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
Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal
The Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal was established on 20 May 1976 by Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Owen W. Siler; the medal is awarded to any member of the United States Coast Guard who performs twenty one days of consecutive duty afloat or ashore north of the Arctic Circle. Air crews flying in and out of areas north of the Arctic Circle may be awarded the medal for 21 days of non-consecutive service; the medal depicts a polar bear under the North Star, while the reverse side carries the Coast Guard Shield. The Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal may be awarded to any person who meets the qualifications related to service in defined geographic areas or at specific duty stations. Only one medal may be awarded per year in the case of qualifying air crews. Qualifying service is as follows: Members of the Coast Guard who, during summer operations, who serve in any Coast Guard mission north of the Arctic Circle for 21 consecutive days under competent orders. Member of the Coast Guard who, during winter operations, serve or have served aboard a Coast Guard vessel operating in polar waters north of latitude 60 degrees North in the Bering Sea, Davis Strait, or Denmark Strait for 21 consecutive days under competent orders.
Members of the Coast Guard who serve on the remote LORAN Stations at Cape Atholl, Greenland. Members of the Coast Guard who participate in flights as a member of the crew of an aircraft flying to or from stations listed above, or any shore locations north of the Arctic Circle in support of Coast Guard missions; the minimum time requirement is 21 non-consecutive days under competent orders, no more than one day of service is credited for flights in and out during any 24-hour period. Civilians may be recommended for the award of the Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal for their service with the Coast Guard. Recommendations for civilians must be sent directly to the Commandant for an award decision. Awards and decorations of the United States military Navy Arctic Service Ribbon
A Marksmanship Ribbon device is a miniature metal rifle, target, service star, or letter E or S which may be worn if authorized on a Marksmanship Ribbon awarded to members of the United States Coast Guard, United States Air Force, United States Navy. The Air Force use a bronze service star on top of their marksmanship ribbon to represent a qualification of expert in an additional weapon other than the one that earned the Airman the qualification ribbon; the Air Force's Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, as it is known, is awarded to those who qualify as expert with either the service rifle or service pistol. The Navy and Coast Guard present two marksmanship ribbon devices for scoring as a Sharpshooter or Expert on a pistol and rifle qualification course: the bronze colored S Device and E Device for the Navy and silver colored S Device and E Device for the Coast Guard; the Air Force uses a 3⁄16" bronze star to indicate expert qualification in both rifle and service pistol. The Coast Guard has additional ribbon devices which represent accomplishments in Civilian Marksmanship Program sanctioned competitions.
The Expert Marksmanship device should not be confused with the Battle E Device. The Navy and Coast Guard Expert Marksmanship device is worn on the Marksmanship Ribbon in lieu of the full sized Marksmanship Medal; when wearing the Marksmanship Medal, the Marksmanship Ribbon with the Expert device is not worn. For a period of time, the E Device was bronze until three consecutive expert qualifications were achieved the device would change to silver with a permanent award status. Coast Guardsman who have been awarded the bronze or silver Coast Guard Excellence-in-Competition Pistol Shot or Rifleman Badge can wear a bronze or silver miniature replica of the M1911 or M14 attached to the U. S. Coast Guard Pistol or Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon in lieu of wearing the EIC badge; those Coast Guardsman who have been awarded the Coast Guard Distinguished Pistol Shot or Marksman Badge can place a small gold metal replica of a pistol or rifle target on the appropriate marksmanship ribbon vise having to wear the distinguished badge on their dress uniforms.
From 1942 to 1960, the Navy awarded unique Distinguished Marksmanship Ribbons vs. devices for their existing marksmanship ribbons. Today, only Distinguished Marksmanship Badges are authorized for wear on Navy uniforms; some State National Guard organizations award marksmanship ribbons to their top shooters. In the Missouri National Guard, the top twelve guardsman selected to represent their state at the Winston P. Wilson Rifle and Pistol Championships are awarded a Governor's Twelve Ribbon. Any guardsman who earns the award more than once wear a bronze or silver Hawthorn Cluster device on top of the ribbon. A bronze Hawthorn Cluster notes the award of a second and seceding awards while a silver Hawthorn Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze Hawthorn Clusters. United States military award devices Marksmanship Ribbon Marksmanship Medal Marksmanship badges Awards and decorations of the United States military
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
Awards and decorations of the United States Coast Guard
Awards and decorations of the United States Coast Guard are military medals and ribbons of the United States Coast Guard which are issued under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to 2002, such awards were issued by the Secretary of Transportation and Coast Guard personnel were eligible to receive a variety of Department of Transportation civilian decorations. Since transferring to the Department of Homeland Security, the issuance of DOT awards has been discontinued in the Coast Guard, although such awards may still be seen on active duty Coast Guard uniforms. Coast Guard military awards are similar to U. S. Navy awards and Coast Guard personnel are eligible to receive all inter-service awards and decorations, authorized foreign awards and international decorations; the current active awards and decorations of the U. S. Coast Guard are as follows: Note: These are not classified as military decorations, but are awarded by the Commandant of the Coast Guard The following is the ribbon order of precedence authorized for wear by the U.
S. Coast Guard; the list contains awards and decorations for the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Transportation: Key: Bold = denotes agency-level award or U. S. Coast Guard award Bold italic = denotes U. S. Coast Guard award is obsolete Italic = denotes award is obsoletePersonal decorationsUnit decorationsConduct medalsU. S. Service and training awards Authorized non-U. S. Service awards and foreign decorations Marksmanship awards
Presidential Unit Citation (United States)
The Presidential Unit Citation called the Distinguished Unit Citation, is awarded to units of the Uniformed services of the United States, those of allied countries, for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941. The unit must display such gallantry and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign. Since its inception by Executive Order on 26 February 1942, retroactive to 7 December 1941, to 2008, the Presidential Unit Citation has been awarded in conflicts such as World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan; the collective degree of valor against an armed enemy by the unit nominated for the PUC is the same as that which would warrant award of the individual award of the Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross or Navy Cross. In some cases, one or more individuals within the unit may have been awarded individual awards for their contribution to the actions for which their entire unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.
The unit with the most Presidential Unit Citations is the USS Parche with 9 citations. The Army citation was established by Executive Order 9075 on 26 February 1942, superseded by Executive Order 9396 on Dec. 2, 1943, which authorized the Distinguished Unit Citation. As with other Army unit citations, the PUC is in a larger frame than other ribbons, is worn above the right pocket. All members of the unit may wear the decoration, whether or not they participated in the acts for which the unit was cited. Only those assigned to the unit at the time of the action cited may wear the decoration as a permanent award. For both the Army and Air Force, the emblem is a solid blue ribbon enclosed in a gold frame; the Air Force PUC was adopted from the Army Distinguished Unit Citation after the Air Force became a separate military branch in 1947. By Executive Order 10694, dated Jan. 10, 1957 the Air Force redesignated the Distinguished Unit Citation as the Presidential Unit Citation. The Air Force PUC is the same color and design as the Army PUC but smaller, so that it can be worn in alignment with other Air Force ribbons on the left pocket following personal awards.
As with the Army, all members of a receiving unit may wear the decoration while assigned to it, but only those assigned to the unit at the time of the action cited may wear the decoration as a permanent award or if any member of a receiving unit had it their last duty station prior to being either discharged or retired they may continue to wear the decoration as prescribed. The Citation is carried on the receiving unit's colors in the form of a blue streamer, 4 ft long and 2.75 in wide. For the Army, only on rare occasions will a unit larger than battalion qualify for award of this decoration. Citations "to Naval and Marine Corps Units for Outstanding Performance in Action" was established by Executive Order 9050 on 6 February 1942; the Navy version has navy blue and red horizontal stripes, is the only Navy ribbon having horizontal stripes. To distinguish between the two versions of the Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy version, more referred to as the Presidential Unit Citation, is referred to as the Navy Presidential Unit Citation and sometimes as the "Navy and Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation", the Army and Air Force version is referred to by the Army and Air Force as the Army Presidential Unit Citation and Air Force Presidential Unit Citation.
The ribbon is worn by only by those Navy and Marine service members who were assigned to the unit for the "award period" of the award. In the Army, those who join the unit after the "award period" may wear it while assigned to the unit. ALNan 137-43 states that the first award has a blue enameled star on the ribbon and additional stars for subsequent awards. In 1949, the award changed with no star for bronze stars for subsequent awards. To commemorate the first submerged voyage under the North Pole by the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus in 1958, all members of her crew who made that voyage were authorized to wear their Presidential Unit Citation ribbon with a special clasp in the form of a gold block letter N. Currently, US Navy sailors assigned to the USS Nautilus memorial at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, are permitted to wear the Navy Presidential Unit Citation; as of 2014, the same device may be awarded for the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal for those personnel who work in direct support of ICBM operations who serve 179 non-consecutive days dispatched to a missile complex.
To commemorate the first submerged circumnavigation of the world by the nuclear-powered submarine Triton during its shakedown cruise in 1960, all members of her crew who made that voyage were authorized to wear their Presidential Unit Citation ribbon with a special clasp in the form of a golden replica of the globe. United States Coast Guard units may be awarded either the Navy or Coast Guard version of the Presidential Unit Citation, depending on which service the Coast Guard was supporting when the citation action was performed; the current decoration is known as the "Department of Homeland Security Presidential Unit Citation". The original Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation was established under the authority of Executive Order 10694, amended by Section 74 of Executive Order 13286 to transfer the award of the USCG PUC to the Secr
Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces
The United States Armed Forces awards and decorations are the medals, service ribbons, specific badges which recognize military service and personal accomplishments while a member of the U. S. Armed Forces; such awards are a means to outwardly display the highlights of a service member's career. While each service has its own order of precedence, the following general rules apply to all services: U. S. military personal decorations U. S. military unit awards U. S. non-military personal decorations Presidential awards National Medals DoD and JCS Distinguished Service awards Agency-specific Distinguished Service awards Agency-specific Superior Service awards Agency-specific Meritorious Service awards Agency-specific Commendation awards Agency-specific Achievement awards Civilian unit awards Civilian service awards U. S. non-military unit awards U. S. military campaign and service medals U. S. military service and training awards U. S. Merchant Marine awards and non-military service awards Foreign military personal decorations Foreign military unit awards Non-U.
S. Service awards Foreign military service awards Marksmanship awards Awards of U. S. military societies and other organizations6a 6b State awards of the National Guard Notes on branch-specific exceptions to the above: 1a In the Army, unit awards are worn as a separate grouping, on the right side of the uniform and without frames, are worn in the order of precedence from the wearer’s right to left. 1b In the Navy, unit award ribbons are only worn on the right side of the uniform, when wearing full medals on the left side. Arrange ribbons in order of precedence in rows from top down, inboard to outboard. For U. S. Navy, the USPHS unit awards are considered unit awards. However, if Navy personnel are awarded USPHS personal decorations the USPHS order of precedence would apply. 2 Some awards, despite being ribbon-only, are higher in precedence. The Navy & Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbons and the Coast Guard's Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon are included with personal decorations, while two Air Force ribbon-only awards and the Coast Guard Enlisted Person of the Year Ribbon are considered in the same category as service medals.
3a Marksmanship Awards in the Air Force are considered training awards. 3b The Army and Marine Corps issue Marksmanship Qualification Badges instead of Marksmanship awards. 4 For Navy, Merchant Marine awards are considered U. S. non-military awards. 5 The obsolete Philippine Commonwealth service awards, when still listed in the order of precedence, come before the United Nations medals or before the Merchant Marine awards. 6a For Navy and ribbons from military societies, such as the Army and Navy Union of the United States, worn in the order earned may be worn after marksmanship awards. Medals and badges issued by these societies may be worn only while attending meetings or conventions or while participating in parades or other ceremonies as a member of these organizations. 6b For Army, no allowance of military society medals or ribbons is prescribed. More badges of the Army and Navy Union of the United States of America are authorized for such active duty ANU members without further restriction.
Badges of other civic and quasi-military societies of the United States, international organizations of a military nature may be worn with restrictions. These include badges of organizations composed of members who served in a U. S. force during the Revolutionary War. The badges are worn only while the wearer is attending meetings or functions of such organizations, or on occasions of ceremony. Personnel will not wear these badges to and from such events. Notes: Precedence of particular awards will vary among the different branches of service. All awards and decorations may be awarded to any service member unless otherwise designated by name or notation. Note: ^ The precedence of the Purple Heart was before the Good Conduct Medals until changed to its current precedence in 1985. Inter-service Air Force Army Coast Guard Navy and Marine CorpsTo denote additional achievements or multiple awards of the same decoration, the United States military maintains a number of award devices which are pinned to service ribbons and medals.
Awards and decorations of the National Guard Awards and decorations of the state defense forces U. S. military personnel having received these awards have either been discharged or retired for a substantial length of time and/or are deceased. The following decorations were designed for issuance with an approved medal, but were either never approved for presentation or were discontinued bef