With bravery and dedication to duty, few institutions can compare to the United States Army.
Their motto, “This We’ll Defend,” embodies what it means to be a soldier.
Since the beginning of the United States, the Army has stood for liberty and defended our nation against its enemies.
Below, we will talk about 11 things to know about the Army that will give you a renewed appreciation for the men and women who wear the uniform.
Related Article – 6 Military Mottos For Each Branch Explained
Table of Contents
#1. The Army Motto
When asked what the Army motto is, many would say, “Be All You Can Be.”
While it was one of the most effective recruiting slogans for the Army, it is not the official motto.
The official motto for the Army is “This We’ll Defend.”
We can trace the motto back to 1778 as a battle cry for soldiers in the Continental Army while facing the British during the Revolutionary War.
“This We’ll Defend” is a powerful statement that embodies soldiers’ commitment to protecting the nation’s freedom, its citizens, national interests, and the Constitution.
It is more than a motto, it is a promise that each soldier is ready to take arms to defend the United States.
This aligns with the Army’s mission statement: “To deploy, fight, and win our nation’s wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustained land dominance by Army forces across the full spectrum of conflict as part of the joint force.”
The motto emphasizes the Army’s core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
#2. Oldest Branch of the Military
Established on June 14, 1775, the United States Army is the oldest branch of the military, predating the nation’s creation.
It played an essential role in the development of the United States, starting with their victories in the Revolutionary War to conflicts our nation is involved in today.
The Army’s history is full of tales of courage and sacrifice.
As the oldest military branch, the Army has also played a crucial role in shaping military strategy, doctrine, and culture.
It has set an example to other branches by shaping standards, training, leadership, and advances in science that we still use today.
While its mission has changed over the last two centuries, it has dominated all combat domains, including air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.
#3. The Largest Branch of the Military
It probably does not surprise you that the Army is the largest branch of the United States military since it is the oldest.
With over 1,000,000 soldiers, the Army is the largest branch of the Department of Defense.
In 2022, it had over 465,000 active duty members, 215,000 reservists, and 330,000 national guardsmen.
When you break the active component down into demographics, 79% of the force was enlisted, 20% comprised officers/warrant officers, and 1% were USMA Cadets.
The active component also comprised 84.4% males and 15.6% females.
If you combine all the soldiers, its population will rival some of the largest cities in America.
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#4. Mapping Out the United States
The establishment of the United States as we know it today results from extensive mapping and exploration.
The Army was essential in mapping out physical boundaries, resources, and topography.
After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Thomas Jefferson tasked the Army with exploring the new lands.
Its expedition was called the “Corps of Volunteers for North Western Discovery,” but you may know it as the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
The Army also played an instrumental role in developing maps outside the United States with the Army Map Service, established during World War II.
The Army Map Service provided the military with over 40,000 maps during WWII for operation planning.
It also played a critical role in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Today, we know the Army Map Service as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
#5. The Army Has the Most Bases in the World
The United States Army has bases throughout the world and in the United States to establish an extensive global presence.
It has the most bases compared to the other branches of the military.
Some of the largest bases in America are Fort Liberty, Fort Campbell, Fort Cavazos, Fort Moore, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The largest base is Fort Liberty, North Carolina, which spans over 251 square miles and has over 50,000 soldiers.
The Army has bases worldwide, with bases in over 14 countries outside of the United States.
Placing bases globally allows the Army to swiftly respond to conflicts, humanitarian situations, and international crises.
It has a large concentration of bases throughout Europe and the Asia Pacific.
However, Germany has the largest concentration of bases outside of the United States.
#6. The Old Guard
As the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment is known as “The Old Guard.”
Serving our country since 1784, the Old Guard has a distinguished history that predates the Constitution.
However, it is more than a unit with a rich history, it serves several unique functions today with several specialty platoons.
The Old Guard is best known for its round-the-clock vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
Through rain or shine, these soldiers must possess excellent bearing and exemplary character.
The Caisson Platoon gives the highest honors to a fallen commissioned officer in the Army or Marine Corps with the rank of Colonel or higher.
They honor the dead by carrying them to Arlington National Cemetery, where a horse is led behind a caisson wearing an empty saddle with the rider’s boots reversed in the stirrups to signify that they will never ride again.
The Continental Color Guard is made of a five-person unit with three color bearers and two armed guards.
This section wears a replica of the Army’s 1784-style uniform for parades and ceremonies throughout the year.
The Old Guard is the home to the Fife and Drum Corps, where they perform colonial-style music with uniforms that date back to the Revolutionary War.
The U.S. Army Drill Team is a section of the Old Guard.
They display complex maneuvers with bayonet-tipped rifles to audiences throughout the year.
The Old Guard offers cannon-fired salutes to dignitaries, the President, President-elect, and former presidents.
They are used in ceremonies, special events, and memorial affairs.
It is the highest funeral honor for military members of the Marine Corps and Army general officers, where they fire cannons equal to their rank.
#7. The Air Force Was A Part of the Army
The Army was the birthplace of the United States Air Force.
It was initially a part of the Army Signal Corps in 1907, and in 1914 Congress created the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps.
It later became the Army Air Service in 1918, then The Air Corps in 1941, and lastly, the Army Air Force in 1941.
The Air Force predecessors were critical to the Army’s operations, providing crucial air support during various campaigns.
However, after witnessing the increasingly critical role of air power in the war, it became clear that a separate entity dedicated to air warfare was necessary.
It was not until 1947, with the National Security Act, that the U.S. Air Force became a separate military branch.
This transition acknowledged the unique requirements and strategic importance of aerial warfare.
Related Article – Air Force Motto: Fly-Fight-Win (& 11 Other Things To Know)
#8. Army Mascot
The mascots for the Army and the United States Military Academy are the Army Mules, Ranger III and Stryker.
The tradition started in response to the Navy’s mascot, Bill the Goat.
Through critical thinking, the clear choice was to select a mule as the Army’s mascot.
Mules are working animals, and the Army thought they were a perfect fit since they were previously used to haul cargo for the Army.
#9. Army Special Operations
Specialized units take on the Army’s toughest missions in Army Special Operations.
These operations are typically characterized by their high level of strategic or tactical importance, the need for specialized skills and tactics, and the unconventional nature of the mission.
Army Special Operations includes Rangers, Green Berets, Night Stalkers, Psychological Operations, and Civil Affairs.
Army Rangers specialize in combat operations, raids, and assault missions deep in enemy territory.
Special Forces (Green Berets) are experts in counterinsurgency, direct action, reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, and security assistance.
They support a comprehensive mission from protecting allies to defeating terrorists.
SOAR, or Night Stalkers, are the aviation section for Special Operations where pilots take down enemies with advanced military aircraft such as Black Hawks.
A unique part of Special Operations is Psychological Operations.
These soldiers are proficient in interpersonal and language skills, used to gain support from foreign allies and enemies.
Army Civil Affairs Soldiers have the demanding job of engaging with governments and communities worldwide to increase stability and quality of life for civilians based on U.S. interests.
They help distribute humanitarian aid and give commanders essential details on areas of operation.
#10. Presidents in the Army
Twenty-nine presidents have served in the military before taking office.
Several U.S. presidents have served in the Army, bringing a unique perspective to the nation’s highest office.
Below are two exceptional examples.
George Washington was a general in the Revolutionary War, leading the Continental Army to victory against the British.
His military background strongly influenced his presidency, especially his dedication to national defense.
During World War II, the 34th president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a five-star general in the U.S. Army.
He was one of five men who have held the title in U.S. history.
He served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe and played a significant part in the successful D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944.
Eisenhower’s military past had a major influence on his foreign policy choices, including his stance on containing communism during the Cold War.
Related Article – 31 Presidents That Served In The Military (& 15 That Didn’t)
#11. The Army Wore a Swastika Patch
The 45th Infantry Division of the United States Army was a part of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and was based in Oklahoma City from 1920 to 1968.
It was the first National Guard unit to be activated in World War II.
However, before WWII, this division’s symbol was a yellow swastika that would be worn as a patch on their uniforms.
It was a common Native American symbol and was a tribute to their culture.
However, in 1939, that symbol was changed to a Thunderbird, which is a legendary creature from their culture.
The United States Army is a testament to strength, tradition, and dedication.
From its powerful motto of “This We’ll Defend,” to its rich history of being the oldest branch in the military, the Army has played a critical role in the development of America.
As the largest branch, its mission spans several domains, enabling it to respond to any threat, foreign or domestic.
To support its global mission, the Army has an extensive network of bases to react to any global mission, from defending foreign interests to supplying humanitarian aid.
Through sacrifice and unwavering dedication, the Army continues to uphold the values and ideals of the United States, safeguarding the freedom and security of the nation.
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