How long has the military been around?
The National Guard is the oldest branch of what we now think of as the American military. The Guard celebrated its 370th birthday in December 2006. When the early colonists first settled in North America, they were responsible for their own defense. They quickly formed militias to protect the settlements against Indian attacks and foreign invaders. These militias drew upon the military training and traditions of the English military. Later, these militias also helped win the Revolutionary War.
Currently, the United States military consists of an Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. These forces are under the command of the Department of Defense. The United States Coast Guard is also considered part of the military, but is controlled by the Department of Homeland Security.
Continuing in the tradition of the very first militias, each state has its own national guard that is commanded by the governor of the state. Even though the governor is in command of individual state’s national guards, the President does have the authority to assume control of the guard in the event of national emergencies. Once considered the world’s leading military power, a recent Gallup poll shows that 50% of Americans no longer believe that the United States is the world’s military leader. The poll also asked people whether they thought that it was important to be a military power. Approximately 62% of people asked said that it was, a number that was down from 70% in a 2000 poll. The U.S. military has seen a decrease in its approval since 2010 when there was a major surge in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.