been
located as to why the leaf and bar was selected for officers insignia. Military
routinely incorporate the design representing their country in their insignia
and the eagle with shield, arrows and olive leaves was taken from the Coat of
Arms of the United States.
Use of Silver and Gold
The precedence of silver over gold in officer insignia of
grade was not the result of deliberate intent, but arose from the desire to
avoid unnecessary changes. Although the background discussed below is for Army
insignia, the Navy and Marine Corps metal insignia of grade for officers have
paralleled those of the Army. When the Air Force was established in 1947, it
adopted the officers insignia of grade already in use by the Army.
Since 1780, when insignia was embroidered on the
epaulettes, the grade of general officers has been denoted by a number of silver
stars. This was the beginning of the present system of officers grade insignia.
Epaulettes were specified for all officers in 1832; for the
infantry they were silver and all others had gold epaulettes. In order that the
rank insignia would be clearly discernible, they were of the opposite color;
that is, the infantry colonels had an eagle of gold because it was placed on a
silver epaulette and all other colonels had silver eagles on gold epaulettes. At
that time the only grade insignia were the stars for general officers and eagles
for colonels. Epaulettes for lieutenant colonels, majors, captains, and
lieutenants had no insignia -- the difference of grade were indicated by the
length and size of the fringe, and on which shoulder(s) the epaulette(s) were
Shoulder straps were adopted to replace the epaulette for
field duty in 1836. The straps followed the same color combination as the
epaulettes; that is, the border was gold with silver insignia for all officers
except those of infantry which had silver border with gold insignia. At that
time majors were authorized leaves; captains were authorized two bars and first
lieutenants were authorized one bars on the shoulder straps. An exception to the
rule was made for lieutenent colonels, who had leaves in the same color as the
In 1851, the colonels eagle was prescribed in silver only.
Apparently when it was decided to use only one color, the silver eagle was
selected based on the fact that there were more colonels with the silver eagle
than those with gold. For the other officer ranks, the rank insignia of the
infantry became standard for the whole army, i.e. lieutenant colonels wore an
embroidered silver leaf; majors wore a gold embroidered leaf; and captains and
first lieutenants wore two and one gold bars respectively, on the shoulder
straps. The second lieutenant had no grade insignia, but the epaulette or
shoulder strap identified him as a commissioned officer.
In 1872, epaulettes were abolished for officers and
replaced by shoulder knots. As the shoulder knots had no fringe, it was
necessary that some change in the insignia on the dress uniform be made in order
to distinguish the major from the second lieutenant. It was natural to use the
gold leaf which the major had worn on the shoulder strap for the previous
twenty-one years. In the same year, the bars on the shoulder straps of the
captains and first lieutenants were changed from gold to silver to correspond
with the silver devices of the senior officers.
The service uniform of olive drab gradually came to be used
more frequently and by the time of World War I, the blue uniform was worn only
in the evenings and on dress occasions. As a result, metal insignia was
authorized for wear on the service uniform on the shoulder loop and on the
collar of the shirt when worn without a jacket. Shortly after the United States
entered World War I, only the service olive drab uniform was being worn. The
need for an insignia for the second lieutenant became urgent. Among the
proposals was one to authorized for that grade one bar, the first lieutenant two
bars, and the captain three bars. However, the policy of making as little change
as possible prevailed, and a gold bar was adopted in 1917, following the
precedent previously established by the adoption of the majors insignia.
Although silver outranks gold insofar as the Armed Forces
metal insignia of grade, gold can be considered as outranking silver in medals
and decorations and their appurtenances. The order of precedence in establishing
medals when using the same design is gold, silver and bronze.
Enlisted Personnel Insignia of Rank
"Chevron" is an architectural term denoting the rafters of
a roof meeting an angle at the upper apex. The chevron in heraldry was employed
as a badge of honor to mark the main supporters of the head of the clan or "top
of the house" and it came to be used in various forms as an emblem of rank for
knights and men-at-arms in feudal days. One legend is that the chevron was
awarded to a knight to show he had taken part in capturing a castle, town, or
other building, of which the chevron resembled the roofs. It is believed from
this resulted its use as an insignia of grade by the military. The lozenge or
diamond used to indicate first sergeant is a mark of distinction and was used in
heraldry to indicate achievement.
Method of Wearing
Chevrons were sewn on the sleeves of uniforms with the
point down from approximately 1820 to 1903. They were worn with the points both
up and down between 1903 and 1905 after the first reversal from "down" to "up"
was authorized on May 1, 1903 in Army Regulation No. 622. This confusion period,
from 1903 to 1905, was the result of the color change in the chevrons provided
for in the regulation which also directed a standard color for each branch,
corps, or organization and replaced the gold-colored chevrons. Because of the
number of gold insignia available, troops were permitted to wear the old-type
chevron until the supply became exhausted.
To assure uniformity in both color and position of the new
colored chevrons, War Department Circular 61, dated November 30, 1905, stated
that the points of the chevrons would be worn points upward. It also provided
for the following colors as had been directed in Army Regulation No. 622, dated
May 1, 1903.
As early as 1820, chevrons were worn with the point down,
although there was not an official direction of this to appear in regulations
until 1821 when chevrons were authorized for both officers and enlisted men.
Circular No. 65, 1821, stated that" "Chevrons will designate rank (both of
officers through the rank of captain and enlisted men) as follows: Captains, one
on each arm, above the elbow, and subalterns, on each arm below the elbow. They
will be of gold or silver lace, half an inch wide, conforming in colour to the
button of their regiment or corps. The angles of the chevron to point upwards.
Adjutants will be designated by an arc of gold or silver
fringe, (according to the colour of their trimmings), connecting the extreme
points formed by the ends of the chevron. Sergeant Majors and Quartermaster
Sergeants will wear one chevron of worsted braid on each arm, above the elbow.
Sergeants and senior musicians, one on each arm, below the elbow, and corporals,
one on the right arm, above the elbow. They will conform in colour to the button
of their regiment or corps." Before this time, an officers rank was indicated by
epaulettes worn on the shoulder. This regulation also indicated the first use of
the arc as part of the chevron.
Chevrons continued to be worn points downward during the
1800s. AGO Order No. 10, dated 9 February 1833, stated "Chevrons will be worn
with the point toward the cuff of the sleeves." Article 1577 of the revised
United States Regulations of 1861 stated "The rank of non-commissioned Officers
will be marked by chevrons upon both sleeves of the uniform coat and overcoat,
above the elbow, of silk worsted binding on-half inch wide, to be the same color
as the edgings of the coat, point down."
Training in the United States Army is generally divided
into two categories - individual and collective. Individual training for enlisted soldiers usually consists
of Basic Combat Training, and Advanced Individual Training in their primary
Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) at any of the numerous MOS training
facilities around the world. Depending on the needs of the Army BCT is conducted
at a number of locations, but two of the longest running are the Armor School at
Fort Knox, Kentucky and the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Collective training takes place both at the unit's assigned
station, but the most intensive collective training takes place at the Combat
Training Centers (CTC); two of the most famous are the National Training Center
(NTC) at Fort Irwin, California and the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC)
at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Oath of Office
Upon joining the Army, all Soldiers (officers and enlisted)
must swear (or affirm) an oath 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.
Since World War II, the Army has maintained three distinct
types of uniforms: Full Dress, Service/Garrison Dress, and Combat Dress.
The Full Dress uniform, known today as Army Blue, is worn
for most ceremonial duties in most Stateside posts, especially those attached to
the 3rd Infantry Regiment in Washington, D.C. This uniform, adopted in present
form in 1955, consists of a dark blue open-fronted coat with white shirt and
black necktie, and light blue trousers, all trimmed in gold (the U.S. Marine
Corps dress blues has a "choker collar" coat and scarlet trim). It is worn with
a dark blue saucer cap, with officers' rank insignia being worn on rectangular
epaulettes in the color of their branch of service. General officers wear a
similar uniform, but with dark blue trousers in place of light blue ones, along
with their distinctive General officer's insignia. A bowtie, worn in place of
the necktie, is used when the uniform is worn when attending events similar to
that of a "black-tie" function.
The Service/Garrison uniform, introduced in the mid-1950's
and replacing the Olive Drab uniforms worn since 1902, consists of an "Army
Green" coat and trousers similar in design to the Army Blue uniform. Between the
introduction of the uniform and the mid-1980's, the uniform was worn with a tan
shirt and black necktie, but has since been replaced with a light green shirt.
Enlisted members wear rank on both sleeves, while officers have their insignia
on the epaulets. In addition, officers uniforms have black mohair bands on the
coat cuffs and mohair stripes on the trousers. Since 2001, the uniform has been
worn with the U.S. Army's general service black beret, which was worn only by
Ranger regiments, prior to its service-wide introduction. Although regular units
wear black shoes, with boots, ascot scarves, and pistol belts being worn only
for parade dress functions, Airborne, Ranger, and Special Forces (green beret)
units wear "Corcoran" jump boots with the trousers bloused into them. Berets
identical to the black general service beret, are worn by these units, with the
Airborne wearing maroon (82nd Airborne Division and 173d Airborne Brigade only,
as the 101st Airborne Division is an air assault unit), Rangers wearing tan, and
Special Forces wearing green--arguably the most identifiable military insignia
in the world.
The Battle Dress uniform, known throughout recent history
as "fatigues," or "BDUs," has undergone the most changes since World War II.
Introduced as a one-piece coverall, it was later changed to a two-piece
shirt/trousers design by the end of World War II, and was the most-seen uniform
during the Cold War. A two-piece "jungle fatigue" uniform, introduced during the
Vietnam War, was modified in the 1980's with a woodland and "six-color" desert
pattern, and replaced the old-style fatigues by Operation Desert Shield/Storm.
The desert pattern changed after Operation Desert Storm to a 3-color pattern,
used by Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the introduction of the new MARPAT digital
pattern uniform for U.S. Marines and Navy Combat Corpsmen prompted the Army to
introduce its new "Army Combat Uniform," or ACU in 2005. Similar to the Marine's
uniform, in terms of pocket layout, the ACU differs with the camouflage
pattern--the elimination of black squares allow the uniform to be worn in all
non-polar terrains throughout the world, thus the same uniform can be worn in
the Black Forest in Germany, to the deserts of the Southwest U.S. or Southwest
Asia. The pattern is similar to MARPAT but with different color distribution and
concentration. The ACU also features, for the first time since WW2, rough-hide
(suede) brown leather boots, which allows easier care, than their black leather
counterparts (which required polishing) worn since 1955. The new boots replaces
the black "speed-lace" all-leather boots and the leather/canvas "jungle" boots
worn since Vietnam. The combat uniform is worn with the beret for garrison
(base) duties, with a visor cap for non-combat patrols and Kevlar helmet and
body armor for combat duties. A little known fact about the BDU is why the
American flag is worn reversed. Back in Revolutionary War times, one soldier
always carried the flag onto the battlefield. As the soldier moved forward, the
flag blew backwards. The reversed flag represents that.
The Army's top civilian executive is the Secretary of the
Army, who heads the Department of the Army. Along with the Secretaries of the
Navy and the Air Force, the Secretary of the Army reports to the Secretary of
Defense. Prior to the enactment of the National Security Act on July 26, 1947
(and the creation of the Department of Defense), the Army's top civilian
executive was the Secretary of War who headed the War Department (also known as
the War Office) beginning with its creation in 1789.
The senior uniformed officer of the United States Army is
the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA). This position is filled by a four star
general who sits on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As with the other uniformed
chiefs of the armed services, the Army Chief of Staff does not hold command over
combatant forces. The CSA's function is primarily administrative and
policy-making in nature. The current Army Chief of Staff is General Peter J.
The most senior Army generals who are directly in the chain
of command are those who command a Unified Combatant Command, known as the
Combatant Commanders (COCOM's). 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 Combatant Commands, the heads of the army components of
the Combatant Commands and general officers commanding an army corps.
Fifth Army (Reserve)
According to internal doctrine, the US Army considers its
basic element to be the best-equipped and trained individual soldier possible,
and aims to multiply this basic element's effectiveness with the most advanced
tactics possible. This has indeed made the US Army the most advanced land force
in the world, but the strategy has repercussions. This doctrine has made warfare
very expensive, which makes alternative strategies relatively more attractive.
However, the basic strategy for the employment of infantry remains the concept
of "overwhelming force". This is best expressed in George S. Patton's famous
dictum: "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country; he won it by making
the other poor dumb bastard die for his." This dictum has been proven to the
point where his record as a combat commander is renown for having inflicted the
highest casualties among his opponents, with the lowest casualties among the
Allied Expeditionary Forces.
The US Army was the first in the world to achieve 100%
automotive mobility, and spends a sizable chunk of its military budget to
maintain a diverse inventory of vehicles. The US Army maintains the highest
vehicle-to-soldier ratio in the world.