Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Branches

Learn about the various branches of the U.S. Military. Find out how they were formed, their role in the nation's defense, and what it's like to be a soldier in one of these branches.

Featured
How is the National Guard different from the regular Army?

The National Guard serves many purposes and does many jobs for the United States. Learn what the National Guard is and how it differs from the Army and the Air Force.


How Camp X Worked

The history of the secret spy training school may be overlooked, but Camp X played a vital role in intelligence gathering during World War II. See more »

5 Countries That Ditched Their Military Forces

As Benjamin Franklin once quipped: "There never was a good war or a bad peace." That's why these five countries have gotten out of the military business entirely. See more »

How IARPA Works

Described by government officials as "disruptive," this research and technology organization is supposed to change the face of U.S. spying. Is IARPA a real-life James Bond Q Branch? See more »

How Delta Force Works

Delta Force is the U.S. military's most elite tactical combat group. Yet the government refuses to deny its existence. Does a well-funded secret force that, allegedly, answers only to the president make the U.S. more secure or more vulnerable? See more »

How the Army Rangers Work

The U.S. Army Rangers are an oddity of the U.S. military special operations forces. Though they can trace their lineage as far back as colonial times, they didn't become a permanent presence in the military until the 1970s. See more »

How the Green Berets Work

John F. Kennedy called the green beret "a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom" -- a nod to the most formidable arm of the U.S. military. The Green Berets, or Special Forces, are America's first line of defense around the world. See more »

How NORAD Works

Ever heard of a military operation run out of a hollowed-out mountain? Welcome to NORAD, a defense command that monitors air and space for potential attacks on the U.S. Learn about NORAD and the unique location for the NORAD headquarters. See more »

How is the National Guard different from the regular Army?

The National Guard serves many purposes and does many jobs for the United States. Learn what the National Guard is and how it differs from the Army and the Air Force. See more »

How the U.S. Marines Work

The Marines are the smallest branch of the U.S. military, and arguably the toughest. Learn why there is a Marine Corps, how it's structured, the history behind the Corps, how to join, life inside, and leaving. See more »

How the U.S. Navy Works

The United States Navy is the largest navy in the world. Learn how the Navy is structured, what ships it uses, what life is like in the Navy and how it has evolved over the years. See more »