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Wednesday, December 27, 2006


The first US Army, the Continental Army, was formed in 1775 by the Continental Congress as a unified army for the states to fight Great Britain, with George Washington appointed as its commander. George Washington, although not a great tactician, made use of the Fabian strategy and used hit-and-run tactics, hitting where the enemy was weakest, to wear the British, and their allies, the Hessian mercenaries, down. With a decisive victory at Yorktown, and the help of France, the Continental Army prevailed against the British, and with the Treaty of Paris, the independence of the United States was acknowledged.

After the war, though, the Continental Army was quickly disbanded as part of the Americans' distrust of standing armies, and amateur state militias became the new nation's sole ground army. However, because of continuing conflict with American Indians, it was soon realized that it was necessary to field a trained standing army. The first of these, the Legion of the United States, was established in 1791.

1800sThe War of 1812 (1812-1815), the second and last American war against the British, was mostly a series of defeats for the US Army. An invasion of Canada completely failed, and US troops were unable to stop the British from burning the new capital of Washington, D.C.. Two weeks after a treaty was signed, though, Andrew Jackson defeated the British invasion of New Orleans. However this had little effect, as per the treaty both sides returned to the status quo.

Between 1815 and 1860, a spirit of Manifest Destiny struck the United States, and as settlers moved west the US Army engaged in a long series of skirmishes and battles with American Indians the colonists uprooted. The US Army also fought the short Mexican–American War, which was a victory for the United States and resulted in the new territories of California,Nevada, Utah, Colorado,Arizona,Wyoming and New Mexico.

The Civil War (1861-1865) would result in the most costly war for the United States. After most states in the South seceded to form the Confederate States of America, CSA troops opened fire on the US fort Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, starting the war. For the first two years Confederate forces solidly defeated the US Army, but after the decisive Battle of Gettysburg, Union troops pushed into Confederate territory and won the war in April 1865.

Following the Civil War, the US Army fought a long battle with American Indians, who resisted US expansion into the center of the continent. But by the 1890s the US saw itself as a potential player internationally. US victories in the Spanish-American War (1898) and the more unknown and controversial Philippine-American War (1898-1913), as well as US intervention in Latin America and the Boxer Rebellion, gained America more land and international prestige.

The US joined World War I (1914-1918) in 1917 on the side of Britain and France. Millions of US troops were sent to the front and were instrumental in the push that finally broke through the German lines. With victory on November 11, 1918, the Army once again decreased its forces.

World War II started in 1939 but the United States did not join until 1941 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On the European front, US Army troops made up large portions of the forces that captured North Africa, Sicily, and Italy, and on D-Day and the resulting liberation of Europe and defeat of Germany, the millions of US Army troops played a central role. In the Pacific, millions of Army soldiers participated in the "island hopping" campaign that wrested the Pacific islands from Japanese control. Following Axis Powers surrender in August/September 1945, US troops were deployed to Japan and Germany to occupy the two nations.

However, this set the stage for the west-east confrontation known as the Cold War (late 1940s to late 1980s/early 1990s). Millions of US troops were deployed to West Germany and the rest of Europe in anticipation of Soviet attack, but the invasion never came. Instead, US troops and their allies fought non-Soviet communist forces in Korea and Vietnam, as part of the domino theory.

The Korean War started in 1950. Hundreds of thousands of US troops, under a UN umbrella, were sent to prevent the takeover of South Korea by North Korea, and later, to invade the northern nation. After repeated advances and retreats on the part of both sides, as well as Chinese involvement, a cease-fire returned the peninsula to the status quo in 1953.

The Vietnam War is often regarded as a low point in morale in the Army's record. While US troops had been in the Republic of Vietnam since 1959, they did not come into the country in large numbers until 1965, to fight the communist North Vietnam. The guerrilla war tactics of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army proved difficult to adapt to, and the US military left Vietnam in 1973. Two years later, the country was unified under a communist government.

The 1980s was mostly a decade of reorganization. The US Army converted to an all-volunteer force with more emphasis on training and technology. The Goldwater-Nichols Act was passed in 1986, creating the Unified Combatant Commands. In addition, the Army had a small participation in the successful invasions of Panama (Operation Just Cause) and Grenada (Operation Urgent Fury).

By 1991 Germany was reunited and the Soviet Union was near collapse, and the Cold War was effectively over. Then Iraq invaded its tiny neighbor Kuwait, and the international community deployed hundreds of thousands of troops, mostly US Army formations, to take back the nation. The war was a major victory for the Army, as the US mechanized formations obliterated the Iraqi Army units, taking back the country in only a few days, and proving the effectiveness of the new untried all-volunteer force.

After the Gulf War, the Army did not experience major combat operations for the remainder of the 1990's, but it did participate in numerous peace keeping activities such as the UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia in 1993, where the abortive Operation Gothic Serpent action led to the total withdrawal of both US and UN forces, and also contributed troops to a NATO peacekeeping force in former Yugoslavia in the middle of the decade.

21st century
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and as part of the Global War on Terror, US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001, replacing the Taliban government. Much more controversially, the US and other nations invaded Iraq in 2003 and defeated the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. In the following years the war has arguably bogged down, with debatably large numbers of suicide bomb attacks, and the country is far from stable. However, some milestones have been reached, such as the capture of Saddam Hussein and the holding of elections which have had varying degrees of effective democracy throughout the regions of Iraq.

Values. In the mid- to late 1990's, the Army officially adopted what have come to be known as "The 7 Army Values." The Army began to instill the values into Soldiers. The seven army values are as follows:

Loyalty - Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other Soldiers.
Duty - Fulfill your obligations, even if it calls for sacrifice.
Respect - Treat people as they should be treated.
Selfless Service - Sacrifice your welfare, and your life if need be, for that of the Republic, the Army, and your subordinates.
Honor - Live up to the code of a U.S. Army Soldier.
Integrity - Do what's right, legally and morally.
Personal Courage - Face danger, adversity or death with steadfast bravery.
The values were arranged to form the acronym LDRSHIP (leadership).