From the United States Army's inception in the Revolutionary War to its 244th birthday June 14, this branch our nation's military has served on the front line as America has gone to battle domestically and on foreign soil. At the same time, the Army has made its mark as arguably the most powerful military organization ever to march in step and made untold contributions to the culture and history of the republic.
Even with its long history and commitment to tradition, the Army has gone through numerous evolutions, particularly with its demographics. The Army is now incredibly diverse, with a healthy number of minorities and women in the enlisted and officer ranks. It also has a rich political history, as out of its ranks have come presidents, senators, and representatives. The Army is a significant force in education, as well: from its service academy at West Point to ROTC and JROTC programs to offering benefits to help veterans pay for college or enabling others to pursue higher learning credits who might otherwise not be able to afford it.
On the 244th anniversary of the U.S. Army, Stacker takes a close look at the history, trends, demographics, fun facts, and culture that have made the military branch what it is today.
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The age the Army turned on June 14, 2019. The oldest branch of the U.S. military was officially established on June 14, 1775.
The Army comprises 35% of all American Armed Forces and includes the largest number of officers in uniform. The Army has historically been the largest branch of the military, followed by the Navy, Air Force, and Marines.
There are almost half a million people on active duty in the U.S. Army. The numbers have been steadily decreasing over the past decades, a trend mirrored by other branches of the military. In the 1970s, the Army had nearly 1.5 million members—more than triple the number enlisted today.
In addition to the more than 300,000 soldiers in the National Guard, there are 190,350 members of the Army National Reserve. Guard soldiers and Army Reserve soldiers are members of the Army who can be called into full-time service to supports the Army's combat efforts. The biggest difference between Guard and Reserve members is that Guard members can serve a dual mission: They can be called to action by either the federal government or state government, while Army Reserve members can only be called up by the federal government.
The maximum age to enlist in the United States Army if a person has no prior military experience is 34. The minimum age to enlist is 17, with parental consent.
The U.S. Army is now divided up into 22 branches such as field artillery and combat medic. The first Army branch was the Infantry, created on the Army's founding date of June 14, 1775. The most recent basic branch created was the Special Forces, born on April 9, 1987
U.S. Army Col. James Thompson spent almost nine years—or 3,278 days—as a prisoner of North Vietnam. He was the longest-held POW in American history. Thompson died in 2002.
Almost 3 million soldiers fought in the Civil War. The number is comprised of 2 million for the Union Army and 750,000 who fought for the Confederacy.
Each Bridge Combat team (BCT) in the United States Active Duty Army includes roughly 4,500 soldiers who comprise the building blocks of the Army. There are 31 BCTs in the Regular Army and 27 in the Army National Guard.
There are 13 U.S. Army generals, 50 lieutenant generals, 121 major generals, and 133 brigadier generals. A general is the highest ranking. Lieutenant generals are often 3-star generals and historically have been second in command. Major generals have two-stars; brigadier generals have one.
The United States Army has nearly 50,000 soldiers currently deployed in 149 countries around the globe. That is nearly 75% of the globe, with the majority of deployments in European and Asian countries. The countries with the most deployed Army soldiers include: Germany (nearly 21,000); South Korea (17,000); Italy (4,000); Japan (3,000); and Kuwait (nearly 700).
The U.S. Army is based on seven core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage. These values are instilled in soldiers from the beginning of their Basic Training—with the expectation that soldiers will carry these values into their combat and their personal lives.
Fifty veterans of the U.S. Army are currently serving in Congress. They include politicians such as Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Representatives Mike Conaway (R-Tex.), and Anthony Brown (D-Md.).
Fifteen U.S. presidents have served in either the Army or the Army Reserve. They are (beginning with the most recent): Ronald Reagan, Dwight D Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Theodore Roosevelt, William McKinley, Benjamin Harrison, James Garfield, Rutherford B Hayes, Ulysses Grant, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Zachary Taylor, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson, George Washington. President James Monroe served in the Continental Army.
President Andrew Jackson was barely a teenager when he joined the Continental Army as a courier during the Revolutionary War. As an adult, he served in the formal United States Army.
The United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, is the sole service academy dedicated to the U.S. Army. There are four other military service academies dedicated to the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine. Tuition at West Point is fully funded for students; in addition, they receive a $10,000-per-year stipend.
There are more than 1,000 Army Reserve Officer Training Corps—also known as ROTC—programs across college campus programs in the United States. Army ROTC programs enable college students to get military training while in college. Many Army ROTC programs offer highly qualified students scholarships that can be applied towards college expenses.
The Army's budget for fiscal 2018 year tops $147 billion, which makes the Army one of the most highly funded government entities. This budget is nearly double the $78 Billion budget that the Army had in 2001. For fiscal year 2020, the Army requested a budget of $191 billion.
The percentage of Army members who identify as women is fast-approaching 20%—up from the 9% they made up in 1982. Fourteen percent of enlistees identify as women and 18% of officers identify as women.
President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order #9981 on July 26, 1948, banning segregation in the United States military. Ethnic minorities, particularly black soldiers, have been fighting in the Army for centuries—including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars—but troops were not officially desegregated until this executive order.
Forty percent of the Army is comprised of enlisted ethnic minorities. Black soldiers account for 21% of the Army, Hispanic soldiers for 14%, and Asian soldiers 5%.
More than half of all active-duty Army members are married. The percentage is slightly lower for the other two branches of the Army: 39% for members of the Army National Guard; 41% for members of the Army National Reserve.
Almost half a million children have a parent on active duty in the Army. Since so many service members have children, many Army bases across the world have family-friendly infrastructures. Famous Army brats include Reese Witherspoon, Christina Aguilera, Shaquille O'Neal, and Ciara.
A quarter of a million people are married to active-duty Army soldiers. Army spouses often live on bases with their families and are afforded some military benefits.
Almost 40% of married women in the Army are in dual-military marriages. Only 5% of married male Army soldiers are in dual-military marriages. Dual military marriages involve service members married to a spouse who is in another area or branch of service. Due to the strain dual enlistment can have on a marriage, the Army actually has a Married Army Couple Program, which can help spouses align their deployments and assignments.