Composed of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, the US Armed Forces is one of the world’s largest and most powerful militaries.
Here are a few things you might not know about the US military.
44. Doesn’t Look a Day Over 2042
The US Army is actually older than the US itself. This makes sense, since the US didn’t become the US until an army was raised to defeat the British. So while the US was founded on July 4th, 1776, the US Army was founded over a year older before that, and officially declared its birthday June 14th, 1775.
43. You Got Served
Of the 45 Presidents of the United States, 32 of them have served in the military, 15 presidents served in the Army/Army reserve, nine of them served in state militias, six served in the Navy/Naval reserve, two served in the Continental Army.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States
42. They Helped Put America on the Map
The Army was in charge of exploring and mapping most of America. For example, the Lewis and Clark Expedition was composed of Army officers and non-commissioned officers. Now we just get Google to do it.
41. Let ‘Er Rip!
The military has a silent version of Velcro that reduces the ripping noise by 95%. However the military has started replacing Velcro with buttons as buttons are silents and are not effected by mud.
40. The Day of Days
Armed Forces Day was created in August of 1949 and first observed on May 20th, 1950. It replaced the separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Days.
39. May I?
Because the National Guard and Reserve units have unique training schedules, they are allowed to celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week at their own convenience anytime during the month of May.
38. That Includes the Cheese
The Pentagon contains no marble because it was built during World War II, and Italy, the world’s main source of marble, was an enemy country.
37. Makes Cents
Shops at US military bases around the world will not accept pennies as currency because they aren’t worth the cost of shipping them everywhere.
36. A Small Nation
As of 2017, there are 1.4 million personnel on active duty and approximately another 800,000 people in the reserves for a total of 2.2 million. This the entire population of some countries.
35. A Deployer Employer
The Army is America’s second largest employer. The largest employer? Walmart. But they don’t have those super awesome tanks. We don’t think.
34. Well Isn’t That Special?
The most common rank among Us Army soldiers, by far, is Specialist. Across active duty and reserve ranks, specialists make up over a quarter of the US Army.
33. This Land is Our Land
The Army owns 24,000 square miles of land. If it were a state, it would be the 42nd largest in the US.
32. The Forecast was…
In 1942, the US military responded to a suspected Japanese air raid over Los Angeles by firing 1,400 anti-air artillery shells and thousands of .50 caliber rounds. It turned out to be a weather balloon, but they sure showed that weather balloon what’s what.
LA harbor lit up with searchlights
During World War II, supporting a single soldier on the battlefield cost one gallon of fuel per day. Now, an individual soldier requires more than 22 gallons of fuel per day.
30. Really Gassy
The US Army burns through nearly a billion gallons of fuel every year. However, the Department of Defense is been trying to bring down its energy usage citing a dependence on fossil fuels as a major national-security risk and logistical problem for troops in the field.
29. Defense! Defense! Defense!
After World War II, the Department of War was renamed the Department of Defense.
28. The Bigliest Military
The US military budget is largest in the world and currently spends around US $600 billion per year, which is more than the next seven nations combined. They have proposed increasing military spending by another $54 billion in 2017.
27. Say It, Don’t Spray It!
In the 60s, the US military secretly sprayed zinc cadmium sulfide on thousands of people in “a densely populated slum district.” in St. Louis. They said it was a smoke screen test in case the Russians attacked but in 1994 the government revealed it was a part of a biological weapons program known as Operation LAC (Large Area Coverage).
A C-119 Flying Boxcar, the type of plane used to release the chemicals
26. What Happens in Niš
The only direct military confrontation between the US and the USSR happened in October of 1944 over the Serbian town of Niš. Officially, each country mistook the other for Germans but the fine details are still top secret.
B-17 hit by flak over Nis
25. And That’s the Depleted Version
The US and Russian military use extremely dense depleted uranium bullets that can pierce vehicle armor. Once the bullet pierces the armor, it gets sharper and catches fire, hopefully igniting fuel and causing the vehicle to explode.
20mm depleted uranium ammunition
24. The Nerve!
The US Army secretly dumped millions of pounds of nerve agents into the ocean in at least 26 locations off both coasts. Ships were loaded with containers of the gasses, towed to deep water dump sites and were sunk. They can’t say exactly where they were dumped because the records are either sketchy, missing, or destroyed.
23. Highway to the Danger Zone
Navy recruiters staked out movie theaters after the release of Top Gun in 1986 and, according to the US Navy, the number of men who wanted to become Naval Aviators went up by 500 percent.
Part of the standard US military standard Parachute Park Survival Kit (SRU-16) is a non-lubricated condom. Apart from its originally intended function, it can also serve as an emergency canteen capable of holding up to 1 litre of water.
21. All Hail Great Leader
The US Navy has only ever had one ship captured. In 1968, North Korea captured the USS Pueblo, a spy ship. The ship is currently a tourist attraction in Pyongyang.
20. These Trucks Were Made For Walking
Also in 1968, the US Army developed a four legged robot called the Walking Truck that was powerful enough to lift a car. It never made it into service because operating it was apparently exhausting, thus defeating the purpose of having a robot in the first place.
19. Whatever Floats Your Boat
The US Navy still operates ships with hulls made of wood. These ships, known as avenger-class ships, are designed to clear mines from important waterways.
18. That’s Super
The USS John C. Stennis, a 1,092 foot long nuclear-powered super-carrier has a more powerful air force than 70% of all countries.
17. Portraits vs. Landscape
The US Navy has a special research vessel called the FLIP (Floating Instrument Platform) that can operate both vertically and horizontally. Each room has two doors for each configuration and the toilet seats even flip 90 degrees. It also very often confuses other ships, who think it’s a capsized vessel. You could say it… flips people out.
16. The Coast with the Most
Every day, the Coast Guard seizes 169 pounds of marijuana and 306 pounds of cocaine, worth about $9,589,000.
15. More of a Casual Declaration
US Congress has only officially declared war eleven times. Instead of formally declaring war, the US has instead been using the term “authorization to use military force,” which is really just a euphemism for “opening a can of whoop-ass.”
14. Just a Wee Bit Excessive
Since 1945, the United States has produced more than 70,000 nuclear warheads, which is more than all the other nuclear weapon states combined. It would only take a fraction of those warheads to render the earth uninhabitable. The budget for nuclear weaponry actually does not fall under the Department of Defense, but the Department of Energy, which… makes sense.
13. Seeing Stars
The United States has not had a 5-Star General since Sept. 22nd, 1950. Only nine people have ever held that distinction.
US President Harry Truman pinning the five-star general insignia onto Omar Bradley’s uniform
12. Trash Talk
In Afghanistan, the US military’s psychological warfare department (PSYOPS) used loudspeakers to try to taunt enemy fighters into unwinnable battles by calling them “lady men” and “cowardly dogs.”
A single day in Afghanistan costs the government more than it did to build the entire Pentagon, which means that if it weren’t for the Taliban, we could have SO many Pentagons right now.
10. Iraq-ing up a Bill
In 2008, the Pentagon spent more money in five seconds in Iraq than the average American earned in a year.
9. The Excess
The Department of Defense Excess Property Program hands out over a half a billion dollars of free surplus military-grade weaponry to state and local law enforcement every year.
8. It Only Does Everything
In 2010, the US government used 1,760 PlayStation 3s to build a supercomputer for the Department of Defense because it was both cost and environmentally efficient.
7. This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Anymore
Until WWII, the shoulder insignia of the US Army’s 45th Infantry Division contained the swastika, which was a common Native American symbol at the time. And then some guy with a stupid moustache ruined it for everyone.
In 2007, the US Defense Security Service issued a warning that Canadians were planting spy coins on US army contractors. The coins turned out to be quarters with the colored Remembrance Day poppy.
5. Up Up and Away
The US Air Force honors their dead with a fly-by salute known as “The Missing Man” in which the formation flies low and the leader’s wingman performs a rapid climb, representing an ascent to heaven.
4. All About Optics
In 1929, US Army Air Corps Colonel John Macready asked Bausch & Lomb, then an optical lens company, to invent sunglasses that would ban the sun’s rays and prevent his pilots from getting headaches. This is how Ray Bans were born.
3. Get to Da Choppa!
The reason why many US Army helicopters (Apache, Lakota, Cheyenne) are named after Native American tribes is because the first US Air Force bases were located on native reserves.
2. PETA Is Not Impressed
The US Navy has a program that trains sea lions and dolphins to perform tasks such as ship and harbor protection, mine detection and clearance, and equipment recovery. But if there’s anything we’ve learned from Finding Nemo, it’s that seagulls are the ones who are really good at detecting mines.
1. Unidentified Jolly Object
On Christmas Eve in 1955, a newspaper ad told kids they could call Santa and published his number. Unfortunately, they published the wrong number and the calls went to US Air Defense Command. The colonel on duty told his team to give kids Santa’s “current location.” This has since become a tradition and they take calls from over 200 countries.
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