For all the youngsters who are interested in joining the military service of the United States, it is very important to first understand its different branches and what they do, so that you can take an informed decision regarding which service to apply for.
The U.S. Military is made up of 5 different services - the army, navy, air force, marine corps, and the coast guards. All these branches are commanded by the President of the United States who acts as the Commander-in-Chief. All the services come under the Department of Defense, except the Coast Guard which comes under the Department of Homeland Security.
The Department of Defense, Department of Army, Navy, Air Force are all headed by civilians known as the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Army, Navy, and Air Force respectively. All these secretaries are appointed by the President. The chiefs of these forces report to the secretaries of their respective departments.
Functions of Different Military Branches
Its main work is to defend the interests of the US with its ground troops, artillery, armor, nuclear weapons, etc. In its endeavors, it is backed by the two reserve forces, namely the Army National Guard and the Army Reserves.
However, this notion completely changed during the second world war and thus a separate Air Force service was created under the National Security Act of 1947. Its chief role is to defend the interests of the US through fighters, bombers, helicopters, tanker aircraft, and transfer aircraft.
It also bears the responsibility for the military satellites as well as the nuclear ballistic missiles. Air force is supported in its missions by the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserves.
During the war, it works using many of its assets such as aircraft carriers, amphibious planes, etc., which can be deployed in strategic interest areas. Navy can take many attacking positions during the war through ships, destroyers, frigades, submarines, etc.
They also undertake combat operations through fighter and bomber aircraft. They are supported by the Marine Corps Reserves whenever required. Marines being a small military service, depend on the navy for administrative and logistical support.
The Coast Guard
The top most position in the coast guard is that of the Coast Guard Commandant. Initially, the coast guards did not come under the purview of the defense services and were considered a part of the department of transportation.
However, since 2002 they come under the department of homeland security. Their function during the times of peace is to ensure boating safety and to undertake sea rescue operations. They keep a check on illegal immigration as well as sees to it that the laws are properly enforced.
However, if there is an emergency such as a war, the President can transfer them to the navy. They operate boats, ships, aircraft, and man the shore stations. They are supported by Coast Guard Auxiliary, whenever there is a requirement.
To enter into any of the service, one has to pass a written and a physical test. The admission criteria for all of them remains more or less the same. People who join the army can retire in their thirties and avail of the numerous retirement benefits or they can also serve more if they wish to advance through the ranks.