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The Army is the largest military branch in the United States. Its job is to protect the country and its citizens. In this section, you’ll learn about the history of the Army, and about some common terms that you’ll hear often as you explore your career options.

On 14 June 1775, The Second Continental Congress formed the Continental Army as a means for the 13 unified American colonies to fight the forces of Britain. George Washington was unanimously elected Commander-In-Chief of the fledgling Army, and he would lead the colonies to victory and independence.

Today, the Army is made up of more than 700,000 Soldiers, including active duty and Army Reserve personnel.

Army Soldiers fill many roles. They are doctors, lawyers, and engineers; they are electricians, computer programmers and helicopter pilots; they are police officers, logistics experts and civil affairs representatives. The Army’s constant need for a diverse range of individual Soldiers, each with his or her own expertise is what sets it apart from other military branches.

STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION

The Army is a large organization, made up of many different branches and groups. Here are some important terms you should understand as you consider a future in the military. 

ACTIVE DUTY

What it means: You are a Soldier who serves full time. You will generally live on a base, either within the United States or in a foreign country. While on active duty, you will earn a full salary and you will receive health and retirement benefits.

ARMY RESERVE

What it means: You are a part-time Soldier, and unlike active duty status, you are required to train and report for duty just one weekend a month and two weeks a year. Serving in the Army Reserve allows you to live where you want, attend school and work a civilian job. You will still earn many benefits, including health care and retirement, and you will also earn part-time duty pay in addition to the income from your civilian job.

Learn more about the differences between active duty and Army Reserve Soldiers.

ENLISTED SOLDIERS

What they do: Enlisted Soldiers are the most important part of the Army. Like the employees of a company,enlisted Soldiers are responsible for carrying out a mission or task. As an enlisted Soldier, you could serve either on active duty, or in the Army Reserve.

OFFICERS

What they do: Officers are the leaders of the Army. Like the managers of a company, they are responsible for taking charge of enlisted Soldiers, issuing orders, and planning missions. As an Officer, you could serve either on active duty, or the Army Reserve.

Learn more about Officers and Enlisted Soldiers.

RANKS

In the Army, your rank not only indicates your pay grade, but also the amount of responsibility you hold. Corporals, for example, may be responsible for a small team of Soldiers, while a Major General could hold command of anywhere between 10,000-15,000 Soldiers. 

While the amount of time spent in each rank is based on averages, you can often accelerate the promotion process by taking advantage of additional training and schooling opportunities.

Post Locations

UNITED STATES 
ALABAMA 
Anniston Army DepotRedstone Arsenal
Fort RuckerFort McClellan
ALASKA 
Fort GreelyFort Wainwright
Fort Richardson 
ARIZONA 
Fort HuachucaYuma Proving Ground
Electronic Proving Ground 
ARKANSAS 
Pine Bluff Arsenal 
CALIFORNIA 
Fort IrwinSierra Army Depot
Presidio of Monterey 
COLORADO 
Fort CarsonRocky Mountain Arsenal
Pueblo Chemical Depot 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 
Fort McNairWalter Reed Army Med. Ctr.
GEORGIA 
Fort Benning*Fort Stewart
Fort GordonHunter Army Airfield
Fort GillemLawson Army Airfield
Fort McPherson 
HAWAII 
Fort ShafterSchofield Barracks
Pohakuloa Training AreaWheeler Army Air Field
ILLINOIS 
Rock Island Arsenal 
KANSAS 
Fort LeavenworthFort Riley
U.S. Army Disciplinary Barracks 
KENTUCKY 
Fort CampbellFort Knox
Blue Grass Army Depot 
LOUISIANA 
Fort Polk 
MARYLAND 
Aberdeen Proving GroundFort Meade
Fort Detrick 
MASSACHUSETTS 
Soldier Systems Center 
MISSISSIPPI 
Camp Shelby 
MISSOURI 
Fort Leonard Wood* 
NEW JERSEY 
Fort DixPicatinny Arsenal
Fort Monmouth 
NEW MEXICO 
White Sands Missile Range 
NEW YORK 
Fort DrumU.S. Military Academy
Fort HamiltonWatervliet Arsenal
NORTH CAROLINA 
Fort BraggSimmons Army Airfield
OKLAHOMA 
Fort Sill* 
OREGON 
Umatilla Army Depot 
PENNSYLVANIA 
Carlisle BarracksTobyhanna Army Depot
Letterkenny Army Depot 
PUERTO RICO 
Fort Buchanan 
SOUTH CAROLINA 
Fort Jackson* 
TEXAS 
Biggs Army AirfieldFort Hood
Corpus Christi Army DepotFort Sam Houston
Fort BlissRed River Army Depot
UTAH 
Deseret Chemical DepotTooele Army Depot
Dugway Proving Ground 
VIRGINIA 
Fort A.P. HillFort Monroe
Fort BelvoirFort Myer
Fort EustisFort Story
Fort Lee 
WASHINGTON 
Fort Lewis 
WISCONSIN 
Fort McCoy 
INTERNATIONAL LOCATIONS 
AFGHANISTAN 
ALBANIA 
ARGENTINA 
AUSTRALIA 
AZERBAIJAN 
BAHAMAS 
BAHRAIN 
BRAZIL 
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 
CAMBODIA 
CHAD 
CHILE 
CHINA 
COLOMBIA 
COSTA RICA 
CUBA 
DJIBOUTI 
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 
ECUADOR 
EGYPT 
EL SALVADOR 
ETHIOPIA 
GEORGIA 
GERMANY 
GREECE 
GUATEMALA 
GUYANA 
HAITI 
HONDURAS 
INDONESIA 
IRAQ 
ITALY 
JAMAICA 
JAPAN 
JORDAN 
KENYA 
SOUTH KOREA 
KOSOVO 
KUWAIT 
KYRGYZSTAN 
LAOS 
MACEDONIA 
MADAGASCAR 
MALAYSIA 
MALI 
MAURITANIA 
NETHERLANDS 
NETHERLANDS ANTILLES 
NICARAGUA 
NIGER 
PAKISTAN 
PANAMA 
PARAGUAY 
PERU 
PHILIPPINES 
QATAR 
SENEGAL 
SERBIA 
SIERRA LEONE 
SPAIN 
SRI LANKA 
SUDAN 
SURINAM 
TAJIKISTAN 
TANZANIA 
THAILAND 
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO 
TUNISIA 
TURKEY 
UGANDA 
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES 
UNITED KINGDOM 
VIETNAM 
YEMEN