The United States Department of Defense (DoD) is not only America’s oldest government agency, but also the largest. Today, the DoD is led by Ashton B. Carter, the U.S. Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of Defense offers direction, control, and authority over the U.S. Department of Defense.
The U.S. DoD is America’s largest employer with 742,000 civilian personnel and more than 1.3 million men and women serving on active duty. Additionally, 826,000 men and women serve in the U.S. National Guardand Reserve forces. There are more than 2 million retired military employees who currently receive military benefits.
What Does the DoD Do?
The U.S. DoD is responsible for protecting our country by preparing for and maintaining the national defense and security of the country. As the largest organization of the U.S. federal government, the DoD has an annual budget of more than half a trillion dollars, according to AllGov.
The U.S. DoD provides successful leadership, professional development, and technical training to DoD recruits. The DoD actively works to reinforce core values amongst our nation’s men and women in uniform. These core values include duty, integrity, honor, courage, ethics, and loyalty.
Additionally, the DoD trains and equips the armed forces through three military departments, including the Navy, Army, and Air Force. These three military departments work to train and equip their dedicated personnel to perform peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster-recovery tasks, as well as warfighting.
Uniformed Services of the DoD
The individual service branches of the U.S. DoD include the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, and Coast Guard. Learn more about these branches by clicking on the links provided below:
• U.S. Army
: The U.S. Army is one of the three U.S. military departments who reports to the DoD. Comprised of an active and reserve component, the U.S. Army conducts operations all around the world.
• U.S. Marine Corps
: A compartment of the U.S. Navy, the Marine Corps carries out missions on sea and shore.
• U.S. Navy
: Reporting directly to the DoD, the Navy provides combat-ready forces worldwide.
• U.S. Air Force
: Reporting directly to the U.S. DoD, the Air Force maintains global superiority in space, cyberspace, and air.
• U.S. National Guard
: As the oldest branch of the U.S. military, members of the National Guard serve communities as well as the country. The services of the National Guard are versatile and can support combat missions, humanitarian efforts, homeland security operations, domestic emergencies, and more.
The Unified Command Plan
The DoD’s Unified Command Plan changes as required to accommodate growing national security needs. According to the U.S. DoD, the Unified Command Plan establishes the missions and geographic responsibilities amongst the combatant commanders.
The current United Command Plan includes the following:
- United States Africa Command: The USAFRICOM holds responsibility of military relations with African nations, the African national security organizations, and the African Union.
- United States Central Command: The USCENTCOM holds responsibility for operations in twenty countries that fall in the central area of the globe, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.
- United States European Command: The USEUCOM works with NATO to address the security and defense needs of Europe and parts of the Middle East as well as Eurasia.
- United States Northern Command: The USNORTHCOM is responsible for areas in the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and certain parts of the Caribbean.
- United States Pacific Command: The USPACOM is responsible for areas ranging from the waters of the western United States to the western border of Antarctica to the North Pole, and more.
- United States Southern Command: USSOUTHCOM is responsible for 31 nations in Latin America, Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.
- United States Special Operations Command: USSOCOM is held responsible for planningfor and conducting special operations.
- United States Strategic Command: USSTRATCOM is responsible for command of the U.S. space operations, global surveillance, nuclear capabilities, intelligence, and more.
- United States Transportation Command: USSTRANSCOM offers the U.S. DoD transportation capabilities and assets.
Where is the DoD Located?
The U.S. DoD headquarters is located at the Pentagon, one of the largest office buildings in the world. The Pentagon was built during the earlier years of World War II and is still said to be one of the most efficient office buildings in the world.
However, the U.S. Defense Department can be found throughout the country in areas such as New Mexico and Virginia. With all defense sites combined, the DoD takes up more than 30 million acres of land.
The Mission of the DoD
The U.S. DoD provides military forces and security to protect our country from danger. The DoD has the employees and resources needed to deter war and keep Americans safe.
The official website of the DoD is available to share timely, accurate, and official government information with the public, including civilians, military members, Congress, and the media. The website aims to provide accurate information about government functions, operations, organizations, and defense policies. Additionally, Defense.gov should be used as the starting point for finding official military information.
The History of the DoD
The U.S. DoD goes back as far as 1775 when the Navy, Army, and Marine Corps were first established. In 1789, the War Department was established, which was the precursor to today’s Department of Defense. In 1790, the U.S. Coast Guard was established, followed by the Department of the Navy in 1798.
In 1947, the National Military Establishment was created. The National Military Establishment was created to replace the War Department, which was then converted to the Department of the Army. The U.S. Air Force was established that same year, followed by the Department of the Air Force.
During this time, the Navy, Army, and Air Force were placed under the control of the new Secretary of Defense. In 1949, the National Military Establishment was renamed the Department of Defense.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense
The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is made up of the following staff members:
Additional members of the U.S. DoD can be found on the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Components of the Department of Defense
In addition to its service branches, the DoD has many other components, including the following:
- Arlington National Cemetery: The Arlington National Cemetery honors the men and women who have served our nation.
- Chief Information Officer of the DoD: The Chief Information Officer oversees national security, information systems, information resources, and business systems.
- Defense Acquisition University: Defense Acquisition University provides a global learning environment that helps to build qualified professionals with affective warfighting capabilities.
- Defense Logistics Agency (DLA): The DLA is America’s combat logistics support agency.
- Defense Media Activity (DMA): The DMA keeps DoD audiences informed and up-to-date with the latest DoD news.
- Deputy Chief Management Officer (DCMO): The DCMO is the principal management office for the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense. The Office works to optimize the business environment across the DoD.
- DoD 101: DoD 101 provides useful information to getting to know our nation’s DoD.
- DoD Office of Security: The Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review (DOPSR) manages the DoD security review program and reviews written materials before public and controlled release.
- Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP): The FVAP provides voting assistance to Service members, overseas citizens, and their families.
- Freedom of Information (FOIA): The FOIA ensures that Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rights are met, and that any person has the right to request access to federal agency information or records.
- Hurricane Hunters: Hurricane Hunters supports the U.S. Air Force through tropical storm reconnaissance.
- Joint Chiefs of Staff: The Joint Chiefs of Staff is made up of the Chairman, Vice Chairman, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of Air Force Staff, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Chief of National Guard Bureau.
- Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC): The JCOC works to increase public understanding of our nation’s defense.
- Joint Strike Fighter: Joint Strike Fighter is the DoD’s focal point for defining affordable next-generation strike aircraft weapon systems.
- Military & Civilian Pay: The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) pays all DoD military and civilian personnel. Additionally, the DFAS pays retirees, DoD vendors, and contractors.
- Military Health System: The MHS provides health care, medical education, and public health to our nation’s men and women in uniform.
- Personnel and Readiness: The Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness develops policies and plans, provides advice, and conducts analyses regarding DoD plans and programs.
- Quadrennial Defense Review 2010: The QDR is a legislatively-mandated review of DoD defense strategies and priorities.
- Reserve Affairs: Manpower & Reserve Affairs works to direct policies and procedures related to Total Force manpower, reserve affairs, and personnel.
- Sports: Armed Forces Sports (AFS) works to promote good will and a positive image of the Armed Services. AFS provides incentives and encouragement of physical fitness through competitive sports.
- Today in DoD: Today in DoD provides news and information related to the present date.
- Today’s Military: Today’s Military works to portray an active picture of what military life is life.
- Tricare: Tricare is the health provider of U.S. uniformed service members and their families.
- Warrior Care: Warrior Care supports wounded, ill, and injured Service members as they recover from battle and transition back into civilian life.