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Armed Forces Branches 2024

What is the difference between the Army and the Navy? I’ve gotten this question more than I ever expected. 

Are you considering joining the armed services but don’t know much about them? How will you choose which one? Today, I will talk to you about the armed services and explain the differences so you can figure out which one fits you the best. 

I’m Staff Sergeant Robert Williams, a Washington Army National Guard recruiter. Yes, I am a recruiter for the Army National Guard, but I know this is not the best option for some people. 

I also know that all of the branches and components of our armed services are vital to America. And I want each of us to get the best of what America offers, and that’s you. 

I will give you a brief overview of each branch of our armed services, how big they are, what they do, and what components they have. 

National Guard vs Reserves vs Active Duty

First, I will explain the difference between the active and reserve components.

  • Active duty is the full-time component of the armed services. They were called the regulars throughout history. 
  • The reserves are the part-time force directly attached to active duty and get called up for specific missions. 

National Guard Armed Forces Branch

  • The National Guard is similar to the reserves in that we are also a reserve component, but we are technically a state organization and answerable first to the governors of these states and territories. 
  • But we can also be called to active service for specific missions when needed. Both the reserves and the National Guard are federally funded. 
  • The National Guard has additional roles and funding from the states and territories. 

Difference between Active, Reserve, and National Guard

Active DutyFull-timeThey were known as the regulars throughout history. Engaged full-time in military service
ReservePart-timeA force that’s directly attached to active duty that gets called up for specific missions
National GuardPart-timeSimilar to the reserves but a state organization. It is answerable first to the governors of the states and territories but can also be called to active service for specific missions.

Now, let me dive into the six branches of our armed services in order of how old they are. 

Army Armed Forces Branch

  • The Army, with the motto, “This We’ll Defend.”
  • We were chartered by the Continental Congress on the 14th of June in 1775, but our heritage goes back to the First Militia Muster, which is technically the National Guard, on the 13th of December in 1636. 
  • The Army has over 1 million members between Active duty, the Reserve, and the National Guard.
  • The Army’s mission is to fight and win our nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations. 
  • The Army is the primary land component. We’re the ones who take and hold territory. 
  • The Army conducts the majority of ground operations. 
  • The Army comprises just about half of all of the armed services personnel. 
  • If you took all the branches besides the Marine Corps, we would still have tens of thousands more people than those. 

Navy Armed Forces Branch

  • The United States Navy, Semper Fortis, or Ever Strong
  • Also, Non-Sibi Sed Patriae, or Not for Self but Country, are the unofficial mottos of the Navy, as they technically have no official motto. 
  • Congress chartered them on the 13th of October 1775, and they have roughly 448 thousand members between their active and reserve components. They have no national guard. 
  • The United States Navy’s mission statement is to maintain, train, and equip combat-ready and submarine naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and defending the freedom of the seas. 
  • The Navy is America’s fleet. They have cruisers, submarines, and aircraft carriers. 
  • Their purpose is to provide ships and watercraft to protect the world’s high seas and all the waterways.

United States Marine Corps

  • The United States Marine Corps, Semper Fidelis, or Always Faithful.
  • The Marine Corps was founded on the 10th of November, 1775, in a tavern. 
  • They have roughly 220,000 personnel between their active and reserve components. 
  • The primary mission of the Marine Corps is to provide Fleet Marine Forces with combined arms and support air components for service with the fleet. 
  • The Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy. 
  • The Marine Corps is our amphibious force. 
  • They’re the security and land combat force for the Navy, and they engage in, when necessary, close combat on the ships. 
  • They are the force that conducts amphibious landings from the sea to the shore, with one massively conspicuous exception. 
  • They are also responsible for the security of US embassies worldwide and the President of the United States. 

Coast Guard

  • On to the Coast Guard, Semper Paratus, or Always Ready. They were created on the 4th of August in 1790. 
  • They currently have roughly 48,000 members between their active and reserve components. 
  • The mission of the United States Coast Guard is to ensure our nation’s maritime safety, security, and stewardship. 
  • The Coast Guard is the only service in this group that is technically not military.
  • This is primarily for two reasons. The first is the funding source and how Congress allocates money; its purview is more that of a law enforcement agency.
  • Using federal troops like active duty military personnel or the National Guard on a Title 10 status is illegal under the Posse Comitatus Act. 
  • The National Guard is generally not subject to this law. 
  • The Coast Guard is there to protect America’s waterways. They take this concept of protection very broadly. 
  • As I said, they perform a law enforcement type of duty, such as drug interdiction, but a significant part of what they do is protect the lives of people at sea and on the waterways inside of America. 
  • They also have assignments overseas, but those are rare. 

Air Force Armed Forces Branch

  • Then, there was the Air Force. Aim high, fly, fight, and win. 
  • The US Air Force was chartered by Congress on the 18th of September, 1947, just a couple of years after the end of World War II. 
  • They came from the Army’s Air Corps. 
  • Currently, they have roughly 440,000 members between active duty, the reserves, and the Air National Guard. Their mission is to fly, fight, and win.
  • Air power anytime, anywhere. 
  • The USAF is the primary air branch of our nation. 
  • While all the other services provide some of their aircraft, they do so only for specific missions in a small area of responsibility at any given time. 
  • The Air Force provides air cover all over the entire world. 
  • They are the ones who provide close air support to ground troops; they fly our bombers, and they operate our intercontinental ballistic missiles. 
  • That’s two-thirds of the nuclear triad. 
  • They also provide cyber defense and ensure Americans always have access to air and space all over the globe. 

Space Force Armed Forces Branch

  • Now, the Space Force is the one I’m sure you were waiting for. 
  • Their motto is Semper Supra, Always Above. 
  • There is no official United States Space Force mission statement because they are new. Congress authorized them on the 20th of December 2019. 
  • That’s not even two years ago as of the writing of this post. 
  • Currently, they have 2,501 guardians and 13,000 assigned airmen from the Air Force.
  • They only have an active component, no reserves, and no national guard. 
  • The Space Force falls under the Department of the Air Force, just like the Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy.
  • Their purpose is to provide personnel who have operational expertise in space operations.
  • No, they are not Space Marines like in the movies
  • They are the ones who operate the satellites and spacecraft related to military and defensive operations. 
  • We are currently in a transition period where we are consolidating all of those roles and responsibilities from each of the other branches and converting them into Space Force personnel. 
  • There is a lot more to come from our new little brother.

The Motto of the Six Branches of the Armed Services

The motto of the six branches of the military is as follows:

ArmyThis We’ll Defend14th of June, 1775
NavySemper Fortis or Ever Strong;
Non-Sibi Sed Patriae or
Not for Self but Country (Unofficial)
13th of October, 1775
Marine CorpsSemper Fidelis, or Always Faithful10th of November, 1775
Coast GuardSemper Paratus, or Always Ready4th of August, 1790
Air ForceAim High, Fly, Fight, Win18th of September, 1947
Space ForceSemper Supra, Always Above20th of December, 2019

Mission and Members of the Armed Services

The Members and mission of the six branches of the military are as follows:

Army1,000,000+To fight and win our nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance
Navy448,000+To maintain, train, and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas
Marine Corps220,000+Yet to be announced officially, but focused on operational expertise in space operations.
Coast Guard48,000+To ensure our nation’s maritime safety, security, and stewardship
Air Force440,000+To fly, fight, and win. Air power anytime, anywhere.
Space Force2,501 (Guardians) + 13,000 (Airmen)Yet to be announced officially, but focused on operational expertise in space operations.

Armed Forces Braches Conclusion

  • Alright, so that’s a lot of information about each branch. 
  • You’ve learned about their mottos; the one motto we all have in common is Semper Gumby.
  • Make sure you are always flexible.
  • I hope you found this information helpful so that you can now decide which branch to go into.
  • Come back next week to learn about the difference between the active and reserve components so that you can make an even better decision as to whether you want that full-time job or a part-time job that you can use to go to college or have another career. 
  • Thanks for reading and learning about the components of the United States armed forces.
George N.