What Are Some Facts About the U.S. Armed Forces?


Quick Answer

The United States Armed Forces consists of five separate service branches: the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps. The secretary of defense, the individual in charge of the U.S. Department of Defense, has control over all the services branches except the Coast Guard, which operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The President of the United States serves as Commander in Chief of the armed forces and has the final decision-making power regarding military issues.

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Full Answer

The U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1788, gives the U.S. Congress the power to raise an army, a power the Congress exercised in September 1789 upon the urging of President Washington. Prior to that, the United States had no standing army as the U.S. legislature disbanded the Continental Army following the victory in the American Revolutionary War.

As of 2014, the United States had declared war a total of five times, including the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. Despite this, as of 2010, the government had deployed the U.S. Armed Forces abroad more than 300 times.

The U.S. Department of Defense employed 1.4 million military members on active duty and 1.1 million in the National Guard and reserves, as well as an additional 700,000 civilian employees as of 2014. The Defense Department also controls around 30 million acres of land worldwide.

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