244 years strong: How the Army went from rough rebellion to finely tuned war machine
On June 14th the oldest branch of the U.S. Military turns 244, sparking rather subdued celebrations around the globe.
America’s first fighting force, the U.S. Army has humble beginnings- despite this, the branch is now recognized as the most powerful fighting force in the world.
Founded in June of 1775, the Army was born from strife and rebellion, as the people of the American colonies pushed to become independent from Great Britain. Starting out a little rough at first, the Army went from a ragtag collection of angry and armed men to a force capable of driving out what was then the world’s most powerful military.
Hard lessons were learned during the Army’s infancy, from logistics to tactics, and improvisation was just as an important tenet of American soldiering as it is today.
As America expanded, so did the ambitions and actions of the Army. It began by repelling the British a second time and protecting settlers from native warbands as the nation fulfilled its destiny to stretch from sea to shining sea.
There were always challenges to be had, battles to be fought, lessons to be learned, and victories to be achieved.
In 1861, however, the U.S. Army would fight its most tenacious and fearsome foe: a divided America, embroiled in a civil war.
Fort Sumter was the first to fall, then came battles in Antietam, Perryville, and Gettysburg. Each one the U.S. Army fought bravely to preserve the Republic.
By the end of the war in 1865, 828,000 American men fighting for the Union laid down their lives for the cause of freedom.
America continued to grow and rebuild in the years following the Civil War, and by 1910, the U.S. Army had taken to the skies. Seven years later, they would prove themselves on a global stage as the first World War reached a “blow out” point.
By 1939, the U.S. Army was smaller than that of the Portuguese Army, lacking in skilled men, equipment, and tactics. Entering the Second World War in 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army was given a fresh start and began its meteoric ascension to the fighting force we know today.
Partaking in combat on every corner of the globe, the Army took the fight to the enemy, no matter who the enemy was. In Europe, they stormed the beaches of Normandy. In the Pacific, they hopped from island to island to rout out heavily-fortified Japanese troops.
Following World War II, the U.S. Army participated in the Korean War and is the reason South Korea remains free and prosperous to this day.
Following Korea, the Army learned hard lessons in Vietnam, where -despite not losing a sizable engagement during the entire war- it struggled with drafted personnel, low morale, and an American public unwilling to press what they felt was an unwinnable fight. Despite all odds, American Soldiers fought with courage and developed tactics (such as helicopter warfare) that are used to this day.
Seeing limited conflict in the 1970s and 1980s, the U.S. Army got its redemption fight during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Acting swiftly and with scientifically-applied violence, the Army took swaths of ground in short order, even earning themselves a legendary armored victory during the Battle of 73 Easting.
The U.S. Army has played a massive role in peacekeeping operations around the world throughout the 1990s and fully mobilized following the events of September 11, 2001. Invading Iraq and Afghanistan within three years of the attacks, the U.S. still maintains a presence there today.
As the Army turns 244, it is uncertain where it will go next. One thing, however, is for certain- wherever it goes, its men and women will fight, and they will win.
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