World War II Victory Medal (United States)
The World War II Victory Medal is a service medal of the United States military, established by an Act of Congress on 6 July 1945 and promulgated by Section V, War Department Bulletin 12, 1945. The corresponding medal from World War I is the World War I Victory Medal; the World War II Victory Medal was first issued as a service ribbon referred to as the “Victory Ribbon.” The World War II Victory Medal was established by an Act of Congress on 6 July 1945 and promulgated by Section V, War Department Bulletin 12, 1945. The medal was designed by Mr. Thomas H. Jones and approved by the Secretary of War on 5 February 1946, it did not transition from a ribbon to a full medal until after World War II had ended. The Congressional authorization for the medal specified that it was to be awarded to any member of the United States military, including members of the armed forces of the Government of the Philippine Islands, who served on active duty, or as a reservist, between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946.
On 8 August 1946, the separate Merchant Marine World War II Victory Medal was established for members of the United States Merchant Marine who served during World War II. The medal is awarded for service between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946, both dates inclusive; the National Personnel Records Center has reported some cases of service members receiving the award for a few days of service. As the Second World War ended on 2 September 1945, there may be cases of service members who had enlisted, entered officer candidate school, or had been a cadet or midshipman at the U. S. Military Academy, the U. S. Naval Academy or the U. S. Coast Guard Academy between 3 September 1945 and any date in 1946, receiving the medal without having been a veteran of World War II; the reason for this late date is that President Harry S. Truman did not declare an official end of hostilities until the last day of 1946; as every member of the United States Armed Forces who served from December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946 was eligible for the medal, there were over 12 million eligible recipients, making the World War II Victory Medal one of the most awarded decorations of the United States military.
The bronze medal is 1 4⁄8 inches in width. The obverse is a figure of Liberation standing full length with head turned to dexter looking to the dawn of a new day, right foot resting on a war god’s helmet with the hilt of a broken sword in the right hand and the broken blade in the left hand, the inscription WORLD WAR II placed below the center. On the reverse are inscriptions for the Four Freedoms: FREEDOM FROM FEAR AND WANT and FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND RELIGION separated by a palm branch, all within a circle composed of the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1941 1945; the suspension and service ribbon of the medal is 1 3⁄8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 3⁄8 inch double rainbow in juxtaposition. The rainbow on each side of the ribbon is a miniature of the pattern used in the World War I Victory Medal. Although the World War I Victory Medal included clasps, the World War II Victory Medal did not; this was. Awards and decorations of the United States military Merchant Marine World War II Victory Medal United States Statutes at Large.
Vol. 59. Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register. 1946. P. 461. Code of Federal Regulations. Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register. 2008. 32CFR578.47. Retrieved 4 June 2009. NavPers 15,790: Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual. Washington, DC: Department of the Navy. 1960. P. 161. OCLC 45726498. Retrieved 4 June 2009. MIL-DTL-3943/237A: Detail Specification Sheet — Medal, World War II Victory. 15 August 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2009. MIL-DTL-11589/149E: Detail Specification Sheet — Ribbon, World War II Victory Medal. 15 September 1995. Retrieved 4 June 2009. "World War II Victory Medal". Fort Belvoir, Virginia: The Institute of Heraldry, U. S. Army. Archived from the original on September 9, 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2009
The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following a series of clashes along the border; as a product of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, Korea had been split into two sovereign states in 1948. A socialist state was established in the north under the communist leadership of Kim Il-sung and a capitalist state in the south under the anti-communist leadership of Syngman Rhee. Both governments of the two new Korean states claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of Korea, neither accepted the border as permanent; the conflict escalated into warfare when North Korean military forces—supported by the Soviet Union and China—crossed the border and advanced south into South Korea on 25 June 1950. The United Nations Security Council authorized the formation and dispatch of UN forces to Korea to repel what was recognized as a North Korean invasion. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing around 90% of the military personnel.
After the first two months of war, South Korean and U. S. forces dispatched to Korea were on the point of defeat, forced back to a small area in the south known as the Pusan Perimeter. In September 1950, an amphibious UN counter-offensive was launched at Incheon, cut off many North Korean troops; those who escaped envelopment and capture were forced back north. UN forces approached the Yalu River—the border with China—but in October 1950, mass Chinese forces crossed the Yalu and entered the war; the surprise Chinese intervention triggered a retreat of UN forces which continued until mid-1951. In these reversals of fortune, Seoul changed hands four times, the last two years of fighting became a war of attrition, with the front line close to the 38th parallel; the war in the air, was never a stalemate. North Korea was subject to a massive bombing campaign. Jet fighters confronted each other in air-to-air combat for the first time in history, Soviet pilots covertly flew in defense of their communist allies.
The fighting ended on 27 July 1953. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone to separate North and South Korea, allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty was signed, according to some sources the two Koreas are technically still at war, engaged in a frozen conflict. In April 2018, the leaders of North and South Korea met at the demilitarized zone and agreed to work towards a treaty to formally end the Korean War. In South Korea, the war is referred to as "625" or the "6–2–5 Upheaval", reflecting the date of its commencement on June 25. In North Korea, the war is referred to as the "Fatherland Liberation War" or alternatively the "Chosǒn War". In China, the war is called the "War to Resist America and Aid Korea", although the term "Chaoxian War" is used in unofficial contexts, along with the term "Hán War" more used in regions such as Hong Kong and Macau. In the U. S. the war was described by President Harry S. Truman as a "police action" as the United States never formally declared war on its opponents and the operation was conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.
It has been referred to in the English-speaking world as "The Forgotten War" or "The Unknown War" because of the lack of public attention it received both during and after the war, in relation to the global scale of World War II, which preceded it, the subsequent angst of the Vietnam War, which succeeded it. Imperial Japan destroyed the influence of China over Korea in the First Sino-Japanese War, ushering in the short-lived Korean Empire. A decade after defeating Imperial Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, Japan made Korea its protectorate with the Eulsa Treaty in 1905 annexed it with the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty in 1910. Many Korean nationalists fled the country; the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was founded in 1919 in Nationalist China. It failed to achieve international recognition, failed to unite nationalist groups, had a fractious relationship with its U. S.-based founding president, Syngman Rhee. From 1919 to 1925 and beyond, Korean communists led internal and external warfare against the Japanese.
In China, the Nationalist National Revolutionary Army and the communist People's Liberation Army helped organize Korean refugees against the Japanese military, which had occupied parts of China. The Nationalist-backed Koreans, led by Yi Pom-Sok, fought in the Burma Campaign; the communists, led by Kim Il-sung among others, fought the Japanese in Manchuria. At the Cairo Conference in November 1943, the United Kingdom, the United States all decided that "in due course Korea shall become free and independent". At the Tehran Conference in November 1943 and the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Soviet Union promised to join its allies in the Pacific War within three months of the victory in Europe. Accordingly, it declared war o
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 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
Air Force Officer Training School
Officer Training School is a United States Air Force commissioning program located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. It is the current de facto Officer Candidate School program for the U. S. Air Force, analogous to the OCS programs operated by the other branches of the U. S. armed forces. Officer Training School is a part of the Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accession and Citizen Development the Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools. Named for the late Major General Jeanne M. Holm, the Holm Center falls under Air University, which, in turn, falls under the Air Education and Training Command, an Air Force major command. In addition to OTS, the Holm Center has oversight responsibilities for the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps pre-commissioning program on U. S. colleges and universities, the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps citizen development program in U. S. high schools, the entire Civil Air Patrol, both its senior member program as the U.
S. Air Force Auxiliary, its aerospace education and citizen development cadet program via its HQ CAP-USAF activity; the current Commander of the Holm Center is Brigadier General Billy D. Thompson, USAF and the current Commandant of OTS is Colonel Peter G. Bailey, USAF. During peacetime, OTS is the smallest commissioning source in the USAF, producing fewer officers per year than AFROTC and the United States Air Force Academy. However, it possesses the capability to surge when USAF requirements dictate and exceed the combined annual officer production of both USAFA and AFROTC. Given its shorter lead time for officer production, OTS is the commissioning source used to balance out USAF officer manning as deemed necessary by the Air Force; the number of officers commissioned through OTS fluctuates wildly as their numbers are influenced by the number of graduating cadets through the USAF Academy and AFROTC, as well as being the first place the Air Force cuts when they have a surplus of cadets through the other two sources.
Given this reality, OTS has surpassed USAFA officer production during wartime periods such as during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s or the Reagan defense buildup of the 1980s. Conversely, OTS can be hard to get into during years of contraction within the national defense establishment in general and the Air Force in particular, such as the mid and late 1970s following the end of the Vietnam War and associated USAF force structure reductions or the post-Cold War era and its associated defense reductions of the early and mid-1990s. During these periods of contractions, OTS produces few officers, making selection for the OTS program difficult and competitive for college graduates those with no prior enlisted service USAF enlisted service. OTS is divided into two parallel programs: Total Force Officer Training is the more traditional 8-week pre-commissioning program. A 13-week program reduced to 10 weeks, the re-named TFOT track transitioned to a 9-week program in 2014 and the legacy system of Officer Trainees being designated as lower classmen in the early part of the program and upper classmen in the latter part, similar to their USAFA and AFROTC counterparts, was eliminated.
This was further reduced to the current 8-week program in 2017 by removing the Total Force Indoctrination Training from the first week of the course in which Military Training Instructors would teach the customs and standards of the Air Force as well as the basics of marching and drill and ceremonies. Officer Trainees were re-designated as Cadets in 2015, again on par with USAFA and AFROTC and reminiscent of the Aviation Cadet program in operation in USAF and its predecessor incarnations from 1907 until 1965; as of 2019, the class is a 9-week program. TFOT is for 4-year university and college graduates without prior military service, as well as Active Component enlisted, Air Force Reserve enlisted, Air National Guard enlisted and former enlisted personnel from any of the five U. S. armed services with college degrees at the baccalaureate level degree or higher who wish to become Air Force officers. TFOT serves all Active Reserve Component line officers except judge advocates. Commissioned Officer Training is a 5-week program focused on terminal-degreed professionals directly accessed into the USAF officer ranks.
COT serves all Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard non-line officers and judge advocates who did not serve as line officers in other career fields or who were not commissioned via USAFA or AFROTC. Interested applicants for OTS contact Air Force recruiters specializing in officer accessions. Recruiters will screen candidates, provide application details and schedule applicants for the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test; the AFOQT covers numerous test batteries assessing math and analytical skills, as well as measuring pilot and navigator/combat systems officer potential for those applicants aspiring to be aeronautically rated officers. AFOQT scores, college GPA, previous enlisted performance evaluations if a current or former enlisted member, and, if applicable, previous pilot skills as either an FAA-certified civilian pilot and/or as a U. S. Army warrant officer / Army Aviator will all figure into the selection pr
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal is a military award of the United States Marine Corps. It was established on 8 May 1919 as the Marine Corps Expeditionary Ribbon. A full-sized medal was authorized on 1 March 1921 by Presidential Order of Warren G. Harding; the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal is therefore one of the oldest medals of the United States military, still issued to active duty personnel. To be awarded the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, a Marine must have engaged in a landing on foreign territory, participated in combat operations against an opposing force, or participated in a designated operation for which no other service medal is authorized. After 1961, some commands permitted eligible personnel to choose between the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, depending on the nature of the operation in question; the medal was designed by Walker Hancock and features a 1920s-era Marine in full combat gear, advancing with one foot in the water and one foot on land, bayonet at the ready, with the word "Expeditions".
On the reverse of both the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and Navy Expeditionary Medal, in the center of the bronze medallion an eagle is shown alight upon an anchor. The eagle is grasping sprigs of laurel. Above the eagle are the words UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS or UNITED STATES NAVY presented as an arch. Above the laurel are the words FOR SERVICE presented horizontally; the eagle is the American bald eagle and represents the United States, the anchor alludes to Marine Corps or Navy service, the laurel is symbolic of victory and achievement. Subsequent awards of the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal were denoted by award numerals. After 1921, multiple awards were denoted by bronze service stars; the Fleet Marine Force Combat Operation Insignia is authorized for navy personnel who were on duty with and attached to a Marine Corps unit that participated in combat. The Wake Island Device is authorized for any personnel who were awarded the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal as part of the defense of Wake Island during the opening days of World War II.
Under the "deemed to merit special recognition and for which service no campaign medal has been awarded" clause, both the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and Navy Expeditionary Medal have been awarded for classified operations with proper adjudication by the Secretary of the Navy Special Awards Board. The MCEM and NEM "can be authorized and awarded to individuals or units who have participated in classified operations not in connection with larger operations in which the public is aware.” The SECNAV INSTRUCTION 1650.1H - NAVY AND MARINE CORPS AWARDS MANUAL details the process via the Special Awards Board for issuing classified awards. Anecdotal reports from former service members cite a wide variety of classified operations for which the MCEM and NEM have been awarded, ranging from Marine Corps units clandestinely deployed in Africa, to helicopter gun-crews or force protection units assisting SEAL-DEVGRU or DeltaForce teams worldwide, classified submarine movements during the Cold War. In cases where the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal or Navy Expeditionary Medal has been awarded for classified operations, the name of the operation is omitted from public documentation including from the individual service member’s DD214 personnel record with only the name of the award and issue date provided.
Both the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and Navy Expeditionary Medal have been fraudulently worn by military service members convicted under the UCMJ and civilians fraudulently claiming to have been awarded the MCEM or NEM along with other medals such as the Purple Heart. It has been reported that L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, fraudulently claimed being awarded the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal. Awards and decorations of the United States military
United States National Guard
The United States National Guard commonly referred to as just the National Guard, is part of the reserve components of the United States Armed Forces. It is a reserve military force, composed of National Guard military members or units of each state and the territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, for a total of 54 separate organizations. All members of the National Guard of the United States are members of the militia of the United States as defined by 10 U. S. C. § 246. National Guard units are under the dual control of the federal government; the majority of National Guard soldiers and airmen hold a civilian job full-time while serving part-time as a National Guard member. These part-time guardsmen are augmented by a full-time cadre of Active Guard & Reserve personnel in both the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, plus Army Reserve Technicians in the Army National Guard and Air Reserve Technicians in the Air National Guard; the National Guard is a joint activity of the United States Department of Defense composed of reserve components of the United States Army and the United States Air Force: the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard respectively.
Local militias were formed from the earliest English colonization of the Americas in 1607. The first colony-wide militia was formed by Massachusetts in 1636 by merging small older local units, several National Guard units can be traced back to this militia; the various colonial militias became state militias. The title "National Guard" was used in 1824 by some New York State militia units, named after the French National Guard in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. "National Guard" became a standard nationwide militia title in 1903, indicated reserve forces under mixed state and federal control since 1933. The first muster of militia forces in what is today the United States took place on September 16, 1565, in the newly established Spanish military town of St. Augustine; the militia men were assigned to guard the expedition's supplies while their leader, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, took the regular troops north to attack the French settlement at Fort Caroline on the St. Johns River; this Spanish militia tradition and the English tradition that would be established to the north would provide the basic nucleus for Colonial defense in the New World.
The militia tradition continued with the first permanent English settlements in the New World. Jamestown Colony and Plymouth Colony both had militia forces, which consisted of every able bodied adult male. By the mid-1600s every town had at least one militia company and the militia companies of a county formed a regiment. From the nation's founding through the early 1900s, the United States maintained only a minimal army and relied on state militias, directly related to the earlier Colonial militias to supply the majority of its troops; as a result of the Spanish–American War, Congress was called upon to reform and regulate the training and qualification of state militias. The first national laws regulating the militia were the Militia acts of 1792. In 1903, with passage of the Dick Act, the predecessor to the modern-day National Guard was formed, it required the states to divide their militias into two sections. The law recommended the title "National Guard" for the first section, known as the organized militia, "Reserve Militia" for all others.
During World War I, Congress passed the National Defense Act of 1916, which required the use of the term "National Guard" for the state militias and further regulated them. Congress authorized the states to maintain Home Guards, which were reserve forces outside the National Guards being deployed by the Federal Government. In 1933, with passage of the National Guard Mobilization Act, Congress finalized the split between the National Guard and the traditional state militias by mandating that all federally funded soldiers take a dual enlistment/commission and thus enter both the state National Guard and the National Guard of the United States, a newly created federal reserve force; the National Defense Act of 1947 created the Air Force as a separate branch of the Armed Forces and concurrently created the Air National Guard of the United States as one of its reserve components, mirroring the Army's structure. The National Guard of the several states and the District of Columbia serves as part of the first-line of defense for the United States.
The state National Guard is organized into units stationed in each of the 50 states, three territories, the District of Columbia, operates under their respective state or territorial governor, except in the instance of Washington, D. C. where the National Guard operates under the President of his designee. The governors exercise control through the state adjutants general; the National Guard may be called up for active duty by the governors to help respond to domestic emergencies and disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. The National Guard is administered by the National Guard Bureau, a joint activity of the Army and Air Force under the DoD; the National Guard Bureau provides a communication channel for state National Guards to the DoD. The National Guard Bureau provides policies and requirements for training and funds for state Army National Guard and state Air National Guard units, the allocation of federal funds to the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, other administrative responsibilities prescribed under 10 U.
S. C. § 10503. The National Guard Bureau is