Size Of US Military Through History

Size Of US Military Through History

Today there’s no force like the United States
military on planet earth. Modern American military doctrine has for
decades dictated the requirement to fight and win two simultaneous wars against major
military powers, a capability which no other force on the planet doubts it is capable of
achieving. While low-intensity conflicts against terrorist
and insurgent forces have repeatedly dragged the United States into decade-plus long wars,
these conflicts don’t accurately represent the US’s military might as they are very low
in intensity and involve a war of attrition where victory is achieved by slowly winning
hearts and minds. Yet in a kinetic war against another nation’s
military, there is no nation or group of nations that can match America’s might- especially
when it is backed up by the strength of its closest allies. But it wasn’t always the titan it is today. Let’s take a look at the size of the US
military throughout its history. The US military got its official start with
its war for independence in 1776, though it wouldn’t be until the establishment of the
Department of War- today known as the Department of Defense – in 1789 that official records
were to be kept, and that the US military was formally recognized as a standing military
force. During the Revolutionary War the American
military was largely made up of volunteer soldiers known as Minutemen, for their ability
to be ready for combat within a minute of being roused from their homes. The American Marine Corps got its start along
with the US Army during the war of independence, but they would be deactivated after the war
and not reappear as a fighting force until Congress authorized the construction of the
American Navy in 1794. Official records were not kept until the establishment
of the Department of the Army, and in 1789 the American military officially numbered
at just 718 soldiers. This is a stunning figure considering that
around the same time the British military numbered at around 200,000. The young nation was not only financially
poor, but still trying to learn the business of self-governance, and thus America was for
many of its early years defended by volunteer soldiers which made up militias. Each militia was tasked with defending its
own city or village, and in case of war, such as the War of 1812 against the British and
their Indian allies, the militias would fall under the command of regular army generals. Without a sizable manpower pool until the
late 1800s, the American military was hard-pressed to defend the young nation, and thus relied
heavily on local militias for collective defense. This is why American fascination with gun
ownership may seem so strange for citizens who have enjoyed the protection of a strong,
well-established military for many centuries while Americans were for the first hundred
years of their existence forced to defend themselves in case of war. At its formation in 1794 the United States
Navy had an estimated 1,856 sailors, and the American Army numbered at 3,813. While the United States Marine Corps was re-established
along with the Navy in 1794, it wouldn’t be until 1798 that the first 83 official Marines
were available for duty. The United States would retain a fairly small
fighting force through until the war of 1812 against Britain, when the American military
numbered at 6,686 soldiers, 5.452 sailors, and 493 marines. During the war, which for Britain was a minor
action on the greater theater of the Napoleonic wars, the American military would peak in
1814 at 38,000 soldiers, 8.000 sailors, and 648 marines. This would be the largest the American military
would be until the Mexican-American War of 1846. At the outbreak of the war the American military
numbered at 28,000 soldiers, 10.000 sailors, and 1100 marines, but by the end of the war
two years later the US military would consist of 47,000 soldiers, 11,000 sailors, and 1,700
marines. Once more the US military would shrink down
to an active duty force of about 20,000 men until the start of the American Civil War
in 1861. With the rebellious south wishing to break
off from the American union so they could continue to practice the horrors of slavery,
the northern states were called to arms and the American military increased from just
28,000 men the year prior, to 217,000 at the start of the war. In this figure American military numbers are
only for the northern states, as the secessionist confederates were, and remain, not true Americans
in any sense of the word and are thus not included in these figures. Four years later and the northern states had
raised an army over one million strong to teach the southern rebels how to respect human
life. After their defeat, the southern rebel states
were re-admitted into the union and then spent the next hundred years building participation
trophies for themselves to remember the war they had lost trying to keep people enslaved. After the war American military strength was
once more reduced, though over 76,000 active duty troops remained activated in order to
bring law and order back to the defeated southern states. Over the next ten years American military
strength would once more slowly decline to just shy of 40,000 active duty personnel,
and remain that way until the American-Spanish war of 1898. Hostilities between Spain and the US had long
been simmering, and when the USS Maine was sunk by a mine in Havana harbor, the Spanish
government quickly declared war on the US. The US immediately bolstered its armed forces
to over 235,000 active duty troops, which included 22,500 sailors and 3,500 marines-
the largest the American navy or Marine Corps had ever been. The war signaled a radical shift in American
military might, and with the total defeat of Spanish forces in Cuba and the Philippines,
a stunned world welcomed the United States as a world power. Spain lost the remaining New World colonies
it still held, and the age that would come to be known as the American Century began
two years later in 1900. Flexing its military muscles on the world
stage for the first time in history, the American military began to establish the professional
doctrines that it adheres to this day, and moving away from a force of reservists which
would be called up in time of crisis to bolster a much smaller force of active duty soldiers. After the war the American military became
a professional fighting force with a large standing army. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914,
the United States wished to remain neutral. Seen as a European conflict, America was leery
of being dragged into one of Europe’s incessant wars, and fierce isolationism prevented the
United States from joining the war when propositioned by Britain and France. Yet despite chilly relations with Britain,
the United States did send material support, and would end up officially joining the war
in 1917, when its military swelled to over 643,000 men. One year later the United States mustered
up the largest military force it had ever commanded in its history until that point,
with 2,400,000 soldiers, 449,000 sailors, and 53,000 marines. These numbers would once more plummet after
the war, but wary of yet another international conflict, the United States maintained an
active duty force of around 250,000 until 1936, when it became clear that a new war
was brewing in Europe. In 1945 the United States fielded the largest
military it would ever command, with a total force of over 12,000,000 soldiers, sailors,
and marines. Wary of Europeans once more starting up their
favorite hobby of launching world wars, the United States was quick to fill the power
vacuum caused by the collapse of Europe’s long-time empires in the aftermath of the
second world war. It would maintain a force of about 1.5 million
active duty forces in order to ensure peace during the difficult years after world war
two, but the launch of the Korean War in 1951 would see the US double the size of its military
to over 3 million. After the war American military strength dipped
below the 3 million mark once more until the war in Vietnam, after which it would once
again dip down to under 2 million. Today the American military maintains a peacetime
force of 1.2 million personnel, every single one of them professional volunteer soldiers. Its air power, spread out across the US Air
Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, features over 13,000 aircraft, the largest concentration
of air power in the world. It also maintains a fleet of 415 vessels,
backed up by 24 aircraft carriers each loaded with up to 80 aircraft. A far cry from its roots as a volunteer force
of a few thousand, the United States military is the preeminent global fighting force, though
its true strength lies in its close ties with allies such as Australia, Britain, France,
Germany and Japan- some nations which it found itself locked into mortal war just decades
earlier. The strength of America’s alliances far more
than its military might alone is what makes the United States military the strongest in
the world, and the close cooperation of alliances such as NATO have helped ensure that the wars
of yesterday have not repeated in eighty years. Do you think the US and its allies can really
prevent another major war? Let us know in the comments! And as always if you enjoyed this video don’t
forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe for more great content!


  1. Do you agree with the US focusing also on maintaining World balance of power or should we focus more on domestic issues?

  2. I still couldn’t understand how US had so many millions of soldiers from just 90 divisions in WW2.For a compare Germany had about 250-300 divisions and Soviet Union had about 500 divisions in WW2.

  3. Re the US vs Spanish war : The USS Maine was sunk by an accidental explosion in its Coal bunker.
    But they didn't know the cause at the time; the "Mine" story was an excuse for the war.
    Both sides declared war after USA blockaded Cuba.

  4. So this is where more than half my tax money is going too. While still working a 40 hour job and living on snacks. Nice!

  5. The US doesn’t like to have a large military in active duty. We tend to break apart our military after major conflicts and decrease the size

  6. Whoever wrote this does not know very much about civil war history. Blaming the cause and only reason on slavery is laughable.

  7. I feel like some of your information is wrong pretty sure we didn't want to pay taxes to the north slavery just became part of it. Not saying slavery was right because it's not. I just feel like this video is not accurate when saying the war was over slavery…

  8. It has always been the opinion of american historians to count the fallen on both sides of the civil war as Americans so it would be reasonable to count them as American soldiers. though for those four years to render them separately. We alway consider the people on both side of the civil war as americans. If you want to know the reasons for this check Abaham Lincoln's reconstuction plans.. Confederate monuments are a current political issue, and current political posturing unworthy of a historian. You are to record history not attent to influence. The monument comment sounded prissy and out of place. It should not have been part of the script. It also sounded forced as well as out of line with the rest of the video. A second thought to help ratings perhaps. At best not a part of the story. It is pandering to revisionists who chose to create a history after the fact. The souther population were decisded to rejoin the union and are citizens and thier records are what hisotrians shoudl base thier informantion on. The Horrors of the war to end Slavery was appropriate the rest is just posturing but the dead toll was all american. Don't politic on the graves of dead americans or signal virtue by exploiting tragity. The video is of both propaganda and virtue signalling. Our nation pushed by the advertisement focus media and after 30 years of improvement regarding race relations seems bent on pushing us into camps looking to sow disunity in American. You appose a wall on the Rio Grand but wish to build one on the Mason Dixon. What violence that may erupt in the near future between americans can be laid at the door of irresponble media along with politcally motivated educators.

  9. I enjoy these videos for the historical in site but the political jabs in here about how the sole reason the southern states left was for slavery and building participation trophies are starting to poke their head more and more. It’s sad, to make a truly accurate and informational show you should stay neutral in the political spectrum and not take inaccurate jabs at groups.

  10. he has many facts wrong. 1 the Spanish didn’t declare war on the US. 2 the USS Maine wasn’t blown up by a mine. How can a ship that’s docked be blown up by a mine?

  11. Dnag man he is just bashing the southern army most of the people who fought did so for their homes, thier lives and theirs states not for slavery. Honestly disrespectful to the men who died

  12. Idk why people keep bringing up the Vietnam war when someone posts about how powerful America is. It was one “loss”! America won more wars than many powerful nations combined.

  13. Actually in 1976 when I put on my first uniform with the US Army and the last day I wore it in 2015…    It had Half the manpower.     Yes, gear changed but the army had 300k in West germany in 1980 and 30k today…

  14. The Left is all about social programs helping low income and underprivileged youth to get an education and career.
    Yet they are all against the US military.
    If nothing else, the US military is the most effective social program helping young people get and education and a career.
    Why all the hate? It doesn't make sense.

  15. The US military actually has remained fairly consistent in peacetime size when put into the context of the population.

  16. You should do a video explaining the difference between the Marines and the Navy & Army! Why are the Marines needed? Marine means ocean, so isn't a Navy redundant? And isn't the Army redundant if Marines have ground troops?

  17. Love the U.S.A., best country in the world. That being said, there was so much propaganda and writer's bias in this video. Stick to the facts. Plus all those remarks towards the Confederacy came off as very unprofessional.

  18. 1. USS Maine wasnt sunk by a mine, it sunk due to an internal explosion
    2. the US declared war on Spain

  19. Didn't the Americans sank their own ship as an excuse to declare war in Spain? The Infographics Show, if you are in the video business shouldn't you do a little bit of research. Just saying.

  20. Wow! that was a very unhelpful way of commenting on the South. I guess you would be happy if they separated from the rest of the US

  21. You should maybe do more in depth research on the civil war. It wasn’t about slavery that’s just what they want you to think…of fact it was about farming equipment and where to get it.

  22. The U.S.S. Maine wasn’t sunk by a mine. That’s what newspapers ran the day after the explosion but there was no evidence at all for this (hadn’t even been investigated yet) and it was only ran to get readers. The Spanish weren’t actually involved in the destruction of the Maine at all. More recent studies show it was a gas explosion. So, unfortunately, the whole war war kinda a fluke.

  23. My ancestor didn’t fight for slavery. He fought because union troops “invaded” his home, he originally didn’t join the war until his family and friends were being affected greatly, he fought in defense, for you to generalize every southern fighter as a person of no human decency is disgusting.

  24. Saudi Arabia: "Oh my gosh! So much oil!!!"
    United States: "Dont mind those soldiers raiding your oil storage. I'm here to help you."

  25. One the us declared war on Spain and the uss maine was not sunk by a mine it was the the shells blew up after being against a wall that was hot by a furnace

  26. Did you really just say that southerners, "were" and "remain", not true Americans? Go throw yourself off a bridge please

  27. But is the American become a country tha invader other one,make puppet states, Vienna, Iraq, Bolivia, Chile, Mexico,Libya, ,Korea, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, try to invade Venezuela, north Korea

  28. I think now the us or even the world should be focusing on how to lessen pollution not creating it cause we are not in war no need to power it up

  29. U.S government recognizes the solider of the Confederacy as U.S Veterans. What kind of of agenda are you pushing? They are REAL Americans.

  30. Love all other content by this channel but to say that the confederate states are not true american states and that their soldiers where not also american heros is disgusting unpatriotic and vile. While slavery in itself is terrible also understand the the motivation by the union to abolish it was to further weaken the souths economy to prevent them from rising up to oppression the way they did. The Confederate states suffered political neglect while still being taxed and as such distrusted the government similar to the revolutionary war with britain who keep in mind still regards it as the "civil war" the confederate states began to stir and as such the government needed to find a crushing blow to deal them economically so as to prevent them from acting militarily which happened to be the final straw setting off the American civil war. As in the revolutionary war it is every americans duty to keep the government in check and this was no different taxation without propper representation in inexcusable and should be dealt with. To say that countless american heros who fought and died for the great American freedoms simply dont count is uncharacteristically wrong if this channel and to say the least has left me disappointed

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