Command over the U.S. Armed Forces is established in the Constitution. The sole power of command is vested in the President by Article II as Commander-in-Chief. The Constitution presumes the existence of "executive Departments" headed by "principal officers", whose appointment mechanism is provided for in the Appointments Clause. This allowance in the Constitution formed the basis for creation of the Department of Defense in 1947 by the National Security Act. The DoD is headed by the Secretary of Defense, who is a civilian and member of the Cabinet. The Defense Secretary is second in the U.S. Armed Forces chain of command, with the exception of the Coast Guard, which is under the Secretary of Homeland Security, and is just below the President and serves as the principal assistant to the President in all defense-related matters.[14] Together, the President and the Secretary of Defense comprise the National Command Authority, which by law is the ultimate lawful source of military orders.[15]

Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester became the first woman to receive the Silver Star, the third-highest U.S. decoration for valor, for direct participation in combat. In Afghanistan, Monica Lin Brown was presented the Silver Star for shielding wounded soldiers with her body.[43] In March 2012, the U.S. military had two women, Ann E. Dunwoody and Janet C. Wolfenbarger, with the rank of four-star general.[44][45] In 2016, Air Force General Lori Robinson became the first female officer to command a major Unified Combatant Command (USNORTHCOM) in the history of the United States Armed Forces.[46]
Under current Department of Defense regulation, the various components of the U.S. Armed Forces have a set order of seniority. Examples of the use of this system include the display of service flags, placement of Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen in formation, etc. When the Coast Guard shall operate as part of the Department of the Navy, United States Coast Guard Academy cadets, the United States Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Reserve shall take precedence after United States Naval Academy midshipmen; the United States Navy; and Navy Reserve, respectively.[49]

The human capital shortage may be worse than the shortage in ships. A report by the Maritime Administration to Congress highlighted the problem. The report “estimates that 11,768 qualified mariners ... are available to crew the Ready Reserve Force ... the estimated demand for mariners [in an emergency] is 13,607.” Given the shortage, those mariners who are available “may have to endure prolonged assignments or tours of duty until the emergency is over,” which will decrease effectiveness, increase errors and — of greatest concern — delay deploying the forces necessary to win a large-scale conflict.


The primary reason for the existence of the military is to engage in combat, should it be required to do so by the national defence policy, and to win. This represents an organisational goal of any military, and the primary focus for military thought through military history. How victory is achieved, and what shape it assumes, is studied by most, if not all, military groups on three levels.
SOC is a consortium of more than 1550 colleges and universities that provide educational opportunities for servicemembers and their families. It is co-sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and managed for the DoD by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES). Course work can be done on campus, at military installations and armories, and at a distance by computer or correspondence. Associate, bachelor, and graduate-level degree programs are available. Special curriculum areas include SOCAD (Army), SOCNAV (Navy), SOCMAR (Marines), and SOCGuard (Army National Guard). In addition, SOC operates ConAP (Concurrent Admissions Program) to increase college enrollment of Army enlistees (Army and Army Reserves). ConAP allows you to enlist in the Army at the same time as you apply for college. DANTES also operates its own Distance Learning Program. For more information, contact:

Military law introduces offences not recognised by civilian courts, such as absence without leave (AWOL), desertion, political acts, malingering, behaving disrespectfully, and disobedience (see, for example, Offences against military law in the United Kingdom).[23] Penalties range from a summary reprimand to imprisonment for several years following a court martial.[23] Certain fundamental rights are also restricted or suspended, including the freedom of association (e.g. union organizing) and freedom of speech (speaking to the media).[23] Military personnel in some countries have a right of conscientious objection if they believe an order is immoral or unlawful, or cannot in good conscience carry it out.
Your ASVAB scores determine what jobs you will qualify for in the military. But before you embarrass yourself in front of active duty service members, know that a job in the Army and the Marine Corps is called an MOS, which is an acronym for Military Occupational Specialty. In the Air Force, jobs are called AFSC – Air Force Specialty Code. In the Navy they are known as an NEC - Navy Enlisted Classification and the Coast Guard, jobs are called ratings, or rate for short.
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