The U.S military is considered the strongest and largest in the whole world in terms of weaponry, funding, and personnel. It comprises five main service branches, namely, the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Similarly to many countries, the President acts as the Chief of the military and formulates the military policy. In this regard, President Obama is the Commander-in-Chief; the Secretary of Defense is Chuck Hagel; and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Staff is General Martin Dempsey. In the U.S, the Department of Defense serves as the principal organ through which the entire military policy is formulated.
The Structure of the U.S Military
For many decades, the U.S Armed Forces has maintained a strong tradition of civilian control of the military. The President is the head of all the service branches of the military. The second in the chain of command is Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, who serves as the chief deputy to the President on issues concerning the military. Most importantly, the Secretary of Defense is a civilian and cabinet member, who acts as a principal advisor in the formulation of military policy.
The President of the United States also forms the National Security Council, which is headed by the National Security Advisor. The main task of the Council is to coordinate military action with diplomacy. The Council is chaired by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and includes the heads of other service organs.
The History of the Military in the USA
The establishment of the U.S military dates to 1775, when the Continental Navy, Army and Marines were created by the National Congress. The main task of the first service branches of the military was to guard the country during the American Revolutionary War. However, in June 1784, the Congress of Confederation created the U.S Army. Furthermore, in 1787, the Constitution empowered the Congress to raise funds to support the Army, maintain the Navy and regulate the land and naval forces. What is more, the Constitution gave the President the authority to “declare war” and the accountability to become the Commander-in-Chief.
In 1812, the rising tensions between France and Britain and the escalation of the Quasi-War required the development of two new service branches, the Navy and the Marine Corps, which were established earlier in 1775. The U.S Coast Guard was developed after the merging of Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S Life Saving Service in 1915. The Air Force service branch of the military was formed as an independent unit in 1947 and emerged as the most powerful and sophisticated military in the world.
Today, all the service branches of the U.S. Armed Forces work during joint missions and operations under the head of various Combatant Commands. For example, the Coast Guard works under the Department of Homeland Security but was transferred to the Navy Department during the times of war. Therefore, all the five service branches of the military play a decisive role in fostering a sense of national unity. For example, the victory in the First and the Second Barbary War strengthened the sense of national unity among members of the military. Besides, the global war on terrorism has required the U.S military to redouble their efforts and improve on national security.
The Budget of the Military in the USA
Numerous research studies have shown that the U.S military commands the world’s largest budget in terms of security. For example, in 2010, the U.S budget allocated $534 billion for the military, $130 billion for “overseas contingency operation,” and $33 billion for supplemental spending on international activities. Furthermore, the U.S spends over $250 billion annually on defense-related programs such as maintaining nuclear weapons, homeland security, the State Department and veteran affairs.
In terms of service branch allocation, the Army enjoys the largest share of the budget. In the fiscal year 2010, the Army received $225 billion, $179 billion was allotted to the Navy and Marine Corps, $160 billion to the Air Force and $106 to the Coast Guard. Furthermore, $154 billion was allocated for personnel activities such as recruitment and training; $284 billion was appropriated for operations and maintenance of weapons, and $140 billion for procurement purposes. In addition, the U.S military invests heavily in research and development by allocating over $80 billion annually. Over $40 billion is appropriated for the construction of military camps and $ 5 billion for family housing.
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These figures confirm that the U.S military has the largest budget in the world. In addition to the enormous number of personnel, the U.S Armed Forces engages in numerous local and international operations such as peacekeeping missions, thus necessitating substantial funding. In addition to the permanent staff and veteran soldiers, the U.S military also draws the service of paid volunteers who are factored in the federal budget. The U.S military spending constitutes roughly 45% of the federal budget. In the fiscal year 2012, President Obama proposed an increase of 4% for the allocation of the U.S military. This is because the Armed Forces possess large quantities of powerful machinery equipment, thus giving them the capacity to guard the nation against any threats.
The Personnel of the U.S Military
Recent statistics indicates that by the end of 2013, the U.S military comprised 1,369,532 active members. This is in addition to the 850,800 paid volunteer members of the military that serve in various reserve components. In this regard, the U.S military personnel are considered as the second largest in the world. China’s People’s Liberation Army is regarded as the world’s largest contingent of approximately 8,326,973 troops deployed in various parts of the world. Furthermore, research on the U.S military indicates that to date, over 40 million people have worked in the military.
In 2007, the former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates proposed for an increase in personnel, especially in the Army and Marine Corps due to the growth of global terrorism trends. Consequently, by 2012, the number of personnel in the Army was increased to 548,000 and to 202,000 in the Marine Corps. Furthermore, over 22,000 new officers were recruited between 2009 and 2013 for the purposes of troop rotation. Due to the need for the U.S Armed Forces to main its military strength, the 2011 fiscal year budget allocated more funds for recruitment purposes. This included the recruitment of 65,000 more people in the Army, 27,000 in the Marine Corps, and 15,000 in the Navy.
Similarly to other military personnel in the world, the members of the U.S military hold different ranks depending on their years of service. Furthermore, the rank of the officers often determines their seniority and eligibility for promotion. Although the ranks may be different between the service branches, some officers who serve in Special Forces outrank the others in active duty and pay grade. Those who have served and retired are referred to as veterans and are highly regarded by the state. Finnegan and Danysh (128) argue that the declining supply of qualified graduates in the U.S education system has forced the military to recruit math and science qualified graduates from foreign countries or foreign nationals. Therefore, the U.S military service comprises qualified specialists from different countries.
Training in the U.S Military
Since the U.S military is regarded as the most powerful in the world, the soldiers go through an intensive training program to acquire the necessary skills. Once the recruits join the military, they are taken through the basic and advanced training phases to make them fully prepared to deal with any eventualities. The motto of the U.S military training schools is “A strong military is created one way: through the best training.” During the basic training phase, the recruits attend “a boot camp,” which often lasts for a period of 7-12 weeks depending on the service unit. Millis (118) contends that during the basic training, the recruits undergo a challenging experience and rigorous physical fitness test. The objective of the basic training is to build the mental strength of the recruits.
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During the advanced training, the recruits are assigned to their military career field. They also attend different training schools where they learn the skills and receive hands-on training through classroom sessions and field instructions. The military training schools include the Marine Corps Occupational Specialty School, Navy “A” School, Air Force Technical School and the Coast Guard “A” School. What is more, the recruits use the military experience to gain certification in other diverse careers such as civil and software engineering.
In conclusion, the U.S military remains the largest and strongest in the world. Since the U.S is the most powerful country in the world, the military boasts of the most sophisticated weaponry, machine equipments and qualified personnel. Over the years, the U.S Armed Forces continues to participate actively in international operations and peacekeeping missions in war-torn countries. The U.S sends millions of its troops to different countries annually to foster peace initiatives and fight terrorist groups, thus gaining respect throughout the world.