Established in the 1770s, the United States Army is one of the eight branches of the U.S. uniformed services. The mission of the U.S. Army is “to fight and win our Nation’s wars, by providing prompt, sustained land dominance, across the full range of military operations and the spectrum of conflict, in support of combatant commanders.” Here are some unique facts about the U.S. Army that most soldiers would know.
The Army Is Older Than The United States
July 4, 1776, is considered to be the day that the United States was born, although the Army is actually older. This is possible because the Continental Army was established by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1775.
The force was organized to help the Thirteen Colonies fight against the British during the American Revolutionary War, which ultimately led to the creation of the United States of America. At first, the Continental Army was made up of militias and volunteer groups with the commander-in-chief being the future first president, George Washington.
The Army Is The World’s Second Largest Employer
Currently, Walmart is the world’s largest employer, with more than 2.2 million employees around the globe. However, coming in at number two is no other than the United States Army.
Unsurprisingly, the Army has more than one million active-duty and reserve soldiers, even though their numbers were significantly decreased in 2015 due to budget cuts. Still, they are miles ahead of the company in third place, Yum Brands, which only has around 523,000 employees.
The Army Is The Branch Most Presidents Have Served Under
Impressively, of the 45 individuals that have served as President of the United States, 31 of them have served in the military, with 16 of those 31 being a member of the Army or in state militias. George Washington kicked off the trend as the first president having been commander-in-chief during the American Revolution.
Other presidents that have demonstrated their valor in combat include Theodore Roosevelt who received the Medal of Honor, George H.W. Bush who received the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a five-star general in the Army.
The Army Uses More Than 1 Billion Gallons Of Fuel A Year
Back in World War II, it was unbelievable to think that each soldier in the Army used around one gallon of fuel, every day. However, that’s nothing compared to today’s statistics. It’s estimated that the Army uses 22 gallons a day, per soldier, meaning that more than 1 billion gallons of fuel are used by the branch each year!
Understanding the size of that number, the Department of Defense has been working to minimize its energy usage and recognizes its reliance on fossil fuels that is not only harmful to the environment but can create issues in combat zones.
Specialist Is The Most Common Rank Among Soldiers
While there are many different ranks in the United States Army, easily the most common one among soldiers is that of a specialist. As of 2015, there were almost 250,000 specialists in service, which is more than a quarter of the whole Army.
One of the reasons for this is that although the Army used to have specialist ranks ranging from Spec-4 to Spec-9 in 1985, Spec-4 was eliminated and given the title of just “Specialist.” Today, many of these specialists refer to themselves as part of the “4-4 Mafia.”
There Have Only Been Five, Five-Star Generals In The Army
A five-star rank is the highest military rank that a soldier can achieve. It is given among the most senior operational military commanders and was first established in 1944 during World War II. In the United States, five-star generals never retire and receive full active duty pay for life.
Of the nine U.S. soldiers that have risen to the rank of five-stars, five of them have been from the Army, with one of them including former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The rank was retired in 1981 after the death of General of the Army Omar Bradley.
The Air Force Was Once Part Of The Army
In 1907, the U.S. War Department established the first form of the U.S. Air Force as part of the U.S. Army. During World War II, the U.S. Army Air Force essentially worked on their own, and the airmen pressed to be their own independent branch.
This wish was finally granted with the National Security Act of 1947, signed on July 26, which created the Department of the Air Force. However, it wasn’t until September of that year when the first secretary of the Air Force, W. Stuart Symington was sworn in that the Air Force was accepted as its own branch.
The Rangers Slogan War Born During World War II
The United States Army Rangers are typically the soldiers that graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School and can be used to describe light infantry units. The United States has had “Ranger” units since the American Revolution, and they are still heavily in operation today.
Their slogan: “Rangers Lead the Way” was born in World War II during the Invasion of Normandy on Omaha Beach. Supposedly, General Norman Cota spoke to Major Mx Schneider in the middle of combat yelling, “If you’re Rangers, lead the way!”
The Army Was The Last Branch To Adopt A Song
The song “The Army’s Always There” by Sam Stept was almost the official song of the United States Army. As it turns out, many people thought it sounded too similar to “I’ve Got Lovely Bunch of Coconuts,” so it was put to the side.
Then, in 1956, 181 years after the Army was officially established, the 1917 song “U.S. Field Artillery March” was adapted for use as its “theme” song. This decision made it the last branch of the military to adopt a song.
The Army Developed An All-Terrain Robot
To make transporting equipment easier on Army soldiers across harsh terrain, the Army put their heads together to build a robot to help them do so. Known as the Cybernetic Anthropomorphous Machine (CAM), otherwise known as the Walking Truck, it is controlled through the use of hand and foot movements that use hydraulic valves.
Unfortunately, the robot ended up weighing more than 3,000 pounds and could only be used for a short period of time, making it more inconvenient than anything.
The Army Tested Chemical Agents On The U.S. Public
Between the 1950s and 60s, the United States Army utilized large fans to blow sink and calcium sulfide over parts of the United States, including cities such as Saint Louis, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, and parts of Minnesota.
This was all part of Operation Large Area Coverage (LAC) in order to research the dispersion and range of possible chemical and biological weapons. Zinc calcium sulfide was used because it is fluorescent so the Army could track how it spread.
The Oldest Active-Duty Infantry Unit
Today, the oldest active-duty infantry unit is the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. Also referred to as “The Old Guard,” the unit was first established in 1784.
Today, the third is an official ceremonial unit. They can be seen escorting the president of the United States and performing the rituals of the “Changing of the Guard Ceremony” at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. In 2016, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment received The American Legion’s Distinguished Service Medal.
The Union Army Was Made Up Of Mostly Immigrants
During the American Civil War, which raged from 1861 to 1865, not only was the country in a horrific conflict, but it was also seeing a massive influx of immigrants. So, during this time, many of the incoming immigrants enlisted in the Union Army for a guarantee of food, board, and pay.
In fact, it’s estimated that immigrants made up for around a third of the entire Army and around a quarter of all regiments. Furthermore, African-Americans also made up for one-tenth of the Union soldiers.
The Army Helped Create Ray-Ban Sunglasses
Back in 1929, Colonel John A. Macready of the U.S. Army Air Corps partnered with Bausch & Lomb, a medical equipment manufacturer, to create a pair of sunglasses for flying that would reduce the blue and white hues of the sky, creating a distraction.
More importantly, Macready wanted to eliminate goggle fogging, which was a major issue back then. A sample of the product was made by Bausch & Limbaugh in 1836 known as the “Anti-Glare,” which was then redesigned and manufactured in 1937 and was patented as Ray-Ban Aviators.
The Army Dumped Its Fair Share Of Weapons Into The Ocean
Between May 1964 and the early 1970s, operation Cut Holes And Sink ‘Em (CHASE) was enacted by the United States Department of Defense and regarded the elimination of unwanted munitions at sea. Both conventional and chemical weapons were released into the ocean, with the disposal site for the chemical weapons being a 3-mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean between Florida and the Bahamas.
The CHASE Program was actually inspired by the United States Army, who had previously overseen more than 800 tons of mustard and lewisite warfare gas released in the ocean in 1958.
The Army Helped To Map The Country
Believe it or not, there was a point in time when the United States didn’t even really know what the country looked like geographically. So, the government needed to send cartographers out into the wild to map what the country looked like to establish boundaries and as a matter of national security.
Unknown to most, the United States Army played a key role in exploring and mapping a lot of America and hiring Lewis and Clark who were accompanied by Army officers.
The Army Knows Their Trash talk
While we all know that United States Army soldiers are good at getting the job done, not everyone knows that they pride themselves on their trash talk as well. In Afghanistan, the Army’s psychological warfare department (PSYOPS) used some interesting strategies to try and bait their enemy into attacking.
Supposedly, they would taunt the enemy into engaging in unwinnable battles by getting on a loudspeaker and calling them “cowardly dogs” and “lady men.” Apparently, it worked.
There Are More Than 500 Dogs In The Army
Known as Military Working Dogs or MWDs, these dogs have been highly trained in various forms of combat, detection, and patrol. The types of dogs typically used for the positions are German and Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois.
Many of these dogs’ roles include working as sentry dogs, messenger dogs, mine dogs, casualty dogs, tunnel dogs, and explosive detection dogs, among others. Usually, there are around 500 of these dogs in service at all times.
There Was A Select Group Of Coca-Cola Employees In The Army During World War II
During World War II, the president of Coca-Cola, Robert Woodruff, was a fervent believer that any servicemen at the time should be able to get a bottle of Coke for five cents anywhere in the world. To make this happen, Coca-Cola founded the Technical Observer Program, which included 148 Technical Observers that supervised over 64 Coca-Cola bottling plants.
Interestingly, the Technical Observers received an Army officer’s rank, pay, and uniforms, with a special Coca-Cola insignia patch. In total, more than five million bottles were delivered to the fighting men.
The Thunderbird Wasn’t Always Used As An Insignia
Unknown to most, the swastika was a sleeve insignia in the United States Army up until World War II. Although the symbol is now closely associated with the Nazi regime, historically, it has been used to represent a number of things.
In the Army, it was worn by the 45th Infantry as a way to honor the several Native American soldiers that served in the unit. Of course, after the Nazis adopted the swastika, the Army’s insignia was replaced with the Thunderbird.