Profile of the United States Army: The Land Component

Profile of the United States Army: The Land Component

Profile 2022 chapter 2 header
September 01, 2022

This is Chapter 2 of the 2022 Profile of the United States Army, a top-to-bottom reference handbook that lays out everything you need to know about how and why the Army works—and what it’s doing around the world right now. Links to other chapters can be found at the bottom of this page.

An American Heritage

The birth of the U.S. Army preceded the birth of the nation. One of the first actions taken by the Continental Congress, on 14 June 1775—even before they began considering a Declaration of Independence—was to direct General George Washington to muster troops for a Continental Army. That Army, along with the colonial militias and foreign allies, defeated the British in the American Revolution.

The American Army’s mission and formation have changed little in the 247 years since then. Today, the Army comprises a standing force of troops and equipment ready at all times to defend the United States from attack and to protect national security. The provincial militias of colonial times are now the Army National Guard, which belongs to and serves the individual states, but is called upon by the federal government to supplement the Regular Army. Another force of trained citizen Soldiers, the Army Reserve, provides further support in times of need. The Army National Guard and Army Reserve together comprise the reserve component (RC) of the Army.

The practice of keeping a small standing Army to be bolstered with Guard and Reserve Soldiers in times of national need remained constant through both World Wars. The onset of the Cold War altered this balance as the United States maintained a large standing Army that took up defensive positions in Europe and Asia and handled the bulk of combat in the Korean and Vietnam wars. With the end of the Cold War in 1989, the nation began reducing the size of its armed forces, again relying on the RC to fill out the ranks for any wars and operations other than war.

In addition to these larger responsibilities, the U.S. Army has accomplished many and various combat and public service missions over the years. For example, in the 19th century, Soldiers helped to explore America’s frontier, to defend the United States’ borders and ports from foreign attacks, to preserve the Union during the Civil War and to fight expeditionary wars to protect America’s interests in China, the Philippines and Latin America. Through the Corps of Engineers, the Army has provided support in executing many public works projects, such as the Hoover Dam. The Army also formed the nation’s first modern weather service, provided the nation’s first airmail service and supervised the building of the Panama Canal.

Today, the Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve make up one seamless force—the Total Army—committed to countering and enervating the nation’s adversaries. It is a tradition going back for centuries: career Soldiers and citizen Soldiers serving together. This organization ensures a force that, in both peace and war, is united by the mission to defend the United States from attack and to protect her security.

A U.S. Soldier assigned to “Chaos” Company, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, gives instructions for a medical evacuation of a simulated injured Soldier during a live-fire exercise at Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, 4 August 2022 (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Gabriel Rivera).


Mission of the Army

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority, through Title 10 of the U.S. Code (USC), to create an army for the nation and to establish its organization and regulations. In Title 10, Congress mandates that the Army, in conjunction with the other armed forces, be capable of:

  • preserving the peace and security and providing for the defense of the United States and that of the territories, commonwealths and possessions and any areas occupied by the United States; 
  • supporting the national policies; 
  • implementing the national objectives; and 
  • overcoming any entities responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States. 

Title 10 gives the Army the specific mission of land combat; the law mandates that the Army be organized, trained and equipped for prompt and sustained combat operations and that it take responsibility for the preparation of land forces.

Figure 1: Department of the Army (Click to view)

Department of the Army

The Department of the Army (DA) is an organization within the Department of Defense (DoD) that operates under the direction and control of the secretary of defense. The secretary of the Army, a civilian appointed by the president and confirmed by Congress, is the head of the DA.

The secretary of the Army is responsible for all noncombat affairs, including recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training and mobilizing the forces. The secretary’s staff, known as the Army Secretariat, oversees all of these functions.

Chief of Staff, Army

The chief of staff, Army (CSA), the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Army, is appointed by the president for a period of four years. The CSA may be reappointed for another four years, or the term may be extended in times of national emergency. The CSA serves as the senior military advisor to the secretary of the Army, ensures that the secretary’s policies are carried out and assists the secretary in presenting and justifying Army policies, plans, programs and budgets to the president, the secretary of defense and Congress. The CSA presides over the Army Staff and oversees all Army organizations and commands. In addition, the CSA is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and presents Army capabilities in planning joint force endeavors.

Sergeant Major of the Army 

The sergeant major of the Army (SMA) is the senior enlisted Soldier and serves as advisor and consultant to the CSA. The SMA provides information and advice on a variety of subjects, including the problems affecting enlisted personnel; on standards, professional development, growth and advancement of noncommissioned officers; and on morale, training, pay, promotions and quality of life for Soldiers and family members.

Army Components

The U.S. Army is divided into two primary components: the active component (AC) and the reserve component (RC). The RC comprises the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. Today’s Army is a cohesive organization with all elements serving together in training, support and combat missions. First-term Soldiers are usually obligated to serve eight years in the military; this obligation may be fulfilled through a combination of active and reserve service.

In 1973, the United States eliminated the draft, and the U.S. military became an all-volunteer force (AVF). The AVF has been used to support forward presence and to provide initial forces for rapid deployments worldwide.

The combined operational force of the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve provides a versatile dimension of operational reserve. As key participants in overseas contingency operations, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve perform an increasingly prominent role in the security of the nation. 

The RC has three categories: the Ready Reserve, the Standby Reserve and the Retired Reserve. The Ready Reserve, the largest category, includes the following elements:

  • Selected Reserve. This comprises Army Reserve Soldiers who train year-round and are assigned to fully-equipped units capable of rapidly deploying for action. In a national emergency, all Selected Reserve members can be mobilized.
    The Selected Reserve includes members of the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve, Active Guard and Reserve (reservists serving on active duty in full-time administrative roles for their units), military technicians (reservists who are full-time federal employees assigned to administrative or training roles for their units) and individual mobilization augmentees (IMAs), who are assigned to high-level headquarters where they would serve if mobilized. Most IMAs train for two weeks every year. 
  • Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). The IRR comprises former members of active or reserve forces who are nearing completion of their statutory military service obligation. IRR Soldiers do not belong to units, but they still have military service obligations to fulfill. Many Soldiers serve several years on active duty and then transfer to the IRR to fulfill the remainder of their contract. Each Soldier is required to meet minimum annual requirements. The Soldier attends muster duty when required, completes a readiness screening questionnaire and responds to all official military correspondence. Any Soldier in the IRR may also be involuntarily mobilized in a time of national crisis.
  • Inactive National Guard (ING). ING personnel are not in the Selected Reserve, but they do fulfill their military service obligation by being attached to a National Guard unit even though they do not train with that unit. They may be called to active duty in times of war or national emergency to be mobilized with their units.

Figure 2: Reserve Component Manpower Organization (Click to view)

The Standby Reserve1 comprises Soldiers who maintain their military affiliation without being in the Ready or Retired Reserve and who are subject to active duty. Soldiers with a statutory military service obligation, temporarily placed in the Standby Reserve, will be transferred back to the Ready Reserve at the earliest possible date. Voluntary members of the Standby Reserve who are unable to transfer to the Ready Reserve and who possess critical skills determined by the secretary of the army to be mobilization assets may be retained instead of discharged.

There are two categories Soldiers can fall under in the Standby Reserve: 

  • Active Status. Soldiers on the Active Status List may participate in reserve training activities at no expense to the government, earn retirement points and be eligible for promotion. They may also take part in individual duty training in a nonpaid training status when authorized by the appropriate commander.
  • Inactive Status. Soldiers on the Inactive Status List may not train for pay or retirement points and are not eligible for promotion. They do, however, retain their reserve affiliation in a nonparticipating status. Soldiers who are enrolled in a military school course or correspondence course when transferred to the Inactive Status List may complete their course.

The Retired Reserve comprises servicemembers who have retired from either active duty or reserve careers (including Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve). Retired RC members remain in the reserve family after retirement, but they may be called to active duty in times of war or national emergency. They are categorized according to physical condition and skill sets.

In today’s Army, the Ready Reserve plays significant roles in both support and combat missions and is required to deploy as rapidly as the active forces. A presidential decision is required to federalize Army National Guard units and personnel and to call Army Reserve units and personnel to active duty. Currently, the law limits reservists to two years of active duty status per presidential order.

U.S. Army servicemembers with the 10th Homeland Response Force, Washington National Guard, conduct a three-day collective training event at the Spokane Fire Training Center, Washington, 8–10 April 2022. The objective was to rapidly deploy and establish a multifunctional decontamination facility in response to a notional CBRN disaster (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sergeant Adeline Witherspoon).


The Army National Guard

The Army National Guard is a unique, dual-status force—simultaneously an RC of the Army and a state-based force—and has both state and federal missions. It is also the oldest service component of the U.S. military, dating back to the Massachusetts militia’s initial formation into regiments on 13 December 1636. The citizen Soldiers of these regiments, as well as those in other militias, secured the colonies from attack by the French, Spanish and Native Americans. They fought alongside the British in the French and Indian War and alongside the Continental Army in the War of Independence. Army National Guard members have participated in every major U.S. conflict, starting with the American Revolution and continuing through the present day.

The writers of the Constitution had experienced firsthand the value of states having their own militias. They understood the need for the nation to have unfettered access to those militias when warranted. Thus, the Constitution established the role of the militias in respect to the nation, Congress’ responsibility in organizing, maintaining and regulating the militias and the president’s right to call them to active duty.

The Constitution does not mention the National Guard by name. The term “National Guard” was first used in the United States by a New York militia unit in 1824. After the Civil War, the term became a popular way of describing the militia units organized by states and territories. The Militia Act of 1903 and the National Defense Act of 1916 established “National Guard” as the official designation for organized militia forces that receive federal funding.

The Army National Guard’s dual status creates a bureaucratic balancing act. Because the federal government must ensure that Army National Guard elements can effectively integrate with the active Army and Army Reserve, DoD establishes training and operations requirements for Guard units and determines the number of authorized Army National Guard personnel and the unit mix available across the country. The states, meanwhile, reserve the authority to locate units and their headquarters. Federal officials may not change any branch, organization or allotment located entirely within a state without approval of the governor. However, such organizational concerns are seamless on the ground. Whether it is a DoD-ordered deployment to engage in counterterrorism operations overseas or a governor’s request to respond to a natural disaster or civil unrest in a local community, the Army National Guard responds with a trained and ready force.

Figure 3: Army National Guard Chain of Command (Click to view)

Where We Are Today 
  • The Army National Guard has deployed more than 442,000 Soldiers on Title 10-supporting combatant commands since 9/11.
  • In Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), the Army National Guard served more than 7.3 million personnel days in responding to requests from their governors to support their communities. In FY21, that number increased to more than 9.5 million personnel days. 
  • The Army National Guard has an authorized endstrength of 336,000 Soldiers, which includes nearly 22,300 dual-status technicians and more than 30,800 Active Guard Reserve Soldiers. They are supported by more than 5,600 Army civilians.
The National Guard Bureau

The National Guard Bureau (NGB) is a joint activity of DoD and administers the federal functions of the Army National Guard and its Air Force counterpart, the Air National Guard. The Army element of the NGB participates with the Army staff in developing and coordinating programs directly affecting the Army National Guard. As an operating agency, the NGB formulates and administers programs for training, development and maintenance of the Army National Guard and acts as the channel of communication between the Army and the Army National Guard of the 50 states, three territories (Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and the District of Columbia.

The chief of the National Guard Bureau (CNGB) can be either an Army National Guard or Air National Guard general and is appointed by the president for a four-year term. The CNGB joined the joint chiefs of staff in 2012. 

Army-specific matters are routinely handled by the Army National Guard Directorate of the NGB, which is led by an Army National Guard lieutenant general.

State Mission 

When Army National Guard units are not mobilized or under federal control, they fall under USC Title 32 and report to the governor of their respective state or territory. District of Columbia units report to the Commanding General, District of Columbia National Guard. Each National Guard organization is supervised by the adjutant general of that particular state or territory.

Under state law, the Army National Guard protects life and property and preserves peace, order and public safety through emergency relief support during natural disasters, search and rescue operations, support to civil defense authorities, maintenance of vital public services and counterdrug operations. Army National Guard Soldiers protect the homeland and perform key missions in support of U.S. Northern Command. Citizen Soldiers support the Department of Homeland Security on missions such as protecting critical infrastructure and patrolling the southern border. They are also continuing their service in vital state-directed missions under the command of the governors.

The National Guard has developed quick-reaction forces that serve as the nation’s first line of domestic counterterrorism operations. At the request of a governor or the president, the National Guard will deliver a ready-armed, company-sized unit on command. These reaction forces can help local law enforcement agencies by protecting key sites, such as power plants and transportation hubs, as well as by establishing roadblocks. The National Guard uses existing capabilities and units within each state to handle these “on-call” missions. Though not a new concept for the Guard, these missions have become increasingly important as elements of defense and for the deterrence of terrorism throughout the United States.

In addition to quick-reaction forces, the Army National Guard mans and equips 10 regionally oriented homeland response force (HRF) elements. There is an HRF in each of FEMA’s (the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s) 10 regions across the country. Each HRF is comprised of approximately 570 Army and Air National Guard members who provide search and extraction, decontamination, medical triage and initial casualty care capabilities. The HRF manages large-scale catastrophic event response efforts and bridges coordination between the National Guard response and federal capabilities. 

The National Guard also maintains 17 chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive enhanced response force (CERFP) teams, comprised of approximately 200 personnel (about 140 Army National Guard and 60 Air National Guard). With capabilities that are similar to those of the HRF, CERFP teams are smaller, rapidly deployable and are able to coordinate mission tasks with the HRF and the incident commander. These capabilities are designed to support the lead federal agency, to conduct operations in order to save lives, to alleviate human suffering and to maintain public confidence—all while mitigating property damage and other effects of a natural or man-made incident within an assigned joint operations area.

Additionally, there are 57 civil support teams (CSTs)—at least one in each state and territory and in the District of Columbia—made up of Army and Air National Guard members. The CSTs are an initial response element that identify chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents and substances, assess current and projected consequences and advise on response measures while assisting with additional support requests. Together, the HRF, CERFP and CSTs provide the initial military response to a CBRN incident.

Federal Mission 

The Army National Guard’s federal mission, as enumerated in Title 10 of the USC, is to maintain well-trained, well-equipped units available for prompt mobilization during war and to provide assistance during national emergencies. Army National Guard units may also be mobilized to perform humanitarian missions, counterdrug operations, peacekeeping missions and other missions as directed by the president and secretary of defense. It has a unique dual mission. The training and equipment it receives as part of its combat mission allows it to respond when needed during disasters and emergencies at home. It plays a key role in supporting local law enforcement during complex civil disturbances to ensure the right to peacefully protest while protecting lives and property. 

At the peak of civil disturbance and the COVID-19 operations in 2021, more than 78,000 Army Guard Soldiers were on duty performing domestic response missions in support of their governors in every single state, three territories and the District of Columbia, making it the largest domestic Army National Guard response since Hurricane Katrina. Army National Guard Soldiers served on the frontlines in a wide range of capacities. They helped deliver more than 1 billion meals, packaged more than 149 million meals for food banks, administered more than 15.8 million vaccine doses, conducted more than 34.9 million COVID-19 tests and screenings in their communities, disinfected over 71,000 facilities and transported more than 190 million items of protective equipment. 

During that time frame, the Army Guard activated more than 23,400 Soldiers from every state and territory in only two weeks—a historic, highly accelerated operational tempo—to support the 59th Presidential Inauguration. They provided security at the U.S. Capitol and key sites throughout Washington, DC. 

The Army National Guard continues its dual mission, providing trained units to the states, territories and the District of Columbia and keeping itself equipped to protect life and property. The Army Guard also provides trained units to the nation, equipped and ready to defend the United States and its interests all over the globe. For more than four centuries, the Army Guard has combined civilian-acquired skills and experiences with combat training, bringing rich and unique capabilities to the joint force. 

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 399th Combat Support Hospital unload patients from an ambulance to be treated at a field hospital during Exercise Global Medic at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, 12 August 2022. The Medical Readiness Training Command conducts Exercise Global Medic as part of the Army Reserve Medical Command’s larger mission to provide trained, equipped and combat ready units and medical personnel to support the total force (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Specialist Addison Shinn).


The Army Reserve

The United States Army Reserve is the Army’s federal reserve force, providing operational capability and strategic depth to the Total Army and the joint force in support of the National Defense Strategy and Army commitments worldwide. Comprised of more than 200,000 Soldiers and civilians, the Army Reserve accounts for 20 percent of the Army’s organized units, provides nearly half of the Army’s total maneuver support and offers a quarter of the Army’s mobilization base expansion capability. Manned, trained and equipped to enable operational forces, the Army Reserve provides quick access to trained and ready Soldiers, leaders and cohesive units, as well as critical enabling capabilities found nowhere else in the Army or the joint force. 

The Army Reserve has been and continues to be an essential element of the Total Army and the joint force, meeting high operational tempo demands, operating and generating forces as required and providing predictable capabilities to combatant commands.

In the two decades since 9/11, more than 420,000 Army Reserve Soldiers have been mobilized, and nearly 8,000 Soldiers are currently deployed to 23 countries.

After more than 20 years at war, and the longest sustained domestic mobilization in history, the Army Reserve is focused on maintaining and sustaining readiness as a multi-domain capable force for the Army while also supporting industry, communities and cities across America.

Critical Enabling Capabilities

Meeting ongoing defense and security demands requires continued access to and reliance upon the skills, capabilities and experience of a ready Army Reserve. A federal, operational Army Reserve force saves the Army money; reduces the demand for Regular Army capabilities; helps mitigate current Army capability shortfalls; and allows the Regular Army to preserve readiness. It provides the depth and scalability needed to meet current and anticipated requirements of the combatant commands; achieves a cost-efficient balance by using the strengths and capabilities of each component; and provides a sufficient base of trained, equipped and ready Soldiers, leaders and units from which the Regular Army may draw when needed. Most important, a ready and operational Army Reserve provides the critical enabling capabilities that combat forces rely on to initiate, sustain and win prolonged operations.

When sustained unified land operations are required, the nation integrates and synchronizes all of America’s military services, but it can only do so with the support of the Army Reserve, which provides critical early-entry and set-the-theater capabilities. These include petroleum pipeline and terminal operations, rail units, biological identification detachments, broadcast operation detachments, civil affairs, theater engineer commands, medical logistics and other units and capabilities crucial to opening and sustaining major operations.

A Component and a Command

As the only Army component that is also a command, the Army Reserve is organized under a single general officer who has both staff responsibilities to the DA as the chief of Army Reserve and command authority over most Army Reserve Soldiers as the commander, U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC). This structure provides unity of effort to support every Army Service Component Command and combatant command across the globe, with a footprint that extends across all 50 states, five territories and 23 countries. 

The chief of Army Reserve is the principal advisor on Army Reserve matters to the secretary of the Army and the CSA. The office of the chief of Army Reserve plans, prepares, resources and manages the force and is responsible for the justification, defense and execution of the personnel, operations and maintenance and construction budgets. The commanding general of USARC leads the largest three-star command in the Army and is assigned to U.S. Forces Command. 

Specialized Capabilities

The Army Reserve is structured to manage specialized capabilities, including those not present anywhere else in the joint force. These include:

  • sustainment capabilities that are needed for major operations but are too expensive to keep on active duty when not required, such as theater-level transportation and sustainment; and
  • career fields with skills that are in high demand in the civilian sector and are difficult to retain on active duty, such as medical, legal, engineering and cyber skills.
Supporting Capabilities for the Operational Force

The Army Reserve is responsible for a majority of the following capabilities in the Total Army: civil affairs; quartermaster; medical; military-information support operations (information operations and cyber operations); postal and personnel management; chemical; transportation; legal support; military history; and chaplain.

Unique Unit Types in the Army Reserve

In addition to a broad spectrum of low-density enabling units throughout its force, the following unit types of commands and capabilities exist only in the Army Reserve: 

  • theater engineer commands; 
  • civil affairs commands; 
  • maneuver support and sustainment; 
  • biological-agent defense; and 
  • medical minimal-care detachments.
Sustainable Readiness 

Under Sustainable Readiness, all components of the Army must remain ready and postured to protect the nation and its interests. For the Army Reserve, this means prioritizing readiness in allocated units and early-entry/set-the-theater enabling capabilities required to meet planned contingency operations. It also means prioritizing readiness and its four components (manning, training, equipping and leader development) with targeted initiatives.

Steady demand for these capabilities has introduced a new paradigm of reliance on the Army Reserve as a critical part of the national security architecture and an essential partner in preventing conflict, shaping the strategic environment and responding to operational contingencies, to include theater security cooperation, overseas disaster response, homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities (DSCA). 

A U.S. Army Reserve Soldier assists Specialist Gabriel Santos with his gloves during quarterly sustainment training in Urban Search and Rescue alongside the Miami-Dade Fire Department. The joint training boosts interagency operability and communication (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sergeant First Class Clinton Wood).
Defense Support of Civil Authorities

The Army Reserve includes substantial capabilities that are vital in disaster response, and it stands ready to support lead agencies for domestic emergencies and disaster relief efforts. Section 12304a of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act provides authority for the service RCs to assist citizens and communities in the United States during domestic emergencies to save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate property damage.

The Army Reserve provides federal support to DSCA during emergencies with capabilities such as aviation lift, search and rescue or extraction, quartermaster (food, shelter, potable water, heated tents, etc.), civil affairs and public information—as well as a significant portion of full-spectrum engineer capabilities. 

Since 2020, more than 4,000 citizen Soldiers, including medical professionals, logisticians and other specialized forces, have provided integral enabling capabilities to the Army in support of the global pandemic response.

In support of Operation Allies Welcome, more than 1,500 Army Reserve Soldiers and Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers (EPLOs) mobilized to seven stateside and overseas installations, including Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. As part of the Army’s support to DoD, the Army Reserve assisted Afghans, their families and other at-risk individuals in finalizing their immigration processing safely—providing logistics, protection, governance, medical and morale support—so they could resettle in locations inside and outside the United States. 

The Army Reserve continues to support U.S. Army Northern Command in COVID-19 response operations. Since the start of the pandemic, the Army Reserve has mobilized extensive medical capabilities. As of May 2022, two 25-person Medical Care Augmentation Teams (MCATs) are reinforcing civilian medical treatment facilities. The MCATs followed the initial response after more than 20 Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces, composed of 85 medical professionals, had already provided critical professional and expeditionary medical staff.

The Army Reserve provides all of the Army’s EPLOs and half of those in DoD. These EPLOs serve as conduits, maintaining communications among DoD, federal, state and local governments and nongovernmental organizations to coordinate assistance among all parties during emergency response events.

The Army Reserve conducts DSCA response in two ways—immediate and deliberate. These responses differ in the authorities under which they are conducted and the source of the support request. Responses can be conducted independently or as part of a larger response effort. 

Deliberate response is conducted by Army Reserve units and Soldiers under the mobilization authority specified in Title 10 USC, Sections 12304 and 12304a:

  • Title 10 USC, Section 12304, authorizes federal Reserve units, including the Army Reserve, to respond to certain emergencies and humanitarian assistance in other nations. This includes the authority to order up to 200,000 members of the components to active duty for a continuous period of up to 365 days to provide assistance to either the federal government or an individual state in a time of a natural or man-made disaster, accident or catastrophe. 
  • Title 10 USC, Section 12304a (enacted with the passage of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act), authorizes federal component units to provide disaster assistance to a major natural disaster or emergency in the United States. This includes the authority to order any Army Reserve unit—and any member not assigned to a unit—to active duty for a continuous period of not more than 120 days in response to a governor’s request.

Immediate response is conducted by Army Reserve units and Soldiers under the Immediate Response Authority (IRA), outlined in DoD Directive (DoDD) 3025.18, which authorizes local commanders to take action to save lives, prevent human suffering or mitigate great property damage in a situation of urgency when there is insufficient time to get approval from higher headquarters:

  • As listed in DoDD 3025.18, a request for assistance from a civil authority (tribal authority, mayor, chief of police, fire chief, sheriff, chief of emergency management, etc.) is required to initiate the IRA. Following the request, Army Reserve units within the affected area may respond immediately under imminently serious conditions to disasters and attacks as required by civil authorities and within limits established by law.2
A group of Fort Knox civilian employees participate in the installation’s first in-person Civilian Education System course on 6 June 2022, taught by an Army Management Staff College mobile training team (U.S. Army photo by Jennifer DeHaan).


Army Civilian Corps

Army Civilians are an integral component of the Army, leading and managing the design, development and operation of the Army’s evolving requirements, generating and managing resources and delivering human capital and materiel to Army operational forces. The Army has relied heavily on this cohort of professionals to carry out the Army’s Title 10 statutory responsibilities to resource a globally-deployed military. Army Civilians are employed (and in some cases deployed) in positions that provide combat support and combat service support, allowing Soldiers to concentrate on the warfighting mission. 

Army Civilians also serve the nation in a myriad of noncombat Army missions, such as waterway and flood control, domestic emergency response and the Army’s quality of life, morale and welfare programs. Additionally, they contribute to mission planning and logistical support to war efforts, including sustaining the health and safety of the force; designing and managing the Army’s research and development programs; submitting and managing the Army’s budget; and repairing/rebuilding the Army’s warfighting equipment. 

The Army Civilian Corps is composed of a wide range of employees: federal civilian employees (who are generally U.S. citizens employed with funds appropriated by Congress), nonappropriated fund employees (who work in Army clubs and child-care centers and are paid from sales, fees and charges to the patrons of those activities) and local national employees (who are citizens of host nations employed in overseas areas under agreements with the host nations). Senior Executive Service members, equivalent to general officers, serve as program managers, senior-level Headquarters, Department of the Army staff or senior leaders within Army commands. The DA federal employees are employed under the executive branch of the U.S. government and are hired under the same authority as federal service civilians in most other agencies within the U.S. government. 

Contractors are not federal employees; they work for organizations that have contract agreements in place and provide special skills to DoD and/or the DA. Military and civilian employees in the DA operate individually and often jointly on the missions of the organization. Civilian members of the organization contribute significantly by providing direct support to the military mission. While military members of the DA either enlist or are commissioned into service and have a required service agreement/contract, Army Civilians work voluntarily and are able to move, change positions or resign at any time.

★  ★  ★  ★

Chapter 3: Army Organization

2022 Profile of the United States Army

Chapter 1: National Defense
Chapter 2: The Land Component
Chapter 3: Army Organization
Chapter 4: The Soldier
Chapter 5: The Uniform
Chapter 6: The Army on Point
Chapter 7: Army Families
Chapter 8: Army Commands
Chapter 9: Army Service Component Commands
Chapter 10: Direct Reporting Units

Download the complete pdf

  1. United States Army Human Resources Command, “Standby Reserve,” 17 December 2019.
  2. Department of Defense, “Department of Defense Directive 3025.18,” 29 December 2010.
Lead photo by Specialist Hedil Hernández, U.S. Army National Guard