Military Services

Five separate military services make up the United States Armed Forces: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. These branches organize, train, and equip the nation's land, sea, and air services to support the national and international policies of the government. Together, they are responsible for the safety and protection of the citizens of the United States. Those who choose to be members of the armed forces dedicate their lives to protecting their fellow Americans.

Today there are more than 1.4 million men and women on active duty and another 1.3 million volunteers serving in the Reserve. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 529,679 individuals serve in the Army, 329,332 in the Air Force, 317,828 in the Navy, 194,808 in the Marines, and about 41,000 in the Coast Guard.

The military distinguishes between enlisted and officer careers. Enlisted personnel make up about 83 percent of the Armed Forces and carry out the fundamental operations of the military. Officers make up the remaining 17 percent and are leaders of the military, supervising and managing activities in every occupational specialty in the military.

 Enlisted personnel typically do the following:

  • Participate in combat operations
  • Operate, maintain, and repair equipment
  • Serve as technicians and specialists in a variety of fields
  • Serve as front-line supervisors of junior enlisted personnel

Officers typically do the following:

  • Lead troops in ground combat operations
  • Serve as supervisors and managers of enlisted personnel
  • Operate and control aircraft, ships, or armored vehicles
  • Serve as professionals for the military in medical, legal, engineering, and other fields

Those who served in the Armed Forces may make a career of it, following the career paths offered by the military. Many service men and women leverage their military training and connections to launch civilian careers when they leave the service.


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