Army, US

views updated

Army, US Ground service of the US armed forces. Active Army personnel number c.500,000, 32% stationed overseas. Army personnel are under the general supervision of the secretary of the army and his adviser, the army chief of staff, who is the army's highest ranking officer and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The department of the Army is charged with the organization, training, and equipping of these forces, but not their military deployment. The army also provides assistance in disaster relief, conducts weapons research, carries on training at civilian colleges and administers the US Military Academy at West Point. The army has 16 active divisions and helps to maintain 8 National Guard and 12 reserve divisions; major overseas commands are the Seventh Army in Europe and the Eighth Army in South Korea. The Continental Army existed from 1775, but the first regular standing army was authorized by Congress in 1785. The war department was established in 1789. The department of War became the department of the Army in 1947, and in 1949 it became a part of the Department of Defense. The US Army participated in all major wars between the War of 1812 and the Vietnam War (1954–75). A draft was occasionally employed and was used in peacetime after World War II. In 1973 Congress established an all-volunteer army. In 1980 Congress resumed draft registration for 18 year old men and, for the first time women were among the graduates at West Point.