Military 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.

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Members of the U.S. armed forces and their loyal dogs have always had a special relationship – so special that the canine usually outranks its handler. What's behind this military tradition?

By Nathan Chandler

U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmers routinely jump out of helicopters into dangerous waters, risking their lives to save others.

By Patrick J. Kiger

New evidence shows that Big Tobacco specifically targeted U.S soldiers, because they were "less educated" among other reasons.

By Alia Hoyt

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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.

By Ed Grabianowski

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.

By Jonathan Atteberry

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?

By Cristen Conger

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?

By Josh Clark

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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.

By Josh Clark

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.

By Josh Clark

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.

By Ed Grabianowski

The National Guard serves many purposes and does many jobs for the United States. But how does it differ from the U.S. Army? And what can the president authorize the Guard to do?

By Ed Grabianowski & Patrick J. Kiger

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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.

By Ed Grabianowski

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.

By Ed Grabianowski

The U.S. Air Force is the youngest American military branch, forming in the 20th century after the invention of the airplane. Tasked with protecting the nation's skies and supporting ground troops, the Air Force relies on the most technologically advanced military aircraft in the world.

By Ed Grabianowski

Unique among the U.S. armed forces, the Coast Guard is perpetually on active duty, entrusted with lots responsibilities and chronically underfunded. Learn about the U.S. Coast Guard.

By Ed Grabianowski

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The U.S. Army is one of the three main branches of the U.S. military and is primarily concerned with fighting on the ground. Learn all about the U.S. Army from sign up to discharge.

By Ed Grabianowski

For most of us, "special ops" is what we see in the movies: soldiers trained to kill using their thumb; Charlie Sheen carrying a semi-automatic. But special operations forces are for real, and the U.S. Navy version -- the SEALs -- completes some of the most dangerous military missions. How much do you know about this elite team of fighters?

By Lee Ann Obringer