United States Armed Forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States of America. It consists of the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard; the President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and forms military policy with the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, both federal executive departments, acting as the principal organs by which military policy is carried out. All five armed services are among the seven uniformed services of the United States. From the time of its inception, the U. S. Armed Forces played a decisive role in the history of the United States. A sense of national unity and identity was forged as a result of victory in the First Barbary War and the Second Barbary War. So, the founders of the United States were suspicious of a permanent military force, it played a critical role in the American Civil War, continuing to serve as the armed forces of the United States, although a number of its officers resigned to join the military of the Confederate States.
The National Security Act of 1947, adopted following World War II and during the Cold War's onset, created the modern U. S. military framework. The Act established the National Military Establishment, headed by the Secretary of Defense, it was amended in 1949, renaming the National Military Establishment the Department of Defense, merged the cabinet-level Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, Department of the Air Force, into the Department of Defense. The U. S. Armed Forces are one of the largest militaries in terms of the number of personnel, it draws its personnel from a large pool of paid volunteers. Although conscription has been used in the past in various times of both war and peace, it has not been used since 1973, but the Selective Service System retains the power to conscript males, requires that all male citizens and residents residing in the U. S. between the ages of 18–25 register with the service. On February 22, 2019, however, a federal judge ruled that registering only males for Selective Service is unconstitutional.
As of 2017, the U. S. spends about US$610 billion annually to fund its military forces and Overseas Contingency Operations. Put together, the U. S. constitutes 40 percent of the world's military expenditures. The U. S. Armed Forces has significant capabilities in both defense and power projection due to its large budget, resulting in advanced and powerful technologies which enables a widespread deployment of the force around the world, including around 800 military bases outside the United States; the U. S. Air Force is the world's largest air force, the U. S. Navy is the world's largest navy by tonnage, the U. S. Navy and the U. S. Marine Corps combined are the world's second largest air arm. In terms of size, the U. S. Coast Guard is the world's 12th largest naval force; the history of the U. S. Armed Forces dates to 14 June 1775, with the creation of the Continental Army before the Declaration of Independence marked the establishment of the United States; the Continental Navy, established on 13 October 1775, Continental Marines, established on 10 November 1775, were created in close succession by the Second Continental Congress in order to defend the new nation against the British Empire in the American Revolutionary War.
These forces demobilized in 1784. The Congress of the Confederation created the current United States Army on 3 June 1784; the United States Congress created the current United States Navy on 27 March 1794 and the current United States Marine Corps on 11 July 1798. All three services trace their origins to their respective Continental predecessors; the 1787 adoption of the Constitution gave the Congress the power to "raise and support armies", to "provide and maintain a navy" and to "make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces", as well as the power to declare war. The President is the U. S. Armed Forces' commander-in-chief; the United States Coast Guard traces its origin to the founding of the Revenue Cutter Service on 4 August 1790 which merged with the United States Life-Saving Service on 28 January 1915 to establish the Coast Guard. The United States Air Force was established as an independent service on 18 September 1947. S. Signal Corps, formed 1 August 1907 and was part of the Army Air Forces before becoming an independent service as per the National Security Act of 1947.
The United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps was considered to be a branch of the United States Armed Forces from 29 July 1945 until its status as such was revoked on 3 July 1952. On March 1st, 2019, the Department of Defense sent a proposal to Congress that would establish the United States Space Force as an independent military service within the Department of the Air Force. If approved, this would become the sixth military service branch to be created. Command over the U. S. Armed Forces is established in the Constitution; the sole power of command is vested in the President by Article II as Commander-in-Chief. The Constitution presumes the existence of "executive Departments" headed by "principal officers", whose appointment mechanism is provided for in the Appointments Clause; this allowance in the Constitution formed the basis for creation of the Department of Defense in 1947 by the National Security Act. The DoD is headed by the Secretary of Defense, a civilian and member of the Cabinet.
The Defense Secretary is second in the U. S. Armed Forces chain of command, with the exception of the Coast Guard, under the Secretary of Homeland Security, is just below the President and serves as the
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
The Defense Distinguished Service Medal is a United States military award, presented for exceptionally distinguished performance of duty contributing to the national security or defense of the United States. The medal was created on July 9, 1970, by President Richard Nixon in Executive Order 11545; the Defense Distinguished Service Medal is the United States's highest non-combat related military award and it is the highest joint service decoration. The Defense Distinguished Service Medal is awarded; such responsibilities deserving of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal are held by the most senior officers such as the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chiefs and Vice Chiefs of the Services, Commanders and Deputy Commanders of the Combatant Commands, the Director of the Joint Staff etc. whose duties bring them into direct contact with the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, other senior government officials. In addition, the medal may be awarded to other service members whose direct and individual contributions to national security or national defense are recognized as being so exceptional in scope and value as to be equivalent to contributions associated with positions encompassing broader responsibilities.
This decoration takes precedence over the Distinguished Service Medals of the separate services and is not to be awarded to any individual for a period of service for which an Army, Air Force or Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal is awarded. The medal is gold in color and on the obverse it features a medium blue enameled pentagon. Superimposed on this is an American bald eagle with wings outspread facing left grasping three crossed arrows in its talons and on its breast is a shield of the United States; the pentagon and eagle are enclosed within a gold pieced circle consisting, in the upper half of 13 five-pointed stars and in the lower half, a wreath of laurel on the left and olive on the right. At the top is a suspender of five graduated gold rays; the reverse of the medal has the inscription "For Distinguished Service" at the top in raised letters, within the pentagon the inscription "From The Secretary of Defense To," all in raised letters. Additional awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal are denoted by oak leaf clusters
A "V" device is a metal 1⁄4-inch capital letter "V" with serifs which, when worn on certain decorations awarded by the United States Armed Forces, distinguishes an award for heroism or valor in combat instead of for meritorious service or achievement. The decorations with which a "V" may be authorized differ among the military services, as well as the manner in which the "V" is worn and the name by which it is referred to; until 2 February 2017, the services used different criteria in determining whether a "V" could be authorized. The Department of Defense and Air Force refer to the "V" as the "V" Device; the Coast Guard refers to it as the Valor Device, while the Navy and Marine Corps refer to it as the Combat Distinguishing Device or Combat "V". On 22 December 1945, in War Department Circular 383, the United States Army decided to introduce the "V" device to distinguish the award of a Bronze Star Medal for acts of valor and heroism rather than meritorious service. Soldiers, including Army airmen, who were awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism in combat were now authorized to wear a bronze "V" on the suspension and service ribbon of the medal.
Only one "V" was allowed to be worn on a ribbon. The Department of the Navy introduced the "V" as the "Combat Distinguishing Device", on 15 February 1946, authorized the "V" device to be worn on the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal for services or acts performed in actual combat with the enemy. Most World War II veterans who were entitled to the "V" did not know about or apply for the device, since large scale separations from the services were taking place after the war ended. Stocks of the device were not available for issue for at least a year since the Army circular. To be worn on a decoration, the "V" device must have been authorized in the written award citation issued with the medal. In 1996, the "V" device garnered public attention after the suicide of Admiral Jeremy Boorda, the Chief of Naval Operations; the news media reported that his death by suicide may have been caused by a Navy investigation following a story by Newsweek about Boorda wearing two "combat valor pins" on the service ribbons of his uniform, which he received for duty as a weapons officer and executive officer aboard two naval ships off the coast of Indochina during the Vietnam War.
Although there were indications these "combat distinguishing devices" were authorized to be worn on his Navy Commendation Medal and Navy Achievement Medal, the Department of the Navy Board For Correction of Naval Records determined after his death that both of the devices were not authorized to be worn on the two decorations. In 2011, the Department of Defense changed its awards manual regulations concerning the Medal of Honor, specifying that the "V" device instead of the oak leaf cluster and 5⁄16 inch star would be used to denote additional citations in the rare event of a service member being awarded a second MoH. By May 2015, the Department of Defense changed its awards manual again concerning the Medal of Honor, specifying that a separate MOH is presented to an individual for each succeeding act that justifies an award. There has not been a living repeat Medal of Honor recipient since the World War I era, so the "V" device was never worn in this fashion; until 2017, the criteria and conditions under which the "V" device could be awarded differed among the services.
For the Army, the "V" was worn to denote "participation in acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy". For the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, the "V" could be worn to denote combat heroism, or to recognize individuals who were "exposed to personal hazard during direct participation in combat operations". For the Air Force, the "V" could be worn on the Bronze Star Medal to denote heroism in combat, but on the Commendation Medal and Achievement Medal to denote heroism or for being "placed in harm's way" during contingency deployment operations. Prior to 1 January 2014, the device was authorized on Outstanding Unit Awards and Organizational Excellence Awards to indicate the unit participated in direct combat support actions; the "V" device is authorized for the Air Medal by all the services where heroism in aerial combat was involved on an individual mission. On 15 August 2016, the Coast Guard changed their criteria such that new awards of the "V" would be for valor only, to denote a heroic act or acts while participating in conflict or combat with an armed enemy.
On 6 January 2016, the Department of Defense announced that it was revising its military decorations and awards program to include a "V" device change to its original 1940s use of denoting heroism in combat only on specific decorations for the military services. Two new "C" and "R" devices will be used on relevant awards. On 2 February 2017, new silver plated and gold plated "V" devices were introduced, followed by wreathed versions in September which led to speculation that the various versions of the "V" device would now indicate how many times a specific medal was awarded with the "V" such that the silver and gold "V" device would be used to denote second and third awards with the "V" and a fourth and sixth awarding with the "V" to be issued with a bronze and gold "V" device atop a wreath. On 21 December 2016, the "V" device ceased being authorized for Achievement Medals. Retroactive to January 2016, the "V" device ceased being authorized for the Legion of Merit, being replaced by the "C" device.
The following decorations of the United States Armed Forces are eligible to be awarded with a "V" device. For the Army and the Air Force, the "V" is positioned to the right of any bronze or silver oak leaf clusters
Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces who distinguishes himself in support of operations by "heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918." The first award of the Distinguished Flying Cross was made by President Calvin Coolidge on May 2, 1927, to ten aviators of the U. S. Army Air Corps who had participated in the Army Pan American Flight which took place from December 21, 1926, to May 2, 1927. Two of the airmen died in a mid-air collision trying to land at Buenos Aires on February 26, 1927, received their awards posthumously; the award had only been authorized by Congress the previous year and no medals had yet been struck, so the Pan American airmen received only certificates. Among the ten airmen were Major Herbert Dargue, Captains Ira C. Eaker and Muir S. Fairchild, 1st Lt. Ennis C. Whitehead. Charles Lindbergh received the first presentation of the actual medal about a month from Coolidge during the Washington, D.
C. homecoming reception on June 1927, from his trans-Atlantic flight. The medal had hurriedly been readied just for that occasion; the 1927 War Department General Order authorizing Lindbergh's DFC states that it was awarded by the President, while the General Order for the Pan American Flyers' DFC citation notes that the War Department awarded it "by direction of the President." The first Distinguished Flying Cross to be awarded to a Naval aviator was received by Commander Richard E. Byrd, USN for his trans-Atlantic flight from June 29 to July 1, 1927, from New York City to the coast of France. Byrd and his pilot Machinist Floyd Bennett had received the Medal of Honor for their historic flight to the North Pole on May 9, 1926. Numerous recipients of the medal earned greater fame in other occupations. DFC awards can be retroactive to cover notable achievements back to the beginning of World War I. On February 23, 1929, Congress passed special legislation to allow the award of the DFC to the Wright brothers for their December 17, 1903, flight.
Other civilians who have received the award include Wiley Post, Jacqueline Cochran, Roscoe Turner, Amelia Earhart, Glenn H. Curtiss, Eugene Ely, it was limited to military personnel by an Executive Order. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to receive the DFC on July 29, 1932, when it was presented to her by Vice President Charles Curtis in Los Angeles for her solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean earlier that year. During World War II, the medal's award criteria varied depending on the theater of operations, aerial combat, engaged in, the missions that were accomplished. In the Pacific, commissioned officers were awarded the DFC, while enlisted men were given the Air Medal. In Europe, some crews received it for their overall performance through a tour of duty; the criteria used was however not consistent over time. The Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized by Section 12 of the United States Army Air Corps Act enacted by Congress on July 2, 1926, as amended by Executive Order 7786 on January 8, 1938.
This act provided for award to any person who distinguishes himself "by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight" while serving in any capacity with the Air Corps. The Distinguished Flying Cross was designed by Arthur E. DuBois; the medal is a bronze cross pattee, on whose obverse is superimposed a four-bladed propeller, 1 11/16 inches in width. Five rays extend from the reentrant angles; the reverse is blank. The cross is suspended from a rectangular bar; the suspension and service ribbon of the medal is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 3/32 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118. DevicesAdditional awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross are shown with bronze or silver Oak Leaf Clusters for the Army and Air Force, gold and silver 5⁄16 Inch Stars for the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard; the Air Force and Marine Corps may authorize the "V" device for wear on the DFC to denote valor in combat. The Army does not authorize the "V" device to be worn on the DFC.
The other services can award the DFC for extraordinary achievement without the "V" device. In July 2014, the United States Senate passed the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial Act; the act was sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer, to designate the Distinguished Flying Cross Memorial at March Field Air Museum adjacent to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California as a national memorial to recognize members of United States Armed Forces who have distinguished themselves by heroism in aerial flight. The act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 25, 2014. Note: the rank indicated is the highest held by the individual. Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford, USAF: Flew to the Moon on Apollo 10, commander of the Apollo-Soyuz mission. Major General Michael Collins, USAF: Command module pilot for Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. Major General Joe Engle, USAF: X-15 and Space Shuttle pilot. Rear Admiral Alan Shepard, USN: One of the original seven American astronauts, firs
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U. S. allies or partner nations. With the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches, it has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force. The U. S. Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, established during the American Revolutionary War and was disbanded as a separate entity shortly thereafter.
The U. S. Navy played a major role in the American Civil War by blockading the Confederacy and seizing control of its rivers, it played the central role in the World War II defeat of Imperial Japan. The US Navy emerged from World War II as the most powerful navy in the world; the 21st century U. S. Navy maintains a sizable global presence, deploying in strength in such areas as the Western Pacific, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, it is a blue-water navy with the ability to project force onto the littoral regions of the world, engage in forward deployments during peacetime and respond to regional crises, making it a frequent actor in U. S. foreign and military policy. The Navy is administratively managed by the Department of the Navy, headed by the civilian Secretary of the Navy; the Department of the Navy is itself a division of the Department of Defense, headed by the Secretary of Defense. The Chief of Naval Operations is the most senior naval officer serving in the Department of the Navy.
The mission of the Navy is to maintain and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. The U. S. Navy is a seaborne branch of the military of the United States; the Navy's three primary areas of responsibility: The preparation of naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war. The maintenance of naval aviation, including land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations, all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy; the development of aircraft, tactics, technique and equipment of naval combat and service elements. U. S. Navy training manuals state that the mission of the U. S. Armed Forces is "to be prepared to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations in support of the national interest." As part of that establishment, the U. S. Navy's functions comprise sea control, power projection and nuclear deterrence, in addition to "sealift" duties, it follows as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, with it, everything honorable and glorious.
Naval power... is the natural defense of the United States The Navy was rooted in the colonial seafaring tradition, which produced a large community of sailors and shipbuilders. In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Massachusetts had its own Massachusetts Naval Militia; the rationale for establishing a national navy was debated in the Second Continental Congress. Supporters argued that a navy would protect shipping, defend the coast, make it easier to seek out support from foreign countries. Detractors countered that challenging the British Royal Navy the world's preeminent naval power, was a foolish undertaking. Commander in Chief George Washington resolved the debate when he commissioned the ocean-going schooner USS Hannah to interdict British merchant ships and reported the captures to the Congress. On 13 October 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the purchase of two vessels to be armed for a cruise against British merchant ships. S. Navy; the Continental Navy achieved mixed results.
In August 1785, after the Revolutionary War had drawn to a close, Congress had sold Alliance, the last ship remaining in the Continental Navy due to a lack of funds to maintain the ship or support a navy. In 1972, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, authorized the Navy to celebrate its birthday on 13 October to honor the establishment of the Continental Navy in 1775; the United States was without a navy for nearly a decade, a state of affairs that exposed U. S. maritime merchant ships to a series of attacks by the Barbary pirates. The sole armed maritime presence between 1790 and the launching of the U. S. Navy's first warships in 1797 was the U. S. Revenue-Marine, the primary predecessor of the U. S. Coast Guard. Although the USRCS conducted operations against the pirates, their depredations far outstripped its abilities and Congress passed the Naval Act of 1794 that established a permanent standing navy on 27 March 1794; the Naval Act ordered the construction and manning of six frigates and, by October 1797, the first three were brought into service: USS United States, USS Constellation, USS Constitution.
Due to his strong posture on having a strong standing Navy during this period, John Adams is "often called the father of the American Navy". In 1798–99 the Navy was involved in an undeclared Quasi-War with France. From 18
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the United States of America's highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that may be awarded to recognize U. S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. The medal is awarded by the President of the United States in the name of the U. S. Congress; because the medal is presented "in the name of Congress", it is referred to informally as the "Congressional Medal of Honor". However, the official name of the current award is "Medal of Honor." Within the United States Code the medal is referred to as the "Medal of Honor", less as "Congressional Medal of Honor". U. S. awards, including the Medal of Honor, do not have post-nominal titles, while there is no official abbreviation, the most common abbreviations are "MOH" and "MH". There are three versions of the medal, one each for the Army and Air Force. Personnel of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard receive the Navy version; the Medal of Honor was introduced for the Navy in 1861, soon followed by an Army version in 1862.
The Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the United States armed forces. The President presents the Medal of Honor in Washington, D. C. at a formal ceremony, intended to represent the gratitude of the U. S. people, with posthumous presentations made to the primary next of kin. According to the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States, there have been 3522 Medals of Honor awarded to the nation's soldiers, airmen and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration's creation, with just less than half of them awarded for actions during the four years of the American Civil War. In 1990, Congress designated March 25 annually as "National Medal of Honor Day". Due to its prestige and status, the Medal of Honor is afforded special protection under U. S. law against any unauthorized adornment, sale, or manufacture, which includes any associated ribbon or badge. The modern-day Medal of Honor had a number of precursors; the first medal for military service in the United States was issued in 1780, after its creation in the same year by the Continental Congress.
Known as the Fidelity Medallion, it was a small medal worn on a chain around the neck, similar to a religious medal, awarded only to three militiamen from New York state. They received it for the capture of John André, a British officer and spy connected directly to General Benedict Arnold during the American Revolutionary War; the capture saved the fort of West Point from the British Army. The first formal system for rewarding acts of individual gallantry by U. S. soldiers was established by George Washington when he issued a field order on August 7, 1782, for a Badge of Military Merit to recognize those members of the Continental Army who performed "any singular meritorious action". This decoration is America's first combat decoration and was preceded only by the Fidelity Medallion, the Congressional medal for Henry Lee awarded in September 1779 in recognition of his attack on the British at Paulus Hook, the Congressional medal for General Horatio Gates awarded in November 1777 in recognition of his victory over the British at Saratoga, the Congressional medal for George Washington awarded in March 1776.
Although the Badge of Military Merit fell into disuse after the American Revolutionary War, the concept of a military award for individual gallantry by members of the U. S. Armed Forces had been established. After the outbreak of the Mexican–American War a Certificate of Merit was established by Act of Congress on March 3, 1847, "to any private soldier who had distinguished himself by gallantry performed in the presence of the enemy". 539 Certificates were approved for this period. The certificate was discontinued after the war and reintroduced in 1876 effective from June 22, 1874, to February 10, 1892, when it was awarded for extraordinary gallantry by private soldiers in the presence of the enemy. From February 11, 1892, through July 9, 1918, it could be awarded to members of the Army for distinguished service in combat or noncombat; this medal was replaced by the Army Distinguished Service Medal, established on January 2, 1918. Those Army members who held the Distinguished Service Medal in place of the Certificate of Merit could apply for the Army Distinguished Service Cross effective March 5, 1934.
During the first year of the Civil War, a proposal for a battlefield decoration for valor was submitted to Winfield Scott, the general-in-chief of the army, by Lt. Colonel Edward D. Townsend, an assistant adjutant at the War Department and Scott's chief of staff. Scott, was against medals being awarded, the European tradition. After Scott retired in October 1861, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles adopted the idea of a decoration to recognize and honor distinguished naval service. On December 9, 1861, U. S. Senator James W. Grimes, Chairman on the Committee on Naval Affairs, submitted Bill S. 82 during the Second Session of the 37th Congress, "An Act to further promote the Efficiency of the Navy". The bill included a provision for 200 "medals of honor", "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen and marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seaman-like qualities during the present war..." On December 21, the bill was passed and signed into law by P
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is the coastal defense and maritime law enforcement branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the country's seven uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, multi-mission service unique among the U. S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. It operates under the U. S. Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, can be transferred to the U. S. Department of the Navy by the U. S. President at any time, or by the U. S. Congress during times of war; this has happened twice: in 1917, during World War I, in 1941, during World War II. Created by Congress on 4 August 1790 at the request of Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue-Marine, it is the oldest continuous seagoing service of the United States; as Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton headed the Revenue-Marine, whose original purpose was collecting customs duties in the nation's seaports. By the 1860s, the service was known as the U.
S. Revenue Cutter Service and the term Revenue-Marine fell into disuse; the modern Coast Guard was formed by a merger of the Revenue Cutter Service and the U. S. Life-Saving Service on 28 January 1915, under the U. S. Department of the Treasury; as one of the country's five armed services, the Coast Guard has been involved in every U. S. war from 1790 to the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. The Coast Guard has 40,992 men and women on active duty, 7,000 reservists, 31,000 auxiliarists, 8,577 full-time civilian employees, for a total workforce of 87,569; the Coast Guard maintains an extensive fleet of 243 coastal and ocean-going patrol ships, tenders and icebreakers called "cutters", 1650 smaller boats, as well as an extensive aviation division consisting of 201 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. While the U. S. Coast Guard is the smallest of the U. S. military service branches in terms of membership, the U. S. Coast Guard by itself is the world's 12th largest naval force; the Coast Guard carries out three basic roles, which are further subdivided into eleven statutory missions.
The three roles are: Maritime safety Maritime security Maritime stewardshipWith a decentralized organization and much responsibility placed on the most junior personnel, the Coast Guard is lauded for its quick responsiveness and adaptability in a broad range of emergencies. In a 2005 article in Time magazine following Hurricane Katrina, the author wrote, "the Coast Guard's most valuable contribution to may be as a model of flexibility, most of all, spirit." Wil Milam, a rescue swimmer from Alaska told the magazine, "In the Navy, it was all about the mission. Practicing for war, training for war. In the Coast Guard, it was, take care of our people and the mission will take care of itself." The eleven statutory missions as defined by law are divided into homeland security missions and non-homeland security missions: Ice operations, including the International Ice Patrol Living marine resources Marine environmental protection Marine safety Aids to navigation Search and rescue Defense readiness Maritime law enforcement Migrant interdiction Ports and coastal security Drug interdiction See National Search and Rescue Committee See Joint Rescue Coordination CentersWhile the U.
S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue is not the oldest search and rescue organization in the world, it is one of the Coast Guard's best-known operations; the National Search and Rescue Plan designates the Coast Guard as the federal agency responsible for maritime SAR operations, the United States Air Force as the federal agency responsible for inland SAR. Both agencies maintain rescue coordination centers to coordinate this effort, have responsibility for both military and civilian search and rescue; the two services jointly provide instructor staff for the National Search and Rescue School that trains SAR mission planners and coordinators. Located on Governors Island, New York, the school is now located at Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown at Yorktown, Virginia. Operated by the Coast Guard, the National Response Center is the sole U. S. Government point of contact for reporting all oil, radiological and etiological spills and discharges into the environment, anywhere in the United States and its territories.
In addition to gathering and distributing spill/incident information for Federal On Scene Coordinators and serving as the communications and operations center for the National Response Team, the NRC maintains agreements with a variety of federal entities to make additional notifications regarding incidents meeting established trigger criteria. The NRC takes Maritime Suspicious Activity and Security Breach Reports. Details on the NRC organization and specific responsibilities can be found in the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; the Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement database system is managed and used by the Coast Guard for tracking pollution and safety incidents in the nation's ports. The National Maritime Center is the merchant mariner credentialing authority for the USCG under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. To ensure a safe and environmentally sound marine transportation system, the mission of the NMC is to issue credentials to qualified mariners in the United States maritime jurisdiction.
The five uniformed services that make up the U. S. Armed Forces are defined in Title 10 of the U. S. Code: The term "armed forces" means the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard; the Coast Guard is further defined by Title 14 of the United States Code: The Coast Guar