What does the U.S. Military Mean to our Quality of Life?
Most Americans know that our military is standing guard around the world to defend us and our way of life. Few of us, however, are familiar with the composition of our military today, what its missions are, how it is structured, and why we have people in various places around the globe. While polls show the military is one of the most respected institutions in our country, some are concerned that the differences between the military and the rest of us are widening and could undermine public support for them and their missions.
Over the next few weeks, I want to address some of these basic questions about the composition of today’s military, why it is structured the way it is, and how its vital work affects the rest of us in our daily lives.
How is our military structured?
The American Armed Forces include four military services: the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. The Marine Corps, while an independent military service, is housed in the Department of the Navy. In addition, the Department of Defense includes a number of other organizations such as military intelligence agencies providing support to the military missions. The Coast Guard, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, is considered a uniformed service that can be called upon in wartime, although normally it is involved in law enforcement duties.
Currently, there is discussion about creating a new organization, perhaps even a military service, to focus on space. As airplanes and then missiles developed in the first half of the twentieth century, the Army Air Corps became the United States Air Force. Outer Space is rapidly turning into a warfighting domain of its own.
Military operations are actually executed by Combatant Commands. Some of them are based on geography – Europe, Africa, and Indo-Pacific, for example. Others are based on function, such as the new Cyber Command.
Who is serving our country?
There are 1.3 million active duty servicemembers serving our country. They are less than one-half of one percent of our total population. The breakdown by Service is: