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United States Army History

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 draft.


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 of 1945.


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 battalions.


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 substantially expanded.


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 other units.


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 green."


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, 1917.


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 worn.


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 border.


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. Schoomaker.


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.

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