A Look Back...
The Second Continental Congress founded the Army in 1775; it is the oldest service of the United States military. Originally formed to protect the freedom of the first 13 colonies, the Army has evolved and grown from this small militia force into the world's premier fighting force. The Army exists to serve the American people, to defend the Nation, to protect vital national interests, and to fulfill national military responsibilities. Our mission is enduring: to provide necessary forces and capabilities to the Combatant Commanders in support of the National Security and Defense Strategies. The Army recruits, organizes, trains, and equips Soldiers who, as vital members of their units and the Joint Team, conduct prompt, sustained combat and stability operations on land. The Army is also charged with providing logistics and support to enable the other Services to accomplish their missions, and supporting civil authorities in time of emergency, when directed.
The Army continues to provide Combatant Commanders with a wide range of forces and capabilities to prevail in the war on terror, to sustain our global commitments, and to build effective multinational coalitions. First and foremost are the forces required for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, which include forward-stationed units and those based in the United States. The Army’s requirements, however, are far greater than those needed to support the war on terror.
Then, on 3 October, (1775) Rhode Island's delegates laid before Congress a bold resolution for the building and equipping of an American fleet, as soon as possible. When the motion came to the floor for debate, Samuel Chase, of Maryland, attacked it, saying it was "the maddest Idea in the World to think of building an American Fleet." Even pro-navy members found the proposal too vague. It lacked specifics and no one could tell how much it would cost.
If Congress was yet unwilling to embrace the idea of establishing a navy as a permanent measure, it could be tempted by short-term opportunities. Fortuitously, on 5 October, Congress received intelligence of two English brigs, unarmed and without convoy, laden with munitions, leaving England bound for Quebec. Congress immediately appointed a committee to consider how to take advantage of this opportunity. Its members were all New Englanders and all ardent supporters of a navy. They recommended first that the governments of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut be asked to dispatch armed vessels to lay in wait to intercept the munitions ships; next they outlined a plan for the equipping by Congress of two armed vessels to cruise to the eastward to intercept any ships bearing supplies to the British army. Congress let this plan lie on the table until 13 October, when another fortuitous event occurred in favor of the naval movement. A letter from General Washington was read in Congress in which he reported that he had taken under his command, at Continental expense, three schooners to cruise off Massachusetts to intercept enemy supply ships. The commander in chief had preempted members of Congress reluctant to take the first step of fitting out warships under Continental authority. Since they already had armed vessels cruising in their name, it was not such a big step to approve two more. The committee's proposal, now appearing eminently reasonable to the reluctant members, was adopted.
The Continental Navy grew into an important force. Within a few days, Congress established a Naval Committee charged with equipping a fleet. This committee directed the purchasing, outfitting, manning, and operations of the first ships of the new navy, drafted subsequent naval legislation, and prepared rules and regulations to govern the Continental Navy's conduct and internal administration.
Over the course of the War of Independence, the Continental Navy sent to sea more than fifty armed vessels of various types. The navy's squadrons and cruisers seized enemy supplies and carried correspondence and diplomats to Europe, returning with needed munitions. They took nearly 200 British vessels as prizes, some off the British Isles themselves, contributing to the demoralization of the enemy and forcing the British to divert warships to protect convoys and trade routes. In addition, the navy provoked diplomatic crises that helped bring France into the war against Great Britain. The Continental Navy began the proud tradition carried on today by our United States Navy, and whose birthday we celebrate each year in October.
During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress passes a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces for the recently formed Continental Navy. The resolution, drafted by future U.S. president John Adams and adopted in Philadelphia, created the Continental Marines and is now observed as the birth date of the United States Marine Corps.
Serving on land and at sea, the original U.S. Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations during the Revolutionary War. The first Marine landing on a hostile shore occurred when a force of Marines under Captain Samuel Nicholas captured New Providence Island in the Bahamas from the British in March 1776. Nicholas was the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines and is celebrated as the first Marine commandant. After American independence was achieved in 1783, the Continental Navy was demobilized and its Marines disbanded.
In the next decade, however, increasing conflict at sea with Revolutionary France led the U.S. Congress to establish formally the U.S. Navy in May 1798. Two months later, on July 11, President John Adams signed the bill establishing the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of Navy. U.S. Marines saw action in the so-called Quasi-War with France and then fought against the Barbary pirates of North Africa during the first years of the 19th century. Since then, Marines have participated in all the wars of the United States and in most cases were the first soldiers to fight. In all, Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores.
Today, there are more than 200,000 active-duty and reserve Marines, divided into three divisions stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; and Okinawa, Japan. Each division has one or more expeditionary units, ready to launch major operations anywhere in the world on two weeks’ notice. Marines expeditionary units are self-sufficient, with their own tanks, artillery, and air forces. The motto of the service is Semper Fidelis, meaning “Always Faithful” in Latin.
A War Department reorganization on March 9, 1942, created three autonomous U.S. Army Commands: Army Ground Forces, Services of Supply (later, in 1943, Army Service Forces), and Army Air Forces. This reorganization dissolved the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps and the Air Force Combat Command, and merged all elements of the air arm into the Army Air Forces. This administrative reorganization did not affect the status of the Air Corps as a combatant arm of the US Army. All of these actions affecting the air forces and commands that comprised the AAF emphasized the surge towards an independent service and the expansion of combat forces that took place during World War II. Before 1939 the Army's air arm was a fledgling organization; by the end of the war the Army Air Forces had become a major military organization comprised of many air forces, commands, divisions, wings, groups, and squadrons, plus an assortment of other organizations. Rapid demobilization of forces immediately after World War II, although sharply reducing the size of the Army Air Forces, left untouched the nucleus of the postwar United States Air Force (USAF). A War Department letter of March 21, 1946, created two new commands and redesignated an existing one: Continental Air Forces was redesignated Strategic Air Command, and the resources of what had been Continental Air Forces were divided among Strategic Air Command and the two newcomers - Air Defense Command and Tactical Air Command. These three commands and the older Air Transport Command represented respectively the strategic, tactical, defense, and airlift missions that provided the foundation for building the postwar, independent Air Force. The National Security Act of 1947 became law on July 26, 1947. It created the Department of the Air Force, headed by a Secretary of the Air Force. Under the Department of the Air Force, the act established the United States Air Force, headed by the Chief of Staff, USAF. On September 18, 1947, W. Stuart Symington became Secretary of the Air Force, and on September 26, Gen. Carl A. Spaatz became the USAF's first Chief of Staff.
We recognize December 13th as the birthday of the National Guard. On this date in 1636, the first militia regiments in North America were organized in Massachusetts. Based upon an order of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's General Court, the colony's militia was organized into three permanent regiments to better defend the colony. Today, the descendants of these first regiments - the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Infantry, the 101st Field Artillery, and the 101st Engineer Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard – share the distinction of being the oldest units in the U.S. military. December 13, 1636, thus marks the beginning of the organized militia, and the birth of the National Guard's oldest organized units is symbolic of the founding of all the state, territory, and District of Columbia militias that collectively make up today's National Guard.
The Coast Guard's official history began on 4 August 1790 when the first Congress authorized the construction of ten vessels to enforce federal tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling. Known variously through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the Revenue Marine and the Revenue Cutter Service, the Coast Guard expanded in size and responsibilities as the nation grew.
The service received its present name in 1915 under an act of Congress that merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the Life-Saving Service, thereby providing the nation with a single maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation's maritime laws.
Freedom is not free!
In its first 100 years of existence, over 683,000 Americans lost their lives, with the Civil War accounting for 623,026 of that total (91.2%). Comparatively, in the next 100 years, a further 626,000 Americans died through two World Wars and several more regional conflicts (World War 2 representing 65% of that total). Using this comparison, the Civil War becomes the costliest war that America has ever fought.
To all who have sacrificed, their family's, their careers, their bodies, and even their lives to serve this great nation and its people, we owe you a debt we can never hope to pay.
But those of us who honor you and your sacrifice, will never forget.
For those who don't... F___ em!