Index of New Book Reviews January-June 2011

War of the White Death: Finland Against The Soviet Union 1939-40, Bair Irincheev. A detailed military history of the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, based on an impressive knowledge of both side's archives. Focuses almost entirely on the fighting on land, with some very detailed accounts of individual battles. [read full review]

New Releases January-June 2011

2018 onwards - 2017 - 2016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - April-December 2012 -November 2011-March 2012 -July-October 2011 - January-June 2011 - March-December 2010 - January-April 2010 - September-December 2009 - January-August 2009- 2008 - 2007

9 June 2011

Waterloo: Hanoverian Correspondence One, John Franklin. The first of two volumes of primary sources relating to the Hanoverian contingent in the Allied army at Waterloo. This volume focuses on handwritten sources, many contained in the archives at Hanover. A very useful research tool for anyone studying the battle of Waterloo. [read full review]

The Crimean War at Sea, Peter Duckers. Best known for the campaign in the Crimea and the long siege of Sebastopol, the Crimean War also involved some extensive (if somewhat one-sided) naval warfare, with British and French warships attacking the Russian Empire all around its coast, from the White Sea in the far north to the distance Pacific coast. All of these far flung activities feature in this book. [read full review]

8 June 2011

The Alexander Memoirs, 1940-1945, Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis. The memoir's of Britain's most experienced commander of the Second World War, a man who led troops at Dunkirk, in North Africa, Burma, Sicily and Italy. 'Alex' is almost too modest, focusing much more on his subordinate's achievements than on his own, but his memoirs are still an invaluable source for some of the most important campaigns of the war. [read full review]

Six of Monty's Men, Adrian Steward. Six short biographies of six of Montgomery's key subordinates in North Africa, Italy and Normandy (Harding, Leese, de Guingand, Horrocks, Richardson and Roberts), which between them tell the story of all three campaigns, as well as casting an interesting light on Montgomery's abilities and character. [read full review]

Fighting Brigadier: The Life of Brigadier James Hill DSO MC, Peter Harcerode. Partly a biography of Hill (an important figure in the creation of the Parachute Regiment) and partly a history of the units he commanded in North Africa, Normandy, during the Battle of the Bulge, in the crossing of the Rhine and finally in the advance to the Baltic. [read full review]

Armoured Guardsmen: A War Diary, June 1944-April 1945, Robert Boscawen. The diary of a tank commander and squadron commander, written during the campaign in north-western Europe in 1944-1945, with later comments also provided by the same author. A compelling read that mixes moments of great humour with accounts of some very fierce combat, and the casualties that went with it. [read full review]

6 June 2011

Dambusters: Operation Chastise 1943, Douglas C. Dildy. A well illustrated and well organised account of the famous Dambusters raid, looking at the development of the bouncing bomb, the planning for the raid, the raid itself and its aftermath. A good account of one of the best known bombing raids of the Second World War, supported by some clear and well designed maps. [read full review]

German Soldiers in the Great War, Letters and Eyewitness Accounts, ed. Bernd Ulrich and Benjamin Ziemann. A study of the changing attitude of German soldiers during the Great War using their own letters home from the front, along with other contemporary documents, and looking at the role of disobedience in the eventual defeat of the German army. [read full review]

Donald Dean VC, the Memoirs of a Volunteer and Territorial from Two World Wars, ed. Terry Crowdy. The memoirs of a very impressive man, a Victoria Cross winning soldier during the First World War and a senior commander with the Pioneers during the Second World War. The account of the second part of his career is of particular interest, partly because it covers part of the army that is rarely mentioned but that played a crucial part in the Allied victory and partly because of Dean's own attitude to the multi-racial and multi-cultural units under his command. [read full review]

Wellington at Waterloo, Jac Weller. Takes a different approach to the Battle of Waterloo, looking from the fighting from Wellington's point of view, seeing how he responded to the information at his disposal rather than taking the more usual overview approach. This approach gives us a clearer picture of Wellington's handling of the battle, and helps us see why he made the decisions he did. [read full review]

The Mighty Eighth at War, Martin W. Bowman. Looks at the evolving battle between the Luftwaffe and the Eighth Air Force, as seen by the US airmen themselves. The book is dominated by first-hand accounts of the fighting, which make up at least half of the text. Bowman provides a framework that links these accounts, as well as some detailed footnotes expanding on the airmen's experiences. [read full review]

Mosquito Mayhem: de Havilland's Wooden Wonder in Action in WWII, Martin W. A collection of eyewitness accounts, mainly from Mosquito crewmen, looking at the remarkable achievements of one of the best British aircraft of the Second World War, all tied together by Bowman's explanatory text. Gives a good idea of the wide variety of missions undertaken by the Mosquito and the atmosphere in the squadrons. [read full review]

30 May 2011

The Fortifications of Verdun, 1874-1917, Clayton Donnell. A study of the fortifications of Verdun, from the first modern works after the Franco-Prussian War to the brutal siege of 1916 and on to the modern preservation of the battlefield. Has some interesting material on the way in which fortifications developed in response to the appearance of high explosive shells fired from rifled artillery as well as on the appearance of the forts during the First World War and the siege itself. [read full review]

Roughshod through Dixie, Grierson's Raid 1863, Mark Lardas. One of the most effective cavalry raids of the American Civil War, Greirson led his small force from north to south across the Confederacy, attracting attention away from Grant's early moves around Vicksburg. This excellent entry in the Raid series traces Greirson's progress day by day, as well as examining the reasons behind his success and other's failures. [read full review]

19 May 2011

Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Dagger, Leroy Thompson. This is an excellent book in the new Osprey Weapons series. Written by an experienced author it offers a fascinating insight into an iconic weapon. The book traces the development and origins of this, the most lethal of fighting knives, with detail on its design, evolution and the training of the soldiers who were to use it to take the fight to Hitler with cold steel. From a collector's point of view it covers all the variations of design and also looks at its use and similar weapons in use in non British units. Packed with contemporary photographs and illustrations showing the weapons but also the lethal techniques employed in their use, the book also examines the iconic impact of the weapon and its use as a symbol of Special Forces around the world [read full review]

11 May 2011

Warspite, From Jutland to Cold War Warrior, Iain Ballantyne. A history of the super-dreadnaught HMS Warspite, a warship that played a major part in both World Wars, fighting at the battles of Jutland and of Cape Matapan. An interesting story, well supported by a large number of quotes from sailors who served on the Warspite. Also includes brief histories of the other seven warships to carry the same name. [read full review]

The Field Campaigns of Alexander the Great, Stephen English. Completing a three volume study of the campaigns of Alexander the Great, this final book looks at his pitched battles and field campaigns. Combines a detailed examination of the sources with an attempt to produce coherent battle narratives. The discussion of the sources allows the reader to judge the success of the author's own narratives. [read full review]

6 May 2011

Spitfire Sisters (DVD). Looks at the contribution made by the women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary, the ferry pilots who made sure that the right aircraft were in the right place during the Second World War. The documentary is built around a series of fascinating interviews with remarkable people, whose love of flying and in particular the Spitfire comes across very clearly, even sixty years after the events they are discussing. [read full review]

Commuter City: How the Railways Shaped London, David Wragg. A history of the development in and impact of the railways on London, from the earliest short lines up to the current high speed routes. Includes chapters on the railway in both World Wars, focusing on troop transport in the First and with a wider range of topics during the Second World War, including bomb damage to the line, the use of the tube as a bomb shelter and the impact the war had on the overall condition of the railways. [read full review]

Panzer Destroyer - Memoirs of a Red Army Tank Commander, Vasiliy Krysov. The memoirs of a Soviet tank and self-propelled gun commander who fought at Stalingrad, Kursk and during the long Soviet offensives that followed, ending the war in East Prussia, and who was lucky to survive for so long, losing his crew and his commanding officer, and being wounded four times. Provides a memorable picture of life in the Red Army during some of the titanic battles on the Eastern Front. [read full review]

1 April 2011

General 'Boy' - The Life of Sir Frederick Browning, Richard Mead. Best known for his role in Operation Market Garden, 'Boy' Browning was far from a typical Guards officer, growing up with theatrical connections in a family linked to the Savoy Hotel, and involved in the importing of Hennessy brandy into the UK, industry, while Boy married Daphne du Maurier and worked for Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh after the war. [read full review]

"Fallschirmjager": Elite German Paratroops in World War II , Jon Sutherland and Diane Canwell. This is a visually fascinating book consisting of the personal photo album of a German paratrooper sergeant in World War II. The photos roughly in chronological order follow the Elite German paratroopers through the Balkans and Greece and during the massive airborne assault on Crete. The book concludes with photos of the Russian front but these tend to be less interesting. A brief but interesting text places the photos in context and for most part explains what is shown in them. As the book is mostly photographs it makes for a quick read but the non professional and mostly non posed photographs give a poignant insight of the reality of war for these legendary elite infantry. [read full review]

29 March 2011

Marlborough, Angus Konstam. A useful short biography of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, looking at his battlefield victories and the way in which they were won, as well as at his skills as a diplomat and the leader of a coalition army. Concludes with a look at the dramatic fluctuation in his historical reputation. [read full review]

28 March 2011

Children of the Camps: Japan's Last Forgotten Victims, Mark Felton. A study of the fate of the children taken into internment camps by the Japanese after their rapid conquests in the Far East in 1941 and 1942. Covers a wide geographical area, from China through Malaya and Singapore to the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines. [read full review]

24 March 2011

10 Commando 1943-1945, Ian Dear. A fascinating study of 10 Commando, a unit made up of foreign volunteers who had escaped from Europe to Britain and that carried out cross-channel raids, took part in the fighting in Italy and Yugoslavia, the D-Day landings and the liberation of Europe and the battles of Arnhem and Walcheren. [read full review]

The Tyrants of Syracuse: War in Ancient Sicily Volume I: 480-367 BC, Jeff Champion. A study of the military history of ancient Sicily, from the battle of Himera in 480 BC to the death of Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse, in 367 BC. This period saw the Greeks of Sicily fight the Carthaginians, the invading Athenians, the natives Sicilians, and perhaps most frequently each other [read full review]

23 March 2011

The Shepherd Lord, George Peter Algar. A novelization of the true story of Henry, 10th Lord Clifford, who was spirited away after his father's death at the Battle of Towton, and raised in hiding by his former wet-nurse and her shepherd husband. The basic outline of the story is well documented, but the twenty year gap between Henry's disappearance and his return after Bosworth is a mystery, and this is when Algar sets most of his entertaining story. [read full review]

Robert E. Lee, Ron Field. Biography of Lee focusing on his civil war career and in particular his role in the most famous set-piece battles in the Eastern Theatre, including his triumphs at Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg and his failures at Antietam and Gettysburg. Also includes a useful section on the way in which Lee's reputation has changed over the years. [read full review]

17 March 2011

The Vought F4U Corsair, Rafe Morrissey and Joe Hegedus. A modeller's guide to the Vought Corsair, providing a detailed account of the aircraft's physical development, lavishly supported with photographs and detailed plans as well as a section of reviews of models at various scales. Aimed at someone who already knows how to model, and who wants to know the precise details of each variant of the aircraft. [read full review]

Eastern Inferno, The Journals of a German Panzerjäger on the Eastern Front, 1941-1943, Hans Roth. The remarkable journals of Hans Roth, who fought with an anti-tank unit attached to a German infantry division on the Eastern Front from 1941 until his death some time in 1944. Roth took part in the initial invasion, the battle for Kiev and the shattering retreat from Stalingrad, before disappearing during the destruction of Army Group Centre in 1944. [read full review]

16 March 2011

Stilicho, the Vandal who Saved Rome, Ian Hughes. A study of the life and times of Flavius Stilicho, a half-Roman half-Vandal soldier and politician who struggled to preserve the Western Roman Empire in the last decades before the sack of Rome in 410 AD. Hughes includes some very useful material on the wider Roman world and army, making this a very useful book. [read full review]

'A Very Fine Commander': The Memoirs of General Sir Horatius Murray, ed. John Donovan. Interesting autobiography of a lesser known British general of the Second World War, tracing his career as he moved from staff posts at home to combat in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Italy and Austria and his post-war career that saw him serve in Palestine and Korea and rise to high rank within NATO. [read full review]

The Distant Drum - A Memoir of a Guardsman in the Great War, F. E. Noakes. A rare example both of an autobiography written by a private soldier serving in the Guards during the First World War, and of an autobiography that covers the events of 1917 and 1918, including the German offensives in the spring and the final victorious Allied campaigns. [read full review]

17 February 2011

U-Boat Tactics in World War II, Gordon Williamson. A well focused look at the offensive and defensive tactics used by the U-boats, focusing mainly on the Battle of the Atlantic but also covering the smaller number of U-boats that operated further afield. Well illustrated and well organised, the book provides a good overview of U-boat tactics and how they evolved during the Second World War. [read full review]

An Airline at War, Robert L. Willet. A history of the China National Aviation Corporation, a joint venture between Pan Am and the Chinese Government. The airline struggled against Japanese aggression, poor facilities, the Communists and the terrain, but managed to survive for 20 years, playing a massive part in the development of the 'Hump' - the air route across the Himalayas that was the only way to get supplies into China for much of the Second World War. [read full review]

Orde Wingate, A Man of Genius, Trevor Royle. A well balanced biography of one of the most fascinating but exasperating British military leaders of the Second World War, tracing his career from his inter-war days in the Sudan, through the formation of the Special Night Squads in Palestine in 1938 to the wartime conquest of Abyssinia and the famous Chindit raids in Burma. [read full review]

Monty and Patton: Two Paths to Victory, Michael Reynolds. Twin biographies of two of the best known Allied generals of the Second World War, looking at how their early careers moulded their later commands, the difficult relationship between the two men and their individual styles of command. [read full review]

Wavell - Soldier and Statesman, Victoria Schofield. A major biography of a heavy-weight figure, Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East in 1940-41, in the Far East during the early Japanese victories, and Viceroy of India at a crucial period in the run-up to independence. Schofield paints a picture of a hard working, capable but modest commander, who often did a good job with very limited resources, but who was never really appreciated by Churchill. [read full review]

31 January 2011

Doctor Goebbels, Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel. A detailed biography of the infamous Nazi propagandist stripping away the layers of mythology he created around his own life when he was in power to produce a portrait of a capable, hard working monster, who held views as extreme as any of his Nazi colleagues, and played a major part in ensuring that they were put into action. [read full review]

27 January 2011

End Game Burma, Michael Pearson. A detailed account of the British-led campaign that resulted in the reconquest of Burma, and that saw the 14th Army fighting a long way from its main bases in India and largely supplied by the air against an enemy fighting behind the protection of the Irrawaddy River. [read full review]

The Real Falstaff: Sir John Fastolf and the Hundred Years War, Stephen Cooper. Both a biography and a history of the times of Sir John Fastolf, a senior English commander in the later part of the Hundred Years War, and a major landowner in England and France. Made possible by Fastolf's extensive archives and by the Paston letters, this book gives us a fascinating glimpse into Fastolf and his times, from the high-point of Lancastrian France to the loss of everything but Calais. [read full review]

17 January 2011

Henry V, Marcus Cowper. A military biography of Henry V, looking at his main campaigns and battles, his opponents, his reputation at the time and since and the primary sources for the events of his reign. Packs a lot of information into its 64 pages, and with the normal high quality selection of pictures and maps. [read full review]

Bernard Montgomery, Tim Moreman. Focusing on his time in North Africa and in northern Europe in 1944-45, Moreman's biography of Britain's best known general of the Second World War looks at his style of leadership and the reasons for his successes and his failures, and the famous character flaws that poisoned his relationship with his American allies. [read full review]

Hitler's Paratrooper - The Life and Battles of Rudolf Witzig, Gilberto Villahermosa. A biography of the German paratrooper who planned the attack on Fort Eben Emael in May 1940, before taking part in the costly victory in Crete, and then fighting in North Africa, on the Eastern Front and in Holland as the elite paratroopers were increasingly used as standard infantry. [read full review]

14 January 2011

Katana, The Sword of the Samurai, Stephen Turnbull. This book in the new Osprey series on weapons traces the development, use and impact of one of the world’s most famous weapons, the Katana or Samurai sword. Written by the leading western expert on the samurai and prolific osprey author Stephen Turnbull, the book is fascinating, well written and illustrated to Osprey's usual standards with colour plates, drawings and photographs. The book's subject is detailed and brought to life with the descriptions of some of the famous sword masters of Japan as well as challenging the myth of the Katana as the Samurai’s primary weapon. Well worth adding to your collection. [read full review]

10 January 2011

Carthaginian Warrior, 264-146 BC, Nic Fields. A look at the very varied armies that served Carthage in its long series of wars against Rome in the central and western Mediterranean, examining the origins of the soldiers, their equipment, organisation, pay and way of life. Fields has to cover a lot of ground, as by this period Carthage raised its armies from across the Mediterranean. [read full review]

Military - History

After 25 dogs of war gave their lives to save Marines recapturing Guam, so the Corps gave them a final resting place.

On June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas -- the last rebel state to be occupied by the Union Army -- finally heard the words of the.

Jack B. Weinstein, a former federal judge, oversaw a series of landmark class-action lawsuits and sensational mob cases in.

Jacob Parrott was a U.S. soldier who participated in the legendary Civil War mission popularly known as the Great Locomotive.

Phil Bucklew had an experienced eye for irregular warfare by the time he arrived in Vietnam in the early 1960s.

A brief rundown of the U.S. Army's early history until it was disbanded in 1783. Spoiler alert: it comes back with a bang.

The location of executed wartime Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo’s remains was one of World War II’s biggest mysteries in.

This is what happens when admirals talk smack naval traditions are born.

After Buzz Aldrin made the controversial announcement, much of the internet agreed.

Celebrate National Doughnut Day with the sweet treat that landed at D-Day, Da Nang and everywhere else US troops were sent.

What You Will Learn

  • Think historically about the study of war, its conduct, meaning, and consequences, as a historian.
  • Understand the evolution of warfare and its relationship to modern operational environments, joint warfare, civil-military relations, and strategy.
  • Gain knowledge of armed conflict at all levels of warfare: strategic, operational, and tactical.
  • Appreciate the political, social, economic, environmental, geographic, and cultural contexts of war.
  • Develop skills in historical thinking, analytical research, and clear, persuasive writing.
  • Analyze and apply issues of military leadership and decision making throughout history.
  • Explore the human dimension of war and experience of combat.

Military - History

U.S. women served their country bravely during multiple wars. But once the fighting stopped, they were expected to step down.

Some people even thought both parties should nominate him in the 1920 presidential race.

After 10 days of bruising battle, U.S. forces took the hill, only to abandon it days later. Sniper fire was so intense, one soldier called it 'a human meat grinder.'

She spent nearly half the Revolutionary War at her husband’s side.

The very existence of the V.A.—which began in 1930—marked a change in how Americans perceived the people who fought its wars.

These African-American heroes battled the Nazis but were still second class citizens in their home country. Their story will be told in the movie ‘The Liberators.’

Captain Lawrence E. Dickson could be the first missing Tuskegee pilot identified since the end of World War II.

Chinese immigrants, escaped slaves, and Native Americans were all people U.S. forces tried to keep on one side or the other.

It took 20 months for the war crime to come to light.

Sergeant Reckless was the only animal ever awarded an official rank in the Marine Corps.

100 years of military history

The world's mightiest military came from humble beginnings. Men between the ages of 16 and 60 were recruited to colonial militia service from all walks of life, including shopkeepers, tutors, small farmers, and smiths. Left out of that recruitment were college enrollees, enslaved people, most free Black men, and clergy—and, in Virginia, Catholics. Men who were recruited were asked to make inarguably heavy sacrifices during their service, which included operations against Native Americans and supplementing the Redcoats in border skirmishes with neighboring European colonies. The colonial militia’s first overseas foray came in 1741 and ended in abject disaster when 4,000 American reinforcements joined an attempted British invasion of Cartagena, Colombia, then a Spanish colony. The invasion failed miserably and only around 600 American volunteers returned home alive from the expedition.

In the lead-up to the Revolutionary War, the American militia was prepared to step up in case of emergency for the paid, trained soldiers in the Continental Army (established by the Continental Congress in 1775), although the militia ultimately provided far more soldiers for that effort than the fledgling army. The British Regulars, or Redcoats, assumed this growing military was ill-equipped to handle the brutality of war. That misguided perspective, along with a big boost from the French, ultimately cost Britain the colonies during the Revolutionary War.

The U.S. Armed Forces over the last century have played major roles in two world wars, a wide variety of civil conflicts, and dozens of ongoing military campaigns. These efforts have made significant impacts on how our government makes decisions that may affect domestic and foreign affairs. The military itself has undergone a few structural changes in that time as well, including adding new divisions and permitting women and LGBTQ+ people to serve in all military branches.

Stacker looked at information from the Defense Manpower Data Center, the U.S. Census historical population tables, and the St. Louis Federal Reserve to see how the military has changed over the years. By comparing data sets (last updated 2021) we were able to determine the percentage of Americans enlisted in the military and the number of Americans in each military branch every year from 1918 to 2021.

[Pictured: Selected senior American commanders of the European theater of World War II.]

- Army strength: 2,395,742 people
- Navy strength: 448,606 people
- Marine Corps strength: 52,819 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 2,897,167 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 2.81%

Thousands of American troops joined forces in September 1918 with the Allied intervention force at Archangel in response to the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. American soldiers engaged in several major battles that year as part of World War I, including the Meuse-Argonne Offensive from Sept. 26 through Nov. 11, which involved more than 1 million American soldiers (26,000 of whom died in battle, with 120,000 casualties overall). The offensive was the largest undertaken by the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I and helped to usher in the end of the war on Nov. 11, 1918.

[Pictured: U.S. Marines during the Meuse-Argonne Campaign.]

- Army strength: 851,624 people
- Navy strength: 272,144 people
- Marine Corps strength: 48,834 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 1,172,602 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.12%

Following the conclusion of WWI, the Treaty of Versailles was signed June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles, France. The peace document included signatures from the Allied powers and Germany, and went into effect the following year with redrawn German boundaries and an outline of required reparations from the country. After signing the treaty on behalf of the United States and presenting his Fourteen Points that included the formation of the League of Nations, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson returned home only to find an obstinate Senate had voted against the treaty—twice.

[Pictured: The signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.]

- Army strength: 204,292 people
- Navy strength: 121,845 people
- Marine Corps strength: 17,165 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 343,302 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.32%

Congress in 1920 passed an amendment to the National Defense Act, which rejected the concept of an expandable “Regular Army” and called for the U.S. Army to have three main divisions: the standing Regular Army, National Guard, and Organized Reserves.

[Pictured: Officers of the 8th Surveillance Squadron, McAllen Field, Texas, 1920.]

- Army strength: 230,725 people
- Navy strength: 132,827 people
- Marine Corps strength: 22,990 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 386,542 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.36%

Congress approved the burial of an unidentified body from World War I on March 4, 1921, at Arlington National Cemetery. The "Unknown Soldier" commemorates the 116,516 American soldiers killed in World War I, many of whose bodies were never identified.

[Pictured: Unknown Soldier is laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11, 1921.]

- Army strength: 148,763 people
- Navy strength: 100,211 people
- Marine Corps strength: 21,233 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 270,207 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.25%

The Washington Naval Treaty was signed by the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, France, and Italy on Feb. 6, 1922. The document, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was drafted to prevent an arms race following World War I.

[Pictured: American Legion Weekly highlighting the plight of unemployed American veterans in 1922.]

- Army strength: 133,243 people
- Navy strength: 94,094 people
- Marine Corps strength: 19,694 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 247,031 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.22%

American soldiers spent part of 1923 in China, helping to control unrest that ensued amidst warlordism—the era marked by the dilemma of Beiyang Army military factions vying for control of China. The period of time represents a division of control spread out across the country.

[Pictured: Two Airco DH-4B biplanes perform the first ever mid-air refueling on June 27, 1923.]

- Army strength: 142,673 people
- Navy strength: 98,184 people
- Marine Corps strength: 20,332 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 261,189 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.23%

The U.S. Navy invaded the Dominican Republic in 1916, taking over the army, police, and several vital locations as Desiderio Arias, the Dominican Republic’s secretary of war, was forced out of Santo Domingo. The occupation lasted through 1924, when waning public support following World War I and significant opposition internationally and among Dominicans inspired the U.S. to turn policing authority over to the Guardia Nacional. Back home, the Immigration Act of 1924 allowed immigration visas for 2% of the number of people from each nationality in the U.S. according to the 1890 census. The act neglected to include visas for any immigrants from Asia, making it illegal for them to cross the U.S. shoreline and enter in spite of continued unrest overseas.

[Pictured: First Regiment Band, U.S. Marine Corps, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.]

- Army strength: 137,048 people
- Navy strength: 95,230 people
- Marine Corps strength: 19,478 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 251,756 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.22%

Continued unrest from Chinese factions competing for political power in Shanghai erupted into riots in the spring of 1925. American troops were brought in to protect the public—and the terms of the Shanghai International Settlement during one of the most pivotal moments in Chinese history.

[Pictured: Arrival of Dutch marines from the SS Sumatra in Shanghai.]

- Army strength: 134,938 people
- Navy strength: 93,304 people
- Marine Corps strength: 19,154 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 247,396 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.21%

The 1912–1933 U.S. occupation of Nicaragua was part of the “Banana Wars,” a period of various military interventions, massacres, and actions by the U.S. throughout the Caribbean and Central America following the 1898 conclusion of the Spanish-American War and the 1934 establishment of the Good Neighbor Policy. U.S. military presence in Nicaragua chiefly functioned to protect American business interests (soldiers kept unrest at a minimum on plantations the U.S. had a stake in and broke apart any uprisings) and thwart any other would-be occupiers from constructing the Nicaraguan Canal. In 1925, the election of conservative President Carlos Solorzano helped form a coalition government. Thirteen years into their occupation, the U.S. Marines left Nicara. But by October of that year, Nicaraguan Gen. Emiliano Chamorro Vargas staged a successful coup d’état against Solorzano. Vargas became president, but the U.S. did not recognize his rule after a liberal revolt, the U.S. military in January 1926 sent gun-boats and troops back into the country and forced Vargas’ resignation.

[Pictured: Harry Truman talking to an unidentified soldier at Fort Riley, Kansas, July 1926.]

- Army strength: 134,829 people
- Navy strength: 94,916 people
- Marine Corps strength: 19,198 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 248,943 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.21%

The 4th Regiment of the U.S. Marine Corps was sent to China in January 1927 to protect American citizens—and U.S. business interests—there in the midst of Shanghai’s ongoing civil unrest. Called the “China Marines,” these members of the military would remain in Shanghai through 1941. On April 12, 1927, 5,000 people from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s military forces and the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) staged a violent squashing of the Communist Party of China known as the Shanghai Massacre, or April 12 Purge. Hundreds of Communists were captured, tortured or executed, and the action touched off years of anti-communist violence coined the “White Terror.”

[Pictured: U.S. President Calvin Coolidge in 1927.]

- Army strength: 136,084 people
- Navy strength: 95,803 people
- Marine Corps strength: 19,020 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 250,907 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.21%

Between Jan. 6 and 8, 1928, First Lt. Christian F. Schilt took it upon himself to make 10 trips in his Vought O2U Corsair aircraft into Quilali, Nicaragua, in order to evacuate 18 U.S. Marines who had been injured in the conflict there. These takeoffs were accomplished amidst burning villages and extensive enemy fire, according to the U.S. Marine Corps, however, Schilt completed his mission, saved three lives in the process, delivered necessary provisions, and in June of 1928 was awarded the Medal of Honor.

[Pictured: U.S. President Calvin Coolidge in 1928.]

- Army strength: 139,118 people
- Navy strength: 97,117 people
- Marine Corps strength: 18,796 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 255,031 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.21%

The U.S. occupation of Haiti began in 1915 as a means of keeping the country from German occupation that could disrupt passage through the Panama Canal. By 1929, there was deep resentment against Americans for their roles in censoring the press, collecting customs duties, controlling the distribution of essentials like food and medicine, and forcing a new constitution upon the Haitians. Uprisings were commonplace, including a 1918 guerrilla war that rose up against the Marines over their forced labor system, designed to build roads through the country. On Dec. 6, 1929, U.S. Marine battalions in Les Cayes opened fire on 1,500 protestors who were part of a national strike and area rebellion. Twelve Haitians were killed and 23 wounded in the massacre. Worldwide backlash from this violence helped bring an end to U.S. occupation there.

[Pictured: Wendell Neville and Smedley Butler Review Marines, Oct. 31, 1929.]

- Army strength: 139,378 people
- Navy strength: 96,890 people
- Marine Corps strength: 19,380 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 255,648 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.21%

France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the U.S. signed the Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armament (commonly referred to as the London Naval Treaty) on April 22, 1930, to regulate submarine warfare and limit the building of naval ships. The terms of the treaty were put in place to avert a naval arms race following WWI and to build upon the Five Powers Treaty of 1922.

[Pictured: German naval personnel watching the battleship SMS Hessen, September 1930.]

- Army strength: 140,516 people
- Navy strength: 93,307 people
- Marine Corps strength: 16,782 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 252,605 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.20%

The Great Depression's effects continued to spread throughout the world in 1931, increasing tensions at home and abroad. It would be years before the onset of WWII however, a hint of the ensuing international conflict arose when Japanese forces captured Manchuria in violation of the League of Nations in September 1931. The invasion put U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson in the position of determining a way to thwart the conflict. He issued the Stimson Doctrine in January 1932, which said the U.S. would not honor agreements or treaties between Japan and China that were in violation of existing U.S. rights or agreements.

[Pictured: Henry Stimson (second from right) at the White House, Washington D.C.]

- Army strength: 134,957 people
- Navy strength: 93,384 people
- Marine Corps strength: 16,561 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 244,902 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.20%

In the summer of 1932, Congress denied military veterans an immediate bonus payment for participation in WWI. "Bonus Marchers" numbering more than 20,000 convened in Washington after this decision, demonstrating their discontent. President Herbert Hoover called on the Army to squash the protests, with hundreds of police officers and troops entered the marchers’ camps, sparking a conflict that left two protesting veterans dead and caused a massive outcry among the American public.

[Pictured: The Bonus Army fights with D.C. police.]

- Army strength: 136,547 people
- Navy strength: 91,230 people
- Marine Corps strength: 16,068 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 243,845 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.19%

A little over three years after the initial stock market crash, the unemployment rate in the U.S. stood at 24.9%, with almost 15 million U.S. citizens jobless. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt started the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as part of his New Deal program. The CCC included existing government departments, including the Army, and administered voluntary camps that provided more than 3 million men with manual labor jobs, mainly in natural resource conservation. Many Army officers benefitted from overseeing the camps, not otherwise having the opportunity to supervise large groups of personnel in the period between the world wars.

Also in 1933, Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany.

[Pictured: Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Pacific Northwest.]

- Army strength: 138,464 people
- Navy strength: 92,312 people
- Marine Corps strength: 16,361 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 247,137 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.20%

After President Franklin D. Roosevelt established an agreement to disengage from Haiti in 1933, the U.S. occupation of the country officially drew to a close Aug. 1, 1934. This followed FDR's "Good Neighbor" policy, which instructed the U.S. not to interfere in Latin American domestic affairs however, the U.S. did not relinquish its hand in Haitian finances until 1947.

[Pictured: U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934.]

- Army strength: 139,486 people
- Navy strength: 95,053 people
- Marine Corps strength: 17,260 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 251,799 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.20%

Buoyed by advances in aviation and the use of planes in World War I, more than a dozen commissions and boards grappled with how to move military aviation forward in a way that could be separate from general support aviation by the Army. The Baker Board of 1934 proposed a peacetime air force, established in 1935 as the General Headquarters (GHQ) Air Force and based at Langley Field, Virginia. The GHQ Air Force would function as a centralized unit for long-distance strikes. 1935 also marks the unveiling of the Model 299, a long-range, four-engine heavy bomber that would transform air battles. It was eventually coined the “B-17 Flying Fortress.”

[Pictured: Machine-gun crew aboard the USS Ranger, Oct. 8, 1935.]

- Army strength: 167,816 people
- Navy strength: 106,292 people
- Marine Corps strength: 17,248 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 291,356 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.23%

International governments looked upon the Spanish Civil War with trepidation, worried escalation could lead to a larger-scale world war. To prevent higher stakes, a number of Western governments including the United States signed a non-intervention treaty. That didn’t stop roughly 35,000 volunteers from 50 countries—including 2,800 U.S. volunteers—from traveling to Spain in 1936 to fight for the Spanish Republic against a fascist uprising aided by Hitler and Mussolini. American volunteers named their units the John Brown Battery, Abraham Lincoln Battalion, and George Washington Battalion. These units, along with volunteers from Britain, Canada, and several other countries, formed the Fifteenth Unit Brigade, known colloquially as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

[Pictured: Refugees from the Spanish Civil War cross into France.]

- Army strength: 179,968 people
- Navy strength: 113,617 people
- Marine Corps strength: 18,223 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 311,808 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.24%

As the U.S. began to concentrate its economic power on mobile war operations, the government enacted the Protective Mobilization Plan, which inducted the National Guard into federal service. This gave the Army a protective force of 400,000 troops, which could protect the nation while the Army focused on expansion and training. These plans were the foundation for the mobilization of troops in the summer of 1940, not long before the U.S. entered WWII.

[Pictured: Soldiers from the 118th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, South Carolina National Guard.]

- Army strength: 185,488 people
- Navy strength: 119,088 people
- Marine Corps strength: 18,356 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 322,932 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.25%

The Munich Agreement (also called the “Munich Betrayal”) in September 1938 was a settlement between Italy, Germany, and France allowing Germany to annex the Sudetenland in western Czechoslovakia, just four months after it became public knowledge that Hitler intended to occupy the entire country. The pact prevented all-out war but ceded a significant part of Czechoslovakia to German rule. As the American military watched things unfold overseas and noted the advances worldwide in war technology and artillery reach, it adjusted its defense strategy to focus on protecting the Western Hemisphere from enemy fire and hostile air bases in what has been coined the “hemisphere defense.”

[Pictured: A British army sentry on duty beside Spanish gendarmes during the Spanish Civil War.]

- Army strength: 189,839 people
- Navy strength: 125,202 people
- Marine Corps strength: 19,432 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 334,473 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.26%

World War II officially began with Germany’s invasion of Poland, followed two days later by the U.K. and France declaring war on Germany. Although the U.S. remained neutral until 1941, the military was still taking measures to train and plan for mobilization. FDR in 1939 proposed the Cash and Carry policy, which replaced the 1935 Neutrality Act and allowed the sale of military technology and materials to nations at war.

[Pictured: German soldiers at the border of Poland in 1939.]

- Army strength: 269,023 people
- Navy strength: 160,997 people
- Marine Corps strength: 28,345 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 458,365 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.35%

American involvement in WWII was limited: The military initially only contributed materials and financial support to Great Britain, the Republic of China, and the Soviet Union. Expecting eventual involvement, however, the U.S. was also beginning to strengthen its own military forces. From June of 1940 through December of 1941, $36 billion was allocated to the War Department (more than was spent on all of World War I) and $8 billion to the Army alone. Meanwhile, the munitions program was preparing weaponry to sustain a military force of more than 1 million men.

[Pictured: Smoke rising from the London docks after an air raid during the Blitz, 1940.]

- Army strength: 1,462,315 people
- Navy strength: 284,427 people
- Marine Corps strength: 54,359 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 1,801,101 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.35%

The U.S. declared war on Japan on Dec. 8, 1941, following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Japan’s attack lasted just one hour and 15 minutes but managed to inflict heavy damage upon the U.S. Pacific fleet, killing 2,403 people (68 of whom were civilians), disabling 112 watercraft and 164 aircraft, and sinking six battleships. The USS Arizona remains on the ocean floor of Pearl Harbor, with the entire crew on board. Three days after declaring war on Japan, the U.S. declared war on Germany and Italy.

[Pictured: USS Shaw exploding at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.]

- Army strength: 3,075,608 people
- Navy strength: 640,570 people
- Marine Corps strength: 142,613 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 3,858,791 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 2.86%

The U.S. officially declared war on Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania on June 5, 1942. The American government spent colossal amounts of money on the effort and assumed a wartime economy. American businesses, farmers, and factory workers all contributed. Toward the end of the year, it was mandatory for all men between the ages of 18 and 64 to register for the draft, though many volunteered without being called. U.S. troops inflicted critical damage on a Japanese naval fleet in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. With involvement in World War II escalating, rationing of foods such as sugar, meat, and coffee began.

[Pictured: A ship is destroyed in the battle Midway in June of 1942.]

- Army strength: 6,994,472 people
- Navy strength: 1,741,750 people
- Marine Corps strength: 308,523 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 9,044,745 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 6.61%

Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1915, just three years before World War I began. He worked up the ranks from infantryman to captain, instructor, major, and lieutenant colonel before the first world war drew to a close. By the time the second war rolled around, Eisenhower had worked in varying capacities as an instructor, football coach, and assistant to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and graduated from Army War College, as well as Command and General Staff School in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, first in his class. On Feb. 11, 1943, the future U.S. president was appointed Supreme Commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces to command Operation Overlord, which kicked off with invading Italy that year.

[Pictured: A fleet of B-24s flies above the destruction in Europe.]

- Army strength: 7,994,750 people
- Navy strength: 2,981,365 people
- Marine Corps strength: 475,604 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 11,451,719 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 8.27%

In the early morning of June 6, 1944, Allied troops enacted D-Day, which would bring the war about-face and bring down Nazi Germany. Approximately 155,000 Allied troops comprising U.S., British, and Canadian soldiers stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

[Pictured: Allied troops in the Battle of Normandy.]

- Army strength: 8,266,373 people
- Navy strength: 3,319,586 people
- Marine Corps strength: 469,925 people
- Air Force strength: Not yet formed
- Total strength: 12,055,884 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 8.62%

Among dozens of significant battles throughout World War II was the Battle of Iwo Jima, during which the Japanese island of Iwo Jima was taken over by the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy. After the invasion of Germany, WWII officially ended when President Harry Truman ordered two atomic bombs to be dropped on Japan in August 1945, killing an estimated minimum of at least 100,000 ordinary people, and possibly tens of thousands more. Overall, the U.S. suffered almost half a million military and civilian casualties during the war, and the government spent about $4.1 trillion in modern dollars—making it the most expensive war in U.S. history.

[Pictured: Atomic cloud over Hiroshima, Japan.]

- Army strength: 1,435,496 people
- Navy strength: 978,203 people
- Marine Corps strength: 155,679 people
- Air Force strength: 455,515 people
- Total strength: 3,024,893 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 2.14%

The U.S. military continued to demobilize in 1946, but slowed down the recovery of troops to fulfill outstanding obligations overseas. This decision resulted in protests from countries like China and France that did not subside until more than half of American troops returned home. The newly formed United Nations General Assembly had its first meeting in February 1946 at the Methodist Central Hall in London. The goal of the international organization was to encourage cooperation between countries and avoid another conflict like World War I and II. Its headquarters would be built in lower Manhattan in 1948, thanks to an $8.5 million donation from John D. Rockefeller the land was previously occupied by slaughterhouses and a railroad barge landing.

[Pictured: World War II Bond Rally, Navy Yard, Mare Island, California.]

- Army strength: 685,458 people
- Navy strength: 497,773 people
- Marine Corps strength: 93,053 people
- Air Force strength: 305,827 people
- Total strength: 1,582,111 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.10%

As post-war demobilization continued, the conversation of how the military would organize itself led to the creation of the United States Air Force and National Security Council in 1947. The council spawned the Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Defense. Post-war tensions between the Soviet Union and U.S. had officially manifested as the Cold War. To contain the spread of communism, President Truman facilitated the Truman Doctrine on March 29, 1947, which transferred $400 million to Turkey and Greece to aid in the fight against communism.

[Pictured: U.S. President Harry S. Truman.]

- Army strength: 554,030 people
- Navy strength: 417,535 people
- Marine Corps strength: 84,988 people
- Air Force strength: 387,730 people
- Total strength: 1,444,283 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.98%

The Army's chief responsibilities under the National Security Act were to carry out land operations, prove anti-aircraft units, and supply occupation and security garrisons for use overseas. The Navy continued to control the Marine Corps, and the new Air Force commanded strategic air warfare and combat air backup for the Army. President Truman signed the Marshall Plan on April 3, 1948, which allowed the U.S. to provide more than $12 million to help rebuild western European economies. Congress also passed a law declaring the Civil Air Patrol as the official civilian backup of the U.S. Air Force. Finally, on July 26, 1948, Truman passed Executive Order 9981, ending racial segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces.

[Pictured: Tuskegee Airmen in World War II.]

- Army strength: 660,473 people
- Navy strength: 447,901 people
- Marine Corps strength: 85,965 people
- Air Force strength: 419,347 people
- Total strength: 1,613,686 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.08%

An amendment to the National Security Act in 1949 transformed the National Military Establishment into an executive entity, also known as the Department of Defense, comprising the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in April 1949, establishing the intergovernmental military alliance known as NATO. The Cold War dispute known as the Revolt of the Admirals also took place in 1949, during which retired and active Navy admirals alike publicly disagreed with President Truman on the subject of strategic nuclear bombing as the primary mode of national defense. Additionally, a “Red Scare” broke out in the U.S. during which several public figures were named in an FBI report as Communist Party members, including Helen Keller and Dorothy Parker.

[Pictured: President Truman signing the document implementing the North Atlantic Treaty in the Oval office.]

- Army strength: 593,167 people
- Navy strength: 380,739 people
- Marine Corps strength: 74,279 people
- Air Force strength: 411,277 people
- Total strength: 1,459,462 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.96%

The Korean War touched off on June 25, 1950, when roughly 75,000 North Korean People’s Army soldiers crossed the boundary between North and South Korea. The war on the Korean peninsula would last for three years without ever being officially declared it cost 36,914 lives. Original estimates following the war’s conclusion put the death toll at 54,260, but that number was later revised to 36,914.

[Pictured: U.S. military forces enter into a three-year undeclared war on the Korean peninsula.]

- Army strength: 1,531,774 people
- Navy strength: 736,596 people
- Marine Corps strength: 192,620 people
- Air Force strength: 788,381 people
- Total strength: 3,249,371 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 2.10%

As the Korean War raged on, United Nations soldiers liberated Seoul for a second time in March 1951. Later that year, the U.N. and communist North Korean forces engaged in truce talks. A second Red Scare emerged when Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage and received the death penalty. As part of the Treaty of San Francisco, 49 countries signed a peace treaty with Japan.

[Pictured: 159th Artillery Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment.]

- Army strength: 1,596,419 people
- Navy strength: 824,265 people
- Marine Corps strength: 231,967 people
- Air Force strength: 983,261 people
- Total strength: 3,635,912 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 2.31%

The Treaty of San Francisco went into effect in 1952, officially ending the U.S. occupation of Japan. As nuclear testing continued, the U.S. military successfully detonated the first hydrogen bomb under Operation Ivy. That nuclear test still stands as the fourth largest for all U.S. tests of that kind. Meanwhile, President Dwight Eisenhower traveled to Korea to explore possible paths to peace.

[Pictured: Col. James K. Johnson, 4FIW Commander, with President Eisenhower during inspection tour at Kimpo AB, Korea, December 1952.]

- Army strength: 1,533,815 people
- Navy strength: 794,440 people
- Marine Corps strength: 249,219 people
- Air Force strength: 977,593 people
- Total strength: 3,555,067 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 2.22%

The U.N., China, and North Korea collectively engaged in an armistice to end the Korean War and pull troops out of both countries on July 27, 1953. The agreement was signed by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison Jr. from the U.N. Command Delegation and North Korean Gen. Nam II, representing North Korea and China. Elsewhere, the CIA and British Secret Intelligence Service overthrew democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in a coup d'etat when they learned of his involvement with the communist pro-Soviet Tudeh Party.

[Pictured: Gen. Mark W. Clark signs the Korean armistice agreement on July 27, 1953.]

- Army strength: 1,404,598 people
- Navy strength: 725,720 people
- Marine Corps strength: 223,868 people
- Air Force strength: 947,918 people
- Total strength: 3,302,104 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 2.03%

Despite having authorized hundreds of millions of dollars of military budget aid to Vietnam, President Eisenhower advised against assisting the French in their continued conflict with the Viet Minh. Eisenhower also approved the establishment of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. The U.S. Army was investigated by Sen. Joseph McCarthy for alleged communist infiltration.

[Pictured: Basic cadets from the first Air Force Academy class line up for physical training.]

- Army strength: 1,109,296 people
- Navy strength: 660,695 people
- Marine Corps strength: 205,170 people
- Air Force strength: 959,946 people
- Total strength: 2,935,107 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.77%

As the conflict in Vietnam escalated and Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem received threats from multiple domestic sources, President Eisenhower sent U.S. advisers to South Vietnam. Also that year, the U.S. Navy helped the Republic of China evacuate Chinese Nationalist soldiers and residents from the Tachen Islands when the People's Liberation Army overtook the area. The Formosa Resolution outlined U.S. protection of the Republic of China from the People's Republic of China.

[Pictured: Civilians crowd onto the pier of the Tachen Islands awaiting evacuation by the landing craft of the Seventh Fleet of the U.S. Navy.]

- Army strength: 1,025,778 people
- Navy strength: 669,925 people
- Marine Corps strength: 200,780 people
- Air Force strength: 909,958 people
- Total strength: 2,806,441 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.66%

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 began with an organized group of student protesters marching through the streets of Budapest on Oct. 23. After reading an anti-communist proclamation demanding an independent Hungary, students stormed the radio building near the Hungarian Parliament, prompting police to open fire. The violence killed one student and marked the first bloodshed in a revolution that ultimately toppled the Soviet government.

The violent outbreak turned the protest into an all-out nationwide revolt against Soviet policies that were being forced on the public by the Hungarian People’s Republic. The uprising exploded with militias fighting the military and arming prisoners the death toll included 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops. Another 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees. Meanwhile in the United States, officials and military leaders stood by watching events unfold, too afraid of another world war (or disrupting recently improved diplomacy with Moscow) to step in and assist the protestors. The revolution was squashed Nov. 4 when the Soviet Union sent soldiers into Hungary, causing an uproar among U.S. citizens and Hungarian demonstrators who were furious over the controversial lack of action by America. The U.S. had gone so far as to utilize the CIA-run Radio Free Europe (RFE) to broadcast encouragement to the rebels, implying the U.S. would be arriving with help and offering tactical insights for fighting the Soviets.

Ultimately, the Soviet Union would not regain governmental control over Hungary again.

[Pictured: Street corner in Budapest during the revolution.]

- Army strength: 997,994 people
- Navy strength: 676,071 people
- Marine Corps strength: 200,861 people
- Air Force strength: 919,835 people
- Total strength: 2,794,761 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.63%

The U.S. partnered with Canada to begin construction on the Distant Early Warning Line in 1954. This radar network, which became functional in 1957, was able to detect early signs of missile or air attacks coming from the north.

[Pictured: Aerial view of U.S. Air Force DEW Line and White Alice station, Grant Point, Izembek.]

- Army strength: 898,925 people
- Navy strength: 639,942 people
- Marine Corps strength: 189,495 people
- Air Force strength: 871,156 people
- Total strength: 2,599,518 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.49%

The Lebanon Crisis broke out in 1958, caused by the threat of civil war between Maronite Christians and Muslims. U.S. Marines helped diffuse the situation as part of Operation Blue Bat, which aimed to strengthen the pro-Western government under President Camille Chamoun and protect it from Syrian and Egyptian threats.

[Pictured: July 1958, U.S. Marine sits in a foxhole in Lebanon.]

- Army strength: 861,964 people
- Navy strength: 625,661 people
- Marine Corps strength: 175,571 people
- Air Force strength: 840,435 people
- Total strength: 2,503,631 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.41%

Cold War tensions continued to mount when a communist group in Laos overtook several provinces bordering North Vietnam and China. Neither side prevailed, despite the U.S. military intervention, training of Laotian soldiers, and growing presence in the country since 1957 in support of Royal Lao Armed Forces (known commonly by its French acronym, FAR).

[Pictured: Pathet Lao, a communist organization in Laos, circa 1953.]

- Army strength: 873,078 people
- Navy strength: 616,987 people
- Marine Corps strength: 170,621 people
- Air Force strength: 814,752 people
- Total strength: 2,475,438 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.37%

The U.S. acknowledged Fidel Castro as the leader of Cuba, but as Castro—who rose to power in 1959 following an armed uprising that unseated Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista—increasingly nationalized U.S. companies and investments there, harsh penalties were enacted. The U.S. in 1960 suspended sugar imports from Cuba, dissolved ties to the Castro government, and halted all Cuban assets at home. In March of 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower directed the CIA to start training Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro and allocated $13.1 million to the cause.

[Pictured: March 1960, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and others marching through the streets in protest over the La Coubre explosion.]

- Army strength: 858,622 people
- Navy strength: 626,223 people
- Marine Corps strength: 176,909 people
- Air Force strength: 821,151 people
- Total strength: 2,482,905 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.35%

Though the threat of nuclear war remained low, newly appointed President John F. Kennedy nevertheless vowed to equip the U.S. military with the necessary means to retaliate if attacked. The Bay of Pigs invasion took place in Cuba on April 17, 1961, sending almost 1,500 trained Cuban exiles to storm the Bay of Pigs beaches. The initial air strike on Cuba’s airfield didn’t dismantle the entire air force, however, ultimately causing a failed attempt to overthrow the growing communist government.

[Pictured: Cuban Revolutionary Army celebrating their victory in the Bay of Pigs Invasion.]

- Army strength: 1,066,404 people
- Navy strength: 664,212 people
- Marine Corps strength: 190,962 people
- Air Force strength: 884,025 people
- Total strength: 2,805,603 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.50%

When it was revealed that Cuba was in possession of Soviet ballistic missiles, the U.S. government set up a naval blockade in southern Florida. This 13-day incident became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. President John F. Kennedy warned the Soviet Union that if they launched missiles from Cuba against any country, the U.S would be forced to use nuclear weapons on Russia. The issue was resolved when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev called for the removal of the Soviet missiles from Cuba.

[Pictured: U.S. President John F. Kennedy signs the order of naval blockade of Cuba on Oct. 24, 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.]

- Army strength: 975,916 people
- Navy strength: 663,897 people
- Marine Corps strength: 189,683 people
- Air Force strength: 869,431 people
- Total strength: 2,698,927 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.43%

Representatives from the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the United States signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty on Oct. 7, 1963. The document effectively banned nuclear testing in space, underwater, and in the atmosphere, but did allow for testing in underground sites with responsible containment of radioactive material.

[Pictured: Oct. 7,1963, President Kennedy signs the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.]

- Army strength: 973,238 people
- Navy strength: 665,969 people
- Marine Corps strength: 189,777 people
- Air Force strength: 856,798 people
- Total strength: 2,685,782 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.40%

As Saigon's government continued to decline, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent military advisers to South Vietnam to assist. U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964 radioed that they were receiving fire from North Vietnamese forces, inspiring President Johnson to request increased military force in Indochina. Congress drew up the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the green light to force by any means necessary to stave off attacks and halt further violence. It ultimately managed to intensify the conflict in Vietnam.

[Pictured: President Johnson during a speech, 1964.]

- Army strength: 969,066 people
- Navy strength: 669,985 people
- Marine Corps strength: 190,213 people
- Air Force strength: 824,662 people
- Total strength: 2,653,926 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.37%

As the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade arrived on the shores of China Beach on March 8, 1965, the U.S. officially entered the Vietnam War. Prior U.S. activity in Vietnam did not include active combat and largely comprised support and intelligence operations. Throughout the Vietnam Era, more than 2,709,918 Americans—9.7% of their generation—served in Vietnam.

[Pictured: U.S. Army helicopters in Vietnam in 1965.]

- Army strength: 1,199,784 people
- Navy strength: 743,322 people
- Marine Corps strength: 261,716 people
- Air Force strength: 887,353 people
- Total strength: 3,092,175 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.57%

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was an investigative committee within the U.S. House of Representatives that was founded in 1938 to root out potential communist threats. In 1966, HUAC commenced hearings to investigate citizens allegedly aiding the Viet Cong, as well as anti-war activists. Hundreds of protesters showed up to the hearings on the first day, Aug. 16, 1966, while witnesses resisted their questioners. The hearings and protests incited more anti-Vietnam War demonstrations around the country.

[Pictured: People protesting the Vietnam War in downtown Philadelphia, Pa., March 26, 1966.]

- Army strength: 1,442,498 people
- Navy strength: 750,224 people
- Marine Corps strength: 285,269 people
- Air Force strength: 897,494 people
- Total strength: 3,375,485 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.70%

U.S. Marines carried out Operation Swift beginning Sept. 4, 1967, in order to free two Marine companies that had been waylaid by the People’s Army of Vietnam. The rescue mission, involving three 5th Marine Regiment battalions up against bigger forces of NVA and Viet Cong, took place in the Quang Nam and Quang Tin provinces and resulted in two Medal of Honor recipients, the saving of the city of Da Nang, and an estimated enemy casualty count surpassing 4,000.

[Pictured: A U.S. Marine rests during Operation Swift.]

- Army strength: 1,570,343 people
- Navy strength: 763,626 people
- Marine Corps strength: 307,252 people
- Air Force strength: 904,850 people
- Total strength: 3,546,071 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.77%

A coordinated 1968 attack during the Tet holiday by North Vietnamese and communist Viet Cong forces (called the Tet Offensive) resulted in extensive casualties. The attack came at a time when the United States was claiming the war was all but won, ensuring a further drop in support for the Vietnam War by the American public.

[Pictured: The 47th Infantry Regiment takes the offensive May 1968 in south Saigon during the Tet Offensive.]

- Army strength: 1,512,169 people
- Navy strength: 773,779 people
- Marine Corps strength: 309,771 people
- Air Force strength: 862,353 people
- Total strength: 3,458,072 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.71%

Newly appointed President Richard Nixon established the Nixon Doctrine (first called the Guam Doctrine) in 1969. This document established that the U.S. would rely on its Asian allies to take control of their own military defenses, while still receiving some support from their American neighbors.

[Pictured: July 30, 1969, Nixon visits South Vietnam.]

- Army strength: 1,322,548 people
- Navy strength: 691,126 people
- Marine Corps strength: 259,737 people
- Air Force strength: 791,349 people
- Total strength: 3,064,760 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.49%

As the Vietnam War began to wind down, U.S. troops invaded Cambodia in 1970 to capture lingering Viet Cong forces and prevent North Vietnamese attacks on South Vietnam. On April 30, President Nixon gave a speech explaining his decision, which touched off a fresh set of anti-war protests that resulted in the notorious Kent State shootings where four protestors were killed and nine injured.

[Pictured: President Nixon delivers a speech to the American people announcing the Cambodian incursion.]

- Army strength: 1,123,810 people
- Navy strength: 621,565 people
- Marine Corps strength: 212,369 people
- Air Force strength: 755,300 people
- Total strength: 2,713,044 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.31%

Army Lieut. William Calley was convicted of the 1968 deaths of 22 civilians during the My Lai Massacre, in which more than 500 people were killed. He was sentenced to life in prison, but President Richard Nixon reduced his sentence and Calley ended up serving just three years under house arrest.

[Pictured: Army Lieut. William Calley.]

- Army strength: 810,960 people
- Navy strength: 586,923 people
- Marine Corps strength: 198,238 people
- Air Force strength: 725,838 people
- Total strength: 2,321,959 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.11%

The North Vietnamese launched the Easter Offensive (dubbed the Nguyen Hue Offensive) on March 30, 1972, kicking off a large-scale, three-part assault on South Vietnam. Hundreds of South Vietnamese civilians and soldiers were injured as a result, but the attack was ultimately stopped in October of that year by South Vietnamese soldiers and U.S. advisers.

[Pictured: Helicopters of the U.S. 229th Aviation Battalion, 3rd Brigade, First Air Cavalry Division, land in formation at Lai Khe during the Easter Offensive.]

- Army strength: 800,973 people
- Navy strength: 563,683 people
- Marine Corps strength: 196,098 people
- Air Force strength: 691,182 people
- Total strength: 2,251,936 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.06%

President Nixon announced progress in peace negotiations with Vietnam, and called for the cessation of bombing in North Vietnam. A ceasefire was signed, but soon violated by the communists in March of 1973. All-out war had resumed by 1974.

[Pictured: Jan. 27, 1973, President Nixon signing the peace agreement.]

- Army strength: 783,330 people
- Navy strength: 545,903 people
- Marine Corps strength: 188,802 people
- Air Force strength: 643,970 people
- Total strength: 2,162,005 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 1.01%

As President Nixon faced the final throes of the Watergate scandal back home, Turkey invaded Cyprus in July of 1974. Following the invasion, the U.S. Navy swooped in to evacuate almost 400 American citizens from the island country to Beirut. The following month, Nixon resigned from his presidency.

[Pictured: President Nixon during the broadcast of his address to the nation.]

- Army strength: 784,333 people
- Navy strength: 535,085 people
- Marine Corps strength: 195,951 people
- Air Force strength: 612,751 people
- Total strength: 2,128,120 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.99%

The Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975, with the fall of Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City). Communist North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops overtook the city, causing American and South Vietnamese forces to evacuate and South Vietnam to surrender.

[Pictured: A Vietcong tank in front of the presidential palace of the U.S.-backed Southern Vietnamese regime in Saigon on the day that the city fell to communist troops, April 30, 1975.]

- Army strength: 779,417 people
- Navy strength: 524,678 people
- Marine Corps strength: 192,399 people
- Air Force strength: 585,416 people
- Total strength: 2,081,910 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.95%

This year in military history was significant for women in the military, marking the first time they were admitted to service academies. More than 300 women entered, including 119 women at West Point alone.

[Pictured: Women in the Air Force, or WAFs, and staff at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center on McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Tenn.]

- Army strength: 782,246 people
- Navy strength: 529,895 people
- Marine Corps strength: 191,707 people
- Air Force strength: 570,695 people
- Total strength: 2,074,543 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.94%

In response to President Jimmy Carter's new foreign policy for Latin America (namely ending U.S. intervention there and protecting human rights), Nicaraguan military leader Anastasio Somoza rescinded a state of siege that had been enforced for the previous three years. This move paved the way for a $2.5 million military aid agreement between the United States and Nicaragua.

[Pictured: President Jimmy Carter at his desk in the Oval Office, 1977.]

- Army strength: 771,624 people
- Navy strength: 529,557 people
- Marine Corps strength: 190,815 people
- Air Force strength: 569,712 people
- Total strength: 2,061,708 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.93%

The Women's Army Corps was dissolved in 1978, and all women soldiers were incorporated into previously all-male units. There were a few caveats, namely that women were still not allowed to serve in combat positions.

[Pictured: Women's Army Corps members run an obstacle course during basic training.]

- Army strength: 758,852 people
- Navy strength: 523,335 people
- Marine Corps strength: 185,250 people
- Air Force strength: 559,455 people
- Total strength: 2,026,892 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.90%

On Nov. 4, 1979, Iranian students overtook the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held more than 50 Americans hostage. The Iranian Hostage Crisis would go on for 444 days.

[Pictured:Two American hostages during the siege of the U.S. Embassy.]

- Army strength: 777,036 people
- Navy strength: 527,153 people
- Marine Corps strength: 188,469 people
- Air Force strength: 557,969 people
- Total strength: 2,050,627 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.90%

In April of 1980, several U.S. transport planes and helicopters tried unsuccessfully to rescue the Americans held hostage in Iran, prompting President Carter to discontinue diplomatic relations with the country. The botched attempt left one Iranian civilian and eight members of the U.S. military dead. In June of that year, Carter signed Proclamation 4771, which required men between 18 and 26 to "present themselves to register" for the military. Carter insisted this registration was not a draft.

[Pictured: President Jimmy Carter announces new sanctions against Iran in retaliation for taking U.S. hostages.]

- Army strength: 781,419 people
- Navy strength: 540,219 people
- Marine Corps strength: 190,620 people
- Air Force strength: 570,302 people
- Total strength: 2,082,560 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.91%

During the Gulf of Sidra Incident, Libya claimed the region as part of its territorial waters. In response, the U.S. engaged in operations around the gulf, citing the freedom of navigation principle America argued that the area was legally considered an international body of water. Forces shot down two Libyan fighter jets.

[Pictured: In 1981, a U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4J Phantom II of Fighter Squadron VF-74 Be-Devilers escorting a Libyan Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 over Gulf of Sidra.]

- Army strength: 780,391 people
- Navy strength: 552,996 people
- Marine Corps strength: 192,380 people
- Air Force strength: 582,845 people
- Total strength: 2,108,612 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.91%

Eight hundred U.S. Marines were sent to Beirut in 1982 during the Lebanese Civil War to take out members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was also dedicated in Washington D.C. that year with thousands of former and current soldiers attending the event.

[Pictured: In 1982, a Navy Amphibian arriving in Beirut.]

- Army strength: 779,643 people
- Navy strength: 557,573 people
- Marine Corps strength: 194,089 people
- Air Force strength: 592,044 people
- Total strength: 2,123,349 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.91%

In May of 1983, the U.S. signed an agreement requiring Israel to withdraw troops from Lebanon. Negotiations between Israel and Lebanon occured over the course of 35 different sessions that began the previous December. That October, a truck bomb killed 241 U.S. personnel, including 220 Marines, on a military compound in Beirut.

[Pictured: Beirut Memorial on Camp Johnson erected in honor of the 241 U.S. Marines, sailors, and soldiers who died in a terrorist attack on the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.]

- Army strength: 780,180 people
- Navy strength: 564,638 people
- Marine Corps strength: 196,214 people
- Air Force strength: 597,125 people
- Total strength: 2,138,157 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.91%

Having aided Lebanon during its civil war, the last U.S. Marines withdrew from Beirut in 1984. As the Iran-Iraq War entered its fourth year, U.S. aerial tanker planes assisted Iranian jets under attack by Saudi Arabian fighter pilots. President Ronald Reagan expressed concern that the incident would worsen the war in the Persian Gulf.

[Pictured: Marines at the port of Beirut on Sept. 29, 1982.]

- Army strength: 780,787 people
- Navy strength: 570,705 people
- Marine Corps strength: 198,025 people
- Air Force strength: 601,515 people
- Total strength: 2,151,032 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.90%

In October of 1985, four Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, killing an American citizen. U.S. Navy pilots later intercepted the Egyptian airliner carrying the terrorists. As part of Cold War negotiations, President Reagan met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva.

[Pictured: Achille Lauro leaves Port Said harbor on Oct. 10, 1985, after Egyptian authorities stopped it from sailing to the Israeli port of Ashdod.]

- Army strength: 780,980 people
- Navy strength: 581,119 people
- Marine Corps strength: 198,814 people
- Air Force strength: 608,199 people
- Total strength: 2,169,112 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.90%

A West Berlin discotheque was bombed in 1986. Three people were killed and more than 200 were injured at the La Belle nightclub, which was a popular destination for U.S. soldiers. The attack was traced back to Libyan terrorists. Nine days later, President Reagan approved a series of Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy airstrikes on Libya.

[Pictured: On April 13, 1986, a crew prepares for an air strike on Libya.]

- Army strength: 780,815 people
- Navy strength: 586,842 people
- Marine Corps strength: 199,525 people
- Air Force strength: 607,035 people
- Total strength: 2,174,217 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.90%

As violence in the Persian Gulf continued, the U.S. upped its military presence in the area and established a policy of confronting passing Kuwaiti oil tankers and accompanying them through the Gulf. A cease-fire between Iran and Iraq later inspired the U.S. to dial down its presence. In December of 1987, President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in Washington D.C., terminating the use of intermediate and short-range missiles.

[Pictured: On Dec. 8, 1987, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty in the White House.]

- Army strength: 771,847 people
- Navy strength: 592,570 people
- Marine Corps strength: 197,350 people
- Air Force strength: 576,446 people
- Total strength: 2,138,213 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.87%

The USS Samuel B. Roberts hit a naval mine while on a military operation in April 1988. The U.S. Navy retaliated by carrying out Operation Praying Mantis, which entailed a series of hits on Iranian oil platforms and naval ships. In December of that year, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, publicly relinquished violence, inspiring the U.S. to initiate a conversation with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

[Pictured: On April 14, 1988, Marines inspect an Iranian Sassan oil platform during Operation Praying Mantis.]

- Army strength: 769,741 people
- Navy strength: 592,652 people
- Marine Corps strength: 196,956 people
- Air Force strength: 570,880 people
- Total strength: 2,130,229 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.86%

In September of 1989, President George H.W. Bush called for military advisers and special forces teams to help shut down drug production and trafficking in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. Later that year, Bush met with Mikhail Gorbachev off the coast of Malta, and announced the Cold War might be coming to a close.

[Pictured: On Dec. 2, 1989, President Bush meets with President Mikhail Gorbachev during the Malta Summit.]

- Army strength: 732,403 people
- Navy strength: 579,417 people
- Marine Corps strength: 196,652 people
- Air Force strength: 535,233 people
- Total strength: 2,043,705 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.82%

As talks continued, Bush met with Gorbachev to sign the Chemical Weapons Accord, which terminated the production of chemical weapons and called for each party's arsenal to be dismantled. In August of 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, sparking the Gulf War. Bush called for a large deployment of U.S. armed forces to the Persian Gulf to help Saudi Arabia fend off Iraqi forces. In November, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 678, which gave the green light for military intervention in Iraq if its government didn't pull forces out of Kuwait by Jan. 15 of the following year.

[Pictured: On June 1, 1990, President George H.W. Bush and President Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Chemical Weapons Accord.]

- Army strength: 710,821 people
- Navy strength: 570,262 people
- Marine Corps strength: 194,040 people
- Air Force strength: 510,432 people
- Total strength: 1,985,555 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.78%

On Jan. 17, 1991, President Bush instructed U.S. armed forces to execute air strikes against Iraqi forces in Iraq and Kuwait. Later that month, thousands of people convened in Washington D.C. to rally against the Gulf War. The deadliest attack on the U.S. in this war came in late February when an Iraqi scud missile blew up a U.S. barracks in Dhahran, killing 27 soldiers and injuring 98 more. Before the month was over, Saddam Hussein announced that Iraqi soldiers had pulled out of Kuwait. The following day, Bush proclaimed that Kuwait had been liberated. Mikhail Gorbachev stepped down in December of 1991, signaling an end to the Soviet Union and Cold War.

[Pictured: During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, U.S. Air Force aircraft fly over Kuwait.]

- Army strength: 610,450 people
- Navy strength: 541,883 people
- Marine Corps strength: 184,529 people
- Air Force strength: 470,315 people
- Total strength: 1,807,177 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.70%

When Iraq failed to recognize the new border established by the U.N., the U.S. executed a series of military exercises in Kuwait in 1992 to demonstrate preparation for another Iraqi threat. Later that year, the U.N. passed Security Council Resolution 794, ultimately forming the Unified Task Force, whose main responsibility was aiding Somalia in the wake of a humanitarian crisis. That multinational force, led by the U.S., worked from Dec. 5, 1992 to May 4, 1993 in Somalia.

[Pictured: A soldier provides supplies to Somali villagers as part of U.S. humanitarian aid relief efforts in Somalia.]

- Army strength: 572,423 people
- Navy strength: 509,950 people
- Marine Corps strength: 178,379 people
- Air Force strength: 444,351 people
- Total strength: 1,705,103 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.66%

The U.S. Quick Reaction Forces responded in June 1993 to Somali faction attacks on U.N. forces, and more military operations ensued when U.N. attempts to deliver humanitarian aid were thwarted. That same month, President Bill Clinton called for a cruise missile attack on Iraqi headquarters in Baghdad. The order came in response to a 17-person plot to assassinate former President Bush during his trip to Kuwait in April 1993.

[Pictured: During the Battle of Mogadishu, a jeep burns because of a remote-controlled bomb.]

- Army strength: 541,343 people
- Navy strength: 468,662 people
- Marine Corps strength: 174,158 people
- Air Force strength: 426,327 people
- Total strength: 1,610,490 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.61%

In September of 1994, the Iraq disarmament crisis—which would be used as leverage for the 2003 invasion of Iraq—manifested as Iraq threatening to no longer cooperate with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and sending troops near the Iraq-Kuwait border. In return, the U.S. sent soldiers to Kuwait. In October, Iraq pulled its troops out of Kuwait after the U.N. Security Council made further threats.

[Pictured: President Bill Clinton (center) waves to U.S. troops in Kuwait 1994.]

- Army strength: 508,559 people
- Navy strength: 434,617 people
- Marine Corps strength: 174,639 people
- Air Force strength: 400,409 people
- Total strength: 1,518,224 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.57%

As U.S. aircraft assisted in NATO's enforcement of a no-fly zone above Bosnia-Herzegovina, Capt. Scott O'Grady was shot down in his aircraft and rescued about a week later. U.S. fighter planes engaged in NATO strikes against the Bosnian Serb Army, which was threatening areas the U.N. had established as safe zones.

[Pictured: Capt. Scott O'Grady (right) at a press conference after being shot down by Bosnian Serbs.]

- Army strength: 491,103 people
- Navy strength: 416,735 people
- Marine Corps strength: 174,883 people
- Air Force strength: 389,001 people
- Total strength: 1,471,722 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.55%

In the continuation of the Iraq disarmament crisis, Iraq upheld its decision to deny inspectors access to several sites and the U.S. was unable to gain military support to solve the issue. President Clinton gave the go-ahead for U.S. forces to remain in Bosnia as part of NATO's Implementation Force, which sought to maintain peace in Bosnia. Clinton also signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which aimed to put a stop to all nuclear detonations for civil or military means.

[Pictured: Delegates to the United Nations watch the electronic votes to see if the comprehensive global nuclear test-ban treaty would be carried over.]

- Army strength: 491,707 people
- Navy strength: 395,564 people
- Marine Corps strength: 173,906 people
- Air Force strength: 377,385 people
- Total strength: 1,438,562 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.53%

As some U.S. troops remained in Bosnia to maintain peace with the NATO Stabilization Force, a few thousand U.S. soldiers were deployed to nearby Hungary, Croatia, and Italy to provide backup. Back home, sexual assault scandals rocked the military as Army Sergeant Maj. Gene McKinney was accused of sexual misconduct and 12 officers on a training base in Maryland were accused of sexually assaulting women trainees there.

[Pictured: Army Sergeant Maj. Gene McKinney.]

- Army strength: 484,928 people
- Navy strength: 381,336 people
- Marine Corps strength: 173,055 people
- Air Force strength: 367,468 people
- Total strength: 1,406,787 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.51%

In August 1998, U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi were bombed, killing 224 and injuring more than 5,000. The bombings were linked to Osama bin Laden al-Qaeda claimed responsibility. In retaliation, the U.S. military dropped cruise missiles on Afghanistan, targeting al-Qaeda camps.

[Pictured: U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright looks at the U.S. embassy in Dar Es Salaam after the bombing.]

- Army strength: 477,788 people
- Navy strength: 372,507 people
- Marine Corps strength: 172,635 people
- Air Force strength: 360,510 people
- Total strength: 1,383,440 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.50%

President Clinton called for 7,000 U.S. military troops to assist NATO’s “Kosovo Force” security team in Kosovo, where the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia—comprising the republics of Montenegro and Serbia—was in conflict with the Kosovo Liberation Army. Later that year, the U.S Senate rejected the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

[Pictured: A soldier poses with Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen in Kosovo.]

- Army strength: 483,115 people
- Navy strength: 371,543 people
- Marine Corps strength: 172,955 people
- Air Force strength: 355,601 people
- Total strength: 1,383,214 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.49%

Two al-Qaeda suicide bombers attacked the USS Cole in Yemen, killing 17 U.S. sailors and injuring 39. In response, President Clinton approved 45 U.S. naval personnel to contribute medical and security assistance. Navy combat ships were situated near Yemeni waters to provide additional support. A man believed to be involved in the attack was reportedly killed in an airstrike in 2019, according to a U.S. administration official.

[Pictured: USS Cole after the attack.]

- Army strength: 482,655 people
- Navy strength: 377,312 people
- Marine Corps strength: 176,720 people
- Air Force strength: 363,692 people
- Total strength: 1,400,379 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.49%

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, a group of 19 militants orchestrated a coordinated attack against The World Trade Center in New York City and The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, by highjacking four planes and flying them into buildings. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks and more than 6,000 were injured—there were no survivors on any of the hijacked planes. Two planes struck the towers of The World Trade Center, one crashed into the Pentagon, and another crashed in a Pennsylvania field. The attacks launched the worldwide “war on terror,” a global military campaign still in effect today. As part of this effort, President George W. Bush approved an executive order permitting military tribunals against any foreign residents thought to have ties to terrorist groups. U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan later that year, with the intent of defeating al-Qaeda.

[Pictured: The Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.]

- Army strength: 488,631 people
- Navy strength: 385,009 people
- Marine Corps strength: 177,868 people
- Air Force strength: 369,112 people
- Total strength: 1,420,620 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.49%

The U.N. Security Council in January 2002 called for an arms embargo and the freezing of Osama bin Laden's assets. U.S. forces carried out Operation Anaconda on March 2-10 in Afghanistan, killing anywhere between 100 and 1,000 members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. There were 80 casualties among U.S. forces, including eight dead and 72 wounded. That October, Congress passed the Iraq Resolution, which allowed the U.S. to take military action against Iraq. In November, President Bush passed the Homeland Security Act, which officially established the Department of Homeland Security.

[Pictured: Soldiers during Operation Anaconda.]

- Army strength: 497,770 people
- Navy strength: 382,655 people
- Marine Corps strength: 181,166 people
- Air Force strength: 375,859 people
- Total strength: 1,437,450 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.50%

The U.S. and U.K. invaded Iraq in late March of 2003, starting with a “shock and awe” campaign designed to use dramatic force to cripple the enemy. That April, U.S. soldiers defeated the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Republican Guard in the Battle of Baghdad. Later that year, President Bush confirmed that there was no evidence to substantiate Saddam Hussein's involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.

[Pictured: A soldier assess the damage after targeting one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces as part of the "shock and awe" campaign.]

- Army strength: 498,428 people
- Navy strength: 372,525 people
- Marine Corps strength: 177,021 people
- Air Force strength: 376,813 people
- Total strength: 1,424,787 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.49%

In February of 2004, the CIA announced there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion. In October, video footage of Osama bin Laden aired on Al Jazeera, in which he threatened to terrorize the U.S. and mocked President Bush over the World Trade Center attacks. In December, as U.S. forces continued to occupy Iraq, revolutionaries attacked a U.S. outpost in Mosul, resulting in 22 fatalities. Two days later, U.S. soldiers killed the revolutionaries in Fallujah.

[Pictured: Soldiers standing guard in front of a building in Mosul, Iraq, in 2004.]

- Army strength: 490,632 people
- Navy strength: 362,239 people
- Marine Corps strength: 179,840 people
- Air Force strength: 353,696 people
- Total strength: 1,386,407 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.47%

Early in 2005, North Korea claimed possession of nuclear weapons as a precautionary measure against “hostile” U.S. forces. Worldwide, citizens continued protesting the Iraq War—including more than 150,000 people who took to the streets of Washington D.C. In December, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq.

[Pictured: U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (center) talks to soldiers after announcing a reduction in size of the U.S. forces in Iraq.]

- Army strength: 507,131 people
- Navy strength: 349,534 people
- Marine Corps strength: 180,252 people
- Air Force strength: 348,953 people
- Total strength: 1,385,870 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.46%

Thirteen years after its initial congressional approval, a United States Air Force Memorial depicting three spires “Soaring to Glory” was dedicated Oct. 14, 2006. A month later, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced his resignation. And on Dec. 30, Saddam Hussein was hanged in Baghdad following his conviction for crimes against humanity. Grainy scenes from his execution were captured and widely shared online, provoking concern among U.S. and British officials who feared the Iraqi government was encouraging sectarian killings.

[Pictured: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld announces his resignation while President George W. Bush stands in the background.]

- Army strength: 522,190 people
- Navy strength: 336,659 people
- Marine Corps strength: 186,425 people
- Air Force strength: 333,495 people
- Total strength: 1,378,769 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.46%

Early in 2007, U.S. Air Force units carried out airstrikes in Somalia in the wake of suspected terrorist activity. President Bush took measures to deploy 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers to Iraq. In a battle involving Iraqi revolutionaries and U.S.-supported Iraqi troops, 300 alleged insurgents were killed in Najaf, Iraq. In December, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) conveyed confidence that Iran's nuclear weapons facilities had been dormant since 2003.

[Pictured: Soldiers in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 5, 2007.]

- Army strength: 544,150 people
- Navy strength: 331,132 people
- Marine Corps strength: 198,415 people
- Air Force strength: 327,382 people
- Total strength: 1,401,079 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.46%

The U.S Navy wiped out an American spy satellite in February of 2008, causing countries around the world to accuse the U.S. of testing its ability to compromise satellites belonging to other countries. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continued to proliferate.

[Pictured: Following the successful destruction of a spy satellite, Navy Capt. Randall M. Hendrickson speaks to reporters.]

- Army strength: 553,579 people
- Navy strength: 328,751 people
- Marine Corps strength: 203,075 people
- Air Force strength: 333,408 people
- Total strength: 1,418,813 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.46%

Newly appointed President Barack Obama signed orders to shut down the Guantanamo Bay military prison, and put a stop to the use of torture in interrogations. Yet the Guantanamo remains open, and according to a study done by The New York Times, costs tax payers $540 per year, breaking down to $13 million per prisoner, many of whom are being held indefinitely without trial.

In April 2009, Somali pirates hijacked the American freighter Maersk Alabama and kidnapped its captain. As the U.S. Navy engaged in a standoff, a sniper killed three pirates.

[Pictured: President Barack Obama signs an executive order closing Guantanamo Bay.]

- Army strength: 566,045 people
- Navy strength: 327,697 people
- Marine Corps strength: 202,612 people
- Air Force strength: 334,198 people
- Total strength: 1,430,552 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.46%

In his first State of the Union address, President Obama discussed abolishing the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy. Instituted in 1994, the policy banned military officers from asking subordinates about their sexual orientation, but also banned gay or bisexual soldiers from discussing their sexuality, effectively barring openly gay or bisexual people from serving in the military. In December of 2010, Obama signed the repeal on “Don't Ask Don't Tell” into law. The U.S. Navy revoked its ban on women serving in submarines. The last U.S. troops began leaving Iraq, and Obama announced that combat operations in Iraq would be discontinued.

[Pictured: President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.]

- Army strength: 565,463 people
- Navy strength: 324,666 people
- Marine Corps strength: 201,026 people
- Air Force strength: 333,162 people
- Total strength: 1,424,317 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.46%

In May of 2011, President Obama declared that U.S. military forces had killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In June, modified U.S. military strategy was adjusted to reflect that a cyberattack would be a legitimate reason to declare war. Shortly after, an FBI investigation revealed that Chinese hackers had tapped into American and Chinese Gmail accounts.

[Pictured: President Barack Obama shakes hands with Admiral Mike Mullen in the White House after the mission against Osama bin Laden.]

- Army strength: 550,063 people
- Navy strength: 318,818 people
- Marine Corps strength: 198,820 people
- Air Force strength: 332,834 people
- Total strength: 1,400,535 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.45%

NATO leaders at the 2012 Chicago summit discussed nuclear weapons, the Middle East, Russia, and Afghanistan—including an exit strategy. On Sept. 11, members of Islamic militia group Ansar al-Sharia launched an attack on a U.S. diplomatic building in Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and Foreign Service officer Sean Smith. This prompted the U.S. to increase security measures on an international level.

[Pictured: Sept. 14, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks about the Benghazi attack.]

- Army strength: 532,043 people
- Navy strength: 324,308 people
- Marine Corps strength: 195,848 people
- Air Force strength: 330,485 people
- Total strength: 1,382,684 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.44%

In January of 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta revoked the ban on women serving in combat missions. Shortly after, a crisis in North Korea began to take form: Threats of nuclear warfare were issued against South Korea and the U.S. In August, the Syrian government was accused of killing more than 1,000 people with chemical weapons.

[Pictured: Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta signs a document ending the ban on women participating in combat missions.]

- Army strength: 508,210 people
- Navy strength: 326,054 people
- Marine Corps strength: 187,891 people
- Air Force strength: 316,332 people
- Total strength: 1,338,487 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.42%

The Obama administration suggested decreasing the military budget to $522 billion, and reducing the army to a size not seen since 1940. In June, Obama pledged to deploy up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to assist the Shiites under threat by the Sunni militant group that would come to be known as the Islamic State (IS). In November, 1,500 troops were sent to Iraq to further combat this terrorist organization. And in December, the U.S. and U.K. officially removed their military forces from major combat operations in Afghanistan.

[Pictured: On Feb. 24, 2014, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel shares recommendations for the 2015 fiscal year to reporters.]

- Army strength: 491,365 people
- Navy strength: 327,801 people
- Marine Corps strength: 183,417 people
- Air Force strength: 311,357 people
- Total strength: 1,313,940 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.41%

In July of 2015, the U.S. and five other world powers agreed to remove most of the United Nations Security Council's sanctions on Iran in exchange for imposing limits on Iran's nuclear programs for at least 10 years. Later that year, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter declared that women could serve in all combat roles in the U.S. military by Jan. 1 of the following year.

[Pictured: President Barack Obama explains the details of the nuclear deal with Iran.]

- Army strength: 475,400 people
- Navy strength: 324,524 people
- Marine Corps strength: 183,501 people
- Air Force strength: 317,883 people
- Total strength: 1,301,308 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.40%

In January of 2016, the U.S. government executed its promise to remove economic sanctions from Iran, in line with the agreement established the previous year. Sanctions related to violations of human rights, the use of missiles, and support of terrorism stayed in effect. The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit took place in Washington D.C., during which a revised nuclear security agreement was drawn up and encouraging statistics on nuclear de-escalation were shared—for instance, since the last summit in 2014, 10 countries had disposed of roughly 450 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. In June of 2016, the U.S. military removed its restriction on transgender people serving in the military.

[Pictured: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini during the Nuclear Security Summit.]

- Army strength: 476,245 people
- Navy strength: 323,933 people
- Marine Corps strength: 184,401 people
- Air Force strength: 322,787 people
- Total strength: 1,307,366 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.40%

In January of 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order denying refugees of the Syrian Civil War, as well as citizens of Iran, Iraq, and several other Middle Eastern countries, entry into the U.S. North Korea launched four ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan.

President Trump also vowed to reinstate a transgender ban in the military that Obama had reversed. The regulation was enacted in March 2017. In October, Trump outwardly criticized Iran, and suggested an end to the previous Iran Nuclear Deal unless serious revisions were made.

A report from the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs released in September 2017 found that on average, 20 veterans a day die from suicide and veterans’ risk of suicide is 22% higher than a non-veteran adult.

[Pictured: People protest to stop the Transgender Military Ban.]

- Army strength: 416,667 people
- Navy strength: 285,141 people
- Marine Corps strength: 153,107 people
- Air Force strength: 266,167 people
- Total strength: 1,121,082 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.34%

The U.S., along with the U.K. and France, launched more than 100 missiles at chemical weapons facilities in Syria early on the morning of April 14, 2018. The three targets, reported by the Pentagon, were a chemical weapons storage center, a scientific research center, and a third command post and storage site. The Western powers claimed the strikes were in retaliation for the Douma chemical attack on April 7, which killed dozens of civilians.

On June 18 during a National Space Council meeting, President Trump announced he would direct the Department of Defense and Pentagon to create a sixth branch of the U.S. military: the Space Force to assert “American dominance in space.”

[Pictured: President Donald Trump holds up a signed Space Policy Directive.]

- Army strength: 416,876 people
- Navy strength: 290,254 people
- Marine Corps strength: 154,909 people
- Air Force strength: 270,328 people
- Total strength: 1,132,367 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.34%

Calling American talks “useless,” Iran unveiled a new, long-range missile system that can recognize targets more than 190 miles away in August 2019. This announcement followed Iran’s takedown of a U.S. military surveillance drone earlier that summer.

[Pictured: Iran President Hassan Rouhani who said in August that talks with America are "useless".]

- Army strength: 482,343 people
- Navy strength: 346,570 people
- Marine Corps strength: 181,031 people
- Air Force strength: 334,371 people
- Total strength: 1,344,315 people
- Percent of population enlisted: 0.41%

As protests over the murder of George Floyd and police brutality swept American cities, President Trump responded with military force. On June 2, he deployed National Guard troops against a group of peaceful protestors, who were hit with rubber bullets and chemical sprays. Though his actions were widely criticized by veterans and active members of the military, federal troops continued to clash with protestors over the summer the Air Force investigated the alleged use of surveillance planes against protestors, and a nonprofit in Portland later sued the Trump administration over its use of military force.


Military History was launched on January 5, 2005 and as the third spin-off channel of History. Viewers of History wanted more military history programs, but there was not time on the channel, thus the creation of Military History. Beginning on March 27, 2004, a military-history programming block started on History International as a prologue. The launch was an open preview, or soft launch, as no cable operators were signed up. Dan Davids, president of the History Channel USA, planned to push for digital basic level cable carriage. Its initial programming library drew from A&E and History's programs. The channel's initial prime time shows were under an umbrella banner of “Battle History”, which consisted of five documentary miniseries featuring each of the US military services. In the second quarter of 2005, the channel had its hard launch. [1]

Like its parent channel, the channel dropped the word "Channel" from its name on March 20, 2008.

Military History features programs that focus on historical battles and wars, as well as programs that profile key individuals such as generals, soldiers and spies. It also airs documentaries and series that provide insight into how these wars were fought and the lives of those who served in them.

Its initial programming library drew from A&E and History's program libraries. [1] Much of its programming focuses on World War II this same type of programming had earned The History Channel the appellation "The Hitler Channel" up until the transfer of these programs to Military History.

Programming banners Edit

  • “Battle History” (January 5, 2005) which consisted of five documentary miniseries featuring the US military services and was the channel's soft launch prime time programming [1]
  • “Salute to Armed Forces Week”, included the specials, “Hispanics & the Medal of Honor”, “America’s Black Warriors”, “Women Combat Pilots” and “Clash of Warriors: Saddam vs. Schwarzkopf”

List of programs Edit

  • Conspiracy?
  • Dogfights
  • The Eastern Front: The Gates of Moscow
  • The Eastern Front: Turning Point at Stalingrad
  • Free Cabanatuan
  • Greatest Raids
  • Greatest Tank Battles
  • Hitler's Collaborators
  • Hitler's War: The Lost
  • Inside the Great Battles
  • The Kamikaze
  • The Last Days of WWII
  • Lock N' Load with R. Lee Ermey
  • Mail Call
  • Okinawa!
  • Pacific: The Lost Evidence
  • President Lincoln Assassination
  • Survival Training
  • Surviving the Cut
  • Tactical to Practical
  • Triggers: Weapons That Changed the World
  • The Unholy Battle for Rome
  • Warriors
  • Weaponology

In addition to its carriage in the United States, the channel had previously been launched in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland on July 28, 2008. On March 20, 2010, Military History was added to Virgin Media on channel 236. [2] Military History was replaced by its sister network, H2, in those countries on May 4, 2013, on both Sky and Virgin Media [3] in Military History's former channel slots on both platforms.


The world applauds the scientists who have created vaccines to deliver humanity from Covid-19. One certainty about our future: There will be no funding shortfall for medical research into pandemics.

Now, notice a contradiction. War is also a curse, responsible for untold deaths. Humans should do everything possible to mitigate it. And even if scientists cannot promise a vaccine, the obvious place to start working against future conflicts is by researching the causes and courses of past ones.

Yet in centers of learning across North America, the study of the past in general, and of wars in particular, is in spectacular eclipse. History now accounts for a smaller share of undergraduate degrees than at any time since 1950. Whereas in 1970, 6% of American male and 5% of female students were history majors, the respective percentages are now less than 2% and less than 1%, respectively.

Fredrik Logevall, a distinguished Harvard historian and author of seminal works on Vietnam, along with a new biography of  John F. Kennedy, remarked to me on the strangeness of this, given that the U.S. is overwhelmingly the most powerful, biggest-spending military nation on earth. “How this came to be and what it has meant for America and the world is surely of surpassing historical importance,” he said. “Yet it’s not at the forefront of research among academic historians in this country.”    

The revulsion from war history may derive not so much from students’ unwillingness to explore the violent past, but from academics’ reluctance to teach, or even allow their universities to host, such courses. Some dub the subject “warnography,” and the aversion can extend to the study of international relations. Less than half of all history departments now employ a diplomatic historian, against 85% in 1975. As for war, as elderly scholars retire from posts in which they have studied it, many are not replaced: the roles are redefined.   

An eminent historian recently told me of a young man majoring in science at Harvard who wanted to take humanities on history, including the U.S. Civil War. He was offered only one course — which addressed the history of humans and their pets.

Paul Kennedy of Yale, author of one of the best-selling history books of all time, “The Rise and Fall of The Great Powers,” is among many historians who deplore what is, or rather is not, going on. He observed to me that while some public universities, such as Ohio State and Kansas State, have strong program in the history of war, “It’s in the elite universities that the subject has gone.”

�n you imagine Chicago, or Berkeley, or Princeton having War Studies departments?” he asked. “Military history is the most noxious of the � white male’ subjects, and there’s also a great falling away in the teaching of diplomatic, colonial and European political history.”

Kennedy notes that war studies are highly popular with students, alumni and donors, 𠇋ut the sticking point is with the faculty — where perhaps only a small group are openly hostile, but a larger group don’t think the area is important enough.”    

Harvard offers few history courses that principally address the great wars of modern times. Many faculties are prioritizing such subjects as culture, race and ethnicity. Margaret MacMillan, of the University of Toronto and Oxford, observes that war is one of the great cataclysmic events, alongside revolution, famine and financial collapse, that can change history.     

As the author of the bestseller “Peacemakers,” an epochal study of the 1919 Versailles conference, she has written about the decline in university courses on conflict: “Our horror at the phenomenon itself has affected the willingness to treat it as a serious subject for scholarship. An interest in war is somehow conflated with approval for it.”

Mindless mudslingers have attacked her as a war-lover for making the observation — commonplace among scholars of the subject — that conflicts can bring scientific or social benefits to mankind.

Tami Davis Biddle, a professor at the U.S. Army War College, has written, “Unfortunately, many in the academic community assume that military history is simply about powerful men — mainly white men 𠅏ighting each other and/or oppressing vulnerable groups.”

Universities excuse themselves for shunning history by citing the need to address contemporary subjects such as as emotions, food and਌limate change. Some also urge that students believe they can better serve their own interests — and justify tuition costs — by choosing vocational majors that will enhance their employability. Yet Logevall’s Vietnam is one of the most popular history courses at Harvard. 

History sells prodigiously in the world’s bookstores. I have produced a dozen works about conflict, and my harshest critic would struggle to claim that these reflect an enthusiasm for it. I often quote a Norwegian World War II Resistance hero, who wrote in 1948, 𠇊lthough wars bring adventures that stir the heart, the true nature of war is composed of innumerable personal tragedies and sacrifices, wholly evil and not redeemed by glory.”

Those words do not represent an argument for pacifism. Our societies must be willing, when necessary, to defend themselves in arms. But our respective presidents and prime ministers might less readily adopt kinetic solutions — start shooting — if they possessed a better understanding of the implications.   

Before resorting to force, governments, as well as military commanders, should always ask: “What are our objectives? And are they attainable?” Again and again — in recent memory, in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya — those questions were neither properly asked nor answered, with consequences we know. Governments succumb to what I call gesture strategy. 

Part of the trouble lies with the military, sometimes over-eager to demonstrate “the utility of force,” or rather, to justify their stupendous budgets. More often, however, blame lies with politicians ignorant of the difficulties of leveraging F-35s, cruise missiles, drone aircraft and combat infantry to produce a desired political outcome.    

It is extraordinary that so many major U.S. universities renounce, for instance, study of the Indochina experience, which might assist a new generation not to do it again. Marine General Walt Boomer, a distinguished Vietnam vet, said to me five years ago, when I was researching that war: “It bothers me that we didn’t learn a lot. If we had, we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq.”

Biddle has written: “The U.S. military does not send itself to war. Choices about war and peace are made by civilians — civilians who, increasingly, have no historical or analytical frameworks to guide them. They know little or nothing about the requirements of the Just War tradition … the logistical, geographical and physical demands of modern military operations.”

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron is not a stupid man. But he might have made less of a mess of U.K. foreign policy had he accepted the advice of some people who understood both war and the Muslim world better than his ill-informed Downing Street clique. 

In 2011, the chief of the British defense staff, General Sir David Richards, begged Cameron not to drag the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into Libya. But the prime minister, in the spirit of a boy scout, wished to do a good deed in a wicked world਋y promoting the overthrow of President Moammar Al Qaddafi. The rest — the Western intervention and the murderous chaos that has persisted ever since — are, alas, matters of record. 

It would be absurd to pretend that study of the past is a guarantee against repeating its mistakes. But the world has cause to be grateful that in 1962, JFK read Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August,” about the outbreak of World War I. Kennedy thus went into the Cuban Missile Crisis conscious of the peril that a local flare-up — as in the Balkans in 1914 — could precipitate a global catastrophe. 

The Oxford professor Sir Michael Howard, who died in 2019, was my close friend and mentor over 50 years, the wisest human being I have ever known. In the 1950s, he created the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London, which prospers to this day.

Even more important, he was among the founders in 1958 of the International Institute of Strategic Studies. The IISS came about because some brilliant intellectuals, on both sides of the Atlantic, were fearful of the peril of war. They dismissed the feasibility or even desirability of unilateral abandonment of nuclear weapons.

Rather, they sought to promote understanding, among NATO and Warsaw Pact members alike, that nuclear conflict must be ruled out, because its consequences could not conceivably advantage even a supposed victor.

Howard describes in his memoirs his own first visit to the U.S. in the spring of 1960, 𠇊s a missionary on behalf of the Institute.” He found Washington 𠇊 military capital” with 𠇊lmost more uniforms on the street than I remembered in wartime London”:

There was an electric excitement in the air that I found terrifying. This, I thought, was what Europe must have been like before 1914 … This seemed a people who, in spite of the Second World War and Korea, had not really experienced war, and who found the prospect an invigorating challenge. It was in just such an atmosphere, I thought, that wars began.”

Howard became even more alarmed after attending a lecture on nuclear warfighting given by Herman Kahn at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California.  Some RANDSmen whom he met were debating how long it might take Los Angeles to get back to “normal” after a nuclear attack.

It was in this climate that Howard and like-minded academics promoted debate, in Europe and America, about responsible strategy and defense. Today, almost everyone who knows Cold War history recognizes that all the talking — international conferences, seminars, formal dialogues — played a significant role in averting a nuclear showdown. Not for nothing is the IISS Journal, then as now, entitled Survival.  

To those who knew Michael Howard or read his writing, it would be fantastic to suggest that because he devoted his life to the study of conflict and international relations, he thus spread the pollution of war, or advanced a doctrine of force. By implication, however, such is now the conviction of many great North American institutions of learning.

A few years ago, a history department in the Canadian Maritime provinces was offered a fully funded chair in naval history — and rejected it. Paul Kennedy told me recently that he is amazed by the lack of interest in naval affairs at U.S. universities, “since we are by far the greatest naval power in the world, and the global naval scene is heating up enormously.”

Many, indeed most, academic institutions across the continent are infected with an intellectual virus that causes them to reject study of subjects that seem to some faculty members distasteful. This represents a betrayal of the principles of curiosity, rigor and courage that must underpin all worthwhile scholarship.

MacMillan demands: 𠇍o we really want citizens who have no knowledge of how our values, political and economic structures came into being? Do we ever want another president at the head of the most powerful country in the world, such as Donald Trump, who asserted that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in response to terrorist attacks, and was right to be there?”

In Britain, by comparison, history continues to thrive. About the same number of students embark on first degrees in the subject as take law. Post-graduate studies are especially popular. Some 30 institutions offer War Studies programs. On the European continent, those at Stockholm and Leiden Universities are particularly respected. The problem — we might even call it the repugnance — appears an explicitly North American phenomenon. 

North America’s great universities should be ashamed of their pusillanimity. War is no more likely to quit our planet than are pandemics. The academics who spurn its study are playing ostriches. Their heads look no more elegant, buried in the sand.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Corrects spelling of Herman Kahn&aposs name in 26th paragraph of article published Jan. 31

The Military History Community

Military history is an important subset of the history field. The AASLH Military History Committee provides advice and direction for the development of programs and services that benefit U.S. history institutions with a military focus as well as museums/historic sites with military items in their collections.
The Military History Community is made up of a dedicated network of professionals committed to providing the best resources for those interested in the care of military artifacts and interpretation of military history at their sites.
Almost every history organization in the country has some affiliation with or attachment to military history. We are here to help ensure that AASLH’s programs and services for these organizations are high quality, address identified needs of the membership, and reflect current issues and thinking in the field.

Military History Committee

The AASLH Military History Affinity Community is led by the following committee:

Marc Blackburn, Immediate Past Chair (2013-2020)
National Park Service, Eatonville, WA
[email protected]

Francoise Bonnell (2015-2019)
U.S. Army Women’s Museum, Fort Lee, VA
[email protected]

Lisa Budreau (2015-2019)
Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, TN
[email protected]

Claire Samuelson (2015-2019)
U.S. Army Ordnance Training and Heritage Center, Hampton, VA
[email protected]

Adam Scher (2015-2019)
Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Richmond, VA
[email protected]

Richard White (2017-2019)
Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, TN
[email protected]

Military History Forum

Looking for a way to connect with Military History colleagues across the country? The Military History Affinity Community discussion forum is a place where history practitioners can ask questions, share advice, and stay up-to-date with their peers. Please click the “Join the Community” button above to be directed to the AASLH Community Center to get involved with the Military History Affinity Community or click here.

Military History Resources

Keep up with military history blogs on the AASLH blog.

Browse military history resources in the AASLH Resource Center.

Recent military history publications from AASLH:

AASLH Annual Meeting Events
Every year at the AASLH Annual Meeting, the Military History group plans sessions involving military history and at least one meal or event for the community members to attend to network. Past events includes special tours of military sites and luncheons.

Collections Camp: Military Collections
AASLH holds a 2.5 day Collections Camp workshop focusing on military collections at locations across the country. This workshop covers conservation, artifact identification and handling, interpretation, and collections management for military objects, including photographs, textiles, and equipment. View photos of the 2018 workshop on our Facebook page.

Register for Collections Camp: Military Collections 2019 in the AASLH Resource Center.

American Military History is Wrong

American military personnel study history as an essential component of their professional education. Military history provides the analogies by which they communicate, and the lens through which they view current military problems. Phrases such as “another Pearl Harbor” or “another Maginot Line” or “another Vietnam” convey common perceptions of the past and influence military professionals’ common thinking about the present and future.

But what if the military history they study is wrong? What if the military history they study fosters a strategic culture that is inconsistent with their strategic reality?

Central to the study of American military history in the last three decades of the twentieth century was The American Way of War, a history of American military strategy and policy written by Professor Russell F. Weigley. He argued that the American way of war is based on a strategy of annihilation: the aim of the US armed forces in war is to destroy the enemy’s capacity to continue the war, so that the enemy’s will collapses or becomes irrelevant. This is the war fought by Grant and Sherman in the American Civil War, when they fought campaigns of attrition fueled by the industrial capacity and larger population of the North to destroy the capacity of the South to continue the war. World War II was fought by students of the American Civil War. Among them were Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton, and Spaatz in Europe MacArthur, Nimitz, Halsey, and Spruance in the Pacific. Our study of military history has influenced us to believe that the role of the American military is to defeat the enemy’s armed forces and destroy the enemy’s economy, at which time its mission is accomplished and it becomes a supporting player in the strategic arena. In World War I, this was actually the case. After the armistice in November 1918, the US Army participated in the Allied Powers’ occupation of Germany until the peace treaty was signed at Versailles in July 1919, and then most of the US soldiers came home to celebrate the victory (although even in this case the First Division remained part of the Allied Army of Occupation until July 1923).

The post–World War I period, however, is the exception that proves the rule. The American Civil War did not end at Appomattox, any more than the American War of Independence ended at Yorktown, World War II ended on V-E and V-J Days, or the Iraq War ended with the fall of Baghdad. After Yorktown, Washington furloughed most of the Continental Army but it remained an army in being until after the British withdrew from New York City on Evacuation Day—November 25, 1783—two years later. Twelve years of Northern occupation and counterinsurgency followed Lee’s military surrender at Appomattox, until the Northern and Southern leadership reached a political settlement in the Compromise of 1877 at the Wormley Hotel in Washington, DC. The compromise resulted in the inauguration of President Rutherford B. Hayes and the withdrawal of Northern troops from Louisiana and South Carolina. The US military occupied Japan and Germany until peace treaties were signed in 1952 and 1955, respectively. The fall of Baghdad ended major combat operations in Iraq, but martial law was not declared or established. US commanders believed their mission was complete when the Iraqi army collapsed. They ignored their legal and moral obligations to restore order and impose interim military governance over occupied territory. Despite the futile efforts of leaders like Gen. Eric Shinseki who knew better, the poorly planned and executed consolidation and stabilization effort resulted in an eight-year insurgency ending in a unilateral US withdrawal, not a peace treaty or a stable and enduring political outcome.

The “So what?” is that our study of American military history has failed our profession and our nation. American military history as taught in professional military education institutions (and more generally in our public education system) is wrong and fosters a strategic culture inconsistent with strategic reality. Here is what American military history should teach us:

1. Major combat operations are critical but not decisive. Military victories are transitory and at best establish the conditions necessary to achieve a favorable and enduring political settlement.

2. Post-combat consolidation of military gains, stabilization of the conflict-affected area, and reconciliation of the warring parties are decisive because they translate military success into a favorable and enduring strategic outcome.

3. The civil population gets the deciding vote on who wins and who loses. The struggle for legitimacy, credibility, and influence is as strategically important as the struggle to attrit and destroy the enemy’s military forces and economic warfighting capacity, and ultimately, may be more decisive.

4. The US armed forces are legally and morally responsible for the military governance of liberated or occupied territories and their populations until a legitimate and credible civil authority formally relieves them of their area responsibility. We expect privates to obey their first general order of guard duty: “I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.” We should expect nothing less from our generals.

5. Leaders must plan and prepare for the worst-case scenario: a five-year stabilization campaign, including interim military governance, until conditions in the operational environment permit the transfer of area responsibility to a legitimate and credible civil authority. Why five years? Because that assumption requires planning for force rotations that can be curtailed or extended as the actual situation unfolds.

6. The US armed forces must structure a mix of active and reserve component forces adequate for protracted post-combat consolidation and stabilization campaigns commensurate with the major combat operations that precede them. Our nation cannot afford to maintain sufficient active military forces to conduct these campaigns, which will require a different mix of forces. Active forces should be relieved as soon as practicable to reconstitute and prepare for future combat operations. Reserve forces should be mobilized and trained as a consolidation and stabilization force to replace active forces.

7. Professional military education must place greater emphasis on the human aspects of military operations. The US Army planned for the military occupation of Germany and Japan years in advance, but the occupation forces did not have significant training in civil-military operations or military governance. The attrition rates in 1944–1945 resulted in units filled mostly by replacement citizen-soldiers who improvised within the guidelines established in War Department and theater army plans crafted by senior officers with superior professional military education than their successors receive today.

How should the US armed forces today apply these lessons to their thinking about our two great-power adversaries, China and Russia? First and foremost, the desired strategic outcomes should be indefinite sustainment of favorable balances of power and avoidance of direct armed conflict with either great power. Second, contingency planning should begin with the desired strategic outcome of the war, not how to fight it. Before asking How should we defeat Chinese or Russian regional aggression?, we should first ask, What strategic purpose is the war supposed to accomplish? and What does the desired strategic outcome look like? Are we fighting the war to prevent China or Russia from reversing a regional power balance in its favor? To prevent China or Russia from establishing a sphere of influence over its near-abroad? To preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a treaty ally? To retain the US position as the preeminent power on earth? The answers to these questions should frame the problem of how to defeat China or Russia militarily in a long-term, globally integrated campaign. The solution to this problem must include the post-combat actions necessary to consolidate military gains, stabilize conflict-affected areas devastated by combat operations and the economic consequences of the war, and foster national reconciliation with former enemies, to restore a favorable balance of power and avoid another war. Are the associated costs and risks worth the desired strategic outcomes, or must our nation reconsider what alternative strategic outcomes are acceptable, even if undesirable or unfavorable?

Outcomes-based strategies will be critical to reversing the trend of US armed forces winning every battle, prevailing in every campaign, and losing every war it has fought since 1955. The first step: fostering a more accurate understanding of American military history, especially in professional military education.

Col. (ret) Glenn M. Harned is a retired Army infantry and Special Forces officer and Army strategist. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, Army Command and Staff College, Army School of Advanced Military Studies, and Marine Corps War College. He commanded a Special Forces battalion and Special Operations Command Korea. He has worked as a defense consultant since 2000, focusing on special operations and irregular warfare policy, strategy, and force development issues.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.

Military History Graduates Are Prepared for Rewarding Careers

Those who earn an advanced military history degree may be prepared to pursue careers in academia, historic preservation, the military, or government. One career option for graduates is to become a military analyst working with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This position allows military historians to apply their knowledge of global military conflicts to political-military issues like regional security, military diplomacy, and peacekeeping operations.

As they progress their historical thinking and analytical mindset, military history graduates can also attain jobs in national security organizations such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Department of Defense. Although qualifying for senior positions in these esteemed federal institutions requires extensive professional experience, an advanced military history degree can provide graduates with a foothold in this competitive field.

Over the millennia, society transformed military strategy from an art into a science that can be applied to achieve political goals. Military historians have played a role in this transformation through their knowledge and expertise of synthesizing important lessons from prior battles in order to help others understand the potential impacts of future warfare and conflicts. Earning a Master of Arts in Military History degree can provide the foundation military historians needs to build a rewarding career that can benefit many industries and potentially help mitigate the costs and impacts of war.

Learn More

Established in 1819, Norwich University is a nationally recognized institution of higher education, the birthplace of the Reserve Officers&rsquo Training Corps (ROTC), and the first private military college in the United States. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University&rsquos Master of Arts in Military History program takes an unbiased and global approach to the exploration of military thought, theory and engagement throughout recorded history. The unique curriculum of the online Master of Arts in Military History program was developed by the distinguished faculty of Norwich University and guided by the goals outlined by the American Historical Association. This highly regarded program is designed to help build your proficiency as a historian and places our world&rsquos military achievements and conflicts in chronological, geographical, political and economic context.

Recommended Reading

Why Military History Matters, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

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