Rising out of the Continental Army, the U.S. Army is the oldest of the military branches. Dating back to June of 1775, the Army’s first commander was General George Washington. Before the Revolutionary War, the Army’s focus was mainly in the Northeast. In the period directly after, it was declared that each state would offer a battalion to the Navy with numbers proportional to their population and that enlistment terms would be three years in length. After the formation of the Army and the subsequent winning of the Revolutionary war, the Army went on to become the largest of all the U.S. Armed Forces.
The Navy that we know today stems from the original Continental Navy established in October 1775. The first ships used in the Navy were the Andrew Doria and Cabot. The first ship commissioned by the Navy was the USS Alfred (pictured). By mid-1776 the Navy had a fleet of at least 13 frigates. After the War the Navy was temporarily disbanded. During this time, the Revenue-Marine (precursor to the Coast Guard) was created and served as the only maritime force for the new United States. The Department of the Navy was officially created in April of 1798.
Because of the gap in the Navy establishment, the Coast Guard is the United States’ longest continuous maritime force. The Coast Guard enforces U.S. law over the largest exclusive economic zone of 3.4 million sq. miles.
To fulfill the role of ship-to-ship fighting, the United States Marine Corps was established in November 1775, shortly after the Navy and Army. Because of the ability for Marines to be involved in maritime warfare, the Marine Corps has been involved in nearly every conflict that the U.S. has engaged in. The modern Marine Corps was established in 1794, in preparation for a looming conflict with France.
By far the newest of all branches of the Armed Services, is the Air Force. Established in 1947, prior military aviation had been divided among the existing services. The first step in the creation of the eventual Air Force was the formation of the Aeronautical Division in the Army. Eventually the division grew and morphed into the Air Force, broke from the Army and has stood as its own service ever since.
All together the U.S. Armed Forces continue to provide us the protection and support that allows us to celebrate our independence till this day. Happy Independence Day and thank you to all who have served for our country!