The United States Armed Forces are the federal military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military. The President of the United States is the military's overall head, and helps form military policy with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), a federal executive department, acting as the principal organ by which military policy is carried out. The DoD is headed by the Secretary of Defense, who is a civilian and Cabinet member. The Defense Secretary is second in the military's chain of command, just below the President, and serves as the principal assistant to the President in all DoD-related matters.To coordinate military action with diplomacy, the President has an advisory National Security Council headed by a National Security Advisor. Both the President and Secretary of Defense are advised by a seven-member Joint Chiefs of Staff, which includes the head of each of the Defense Department's service branches as well as the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Leadership is provided by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Commandant of the Coast Guard is not a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
All of the branches work together during operations and joint missions, under the Unified Combatant Commands, under the authority of the Secretary of Defense with the exception of the Coast Guard, which is under the administration of the Department of Homeland Security and receives its operational orders from the Secretary of Homeland Security. However, the Coast Guard may be transferred to the Department of the Navy by the President or Congress during a time of war. All five armed services are among the seven uniformed services of the United States, the two others being the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (under the Department of Health and Human Services) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps (under the Department of Commerce). From the time of its inception, the military played a decisive role in the history of the United States. A sense of national unity and identity was forged as a result of victory in the First Barbary War and the Second Barbary War. Even so, the Founders were suspicious of a permanent military force and not until the outbreak of World War II did a large standing army become officially established. The National Security Act of 1947, adopted following World War II and during the Cold War's onset, created the modern U.S. military framework; the Act merged previously Cabinet-level Department of War and the Department of the Navy into the National Military Establishment (renamed the Department of Defense in 1949), headed by the Secretary of Defense; and created the Department of the Air Force and National Security Council. The U.S. military is one of the largest militaries in terms of number of personnel. It draws its manpower from a large pool of paid volunteers; although conscription has been used in the past in various times of both war and peace, it has not been used since 1972. As of 2013, the United States spends about $554.2 billion annually to fund its military forces, and appropriates approximately $88.5 billion to fund Overseas Contingency Operations. Put together, the United States constitutes roughly 39 percent of the world's military expenditures. For the period 2010-14, SIPRI found that the United States was the world's biggest exporter of major arms, accounting for 31 per cent of global shares. The United States was also the world's eight largest importer of major weapons for the same period. The U.S. Armed Forces has significant capabilities in both defense and power projection thanks to its advanced and powerful equipment and its widespread deployment of force around the world.
The history of the U.S. military dates to 1775, even before the Declaration of Independence marked the establishment of the United States. The Continental Army, Continental Navy, and Continental Marines were created in close succession by the Second Continental Congress in order to defend the new nation against the British Empire in the American Revolutionary War.
These forces demobilized in 1784 after the Treaty of Paris ended the War for Independence. The Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784, and the United States Congress created the United States Navy on March 27, 1794, and the United States Marine Corps on July 11, 1798. All three services trace their origins to the founding of the Continental Army (on 14 June 1775), the Continental Navy (on 13 October 1775) and the Continental Marines (on 10 November 1775), respectively. The 1787 adoption of the Constitution gave the Congress the power to "raise and support armies", "provide and maintain a navy", and to "make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces", as well as the power to declare war. The United States President is the U.S. military's commander-in-chief.
Rising tensions at various times with Britain and France and the ensuing Quasi-War and War of 1812 quickened the development of the U.S. Navy (established 13 October 1775) and the United States Marine Corps (established 10 November 1775). The U.S. Coast Guard dates its origin to the founding of the Revenue Cutter Service on 4 August 1790; that service merged with the United States Life-Saving Service in 1915 to establish the Coast Guard. The United States Air Force was established as an independent service on 18 September 1947; it traces its origin to the formation of the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps in 1907 and was part of the Army before becoming an independent service.
The reserve branches formed a military strategic reserve during the Cold War, to be called into service in case of war. Time magazine's Mark Thompson has suggested that with the War on Terror, the reserves deployed as a single force with the active branches and America no longer has a strategic reserve.
Aaron De Rosa · Text from Wikipedia