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What Are the Four Branches of the Military?

Are you a real patriot? Get to know the four branches of the military.

By Joseph FarleyPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

They keep us safe everyday. Freeing us up to live our lives in whatever fashion we desire, but do you really know them? There are four major branches of the United States Military, and each of them do very specific things. The Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps are the big four, and for the sake of this article we are going to set aside their respective reserve components.

Whether you are thinking of joining the military, or are just a U.S. history buff, you should probably know a little bit more about each service branch. While they all work together to some extent — keeping America safe from enemies and protecting its interests around the globe — the way they go about their service can be very different. While they all serve the nation, each branch has its own specialties, main areas of focus, and methods of operation.

If this sounds like it's up your alley, read on for a better understanding of the four branches of the military.


The Army is the oldest branch of the United States Military — dating back to 1775. The Army's main area of service is on the ground, and they are the main fighting force during any military ground operation.

In addition, the Army is also the largest of the four branches of the military. They also have two reserve components — the Army Reserves and the Army National Guard. The Reserves are under the umbrella of the federal government, while the Guard is align with their state government -- although they can be mobilized by the federal government if need be. If considering the Army, know that you will be fighting on the ground in a foreign country -- serving on one of the front lines.

Air Force

The Air Force is the newest of the four branches of the military. Not becoming a separate service branch until 1947 — which makes sense, given the fact that we haven't been flying planes for all that long. The job of the United States Air Force is to protect the country in the air and space. They work with the Army and other ground forces to provide air support during critical missions.

The Air Force also has two reserve components — the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserves. The Air National Guard operates as a reserve force on both the state and national level. They can be activated and used by either a state governor or high level federal official. If you're attracted to the friendly skies and want to get involved in protecting your country, you might want to look further into the Air Force.


The Navy dates back to the late 18th Century, and is tasked with being the defender of the seas and one of the four branches of the military. It is possible for a sailor in the Navy to serve on the ground, but they are mainly responsible for various coasts throughout the seven seas. The Navy will generally, especially in this day and age, engage in the least amount of direct combat with an enemy.

They do, however, work hand-in-hand with the Air Force, providing support and massive aircraft carriers. They transport planes on these carriers which also serve as make-shift runways when out at seas. The Navy also launches quite a bit of long range missiles -- enabling us to reach almost any country abroad. They are vitally important to the four branches of military, and provide crucial support around the globe.


The Marines were originally an extension of the Navy — they were used as its ground fighting force. "Hitting the beach" was meant literally, and during missions, they would take over the beach and, likely, overwhelm the enemy. In 1798, they were established as a separate branch with a tighter focus on ground operations.

Marines are known for their toughness and tenacity in battle. There is no Marine National Guard, and the requirements —mentally and physically — to become one are grueling. The Marines are always deployed forward — 365 days a year. Because of this, the Marines are usually called in first to fight, not by any rule, but more because of logistics. Marines are always stationed near areas of great importance and high volatility -- making them one of the most critical of the four branches of the military

This is a good place to start, and if you have an interest in one branch over another, I suggest you dig in deeper on that. Keep in mind they all work together, no matter the means of operation.


About the Creator

Joseph Farley

Joseph Farley is a North Jersey based writer who loves short fiction and stand-up comedy

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