United States Army

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United States Army

Department of the Army coat of arms

Department of the Army coat of arms
Lineup 1775
Country United StatesUnited States United States
Armed forces United States Armed Forces
Type Armed forces ( army )
strength 480,893 Regular Army
336,129 Army National Guard
188,703 United States Army Reserve
1,005,725 total as of September 2020
motto This We'll Defend

"We will defend this"

Colours Black, gold, white
_ _ _
march The Army Goes Rolling Along
mascot Donkey ( army mules )
Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth
Chief of Staff of the Army James C. McConville
Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston
flag US Army flag
Field flag US Army field flag
logo US Army logo

The United States Army ( US Army ) is the army of the United States Armed Forces and the largest of the eight uniformed services in the United States . It was set up in 1775 during the American War of Independence and contributed significantly to the creation of the United States . The mission of the Army, as it is called in official parlance, is to protect US interests abroad, but also to defend the United States militarily against other states . To this end, it maintains bases all over the world.

The Army had 480,893 active soldiers as of September 2020. The Army National Guard has 336,129 and the Army Reserve 188,703 soldiers. With the inclusion of the two reserve forces, the Army had a strength of 1,005,725 soldiers in September 2020 . In addition, it had 252,747 civilian employees in September 2020. In terms of personnel strength, the US Army is surpassed by the Army of the People's Republic of China , the Indian Army and the Army of North Korea .

The US Army has been involved in all of the major wars of the 20th century and in dozens of US interventions . Since the Second World War , it has been considered the best-equipped and most mobile army in the world. However, especially since the end of the Cold War , it has been confronted by militarily inferior opponents with tactics of asymmetrical warfare .

The term United States Army is often imprecisely translated into German as "US Army". In fact, it only includes the armed forces part of the army, while in the German language the army of a country is generally understood to mean the totality of the armed forces. In the United States, the term Army can also refer to the two reserve components Federal Reserve and National Guard. This article is limited to the professional army.


Prehistory to the end of the 18th century

Color lithograph about the Indian Wars of 1899

The modern military era on North American territory began with the arrival of the first settlers in the early 17th century. According to their origin, the armed men among the settlers oriented themselves to British military traditions, but had to adapt them to new conditions, such as the low population and the spontaneous behavior of the Indians. Against the background of recurring confrontations with the Indians, the tactics of the two population groups became more similar, with the settlers drawing on a stronger military tradition from Europe.

Later on, the settlers went to collectively defend themselves by building forts along the boundaries consolidated by the settlement . The militia system , which had proven increasingly unsuitable in the British mother country after the violent internal consolidation by Oliver Cromwell and the turn to European politics of prestige, experienced a renaissance in North America. This was due to the fact that it emphasized individual commitment and individual responsibility through its loose organization and its origins in British knighthood in connection with the new tactics.

In 1747 the British Crown established the first standing unit on North American soil, this His Majesty's First Independent Company of American Rangers consisting entirely of men from the colonies. One of their captains was Robert Rogers . From their missions, this unit quickly learned from the French and from the tactics of the Indians , such as ambushes or fighting in the forest, which were not previously in use. They were used in their homeland in the war against the French .


George Washington and Lafayette in the Forge Valley . Copy of a 1907 painting by John Ward Dunsmore.

On 14 June 1775, after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War that lifted the Continental Congress from ten companies for operations on land and appointed George Washington to the commander in chief of the " Continental Army ", which should provide a command structure for the previously unorganized militia and volunteers. For this purpose it was divided into six regional departments . The Continental Army faced an experienced, well-organized and equipped contingent of the British Crown with the support of Hessian mercenaries. The forces fighting for independence succeeded in avoiding a devastating blow from the royal troops until the diplomatically won support gradually took hold. The former Prussian officer Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben improved the organization and training of the colonist troops, while the Frenchman Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais significantly improved the armament. In this way, the Continental Army increasingly met the British in open field battles. Their position deteriorated due to supply difficulties and the dispersion of troops in the region, so that they lost the war. 4,000 Continental Army soldiers died before the British finally defended themselves.

Thomas Jefferson founded the United States Military Academy in West Point , New York , in 1802 . The first of its kind in the United States, it was erected on one of the most strategically important outposts of the war. The US Military Academy produced many military and political leaders in every historical era in the country, including Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower .

Execution of American Indian policy

At the beginning of 1790 General Arthur St. Clair was entrusted with the land reclamation in the area of ​​what is now the US states of Indiana and Ohio and thus with the systematic expulsion of the Indians there . This took a total of five years, as St. Clair built additional fortifications and permanent military infrastructure. Overall, the Army drove Indians out of their settlement areas until 1891. In contrast, the US Army derives parts of its tradition from the Indians, such as the naming of their helicopters .

19th century

British-American War of 1812

In the aftermath of the War of Independence, Britain used its maritime power to demonstrate to the young American nation its vulnerability at sea. During the Napoleonic Wars between Great Britain and France, the maritime rights of the neutral USA were also violated. The Royal Navy brought in American ships, forcibly recruited American sailors, and blocked neutral seaports to prevent trade with France.

These events took then- President James Madison on June 18, 1812 on the occasion, the United Kingdom the war to explain, with the aim of eastern Canada to conquer. Just like the navy, the army was also inferior to the British counterpart, but speculated on the surprise effect, the local knowledge and the stronger political will. Most of the fighting between the armed forces of both nations took place on the border between the United States and present-day Canada and in the Chesapeake Bay area . However, the initially disorganized and poorly equipped Americans did not succeed in gaining a decisive victory over the British, although the army became more professional in the course of the war. For the first time, Army artillery units played an important role in the battles.

The Americans thus did not achieve their goal of finally ousting the British, which they now hated, from North America. They were able to prevent the British planned conquest of Baltimore and New Orleans (the latter with the help of the French ). Since they feared a far more massive effort by the British in North America, they agreed to the peace of Ghent .

Mexican-American War

Oil painting for the battle of Veracruz

By the 1840s, the Army had become a small yet powerful ground force. During this time, the United States asserted territorial claims against Mexico after admitting Texas into the union in 1845, which had declared itself independent in 1836 .

In the military confrontation with the southern neighbor, which lasted from 1846 to 1848, the Army conquered not only the remaining areas of Texas, but also the region of today's US states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. It was the army's first deployment, which took place mainly on foreign territory. The distance from the previous state territory posed a huge logistical challenge for the still young armed force during the fighting and, after the surrender of the Mexicans, made the first military administration ever deployed by the USA necessary. In direct comparison, the Mexicans outnumbered them, but the Army had efficient artillery and superior tactics. The territorial harassment of the Navajo went hand in hand with the ongoing war, but lasted until 1853. Of 79,000 army soldiers who served, 1,700 died in combat and 11,601 died from other causes.

Civil War

The problem addressed in 1861 secession of the Confederate States tore the army as well as the rest of the military and society of the United States in general. Many well-known and experienced army officers such as Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant , some of whom had served in comradeship for decades, competed against each other.

For the civil war , both sides had to build their armies from scratch due to the insufficient size of the parts of the divided national army. Against the background that the Civil War was the first military conflict in the young industrial age , warfare changed significantly on both sides. While technical improvements to the muzzle-loaders and artillery cannons brought users advantages in terms of reliability and hit rate, they posed a particular threat to certain branches of arms such as infantry and cavalry, which demanded their corresponding blood toll. The Battle of Shiloh therefore claimed more lives than the entire War of Independence. In addition, like its counterpart , the Union Army relied for the first time in the massive transfer of troops by rail . Conscription supported both sides in building mass armies.

In the first industrial war of modern times, the two armies nevertheless competed beyond the value of their combat strength. A social and propaganda race began outside of the battlefield too , for example for greater tradition or a better social environment for the individual. Overall, the differences between Confederate and Union troops were small. After the victory of the northern states, the southern army was dissolved, and former members were partially integrated into the Union army.

2.128 million soldiers had served in the Union, 360,000 of them died. The Confederates kept their casualties less accurate, estimated at 260,000, including deaths from illness and other causes. Their strength is said to have been between 750,000 and a million.

Spanish-American War

A cavalry formation reaches its temporary base in Tampa , Florida

By the end of the 19th century, the internal consolidation of the United States was largely complete. Due to its economic potential, the United States developed into a great power , which led to tension with the crumbling Spanish empire . Since the mid-19th century, Spain has faced nationalist or Pan-American uprisings across Latin America . Driven by a mixture of economic, hegemonic and imperialist interests and a Pan-American, humanitarian and idealistic concerns, the United States declared after several maritime confrontations and provocations by the Spanish Kingdom in the late April 1898 the war .

Still oriented towards the image of an army, which is a necessary evil in times of war, the army was poorly prepared for war, especially since it took place overseas. It therefore turned out to be fortunate for the land forces that the country's navy was much better equipped and therefore had to bear the brunt of the war.

From April 16, 1898, troops were relocated to the coast. On June 20, almost 16,000 men under General William Rufus Shafter disembarked in Daiquirí , Cuba , to set a course for Santiago . By the end of July 1898, almost 11,000 army soldiers had occupied the Philippines , the first scene of the Spanish-American conflict. Manila fell on August 13th. Under General Miles , almost 8,000 men landed near Guánica in Puerto Rico , whose second largest city, Ponce , was captured three days later.

A total of 281,000 soldiers were deployed on the Army side in the Spanish-American War. Less than 400 casualties were lost and 2,000 soldiers died from other causes. From the military experience that the Army gained in the Spanish-American War, Secretary of War Elihu Root founded the Army War College on November 27, 1901 .

20th century

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Army was subjected to a modernization, which, however, only achieved a relative adjustment to the international standard, since the improvements were mainly of a technical nature.

Short intervention phase

At the same time, a series of brief interventions for US interests was initiated, which would last until the 1930s. The Army did not take part in the so-called banana wars , the multitude of US military interventions to implement the Monroe Doctrine in the states of the Caribbean and Central America, where the US Navy only deployed the United States Marine Corps , also in China and in Samoa.

First World War

US Army recruitment during World War I.

At the beginning of the First World War in 1914, the US Army was still relatively weak with just under 100,000 men considering the size of the country. It ranks only third in the US military. On the other hand, the United States, which was already the largest economic power at the time, had the US Navy , the third largest war fleet in the world. The brief armed conflict with Mexico of 1916/17 served as a “dress rehearsal” for the army's deployment in Europe . After the United States entered the First World War in April 1917 on the side of the Entente , a suitable mass army first had to be created, because the US Army had few professional soldiers due to the widespread aversion to excessive central state authority. Now , in view of the challenge of World War I, the United States War Department has increased it with conscripts and volunteers. This army was now officially called the National Army . The shortage of executives caused the rapid rise of many officers, from whose ranks some famous military commanders of World War II later emerged.

American soldiers on the European Western Front have been preparing for battle against the German army since 1917 , initially in small numbers. In 1918, however, the expeditionary force gradually grew to millions, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers being brought across the Atlantic every month. Since the early summer of 1918, closed US units were deployed under the command of General John J. Pershing . The Meuse-Argonne offensive in autumn 1918 was the greatest military success of the US troops under General John Pershing and broke through the German western front at Verdun . American troops were also deployed on the Italian front , as well as in the context of the intervention of the Western powers on the side of the White Army in the Russian Civil War . A total of 115,000 GIs died in World War I, most of them from illnesses such as the Spanish flu in their home training camps and in Europe. About 50,000 men were killed in the fighting in Europe. Above all, the material and human strength of the US Army accelerated the victory of the Allied and Associated Powers. Until the beginning of 1923, US soldiers took part in the Allied occupation of the Rhineland in the Koblenz area.

In 1920 the National Army was dissolved and the military capacity of the United States on land returned to the level of the United States Army . In addition, all promotions granted from 1917 to 1920 were reversed.

Second World War

In the period before the Second World War , the United States Army underwent extensive modernization at all levels from 1933, as it still operated in part in schemes from the time of the civil war.

Landing of the US 82nd Airborne Division near Grave in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden

In the wake of the growing tension in the United States with regard to the war in Europe, the US Congress issued instructions in February 1941 to raise the Army of the United States , which, unlike the National Army, included the reserve in addition to the Regular Army and volunteers initially appeared new to the strategists of the United States. From a legal point of view, the previous individual armed forces remained.

After the United States entered the war in December 1941, the military conquest of the Pacific islands in the course of " island hopping " belonged to the remit of the US Marine Corps , while army soldiers secured the islands. The soldiers of the US Army fought mainly in North Africa and Europe, from 1943 in Italy and from June 6, 1944 in France. In Europe and North Africa, the intervention of the US Army finally gave the Allied forces the military preponderance that, together with the collapse of the German Eastern Front, enabled the anti-Hitler coalition to win. The Commander in Chief of the Allied Expeditionary Forces , Dwight D. Eisenhower , was a member of the Army. Of the approximately 291,000 US soldiers killed in Europe during the war, almost 234,000 were in the Army. At its peak, the Army of the United States had over 8.3 million soldiers, a figure never matched.

This time, too, the Army reset all ranks to their pre-war status after the end of the war. She was also surprised by an explosion in her welfare budget, as veterans were able to make many pension claims after honorable discharge.

In the course of the war, the handling of operations and logistics by air transport had rapidly gained in importance. The aircraft enabled a number of airborne operations that had hitherto been considered impossible , for example in Normandy or the Netherlands. The above-average reputation of the army's airborne units stems from this time.

The contribution of the Army Air Force (USAAF) was even more important . Its importance had increased enormously , primarily due to the longstanding strategic air war of the Western Allies against "Fortress Europe", in which huge funds had been invested. This was also expressed in the "blood toll" of the US Army Air Force. In combat operations on all fronts of the war alone, it had lost over 50,000 men to death. Finally, in 1947, the federal government transferred the USAAF to the newly founded US Air Force as an independent military force .

The attitudes of the people of the United States towards the military and armaments changed dramatically in the light of the looming Cold War . The advance of communism in Europe and Asia since 1945 was seen as a threat.

Worldwide deployment

On the basis of the positions it had achieved in Europe and Asia at the end of the war, the United States gradually built up a worldwide base system in which the Army was also integrated with large contingents. The initial spark for this was the Korean War , after the US troop contingents standing overseas had already been greatly reduced after 1945. Several divisions of the US Army were permanently stationed in West Germany . During the Cold War there were more than 200,000 US soldiers standing there alone, the vast majority of them from the Army. Another focus was South Korea .

Korean War

An Army M26 Pershing in action near Naktong

In the Korean War, a mass army was once again deployed, which was deployed in Korea from 1950 to 1953 as part of a military intervention by the UN in favor of the South under the leadership of the United States. Since the demobilization of the mass army after the Second World War was well advanced at this point in time, the UN mission under the leadership of the US Army initially developed unfavorably for the army. After initial failures, in which only the massive deployment of the marines prevented the encirclement and destruction of large army contingents, the sometimes very critical situation was stabilized and the North Korean troops were pushed back to the Chinese border. These circumstances cost the Army some reputation in the US population and exacerbated the already existing competitive situation between the two branches of the armed forces. As a result of the intervention of the People's Republic of China in the conflict, the army casualties increased to 30,000 soldiers by the time the armistice was reached, of which 27,000 were killed. More than two million men had served in the army.

Vietnam War

Long before the official outbreak of the Vietnam War in 1964, units of the Green Berets had been active in the area of ​​operations as military advisers since 1956. When the number of soldiers present in Vietnam passed the 16,000 mark in 1963, the appearance of a deliberate conflict between the Army could no longer be sustained, and the war in Southeast Asia began to escalate.

The intervention of the United States in Vietnam developed into a debacle for the Army, because the units, consisting predominantly of conscripts, were sent into a combat mission whose legitimacy was subject to increasing domestic doubts and the " Viet Cong " confronted them with situations that they were often not grown. The fight in the jungle against a well-trained and highly motivated enemy quickly revealed deficiencies in the operational concept, training and equipment, as the Army was solely focused on the concept of classic large-scale operations with massive firepower, which had been successfully used in previous wars, and was the first to deal with the phenomenon of asymmetrical Faced warfare . Only in the course of the conflict began to operate appropriately trained and equipped special units on a larger scale with the same tactics as the "Viet Cong" parallel to conventional army units.

The concept of air cavalry for soldiers flying in and out (here members of the 25th US Infantry Division in 1966) was first used extensively during the Vietnam War

In the course of the conflict, the US Army gained experience in guerrilla warfare , which has since influenced the training of soldiers. In addition, the tactics of the FNL contributed to the establishment of various American special forces .

Despite the instructive experience in Vietnam, the ten-year conflict developed into a major trauma, especially for the heavily infantry army. At the instigation of several organizations and campaigns to which many soldiers had come together, politicians were forced to expand off-duty support for soldiers, which they initially only implemented reluctantly. In addition to ending the war, the main aspect was psychological support for the soldiers during and after the mission. In the course of time, these facilities were advertised more and more to provide comprehensive supplies for the soldiers. From the era of the Vietnam War, the tendency of many members of the Army to see themselves as victims of politics and as misunderstood by American society stems from.

Despite all the determination, even the officer corps criticized the conduct of the war . It found that compulsory military service was by no means necessary, on the contrary, it was rather a hindrance, which was reflected in the ratio of one officer to three soldiers in the team rank .

The increased aversion, especially directed against the infantry, ensured a steady decline in the annual recruitment figures, until the opposite development set in after the highly publicized Second Gulf War.

Of the 58,000 US deaths in the Vietnam War, 31,000 soldiers of the Army died in combat and 7,200 died of other causes.

Second Gulf War ( Desert Shield and Desert Storm )

Pioneers clear mines with an
M728 during the Second Gulf War

In the Second Gulf War, the Army had the task of pushing the Iraqi troops back into their own country in a coalition of 500,000 soldiers from a total of 30 participating nations , while Marines liberated Kuwait , which had previously been invaded by Iraq . After four days, the US Army's successful ground offensive was halted because the overthrow of Saddam Hussein contradicted the security concerns of the United States. The territorial breakup of Iraq along the ethnic lines was not in the strategic interests of President George Bush Sr. led government. 224 Army soldiers died during this war. During this operation, the system of " Network Centric Warfare " was used for the first time , the digitized networking and management of all units.

Somalia mission

In Somalia , the two Army Special Forces Rangers and Delta Force, together with the 10th US Mountain Infantry Division, were supposed to monitor the humanitarian actions of the UN as part of Operation Restore Hope after two divisions of the US Marines had withdrawn .

In the battle of Mogadishu the soldiers reached a bloody stalemate against a poorly equipped and trained tenfold superiority of clan militias before they had to withdraw. After the fight and meanwhile 31 dead, the political pressure on US President Clinton increased so much that he had to finally break off the US engagement in Somalia.

21st century

Transformation of the United States Army

Graphic summary of the current transformation concept

After the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact , the military budget was cut drastically during the 1990s. After September 11, 2001 , the strategy of the United States Department of Defense had already changed from simple cuts, downsizing and downsizing to so-called “ transformation of the US Army ”. This doctrine focuses the US Army on fast, efficient combat, which makes the relocation of massive army units, such as in the Second Gulf War, superfluous.

At the end of the transformation, which should be completed in 2009, the planning basis will have shifted from the ten divisions still in existence in 2006 to the targeted 42 to 43  brigades . In fact, with the new structure, divisions no longer exist; their reintroduction is easily possible thanks to the modular structure.


In response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a US-led coalition intervened in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom to overthrow the Taliban regime. The Army mostly involved special forces, as larger ground operations were left to Afghan allies. In the period that followed, US units had to repeatedly launch offensives against insurgents. Since 2006, most of the Army contingents have been spun off from Operation Enduring Freedom and placed under the separate NATO- led ISAF mission.

So far, almost 2,154 US Army soldiers have died in Afghanistan (as of November 2012).

Iraq war

The doctrine described above was successfully tested during Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Iraq war . The number of soldiers involved was only a quarter of the strength of Desert Storm , but the remaining forces cooperated better than before thanks to the newly introduced mission tactics and significantly improved communication. In comparison, the number of the four divisions involved loses its informative value, as the otherwise rather small divisions of the army were assigned the largest possible number of troops by international comparison. One brigade was enough to take Baghdad and hold it until others arrived to secure it.

The US Army is facing far greater problems with the political stabilization of the country. While only 68 Army soldiers were killed during the official fighting (March 20, 2003 to May 1, 2003), after the end of the campaign there were a total of 4486 (not including other branches of the armed forces). The main reasons given for the failure are poor knowledge of Arab culture and insufficient training for peace missions.

Downsizing the Army

After the end of the Afghanistan mission, the US government under Barack Obama plans to reduce the number of soldiers in the United States Army in 2014. The troop strength of the United States Army is to fall to the lowest level since the end of the Second World War. The number of soldiers is expected to fall from the current (as of February 2014) 520,000 to 440,000 soldiers.

War crimes

Army soldiers shot dead almost the entire population of the village of Son My, known internationally as My Lai, with 503 people

US Army soldiers have committed war crimes in several wars . The My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War caused the greatest sensation. After the Iraq war in 2003, the Abu Ghuraib torture scandal became known. In Afghanistan, soldiers have been accused of executing entire groups of prisoners. In another case, soldiers are the thirst of a group of captured Taliban in a locked truck - container have to answer. In September 2006, further allegations were loud: The Los Angeles Times had researched together with the non-governmental organization "Crimes of War Project" that ten members of a special forces unit of the National Guard from Alabama killed several people at their base in Gardez in Afghanistan in the spring of 2003 , some of them tortured to death and then voted to vote on possible statements.

Some war crimes committed by the Army are also known from the Second World War. For example, members of the 45th US Infantry Division shot German and Italian prisoners of war in 1943 during the Biscari massacre in Sicily. A well-documented incident is the Lippach massacre in April 1945.

In the Philippine-American War and Moro-American War, the United States troops committed numerous war crimes. There was systematic use of torture , the shooting of hostages and prisoners, the murder of civilians and the depopulation of entire regions.

Mission and Doctrine

The United States Army, like the entirety of the armed forces, is constitutionally legitimized in Article II, Section 2, Section I, Sentence 1 and Article I, Section 8, Sentences 11 and 14 of the United States Constitution . The specification of the order of the Army takes place in Subtitle B, Part I, Chapter 307, § 3062 of the Tenth Book of the United States Code . In addition to the mandate, this paragraph also specifies the composition of the land force and the affiliation to it. In translation it reads:

"(A) It is the endeavor of Congress to provide an army which, in conjunction with the other armed [part of] armed forces, is capable of

(1) To maintain and defend peace and security in the United States and the Commonwealth of Nations, in its possessions and in all United States-occupied territories;
(2) to support national politics;
(3) implement the national objectives;
(4) Defeat any state that engages in aggressive acts that endanger the peace and security of the United States. "

Paragraph (b) specifies that the army must be structured, trained and equipped primarily for "immediate and sustained combat missions in the event of ground operations [...]" ( It shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained combat incident to operations on land ). The Army is “responsible for the provision of land forces necessary for the effective operation of a war, unless otherwise instructed, and, in accordance with inter-armed mobilization plans, for the development of the components of the Army [responsible] to meet the demands of the war ( It is responsible for the preparation of land forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war except as otherwise assigned and, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Army to meet the needs of was ).

The army's strategy is laid down in various defense policy papers, which, in accordance with the foreign policy of the United States , embed diplomacy, the military and the intelligence services in a closely interlinked overall concept. This is set out in the US National Security and Defense Strategy, which the National Security Council prepares and updates. Their focus is currently on the war on terrorism , the fulfillment of alliance obligations and the deterrence of the enemies of the United States, primarily due to its global presence, both in general and in relation to the army .

The Army currently sees the greatest challenge in coping with the politically set tasks while at the same time restructuring, known as transformation (see subchapter of the same name below). It is the most extensive structural measure since the National Security Act of 1947. The own claim, but also the public expectation lie in a functional, flexible command structure that does not compete in the interplay of different competencies, and also in globally projectable, i.e. effectively deployable troops .

In practice this amounts to the claim to be able to wage several wars on the ground at any time. Occasionally, US politicians speak of three to four involvement in the conflict , should this be necessary. In view of the latest developments, however, this seems unlikely, so that two major regional deployments are expected in the majority of cases. The occasional demand by individual officers to enlarge the army is in contradiction to the volunteer army that was fully implemented after the Vietnam War. Therefore, the scenario of participation in two major regional wars, or one major conflict and two limited ones, is being pursued.

In practice, the global increase in asymmetric warfare raises questions about this overall strategy of the United States Army as currently the most effective ground force on earth, because its strength combined with its limited resilience in asymmetric warfare makes it a tempting target for militias to armed Represents groups and the like. So far, no solutions or answers have been found in this context, which is probably due to the complex political, social, economic and psychological backgrounds of this expanding form of war.

In 2008 a new “Doctrine Manual” was issued, which for the first time puts stabilization missions on the same level as offensive and defensive missions. The subsequent central army service regulation FM 3-07 states that “[...] the greatest threat to national security will not come from emerging countries, but from failing states that can no longer or do not want to meet the needs of their citizens ". Therefore, it can become the task of the Army to repair civil infrastructure or build functioning local governments.


The Army is demanding almost US $ 178 billion in the 2021 budget year . This would be a reduction of 2 billion compared to the previous year and 3 billion compared to the 2019 budget. The largest share of this would have been spent on military personnel at around 35%; they would amount to just under US $ 62.5 billion in 2021. Fixed costs for ongoing operations would increase from $ 51.7 billion to $ 53.7 billion in two years. In addition, $ 34.2 billion would go to procurements. A new acquisition planned for 2021 is the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). Abrams , Stryker and Bradley upgrades will also continue to be paid for by the procurement costs.

The US Army is the largest branch of the armed forces and will receive 24% of the armed forces in 2021


In the following, in addition to the three so-called components, both the vertical and the horizontal organization of the Army of the United States are explained. The term “vertical chain of command” relates to the structure of command from the top to the level of the association, “horizontal chain of command” to its development in branches of arms, regions and other organizational areas.


As a professional army, the United States Army offers various options for volunteering in its service. The professional army is supplemented by two reserve bodies, whose different character is based on the different rules of military service and different assignment of tasks. These different organizational areas are generally used as components .

In addition to the air force, the Army is the only part of the US armed forces that has three components. In addition to the regular army, there is a Federal Reserve , while the individual states operate similar militia organizations administratively in a National Guard are summarized and on the instructions of the President may be called up for full-time service. Both reserve components are administratively combined in a high command.

The deployment of the Reserve and National Guardsmen has increased proportionally and continuously since the Vietnam War , although they have participated in every war in the United States since the First World War . You were mainly involved in Operation Desert Storm , the KFOR mission in Kosovo and Operation Iraqi Freedom . Due to the chronic shortage of volunteers, some US citizens are worried about reactivating the conscription, which has been suspended since the Vietnam War . From the official side, such plans have always been denied, and majorities are not to be expected either in politics or in society for various reasons.

Both reserve units of the Army traditionally refer to the Minuteman from the War of Independence, who is supposed to symbolize the roots and closeness of the Army on the one hand and the fearless and self-sacrificing citizens on the other.

Aided by the strong sense of sovereignty and subsidiarity in the political culture of the United States, there are various militias at the state level , some of which are supported by the state government and which work for the National Guard , the "official" armed forces of the state. Members of these associations usually do not want to submit completely to the state. That is why these militias take care of their own organization, training and equipment. Their de facto status is more like that of an agency than that of part of the military.

Professional army

The professional army of the United States is called the Regular Army and consists of its professional soldiers and its civilian employees. The Regular Army consisted of nearly 518,000 soldiers on December 30 of 2007. As of September 30, 2007, there were approximately 71,800 women. The congress determines the maximum size of the professional army annually.

Federal Reserve

United States Army Reserve emblem

The Army Reserve was established on April 23, 1908 and was originally designed to provide medical personnel.

Today, the United States Army Reserve , the Federal Reserve of the United States Army . You have a hybrid role in supporting the professional army. Members of the reserve can be ordered to fill certain posts with staffs or institutions as well as to carry out preparations and service in crisis or war zones as part of their association. Members of the Army Reserve are in their civilian occupations almost continuously specialists. Strongly job-related associations such as military psychology are therefore subordinate to the Army Reserve , but provide full-time service if they do this within the framework of an association.

The headquarters of the Federal Reserve , the United States Army Reserve Command ( USARC ), is located in Fort McPherson , Georgia. The commanding general of the reserve therefore heads both an authority and a military command post. The incumbent has been Lieutenant General Jack C. Stultz since May 25, 2006 .

In the 2006 financial year it had 189,975 men and women.

The members of the USAR serve in peacetime on a rotation that has taken on proverbial meaning in the United States: two days a month, two weeks a year . The budget of the Army Reserve is just under 5.3% of the total budget of the armed forces; their organization is firmly integrated into the professional army through certain functions. These include internment brigades, the lawyer corps, railroad units, training brigades, and water supply battalions, as well as most of the public relations, psychological warfare, transportation groups, and hospitals. Thus, the Federal Reserve does not serve exclusively substitute purposes, but mainly provides supplementary functions.

National Guard of the Army

Army National Guard emblem

The Army National Guard ( ARNG ) is the second component of the Army Reserve and was founded in 1903 when the Militia Act put the various state militias on a common organizational basis. Since these militias by the governors of the states are maintained, the headquarters is located directly in the Ministry of Defense in Washington DC.

Before 2001, National Guardsmen were soldiers of the individual US states, unless they were called up to the Regular Army . This changed under the administration of George W. Bush : At the moment, National Guardsmen are subordinate to both their state commanders and the personnel reservoir of the professional army. Upon retirement, they are treated like former Reserve soldiers, and from the age of 60 like soldiers who served in the Regular Army .

Since 2007, the President of the United States has been able to convene the Army National Guard without the approval of the relevant governor. In the 2006 financial year, the ARNG had 346,255 men. The most important task of the National Guard was civil protection and disaster control . She experienced her first large-scale operation in the Vietnam War with almost 23,000 men who were called up for a year of full service. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the national guards have been more involved again.

Activation instances

Although the US Army is currently a full professional army supported by the reserve units, there are contingency plans and measures to call up conscripts in the event of an emergency or major war, such as an invasion of United States territory or another world war .

For this purpose, the reserve is structured according to the availability and fitness of the reservists. The President prefers to fall back on the Selected Reserve , which is set up like regular army units and only needs to be introduced to the daily routine. The Individual Ready Reserve consists of former professional soldiers and members of the reserve who do not serve as reservists. They do not take part in the monthly or annual exercises and are not rewarded. Their military value is mostly in the professions and skills they have learned. The last administrative subdivision is the Retired Reserve , in which almost 715,000 from all army components are registered.

The President of the United States can use the Presidential Reserve Call-up ( PRC ) to call up to 200,000 men for reservist service within the continental United States ( CONUS ) for a period of up to 270 days . He must announce and justify this to the congress at least 24 hours in advance. In an emergency, the President may to a Partial Mobilization draw (partial mobilization), soldiers can be up to 24 months convened in a million. In the case of a full mobilization , Congress must first recognize the state of emergency before the President can use all available military means, including the retired reserve . This approval can be extended to the fact that the president can also call up all registered and unregistered militias and subordinate industrial capacities to the military.

Troop strength


After the Second World War, the size of the Army leveled off at around 600,000 soldiers. At the beginning of the Korean War , this number rose to almost 1.6 million within a year. After the deployment on the Korean peninsula, the troop strength was almost halved against the backdrop of the Cold War . At the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, the Army's strength was almost the same as it was during the Korean War. After the Vietnam War, the number of army soldiers remained constant at almost 800,000 soldiers. On the other hand, not even the Second Gulf War could stop the radical troop reductions that began after the collapse of the Soviet Union and led to today's troop strength .


Meanwhile, the criticism of the downsizing of the Army in the current order of magnitude is growing. The military and politicians are calling for the reserve units to be enlarged in view of the growing number of deployments and the associated losses, as well as the high operational load (English term: OP-Tempo ) and the length of the deployments, which affect the morale of the troops. The realization of such demands seemed unlikely in the wake of the current recruitment problems and the United States Department of Defense responded on a wait-and-see basis. By 2007 the above figures had stabilized.

That is why the radical reduction in troops in the 1990s is to be reversed, at least in part. By 2013 the army wants to grow by 74,200 men in all three activation stages in a general plan called " Grow the Army ", who will already be set up according to the new army structure. The reserve will be reinforced by 1,000 and the Army National Guard by almost 8,200 soldiers. The remaining 65,000 posts are allocated to the active units. Organizations such as the "Association of the United States Army", an influential, conservative pressure group to which many thousands of soldiers belong, consider the expansion to be insufficient and demand that it grow to between 750,000 and one million men. This is intended to reduce the military and social tensions, which are reflected in an increased range of tasks and greatly increased family burdens for the troops deployed around the world.

In addition, the soldiers' salary is to be increased by 3% and again by 3.4% from the 2008 budget year in two rounds. This is to be financed through further privatization of army houses and an increase in the budget from almost 110 billion to approximately 140 billion US dollars.

Development of troop strength

The cadets of the United States Military Academy do not count towards the total number of troops and therefore appear after the "Total" column.

year Regular Army Army National Guard United States Army Reserve total USMA cadets
2012 546.057 358.078 201.166 1,105,301 4,561
2011 561,437 361,561 204,803 1,127,801 4,610
2010 561,979 362.015 205.281 1,129,275 4,669
2009 549.015 358.391 205.297 1,112,703 4,564
2008 539.675 360.351 197.024 1,097,050 4,481
2007 517.783 352,707 189,882 1,060,372 4,364
2006 502.790 346.288 189,975 1,039,053 4,346
2005 488,579 333.177 189.005 1,010,761 4.149
2004 494.291 342.918 204.131 1,041,340
2003 493,563 351.089 211,890 1,056,542
2002 484,551 351.078 206,682 1,042,311
2001 476.289 351,829 205,628 1,033,746 4.161
2000 479.026 353.045 206,892 1,038,963 4,089
1999 473,769 357.469 200,836 1,032,074 4.136
1998 480,753 362,444 204,968 1,048,165 4,194

Vertical command structure

The institutional level of Army leadership: the Chief of Staff of the Army reports to the Secretary of the Army ; both are advised by the Headquarters, Department of the Army .

The vertical command structure of the army is largely based on the institutions created for the armed forces as a whole.

As with all other branches of the armed forces, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army is the President of the United States.Together with the Secretary of Defense , he forms the supreme command of the United States, the National Command Authority (NCA), which is the only institution that decides on the use of nuclear weapons .

Day-to-day oversight of Army affairs is the responsibility of the Department of the Army within the Ministry of Defense . Its structures are strongly oriented towards those of the other branches of the armed forces , with which it always cooperates in military terms ( jointness ) .

Below the National Command Authority , the Army Headquarters is at the head of the armed forces. It includes the Army Secretary (SECARM) , whose civilian office is part of the Department of Defense, and the Chief of Staff of the Army (English: Chief of Staff of the United States Army , abbreviated CSA ). The SECARM and its apparatus have only administrative, but not operational, responsibility and are responsible for political representation, personnel, budget allocation and ensuring all resources necessary for the army as well as for external representation.

Current Army Secretary of State is Christine Wormuth , CSA is James C. McConville .

General Staff

Army Headquarters Sleeve Badge
John E. Whitley , Secretary of State, Army Forces Office (SECARM)

The General Staff of the Army of the United Chiefs of Staff (is Joint Chiefs of Staff , JCS ) broader in which the Chief of Staff of the United States Army , the army represents. Although he is the highest-ranking soldier in the Army, if the chairman is not himself a member of the Army, he does not exercise any operative command. This rests with the commanders of the Unified Combatant Commands , who do not report to the United Chiefs of Staff and their chairman, but directly to the National Command Authority .

In addition, the General Staff includes a Special Assistant to the Secretary of the US Army (current incumbent: Raymond F. DuBois ), a Deputy Chief of Staff (currently General Peter W. Chiarelli ) and the Sergeant Major of the Army ( SMA , the highest ranked sergeant major in the US Army). The SMA is a unique post in the entire armed forces. Against this background, it has the task of standing up for the concerns of the NCOs and men in the General Staff and conveying the state and the mood among the troops for the top of the command authority. The current post holder is SMA Kenneth O. Preston.

Operational level

The chain of command
level commander consists of / number of soldiers
Army ( Army ) general two to five corps
Corps ( Corps ) Lieutenant General two or more divisions / 30,000+
division Major General four to six brigades / 15,000-20,000
Brigade / group Brigadier General / Colonel six to seven battalions / 3300-3900
Battalion ( Battalion ) / Eskadron ( Squadron ) Lieutenant Colonel two to six companies / 300–1000
Company ( Company ) / battery ( Battery ) Captain two to six moves / 100–300
Train ( platoon ) 2nd / 1st Lieutenant two or more groups / 30-40
Group ( squad ) Staff sergeant two or more fire teams / 8–12
Trupp ( Fire team ) Corporal four to five soldiers

At the operational level, the US Army is structured into different units (from largest to smallest):


The largest task force in the US Army is the Corps ; According to current doctrine, larger armies are purely administrative in nature. Unlike the other associations, they are not a fixed part of the hierarchy , but are therefore put together according to the order situation, which in practice always starts from a few "core units". Due to the limited tasks, this facilitates faster and easier strategic planning. Although the corps are adapted to their area of ​​operation, they basically have the ability to carry out military tasks of all kinds over a longer period of time. With the exception of the V Corps stationed in Heidelberg, all other departments have their headquarters in the USA. The Army currently has four corps with task-related, common nicknames:

US I Corps.svg
The I Corps is based in Fort Lewis , Washington . The ambiguous pronunciation of the character " I " in the English language has led to it being understood in relation to the task of the corps as an eye corps (meaning: "seeing corps"). It forms the strategic intervention reserve of the Pacific Command regional command , which is responsible for the Pacific and Southeast Asian regions.
3 Corps Shoulder Sleeve Insignia.svg
The III Corps in Fort Hood , Texas , is referred to by various nicknames such as Phantom Corps (" Phantom Corps "), America's Hammer (" America's Hammer ") or, above all, Counterattack Corps ("Corps for the counterattack"). These nicknames are an allusion to its relatively free availability in contrast to the geographically bound other corps and to its former, exclusive composition of armored formations. It is theoretically intended for relief attacks. The 1st Infantry Division , 1st Cavalry Division and 4th Infantry Division are subordinate to the corps .
XVIII Airborne Corps CSIB.svg
The XVIII Airborne Corps , based in Fort Bragg , North Carolina , acts as a rapid reaction force . It bears the colloquial name Contingency Corps , which roughly translates as “the corps for all cases” or “emergency corps”. The corps are US 3rd Infantry Division , the 10th US Mountain Division , the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division assumed.

Arrangement and Roman numerals come directly from the Second World War, which serves to maintain tradition. At that time the United States had up to thirty army corps. Overall, the corps level has lost a lot of its importance as a result of the transformation .

Due to different applications within the Army, the precision of the term has decreased. During the Civil War , associations of more than 20,000 men were sometimes referred to as corps . The corps in the north tended to be smaller than those in the south, which changed as the war lasted longer. In addition, the term is used as an internal, limited professional group such as the United States Army Corps of Engineers , which in turn comes closest to the term “ corps spirit ” (see also the following section “Armed Forces”).

Divisions and Brigades (Combat Brigade Teams)

The US Army is divided into divisions. In 2003 the Army had ten active and eight reserve divisions, each with 13,000 to 18,000 soldiers. This number can be expanded as required. A division in the Army includes all units that ensure their operational capability; a division is therefore in principle independent of other divisions or units. Each division should have four combat brigades, at least one army aviation brigade and a staff battalion . With the introduction of three new standardized types of Brigade Combat Teams , the Heavy Brigade Combat Team [ HBCT ], the Mechanized Infantry Brigade ( Infantry Brigade Combat Team [ IBCT ]) and the Stryker Wheeled Armored Combat Team ( SBCT ), a special brigade with up to 300 Stryker wheeled armored vehicles that can be air deployed within 96 hours , the Army has managed to ensure that all combat brigades of the same type in the individual divisions always have the same structure, equipment and combat strength. Additional support brigades from higher-level command posts are subordinate to them for the mission.


Regiments only played a subordinate role in the structure of the US Army in the second half of the 19th century. With the introduction of the regiment system of the United States Army in 1981, these have neither a commander nor a staff, but serve to bind the soldier to the individual regiment and to continue its tradition. A regiment consists of four to six battalions. The individual battalions of a regiment can be led by different brigades or divisions and are only linked by a common tradition.

Battalion (German spelling battalion)

A battalion (at Army Aviation relay in cavalry units (tanks) squadron , dt. Squadron ) consists of two to six companies with a personnel strength of 300 to 1000 man and is of a Lt. Col. out (Colonel).


A company (for artillery battery , dt. Battery , wherein cavalry troop ) normally consists of six trains ( platoon ) (for artillery, special forces and Army Aviation less, wherein supply unit up to eight) together, has a personnel strength of 100 to 300 soldiers and is usually led by a captain .

Platoon (dt. Train )

In the armored troop this sub-unit has four vehicles, in the infantry it consists mainly of four nine-man squads (troops), which are composed of three rifle groups and one weapon group. The number of personnel is between 30 and 40 soldiers, with some special units up to only twelve soldiers, e.g. B. in the Green Berets .

Squad (German group )

The squad is the smallest sub-unit on which all larger ones are based. It usually consists of two fire teams , is led by a sergeant or staff sergeant and, if necessary, is equipped with an anti-tank , more rarely an anti- aircraft weapon.

Fire team (dt. Trupp )

The fire team is the basic element of operational planning and consists of two riflemen, a machine gunner or a grenadier and is led by a non-commissioned officer, usually with the rank of corporal . This sub-unit forms the basis of the US American ground combat doctrine and should be able to be deployed quickly, mobile and quickly deployed without any support. However, this extreme case is only reserved for the units of the US Special Operations Command in the planning and rarely affects the regular units in combat. The fire team is used more frequently for passive tasks such as patrols and the like.

Even if the fire team is the basis of planning and a unit of the US Army, even if a unit of the US Army is outnumbered by its modern equipment, is able to cope with most of the opponents, the planning is usually based on outnumbering. This fits into the Army's political strategy as small casualties are designed to ease political pressure on the US government . However, the very high financial resources that the Army invests in the equipment and training of each individual soldier must be taken into account in comparison to other nations .

The United States Department of Defense built the Army more and more modularly towards the end of the 20th century . This means that different units can be reassigned to other units without having to reorganize the different units. This concept benefited the new doctrine of transformation and was first applied in 2003 during the Iraq war . Shortly before the invasion, an entire brigade could be divided up in this way, as their advance as a unit slowed the combat troops and endangered the supply units.

A soldier of the US Army is with Soldier addressed, and that word is capitalized as an address.


Small selection of ranks
United States Army officers
US pay level O-10 O-9 O-8 O-7 O-6 O-5 O-4 O-3 O-2 O-1
Epaulette Army-USA-OF-10.svg Army-USA-OF-09.svg Army-USA-OF-08.svg Army-USA-OF-07.svg Army-USA-OF-06.svg Army-USA-OF-05.svg Army-USA-OF-04.svg Army-USA-OF-03.svg Army-USA-OF-02.svg Army-USA-OF-01a.svg Army-USA-OF-01b.svg
Rank General of the Army 1st general Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel major Captain First lieutenant Second lieutenant
NATO rank code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1
1 Only awarded in wartime with the approval of the US Congress.

Command structure and information flow

With the onset of the transformation , a new doctrine was developed in the United States Department of Defense that is to connect combat units with each other and with available information, for example from intelligence services and reconnaissance . The result was Network Centric Warfare , the total networking of all elements involved in the fight. Explained using a practical example, this means that a secret service does not first have to contact a command, which then orders the deactivation of a target via several soldiers in the hierarchy, but that all reconnaissance units enter all available information into a database that can be accessed from several locations. to which units can react independently. In fact, this means an approximation of mission tactics .

Horizontal leadership structure

The Army is structured in twelve Major Commands (German: Oberkommanden). These each take on clearly defined tasks and complement each other. They differ in Army Commands and Army Service Component Commands , which are command posts that are subordinate to the higher-level Unified Combatant Commands . There are nine Army Service Component Commands , which are divided into five regional and three functional commands.

The MAJCOMs are to be distinguished from the Direct Reporting Units (German: directly subordinate units), which also belong to the high command structures, but are only located at the divisional level and are not subordinate to any major command . Instead, these command posts report directly to the Chief of Staff of the Army and his headquarters.

Army Service Component Commands

The US Army is fully integrated into the US Department of Defense's Unified Combatant Commands (UCC) system. The army subdivisions of the UCC are called Army Service Component Commands (ASCC). Accordingly, the US Army has five regional and four functional commands. In contrast, the locations of the command facilities are predominantly decentralized and are therefore not necessarily stationed at the same location as the UCC.

Regional command
Military division of the world map by the USA.

The ASCC component of the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is the United States Army South (USARSOUTH). It is responsible for all army's activities in Latin America and is stationed in Fort Sam Houston .

The 3rd US Army acts as the US Army Forces Central Command (USARCENT) and is the best-known regional component. She commanded the predecessor force of the Multinational Force Iraq as Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC). The 3rd US Army is stationed at Fort McPherson in the state of Georgia .

The United States Army North (USARNORTH; formerly 5th US Army ) is subordinate to the US Northern Command (NORTHCOM). It is located in Fort Sam Houston in the US state of Texas .

The United States Army Pacific (USARPAC) is stationed in Fort Shafter , Hawaii . There she does her job as a land component of the United States Pacific Command .

Two ASCCs have the peculiarity of being part of the Unified Combatant Commands and at the same time being a major military unit .

The 7th US Army acts as US Army Europe (USAREUR) and is a land component of the US European Command (USEUCOM) and is stationed in the Clay Barracks in Wiesbaden .

The 8th US Army (EUSA) is part of the command post responsible for all US troops in South Korea, US Forces Korea (USFK) and stationed in Yong Son (Yongsan Army Garrison) near Seoul . It is operationally subordinate to the commander of the US Pacific Command , but is territorially linked to the area of ​​the Korean peninsula . This means that the commander of PACOM use these forces only there and deploy allowed.

Functional commands

The US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) is the US Army component of the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and is stationed at Fort McPherson .

The United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC / ARSTRAT) is part of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM). It is located in Arlington County , Virginia.

By far the Army's best-known ASCC, a sub-component of the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM), is the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), which includes the Green Berets , the 75th Army Ranger Regiment, and the 160th SOAR . USASOC is based in Fort Bragg in North Carolina .

The United States Army Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) is the army component of the US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) in Fort Eustis near Newport News, Virginia.

Army commanders

In addition to the Army Service Component Commands , the US Army has its own command authorities and coordination offices that are adapted to its own needs. The other branches of the armed forces coordinate their tasks in other structures. They are all commanded by four-star generals and, like the UCC, are located on the army group next to it or on the high command level.

The United States Army Materiel Command (AMC) coordinates the procurement, provision and supply of army units with materials, weapons and supplies of all kinds. It is based in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is responsible for developing new strategies, tactics and doctrines . It also controls and monitors training and further education in the army. The TRADOC has been based in Fort Monroe , Virginia, since 1973 .

The United States Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) is the Army's largest command center. Its commander is the commander of the US Army North . FORSCOM has a wide range of tasks, as it has the task of providing units ready for combat in the shortest possible time. Therefore, in the vicinity of his Fort McPherson location in Georgia, command facilities of the Reserve and the National Guard are housed, which are responsible for the activation of reserve units.

Direct reporting units

Direct Reporting Units are high command at division level and are not subordinate to the Major Commands , but are directly subordinate to the General Staff of the Army.

The US Army Intelligence and Security Command controls the various intelligence activities of the Army. Together with similar high command, INSCOM is integrated in the Central Security Service , a cryptographic department of the NSA. It is located in Fort Belvoir in the state of Virginia.

The US Army Criminal Investigation Command is responsible for law enforcement within the armed forces . Criminal Investigation Command (CIC) is similar in function to the Navy's NCIS and is also based in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The Army Engineer Corps, based in Washington DC, is the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). It is heavily integrated with civil defense in the United States. In addition to its primarily military tasks such as the construction and maintenance of military facilities, the Corps of Engineers builds and inspects bridges, roads and dams in all parts of the United States. For this purpose, it is divided into nine regional subdivisions, one of which was set up in 2005 specifically for use abroad in the Middle East.

Various medical commandos are grouped together in the US Army Medical Command (MEDCOM). It oversees and commands the various subdivisions for ordinary medical care (US Army Medical Corps), for serious medical diseases (US Army Medical Specialist Corps), for dental care (US Army Dental Corps), the veterinary corps (US Army Veterinary Corps), the nursing corps ( US Army Nurse Corps ) and the US Army Medical Service Corps. The headquarters are in Fort Sam Houston , Texas.

Branches of service

In addition to the hierarchical structure, the US Army is divided into three categories of weapons. They mostly have the designation Corps , which in this case serves as a collective term and not as an organizing term. Examples are given below:

  1. Armed units / Combat Arms : Infantry , tanks (integrated into the infantry divisions in the Army structure), artillery , Special Operations Forces
  2. Combat Support Units / Combat Support Arms : Military Police Corps , US Army Signal Corps
  3. Supply Units / Combat Service Support : Judge Advocate General's Corps , Financial Service Units , Nurse Corps

Assignments and deployments abroad

Largest troop stationing of the army worldwide (as of January 2007)

The US Army has bases all over the world. In 2005, 335,590 soldiers from the entire army were stationed in 120 countries around the world, of which 215,000 were deployed on business trips or abroad. The largest contingents of the active units are (December 2011; figures rounded):

  • Operation Enduring Freedom : 68,100 soldiers
  • Operation New Dawn (Iraq): 18,400 soldiers (including reservists / National Guard)

The largest permanent foreign contingents are distributed as follows:

  • Europe: 42,000 soldiers, including 38,000 on German, 3,200 on Italian, 340 on British and 173 on Dutch territory
  • East Asia: South Korea: not specified, Japan: 2,500 soldiers
  • CENTCOM area, with the exception of the two major operations: 770 soldiers, mostly in Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia

The European headquarters of the US Army ( US Army Europe , USAREUR ) is in the Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden , the higher-level command unit is the US European Command (USEUCOM) in Stuttgart . The stationing in Stuttgart has proven to be advantageous in many ways, which means that it will remain in place despite all the site closings in recent years.

Recruitment and training


The US Army maintains recruitment offices around the world, in addition to those in the USA, others in Japan , Korea , Europe , Guam and Samoa . The legal requirements for hiring team ranks are US citizenship or permanent residence and work in full health and in good physical condition. The recruit must not have exceeded the age of 34 years (39 years for the reserve) and must show good repute ("[...] to be in good moral standing / to be of good moral character [...]"). In the case of existing criminal offenses, a decision is made on a case-by-case basis. In the past, the Army was not as tolerant of previous convictions as the rest of the US armed forces . The minimum age is 17 years, parental consent is required up to 18.

The US Army operates various programs that are intended to make it easier for potential recruits to get started, such as the "Buddy Program", in which two friends who have to be of the same sex because of the allocation and accommodation are assigned to the same recruiting brigade. There is also the option of deferring until you have obtained a school or academic degree. Depending on their qualifications, university graduates are preferred to be recruited with a higher grade and an entry bonus of $  20,000 (the equivalent of just under  16,400).

The offensive recruiting methods used by the Army recruitment offices are often criticized. The spectrum ranges from attending classes and lectures to targeted ethnic marketing to “ cold calls”, the surprising advertising call from the target person. The Army is accused of exploiting the mostly low income or the lack of prospects of the target persons and groups as well as concealing the professional risk. The Army and advocates of these practices, on the other hand, cite the individual responsibility of the target persons.

Even computer games ( advergames ) are used for recruitment purposes. In the meantime, they are also being developed especially for the Army (see section on computer games ) .

Civil rights movements, students and left-wing groups have voiced criticism of the Army's threat to withdraw federal funding from all schools and universities if they deny recruits access to classrooms. The legal basis for this practice is Section 9528 of the No Child Left Behind Act .

An Army advertising team crossing the Mexican border in May 2005 caused a diplomatic incident with Mexico . The headmaster of the school rejected the recruiter and protested directly in Washington .

During its deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army experienced a massive decline in recruits, which affected it the most of all armed forces because of its direct confrontation with its opponents. According to Congress reports, although recruiting has been successful since around 2006, warnings continued to be given about a decline in the quality of applicants and a possible explosion in costs. Due to the losses in Iraq and Afghanistan and the associated problems of recruiting, contrary to previous practice, the focus was increasingly on convicts and criminals. According to press reports, the Army’s share had risen by a quarter (2006: 8,129, 2008: 10,258). Due to the effects of the financial crisis and the increase in applicants for the Army as a result, the demands on the recruits have meanwhile increased significantly again.

The law allows the Army to accept a limited proportion (up to 35%) of recruits without a high school diploma, provided that the other personal requirements are met. However, the actual proportion is far lower.


Map of the recruiting areas with the arms of the recruiting command. The numbers in the districts do not match the number of the brigade, but are used for enumeration
Origin of the recruit Training place of the recruit Name of the training unit
Northeastern USA Fort George G. Meade , Maryland 1st Recruitment Brigade
Southeast USA Forest Park , Georgia 2nd Recruitment Brigade
Southern USA and Midwest San Antonio , Texas 5th Recruiting Brigade
Northern USA Fort Knox , Kentucky 3rd Recruiting Brigade
Western USA Las Vegas , Nevada (from including Montana , Wyoming , Colorado and New Mexico westwards) 6th Recruiting Brigade

As part of the rationalization measures in the early 1990s, the 4th Recruitment Brigade , based in Fort Sheridan , Illinois , was disbanded in 1992. Their training battalions were assigned to the 2nd and 5th Recruiting Brigades. In total there are between 40 and 43 training battalions, depending on the age group.

Recruits from outside the United States are assigned to the 1st Recruitment Brigade.

Bayonet training during basic training

The basic training , called basic training , lasts nine weeks. The exact process can be found on the US Army website.

In 1994, the gender segregation in training was lifted. An incident occurred in 1996 at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in which several female recruits accused instructors of sexually assaulting them in the course of their training . They claimed that the instructors had taken advantage of their persistent uncertainty about the Army. A wave of similar complaints then came in. Considerations to separate the training again according to sexes, the Army countered with a comprehensive investigation on 30 of its facilities worldwide.

In training units until January 2004, Sunday was a day on which training - measured on the other days - was only carried out to a limited extent. In January 2004, the level of Sunday training was brought into line with the usual level during the week. The reason for this was the intention to better meet the challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan without having to extend the basic training. Urban fighting and the reaction to various guerrilla tactics were included in the training program.

Maneuvers and exercises

Soldiers during an exercise in South Korea in April 2007

All units of the US Army are obliged to carry out regular exercises, which theoretically take place everywhere, but mostly on army-owned premises with which the majority of the unit is not familiar. Central maneuvering areas are used regularly, such as the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in Fort Polk , Louisiana and the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin , California , the world's most advanced tank combat training center .

In Europe, the Grafenwöhr military training areas are available for training with live ammunition in the Joint Multinational Training Center (JMTC) and in Hohenfels for enemy maneuver training in the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC).

In addition, annual regional maneuvers are carried out in which primarily the individual divisions stationed in Germany compete against each other. These were held on a very large scale until 1989 and were called Return of Forces to Germany (REFORGER) until then . At that time, entire divisions from the USA were flown in as fictitious support against the enemy. For example, to reinforce the then V Corps of the US Army (stationed in Frankfurt am Main ) with the 3rd US Armored Division and the 8th US Infantry Division, the 2nd US Armored Division was flown in. During this large-scale exercise, the VII. Corps (stationed in Stuttgart ) simulated the Warsaw Pact troops with the 1st US Armored Division and the 3rd US Infantry Division , which was supported by the 1st US Infantry Division . With these extensive maneuvers, the US government wanted to demonstrate its determination to support NATO partner Germany in the event of a Soviet attack.


SIG Sauer P320 (US designation M17), since 2018 orderly pistol of the US armed forces
M16A4 with mounted telescopic sight
Soldier of the 1st Infantry Division with a shotgun type Mossberg 590
Army soldier with M249 SAW in Afghanistan, 2005
M120 120mm mortar

According to frequent statements and internal doctrine, the combat strength of the US Army relies on a soldier who is as well-equipped and trained as possible. That is why it concentrates like no other armed force in the world on technical, moral and natural improvements in the individual soldier. However, this development has made warfare by the US Army steadily and disproportionately more expensive.

The belief that small wars will dominate the 21st century is reflected in the development of weapons for the US Army. During the transformation, the United States Department of Defense launched a competition in the arms industry, the result of which is to network and accelerate warfare on the ground, especially in technical terms. Equipment designed for this purpose is to be increasingly used from 2010, although some tenders are directed further into the future. According to the Defense Ministry, an immediate re-armament, which began at the same time as the army reform, would jeopardize the Army's relevance to the current situation and delay structural change. For these reasons, the new equipment will only be introduced gradually.

The high strategic claim of the United States Army brings great advantages, but exacerbates existential problems compared to other armies. Their global presence requires the constant availability of supplies in all parts of the world. Supply fleets , known as maritime prepositioning ships , are anchored in the Persian Gulf and on Diego Garcia, ready to sail at any time.

Infantry equipment

The Army began in the 1980s to replace the Colt M1911 in use as an orderly weapon with the 92FS developed by Beretta , which is manufactured under license in the United States. This was preceded by an extensive tendering process in which renowned weapons manufacturers were involved. Nevertheless, due to its excellent reputation that extends beyond the military, some of the Colt is still in use. Special units also use models of the types SIG Sauer P228 (compact version of the P226 ) and HK MK23 . In the mid-2010s, the armed forces planned to replace the current Beretta 92 service pistol, which had reached the end of its service life, with a new Modular Handgun System (MHS) and to procure around 500,000 new pistols for this purpose. On January 19, 2017, SIG Sauer received the order and will start production of its SIG Sauer P320 model for the US armed forces between 2017 and 2027 at its Rockingham County plant in the US state of New Hampshire . In total, the order includes around 280,000 units for the US Army alone and a further 212,000 units for the other branches of the armed forces with a volume of around 580.2 million US dollars including ammunition and accessories.

The universally used assault rifle of the army is like all other armed forces the M16 in the fourth generation (M16A4). Its short version, the M4 with which most infantry units are equipped and which is the most popular weapon among the troops, is used for use in confined spaces such as in confined spaces , for house-to-house combat or within vehicles . United States Army Special Operations Command units that have access to weapons outside of the normal equipment line rate competing products such as the HK 416 and the HK MP5 and HK MP7 submachine guns as more reliable.

The M16 was supposed to replace the M14 during the Vietnam War . However, the use of a too weak propellant charge of the 5.56 mm cartridge used at the time and an inferior weapon oil as well as the lack of a weapon cleaning device at the beginning - this was not believed to be necessary with a gas pressure charger - quickly earned the rifle a dubious reputation for unreliability. which it has never completely lost to this day despite improved successor versions.

In the war on terrorism , there were frequent reports from combat units that the caliber of the M16 was not powerful enough. This increased the urgency of a new weapon, so that the OICW project was accelerated. The project gained new knowledge, but the design proved unsuitable for use.

The infantry uses next to the M16 rifles of the type Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 whose clout is especially useful in urban warfare.

The bayonet used throughout the armed forces has the type designation M-9 . A variant of this, the M11, is mainly used by mine clearance services because of its properties .

The M203 grenade launcher can easily be mounted on the assault rifle . This enables a faster change between the grenade launcher and the assault rifle. With the M203 next frag grenades alternatively Blend - or smoke grenades are fired. In the Vietnam War, every squad still had a grenadier equipped with an M79 , which otherwise could only defend itself with a pistol. In the near future, the M203 will be replaced by a grenade launcher from Heckler & Koch that has been improved in terms of essential details .

The US Army has various models of sniper rifles . Mainly the M24 and its upgraded variant, the XM2010 , the KAC M110 SASS and the M25 are used. The latter is very reminiscent of the M21 . In addition, the Barrett M82 is used as a material rifle and for long shooting distances . The specialty of this weapon is its integrated recoil damping. With the appropriate ammunition, it is suitable for fighting technical equipment such as radar and radio antennas, viewing slits in tanks and laser rangefinders at great distances.

The two machine guns of the United States Army, which have been in service since the 1980s, are Belgian-made . While the M240 serves as an all-purpose machine gun , the M249 SAW is specially designed for use by a single soldier. The M60 , which shaped many images of the Vietnam War, is still used by the infantry, but is too heavy for most missions.

The introduction of the Mk 19 machine grenade launcher closed a tactical gap . The Army only procured the Mark 19 in 1983 in the technically mature version MOD 3 and installed it mainly on Humvees . It became known to a wide public through its use in the Second Gulf War and in Somalia. In the long term, it is intended to replace the very successful but outdated M2 from the First World War.

Three mortars are currently in use, the M120 , the M224 and the M252 , as well as a wide range of hand grenades, both lethal and non-lethal. The US Army uses the TOW and Javelin rocket launchers against armored vehicles .

The Interceptor Body Armor is the armor used in the Army; the M40 serves as an NBC protective mask . Although all soldiers use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to orient themselves, they have to learn how to use a compass and map in the basic training. The JSLIST is intended to protect soldiers from the effects of NBC weapons used in combat and was introduced in the course of the Iraq crisis . In contrast, the Chemical Agent Detector Kit , which is supposed to detect nuclear, biological and chemical warfare agents in the area, has been in use since 1978.


Combat uniforms of the army through the ages. In the 19th century, the items of equipment shown only cover parts of the uniforms used. The most recently shown uniforms, the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU; 6th from left) and the Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU; 7th from left), were replaced in 2005 by the Army Combat Uniform (ACU), which is no longer shown in the picture

The Army has been giving its soldiers three service uniforms since the Second World War . The first variant is the full dress , known as Army Blue , for representation services and ceremonial occasions, especially for the 3rd US Infantry Regiment in Washington DC . It was introduced in 1955 in the way it is worn today. It consists of a dark blue jacket and is worn with a white shirt (with a black tie ) and light blue trousers. The headgear is a dark blue cap . All parts of the uniform are decorated with gold edges. The jacket has shoulder pieces that indicate the soldier's rank within his service category. General uniforms differ from the others apart from the insignia insofar as the trousers have the dark blue of the jacket and that on appropriate occasions a white or black bow tie is worn instead of a tie. All green and white service uniforms of the Army are to be removed from the inventory by 2011, and only the full dress may be worn in their place .

American soldier in OCP combat suit with the camouflage scheme introduced in 2015

The combat uniform changed from all uniforms in the period after the Second World War most. Initially introduced in one color during the war, it was quickly changed to a two-tone combination of a plain-colored shirt and trousers. This uniform became the most famous of the US Army during the Cold War . In the Vietnam war color mixing was changed again, and Granada first came to a continuously occupied camouflage pattern , with in 1981 introduced Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) in Woodland - Flecktarnmuster , are used. A desert camouflage uniform (DCU) has been developed for use in hot areas . After Operation Desert Storm , the six-color pattern was replaced by a three-color one. This uniform was used in the Third Gulf War . In particular, the conspicuous, typical desert leopard spots were seen as superfluous and counterproductive. After the fighting officially ended, the US Marine Corps experimented with a digital camouflage pattern called MARPAT . Although the US Army advanced its own developments with camouflage patterns and, among other things , was able to present the MultiCam flecktarn pattern as a result of a cooperation between the company Crye Precision and the Army Natick Labs as early as 2002 , higher-level bodies insisted on the use of a digital camouflage pattern , which was ultimately used by that of the Marines was derived and very similar. The result of the experiments led to the introduction of the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) at the beginning of 2005. The Army ACU initially resembled the Marines' combat uniform in terms of the cut and arrangement of the pockets and the materials used. For the first time since 1955, new boots were also introduced. The "classic" black boots changed to easier-to-care-for brown boots. The ACU was later changed in a number of details. For example, since in some cases the Velcro fasteners did not prove themselves in combat, buttons were used again. The clearest difference to the ACU introduced in 2005 concerned the digital camouflage pattern, which did not prove itself in the field with the US Army. The $ 5 billion and hated pixel pattern ultimately became the target of ridicule. The MultiCam, preferred by the US Army, was introduced as early as 2010 for the fighting in Afghanistan. By September 30, 2019, the introduction of a new flecktarn pattern, called Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP), which is very similar to the MultiCam, had been completed in the army. The OCP is now also worn by the Air Force and the United States Space Force, which was founded in 2019 .

The battle suit is used in crisis areas for garrison and guard services, with a peaked cap for security guard services and Kevlar - West and protective clothing for combat.

Until 2001, only the Special Forces wore berets , for which the informal designation Green Berets was and has remained common. The introduction of berets for all soldiers was under discussion from the end of the 1990s and was decided on November 6, 2000. The regular units were also given berets with a uniform black color, which had previously been reserved for the rangers . After the general introduction, the rangers wear a sun-brown beret. The Army Special Forces still retain the right to display their unit's insignia on their berets, while all regular soldiers wear the same insignia.


The US Army was the first army in the world to be fully motorized and now has the largest vehicle-per-man ratio in the world.

Armored vehicles

M1 main battle tank in Iraq
An M6 linebacker firing

The Army has a total of 7,870 M1 Abrams main battle tanks , which have replaced the outdated M48 Patton and M60 from the Vietnam War since the 1980s . It is one of the most advanced tanks in the world and has so far performed its tasks so satisfactorily that all efforts to distribute the tasks of tanks among several types such as light and medium tanks (for example the M8 Armored Gun System ) failed. Over time, the Abrams , whose operation requires a crew of four, was upgraded several times . The original idea of ​​replacing the loader with an automatic one and thus reducing the crew to three men was discarded in view of the exorbitant costs and the unreliability of the intended loading system.

The US Army has so far procured over 6,800 of its most important armored infantry fighting vehicle, the Bradley . This armored vehicle exists in the variants M2 and M3. While the M2 is designed as an armored personnel carrier, the M3 is used for armed reconnaissance. The Bradley , named after an Army General of the Second World War , replaced the M113 because of its improved armor and armament in combat operations , of which the army had up to 20,000 pieces in its inventory. In the M2 variant, there is space for up to nine soldiers with their individual infantry equipment, in the M3 up to five.

The standing in service since 1960 M113 is equipped with a total number of over 80,000 of the most produced armored personnel carriers of the 20th century and was an export success. The original model of the M113 had a crew of two and eleven soldiers with equipment. The sales success of the M113 is based on the fact that its chassis is used as a platform for several versions. The US Army currently has nine of these variants in operation.

The M6 Linebacker anti-aircraft tank is based on the Bradley program and is used to combat flight targets at close range. However, it is very vulnerable to attack by tanks. To date, the United States Army has 107 units of this model in stock.

Since 1990, the Army has been operating a two-variant mortar system that enables heavy support fire for the infantry. The M120 is the towed variant, the M121 the self-propelled variant. The system is often used in combination with the Stryker .

Front view of a Stryker RV (reconnaissance version)

The introduction of the Stryker marked the first acquisition of a new armored vehicle since World War II and one of the most controversial in US Army history. Named after PFC Stuart Stryker and Specialist Robert Stryker, two holders of the Medal of Honor, it sparked the latent debate on principle within the officer corps between those in favor of tracked and wheeled vehicles. Originally procured in order to have a lightweight, air-deployable armored multi-purpose platform for the rapid reaction forces, it turned out to be insufficiently armored in use and had to be retrofitted accordingly. This in turn led to a significantly higher combat weight, which partially counteracted its actual procurement reason. Nevertheless, the Army is sticking to its plans for procurement due to the lack of an alternative. The Army currently leads 1,780  Strykers in five Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (Stryker Brigades) and one Stryker Regiment. By 2020, seven corresponding brigades are to be equipped with a total of 2,691 vehicles in different versions. These serve primarily as a transport vehicle, as a command center and as a gun platform.


An M109 fires at night.

Almost 1,000 multiple missile artillery systems of the type M270 are used for the precise combat against armored targets. Depending on the version, they have a range of up to 70 kilometers and can be used with the appropriate cluster munitions to destroy or mine large areas of terrain. The MLRS is currently the most effective mobile artillery system in the army's arsenal.

The standard artillery system for distances up to 25 km are the 2568  howitzers of the type M109 Paladin . Thanks to several increases in combat value up to the latest version A6, the system, which had already been procured in the 1950s, could remain in service. Because of its long service life, the army has been looking for a successor system since 1995. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld terminated the current Crusader program in May 2002 because it was neither accurately targeted nor air-transportable. Since the successor system Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon was discontinued together with the Future Combat Systems , the M109 will remain the backbone of tubular artillery in the future. To keep the M109 up to date, BAE Systems developed the M109A6 Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) variant.

The M102 howitzer was mainly used during the Vietnam War. Today she is only on duty with the reserve. It can be dropped with a parachute and has a high lateral directional capacity of 360 °.

Howitzer M777

The M119 is a make of the British Royal Ordnance from the 1970s, where it went into production under the name L118 Light Gun . From 1989 the towed howitzer was put into service to replace the M102 in the artillery units of the National Guard. It is to remain in service until 2013 and, due to its relatively low weight, can be thrown from an airplane or dropped from the sling holder of a helicopter.

As a replacement for the medium-weight M198 , the M777 is currently being procured, which also comes from British production. In contrast to its predecessor, it has an automated fire control system and is better suited for air relocation and ship transport.

Air defense

M1097 Avenger

The army has two self-propelled air defense systems. The Patriot anti-aircraft missile system has been in service since 1985 and is designed for use against air targets from medium altitude up to a distance of almost 80 km. During the Second Gulf War, Patriot systems were supplied to Israel to aid the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany in defending the country against Iraqi fire from SCUD missiles. Congress, however, questioned the actual effectiveness of the system despite several increases in combat value, as did the Israeli government, which as a consequence commissioned the development of more modern air defense systems such as the Arrow . Given the system's limited anti-ballistic capabilities, the United States is working with NATO allies to develop the successor MEADS . In addition, the THAAD system was put into service.

The light Avenger anti-aircraft missile system, based on the Stinger, has been in service with the Army and Marines since 1989 . It replaced the Vulcan system equipped with a Gatling rapid-fire cannon , which in turn was based on the M113. An HMMWV version serves as the carrier vehicle.

Transport and supply vehicles

M984 HEMTT, as a rescue and troop vehicle

The main means of transport for the US Army today is the FMTV truck in 17 different variants.

A Humvee maneuvered in difficult terrain in Afghanistan in April 2005.
FPI Cougar HE during an impact test

The HEMTT trucks are a family of supply vehicles best known for numerous pictures of convoys in the Second and Third Gulf War. They have been in use since 1982 and have 8x8 all-wheel drive. The advantage over conventional five-ton trucks and especially over their predecessors M520 lies in the increased mobility and increased loading capacity.

The Palletized Load System (PLS) has been in service as a further development of the Heavy Expandable Multipurpose Tactical Truck (HEMTT) since 1993. It acts as a transport platform for pallets and serves as a link between rail and road.

The United States Army's standard truck is the M939 . He is from a 6x6 wheel drive system by a Cummins - diesel engine driven and exists in ten different versions. From 1999 to 2003, the army retrofitted an anti-lock braking system , which should improve the previously criticized safety of the truck. Approximately 32,000 units of the product family are currently in use.

The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (abbreviated: HMMWV ), which has adopted the colloquial names Humvee and Hummer (each with a male article), became an outstanding commercial success for the manufacturer AM General . Despite mounting concerns among the troops about its susceptibility to mishaps and attacks, from its introduction in 1983 the Humvee won through for its unmatched versatility. Despite all the technical inadequacies, the transport vehicle developed into an unmistakable trademark of the army, similar to its predecessor, the jeep . In its civil version, the vehicle is a symbol of the American way of life because of its size and spaciousness combined with its high fuel consumption . In the course of its production of almost 90,000 units, the HMMWV was also converted for tactical roles that were never intended for the original vehicle. The Humvee is slated to be replaced by the Oshkosh JLTV in the coming years .

The MRAP series, a vehicle protected against mines and booby traps , is a consequence of the Iraq war, in which many soldiers died in attacks with improvised explosive devices (English: IED, German: USBV). The MRAP offers the Humvee a much better protection against it. It is intended to replace it initially in combat areas and later generally step by step.

The M1070 Heavy Equipment Transporter (German: "Transport vehicle for heavy equipment") consists of a tractor-trailer combination with a load capacity of up to 70 tons, which is primarily intended for transporting the Abrams tank and other armored vehicles. With the United States Army since 1993, it has both rear-wheel and front-wheel drive and is powered by a 500  hp diesel engine.

The M88A2 is the army's recovery vehicle . In the second generation, it bears the nickname HERCULES , which stands as an acronym for Heavy Equipment Recovery, Combat Utility Lift & Evacuation System (German: " Combat- suitable system for the recovery and evacuation of heavy equipment"). Since it was originally classified as a medium-heavy mountain system, the army needed an improved version after deciding on the M1 "Abrams" main battle tank. The A2 version therefore weighs ten tons more than the Abrams .


Development of Army Aviation

Test flight of the AH-64 Apache
Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division simulate a howitzer rope is being transported by a chinook
Blackhawk in Iraq
An OH-58 Kiowa over Baghdad

Since military aviation only played a subordinate role until the USA entered World War II, there was no corresponding armed forces, but until then it was subordinate to the US Army, more precisely since 1926 to the US Army Air Corps . On June 20, 1941, the Air Corps became the US Army Air Forces (USAAF), which in 1943 was put on an equal footing with the other branches of the armed forces . It was not until the establishment of the US Air Force in 1947 that general military aviation was finally separated from the Army.

At the time the Key West Agreement was concluded, the military use of helicopters was not foreseeable. In the treaty, the term "is fixed wing aircraft " (English: fixed-wing aircraft ) recorded. The interpretation of this narrow definition was used by both the US Army and the US Marine Corps , which were otherwise only allowed to use combat aircraft on ships of the US Navy , to purchase military helicopters of all kinds consists of liaison, transport, reconnaissance and attack helicopters. According to the agreement, the US Army is prohibited from planning, procuring and operating other aircraft. In contrast to the Marine Corps , the Army is therefore not allowed to procure the Osprey , as it is classified as an aircraft due to its tilt rotors .


The Army uses military helicopters of all kinds, which are primarily used for air support for other branches of service. Until the Black Hawk was put into service , they named their helicopter types after Indian tribes .

The army's attack helicopter is the AH-64 Apache . From 1984 it first replaced the attack version of the Huey and from 1992 the Cobra . Its mission is the armed reconnaissance and the fight against moving and stationary targets under all weather and visual conditions. Since 1998, the systems received a far-reaching increase in combat value, after which the modernized models were given the suffix Longbow ("long bow"). The Army has a total of 580  Apache .

In 2004, the then Chief of Staff of the Army, Peter Schoomaker, announced the Comanche program , a combat helicopter with stealth technology that was supposed to replace the Apache . Despite the good technical prerequisites, the concept of this model was out of date due to its focus on operational profiles of the Cold War even before the start of series production. After the compensation agreement was settled, the army used the remaining funds to finance the introduction of unmanned drones and the modernization of the AH-64.

16 models of the light combat helicopter AH-1 Cobra remained in service with a single active brigade , the remaining 241 were transferred to the reserve. In the Second Gulf War, it was feared by Iraqi troops for its maneuverability and speed, but it generally proved to be poorly armored.

The all-weather and night-flying OH-6 Cayuse is used exclusively by the 160th  Special Operations Aviation Regiment in two versions. The multi-purpose variant MH-6 Little Bird has two seating platforms, so that six soldiers can be seated on the outside of the fuselage during flight. The attack variant with the type designation AH-6 can be equipped with a large number of diverse weapons, whereby its light mass limits the number of weapons carried. Overall, the army plans to limit the total number of helicopters to 45 and is currently testing an unmanned variant.

The CH-47 Chinook , which has been in service in this role since 1962, is used to transport troops and material . In 1994, an elaborate twelve-year program ended, during which all models in the A , B and C series were brought up to the standard of the current D series. The special forces fly the special version MH-47 G , so that the US Army has a total of 553 units. The Chinook is able to lift almost twice its own weight with just under 10 t. Thanks to a triple fastening structure, it can also transport bulky objects such as artillery pieces. The versatility of the helicopter guarantees a long service life, so that a replacement is currently not pending. It is expected to remain in use until 2030.

From 1979 the UH-60 Black Hawk replaced the UH- 1 Iroquois known from the Vietnam War and notorious among the military for its vulnerability , as did the S-58 Choctaw . This model of a medium-sized all-purpose helicopter proved to be so versatile and reliable that its range of tasks was quickly expanded and specially adapted versions were also procured by the other branches of the armed forces. The Battle of Mogadishu , described in a book and film called Black Hawk Down , made this guy popular in the 2000s.

The OH-58 Kiowa was originally advertised and designed as a transitional model between the Cobra and the Comanche . In the Third Gulf War, the version for armed reconnaissance, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, performed better in combat in urban terrain compared to the more cumbersome Apache at low altitudes. In the short term, this spurred considerations to acquire larger contingents. Ultimately, the Army decided to replace the helicopter, which had been in service since 1962, as the existing models were showing signs of obsolescence and technical vulnerabilities. Together with a restricted deployment profile, this led to the tendering of the ARH-70 , whose development was discontinued due to cost overruns, presumably in favor of the Northrop Grumman MQ-8 drone.

Future Combat Systems

Future Combat Systems (“Weapons Systems of the Future”, abbreviated FCS ) is the material component of the transformation and serves as a collective name for an extensive procurement program of the army with an expected order volume of 200 billion US dollars . The program consists of 16 components, two of which are fundamental to the continuation of the entire Future Combat Systems concept. On the one hand, there is the Future Combat Systems System , an army-specific component of the Global Information Grid . This is itself a worldwide information network for all branches of the armed forces.

The technical ability in connection with the intellectual ability of the soldier is seen as just as important. This consideration led specifically to the Future Force Warrior , an overall conception of the equipment on the man within the Future Combat Systems . It essentially consists of a helmet with digital orientation and communication techniques, revised body armor, and new secondary armament, some of which fire intelligent ammunition. The Bundeswehr is currently experimenting with a system based on the Future Force Warrior called " Infantryman of the Future ".

The remainder of the program represents an attempt to break out of the previous procurement cycle, with new weapons platforms replacing their predecessors and therefore having to be coordinated for joint use with other weapon platforms. For a family of armored vehicles in the planning stage, this means, for example, that they are based on the same chassis with the planning term Manned Ground Vehicle (“manned ground vehicle”, MGV ). Its relatively low weight makes it easier to carry air. The range of targeted model variants will include a light main battle tank, an infantry fighting vehicle, a self-propelled howitzer, a reconnaissance vehicle, an anti-tank mortar, a command, a medical and a pioneer tank.

The broad conception of unmanned systems is characteristic of the FCS program. This mainly exists in remote-controlled ground systems and unmanned aerial vehicles . Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled the program on June 23, 2009 and instead initiated the Brigade Combat Team Modernization program.


The United States Army is in many ways a reflection of the country's society and its great plurality. As an institution, the Army attaches great importance to being recognized as a leader in the integration of ethnic groups and women, also vis-à-vis the other branches of the armed forces.

The Army Demographics Office is responsible for demographic surveys as a subdivision of G-1 Human Resources in the Department of the Army .

Unless otherwise stated, most of the data shown is taken from the last available demographic report for the 2005 financial year. Therefore, a total of 488,579 professional soldiers is predominantly assumed as a statistical figure of 100%; all absolute figures given beyond this period are average values. The observation period over budget years is suitable due to the annual budget consultations.

Hierarchical composition

In the 2005 financial year, the professional army had 69,174 officers and 12,482  warrant officers . The officers thus made up 14.2% and the warrant officers 2.5% of the active population. In relation to one officer there are about seven men and non-commissioned officers.

Journalists such as Stuart Koehl from the Weekly Standard criticize this rate of officers as excessive. They point to a global average of 7% and contrast the Army with the Wehrmacht , which had no more than 5% officers. The high proportion of officers goes back to the Cold War and non-transparent, encrusted structures in the army.

Age distribution

In the personnel statistics given, the age group distribution is given in four-year steps, ascending from the youngest entry age of 17 completed years of age. The age distribution curve of Gauss with the best distribution point here to the enlisted men. At the time of the survey, 36% were younger than 25 years, 22% were under 30 and a further 25% were younger than 40 years. Due to the strong career orientation within the armed forces, the distribution curve only shows a sharp drop in the over-forty year olds, since the team ranks only consist of around 7% of people of this age.

Warrant officers have the sharpest distribution curve . Not even 5% are younger than 25 years, just under 53% are between 30 and 39 years old. Overall, 85% of them are older than 30.

Almost 12% of all army officers had reached the age of 24 in the budget year, 23% of them were up to 29 years old and just under 39% were under 40 years old.


Most warrant officers have completed college prep or have already completed a few semesters. Over 90% have attended a university at least temporarily.

Since the completion of a university degree is a prerequisite for admission to the officer corps , academic educational certificates dominate here. 40.3% of the applicants had a Masters Degree in research or had a PhD .

Civil status

Since the risk of separation or divorce is increased due to long periods of service in the military, the statistical analysis of the collected civil status data enables statements to be made about social cohesion within the armed forces. In the 2005 financial year, a total of 54% of the army personnel were married. At 55.5%, the marriage rate of male soldiers exceeded that of women by 11.1 percentage points. On the other hand, with a share of 38%, married women had a significantly higher rate of intra-military marriages compared to their male comrades, of whom 5.2% were married to a soldier partner. The Army fraternization rules must be observed here: An officer may only have a business, personal, sexual or marital relationship with non-officers in exceptional cases. For example, business relationships must be limited to a one-off exchange such as a used car and must not lead to ongoing obligations through loan or credit. Officers may be married to non-officers if both spouses have married as non-officers or if one of the two is a reservist .

The probability of being married is highest as a male warrant officer with 84.4%, and lowest among the female enlisted ranks with 37.1%. About 46% of all army soldiers had children at the time of the investigation, the average number of which was two. A total of 6.9% of all soldiers were single parents. Women were more than twice as likely to be affected by this life situation as men, with female warrant officers being the most prominent at 19.5% . In total, the Army professional soldiers have over 710,000 direct dependents .


In the 2005 fiscal year, nearly 70,000 women served in the United States' professional army . This corresponds approximately to a share of 15%, so that approximately every seventh army soldier was female.

The ethnic composition of the armed forces is showing increasing heterogeneity. Although 60% are still white, this rate has been declining for years. The proportion of blacks has stagnated at 21.6%, while the proportion of Hispanics has doubled since 1995 to almost 10.5%. Despite a steadily growing proportion, Asians remain underrepresented at 4%.


As with the census , the indication of religious beliefs is voluntary, since church and state are completely separate from each other legally in the USA. However, the indication of personal confession alone justifies efforts by the army to take these circumstances into account. A total of over 200 organized denominations are represented in the United States Army, of which around 51% were Protestant and 21% Catholic in 2005, and 2% belonged to other denominations. 26% preferred not to comment on their religious beliefs.


While the United States Army has logged the number of suicides for decades, this has only been the case for attempted suicide since 2002. A department at Army Headquarters called Army Behavioral Health is responsible for this . According to Col. Elspet Ritchie, the most senior psychiatrist in the armed forces, the number of suicide attempts rose from just under 350 in 2002 to around 2,100 in 2007. Most suicides are committed by soldiers who have not yet been sent to a crisis area or who completed their last round of service more than a year ago. In April 2008, the armed forces asked their officers to view the use of psychological care as possibly exemplary for relevant subordinates.

For the year 2008 the US Army reported the highest suicide rate ever recorded of 128. With 20.2 suicides per 100,000 soldiers, this is slightly above the suicide rate of 20 for the entire United States.

In the first months of 2012, the suicide rate increased again significantly. On average, one soldier was killed per day - more American soldiers died from suicide than in fighting in Afghanistan.

Media impact

Officially released images are intended to improve the reputation of the US armed forces

The reactions of outsiders to the US Army are varied and very often reflect their attitude towards the US and its armed forces as a whole. This can range from total admiration to total rejection.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, soldiers in garrisons gained worldwide sympathy. In the political crisis preceding the Iraq war, however, US sites around the world often had to be additionally protected by the national armed forces. Critical attitudes rarely affect individual soldiers, but rather the Army as an institution and instrument of US foreign policy.

Outside the US, criticism of the Army prevails. Long-running criticisms are the administration of amphetamines to various units, war crimes and training and recruiting methods. After a long time the Army viewed war crimes as historical and non-existent today, the subject received new impetus after reports and alleged incidents in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In addition, in some countries with a strong military presence there is a chronically burdened relationship with the local civilian population, such as in Japan or Italy, where individual incidents by soldiers repeatedly cause turmoil. Here there is often a tense relationship with the local population in interaction with impeccable behavior up to sexual harassment or rape. The arrest of an Army employee in Okinawa in October 2004 as a suspected rape perpetrator sparked a demonstration of almost 30,000 local residents. The relationship had been burdened again by the crash of a helicopter on a university campus.

The Army itself tries to stand out in public from the other branches of the United States' armed forces . Even if it has a good reputation, it has to assert itself against the outstanding reputation of the Marines, who enjoy a special position, and against widespread misunderstandings and prejudices, such as, for example, they are a reservoir for the lower class and give away cannon fodder .


The missions, branches of service and the history of the US Army offer a wide range of possibilities for media processing. Hardly a year goes by in which the Army is not shown in a film. Since the majority of directors in Hollywood rely on their help, for example with the procurement of military equipment and the use of expert extras for film projects, the majority of all American productions portray the Army positively. In contrast, Oliver Stone , for example, needed ten Years to secure funding for his platoon, which was critical of the Vietnam War . The US Department of Defense's manipulation of film content and allegations of defamation of history to the Army have a long history. The PR director of the Pentagon office in Los Angeles, for example, confirmed in a television documentary by ARD that she had obliged the director of Black Hawk Down , Ridley Scott , to omit a scene that was supposed to represent the actual beginning of the Battle of Mogadishu . In 1993, two special forces initially fired at each other because they had briefly lost their orientation. The spokeswoman told the television team that this scene gave the impression that the special forces had been at odds, which was not true. Ridley Scott himself stated that the scene was cut out for artistic reasons. In contrast, US journalists mainly criticized the film's political and historical premises or their lack of appreciation.


Due to the current conflicts in particular, the US armed forces are present on television every day. While the Army itself is disproportionately represented there through advertising and documentaries, the most important broadcasters often broadcast particularly critical programs during prime time. These have often caused political scandals in the past - as well as mere mentions in the news.

Computer games

The United States Army is active in the computer game market in a variety of ways. Because of the lower location and capital commitment of the computer and video game market, their ability to influence game content is significantly less than with film, whose technically and financially most demanding production companies are concentrated on Hollywood.

For its own use, the Army tried a modified version of Doom in 1996 to test team tactics in a virtual environment.

The US Army now has a department that not only advises development studios on request, but also gets involved in promising new developments. She pays both active soldiers and veterans to help develop the game. In the case of complex productions that already enjoy a particularly high level of attention in advance, it also provides additional material, similar to film productions.

From 2002, the Army itself appeared as an actor in computer games when they published the game America's Army for recruitment purposes. She also signed a contract with Bohemia Interactive Studios , the developer of the surprise hit Operation Flashpoint from 2001, which provided for the development of a special military variant called Virtual Battlefield Systems .

Computer games in which the US Army has played a not insignificant role in an advisory capacity are, for example, Full Spectrum Warrior , Brothers in Arms , Project IGI , Medal of Honor , Men of Valor , America's Army , Wargame , Delta Force Xtreme 2 , Call-of -Duty - or Battlefield series of games .


The internet has by far the highest priority among the media . Here the Army presents itself in hundreds of websites for almost all bases, branches of arms, facilities, institutions and the like in elaborately designed websites. Much of the recruiting and general reputation maintenance takes place over the Internet. Like all other branches of the armed forces, the US Army can use the .mil top-level domain used exclusively by the Department of Defense .

The US Army supports many other network operators with predominantly military content on their websites with reports, experts and trained advertising personnel from its own ranks. This is where young people often find employment opportunities.

The US Army also serves the distinctive US newspaper culture: Almost every location has an employee newspaper (mostly also external), both online and offline. Regional and municipal newspapers are also supported in the hope of the advertising effect.


The US Army sees itself as the heir of the colonial and anti-British militias and only through recent developments as a professional army. A no small part of their budget goes to their own historical and social institutions. The military cemeteries, for example, are maintained at great expense and usually include a monument in the form of a colonnade with the names of missing persons and often a museum or at least an exhibition about the fighting. The facilities are often looked after and maintained by retirees from the US military. There is no US military cemetery on German soil; Soldiers who lost their lives in Germany during World War II were buried in the Netherlands ( Margraten ), Belgium (Henri-Chapelle and Neuville), Luxembourg (Hamm) or France ( Lorraine ). Nowadays, all soldiers who fell in combat on foreign soil are transferred to the USA.

Many units have their own museum, for which the unit often even pays permanent staff. Such a museum MP - battalion there were up to the withdrawal of troops in 1995 in Frankfurt am Main in the Drake barracks in today's district Frankfurter Berg and Schwabacher City Museum , which addressed the history of the US Army in the city from 1945 to 1992.

Military salute

As in any other army, in the US Army the lower rank always greets first, with an appropriate greeting. The person greeting is not allowed to run or hold things in his mouth or in his hand. Officers only greet each other on solemn occasions. In contrast to the other branches of the United States' armed forces, it is irrelevant whether you greet with or without a peaked cap.

An exception is the military tradition, according to which holders of the Medal of Honor are greeted first by all soldiers in the armed forces - regardless of rank and rank.

Especially in combat , people generally do not greet with the raising of their hands in order to avoid snipers lurking in the army . However, some officers insist on it in all exercises.

Swearing in

After basic training, all recruits must take the following oath on the United States Constitution before an officer :

“I, [name of candidate], do solemnly swear [alternatively: affirm] that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice . So help me God. "

German translation:

“I, [name of person to be sworn in], solemnly swear [alternatively: affirm] that I will protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will maintain true fidelity and loyalty to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the officers appointed over me in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice , so help me God. "

The religious affirmation in the absence of the exemption provided legal text voluntarily. A few recruits and lawyers are of the opinion that this violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution on freedom of expression. So far it has been the officer's authority to decide whether he considers the omission of the religious affirmation to be legitimate.


The official anthem of the United States Army is called The Army Goes Rolling Along , unofficially mostly Army Song . It is based on an artillery march composed by Lieutenant Edmund L. Gruber in 1908. After the other branches of the armed forces had an official anthem in 1948, the United States Army announced a competition to also give one. After none of the responses could achieve resounding popularity, she set the march, originally composed as a caisson song (approximate translation: " Protzenmarsch "), as a new hymn, although this was given a new text in the original version due to the strong artillery reference . Due to their official character, every soldier is expected to sing along to the march on appropriate occasions in a standing position.

Value orientation

Like all other branches of the armed forces, the army is strongly value-oriented. This is expressed in two common codes that were officially adopted in January 2004. This is on the one hand the Soldier's Creed ("soldier 's oath "), on the other hand the Army Values ("central values ​​of the army"). The core of the Soldier's Creed is the Warrior Ethos (meaning: "Warrior Code"). All three build on each other and are based on the soldiers' oath of office.

Soldier's oath

After the Vietnam War, the United States Department of Defense circulated an unofficial soldier's oath that should not be confused with the actual swearing- in. At the beginning of the 2000s, the then Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker had the Soldier's Creed revised and officially published it. In popular culture, the anaphorically designed soldier's oath has found a certain distribution, for example it can be seen in several pictures of the game America's Army . Its wording is as follows, the four lines in italics indicate an abbreviated version that is also common:

English original Analogous translation
I am an American Soldier. I am an American soldier.
I am a warrior and a member of a team. I am a warrior and a member of a unit.
I serve the people of the United States I serve the people of the United States
and live the Army Values. and live the values ​​of the army.
I will always place the mission first. I will always give the job top priority.
I will never accept defeat. I will never accept defeat
I will never quit. I will never give up.
I will never leave a fall comrade. I will never leave a fallen comrade behind.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, I am disciplined, physically and mentally hardened,
trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. practiced and able in my soldier skills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself. I will always take care of my weapons, my equipment and myself
I am an expert and I am a professional. I am an expert and professional in my craft
I stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy
the enemies of the United States of America
in close combat.
I stand ready to be deployed to engage and destroy
the enemies of the United States
in hand-to-hand combat.
I am a guardian of freedom I am a guardian of freedom.
and the American way of life. and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier. I am an American soldier.

Army values

English original Analogous translation
L oyalty - Bear true faith and allegiance to the US Constitution, the Army, your unit and other soldiers. Loyalty - Maintain true faith and allegiance to the United States Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other soldiers
D uty - Fulfill you obligations. Duty - Do your obligations
R espect - Treat people as they should be treated. Respect - Treat others as they should be treated.
S elfless service - Put the welfare of the nation, the army and your subordinates before your own. Selfless Service - Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.
H onor - Live up to all the Army Values. Honor - Do justice to the values ​​of the army.
I ntegrity - Do what's right, legally and morally. Integrity - Do what is right, both legally and morally
P ersonal Courage - Face fear, danger or adversity (physical or mental). Encounter fear, danger, or adversity, whether physical or psychological

The first letters of the Army Values , from which a reference to Soldier's Creed can be derived ("[...] and live the Army Values."), Result in the term LDRSHIP , which comes close to the English word "leadership". Every soldier receives a wallet card on which the warrior code is recorded. In addition, the Army Values ​​are engraved on the back of all identification tags of the armed forces.


Army flag with flag ribbons

The elements of the flag of the United States Army are placed on a white background. In the middle of the flag is a blue version of the official seal of the War Office . It shows various weapons, flags, a liberty cap and a rattlesnake as it appeared on the historic Gadsden flag . On a banner by the queue is the motto of the Army "THIS WE'LL DEFEND" ("We will defend this"). Below him is a stylized, scarlet red banner with the white inscription "UNITED STATES ARMY". Again in blue is the founding year of the Army "1775" below the scroll. President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially introduced the flag on June 12, 1956. The version for indoor and parade use is adorned with gold fringes around the edges and is 4'4 "high and 5'6" long. The away-from-home version has no fringes and the typical US flag aspect ratio of 10:19. The flag is shown only with the national flag of the United States .

The United States Army, like many other armed forces in the world, issues flag ribbons to those formations that have participated in any of their major campaigns or battles. The color of a flag ribbon depends on the color of the ribbon awarded in this campaign. Flag ribbons first appeared during the Civil War and were also awarded retrospectively. From 1890 the practice changed to consistently silver flag ribbons in which the name of the event was engraved. In 1921, the Army reintroduced colored flag ribbons, which were, however, larger than their predecessors and whose design has been retained to this day. They are four feet long and 2.75 inches wide (the equivalent of 121.92 cm by 5.08 cm). In addition to the flags that are stocked by individual associations, the army has a representative flag that has been hung with all 175 available flag ribbons. This tradition dates back to 1964. The creation of a flag ribbon is related to the historical processing of a battle or a campaign, as not every military engagement is honored with a flag ribbon. A refined version of the Army Flag with gold fringes is used when it is decorated with flag ribbons .


Web links

Commons : United States Army  - Collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

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