20 Military Facts That May Surprise you

Feb 15, 2022

20 Military Facts That May Surprise you
By Westgate Resorts

20 Military Facts That May Surprise You

Whether you’re involved in the military, you have a family tradition of veterans, or you’re just a history enthusiast, the scope and power of the U.S. Armed Forces is truly fascinating. Our Department of Defense is arguably the most impressive organization in the world, and there is an unbelievable stockpile of information regarding our military and its history that will entertain and surprise the average person.

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There are far more interesting aspects to our military than what military movies portray. Millions of personnel are spread abroad and in our hundreds of domestic bases, and their stories are all important. There are 21 military bases in Florida alone, representing every branch. The sheer magnitude of the current and historical status of the U.S. Armed forces can be intimidating to consider. This article will examine 20 military facts that may surprise you.

1 | The scope of our military is far beyond what most people realize | Spread between six branches: the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard, the U.S. military employs nearly three million people and boasts an annual budget of more than $700 billion. Our defense spending alone is more than that of China, India, Russia, and the next eight highest defense spenders combined.


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2 | The army is older than the country itself | George Washington led the first continental army in June of 1775. This means that our army predates our country by more than one year.

3 | The Department of Defense is the world’s biggest employer | With about 2.91 million employees, the U.S. Department of Defense employs more people than any other organization in the world, with China’s People’s Liberation Army coming in second with about 1.5 million. The Army employs the most people out of any branch with the regular Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve collectively employing over a million personnel.

4 | The Department of Defense owns over 30 million acres of land | Despite not being a land management entity at its core, the DoD is the third largest land managing agency. Military engineers develop a wide variety of civil service projects.

5 | The army is responsible for mapping out the U.S. | Military engagement may not have been the focus, but the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 were an army unit. Today they’re mostly remembered as explorers. The group traveled about 4,900 miles over the course of two years and four months, eventually landing themselves in history books forever.

6 | There have been only five 5-star generals | The five-star rank didn’t exist until 1944, and it was retired in 1981 when Omar Bradley, the final recipient died. The most notable of these five men was former president Dwight D. Eisenhower. George Washington was formerly a five star general, but he was posthumously promoted to a six-star general in 1976.

7 | The Air Force used to be a part of the army | The U.S. Air Force was established in 1907 as part of the army, where it remained for forty years. After World War II, the need for an independent air force became clear. While the War Department pushed for a unification of the army and navy, with land, air, and sea forces under one jurisdiction, the Navy opposed this plan. The National Security Act of 1947 solidified the Air Force’s independent status.

8 | The Army offers holiday block leave vacations to soldiers in training | At the end of every year, the army allows those in basic and advanced training to take holiday block leave vacations, a much needed break to spend time with their families and rest.

9 | The Army is Responsible for creating Ray-Bans | In order to help pilots in the U.S Air Force block the rays of the sun and reduce nausea and headaches while flying, Lieutenant General John MacCready asked Bausch & Lomb to create special glasses for them to wear. The result, Ray-Bans!

10 | The military used submarines as early as the revolutionary war | Most people probably think of submarines as fairly modern inventions that date back no more than a hundred years. However, the world’s first use of a submarine in warfare took place in 1776 when the American vessel The Turtle attempted to attach a time bomb to the bottom of the British ship Eagle in New York harbor. It was hand powered and could only accommodate one person aboard. Unfortunately, the mission failed, and the bomb blew up far away from its intended target.

11| Until 1946, the Air Force was part of the Army | Back then, the Air Force was known as the Army Air Corps but changed after the National Security Act of 1947 when it became its own branch of the Armed Forces.

12 | The Army has a history of investigating psychic phenomena | In 1978, the U.S. Army established the Stargate Project, a secret unit which investigated psychic phenomena in both military and domestic situations. The unit primarily investigated remote viewing, which was the term chosen for the ability to see events and sites from a great distance. The project lasted until 1995. The film “The Men Who Stare at Goats” was inspired by the Stargate Project.

13 | There are many dogs in the U.S. Military | Though they’ve been involved in every major conflict in our military’s history, dogs were not formally recognized for their services until World War II. They perform a diverse array of tasks including bob detection, training, and attacks. Today there are about 2,500 active service dogs, with 700 deployed internationally. Not only are their services valuable, but the dogs also themselves are worth tons. A fully trained bomb detection dog is worth over $150,000.

14 | The military is heavily involved in disaster relief | The Military Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) is a special operation that offers a helping hand to devastated countries. The HADR has played an important role in major disasters, such as earthquakes in Haiti and hurricanes that have hit the U.S. coasts. The navy also has two hospital

15 | The military built a giant robot in the 60s | In 1968, the Army developed CAM, or Cybernetic Anthropomorphous Machine, a robot whose purpose was to help soldiers carry equipment through rugged terrain for long distances. CAM was controlled by hand and foot movements with hydraulic valves. The robot weighed over 3,000 pounds.

16 | Most U.S. Presidents served in the Army | Before taking up their roles as Commander in Chief, 31 of the 46 U.S. Presidents served in some branch of the military. The Army boasts the most presidential alumni with 16. Obviously serving in the military isn’t required, but it makes sense considering that the president is effectively the leader of the U.S. Armed Forces.

17 | The Medal of Honor dates back to Abraham Lincoln | In the 1800s, Senator James Grimes of Iowa created a bill to promote the efficiency of the navy and create the Medal of Honor. President Lincoln was the first president to officially sign the bill into effect. 200 medals were originally produced, and the first was awarded in 1862. Today, more than 3,500 soldiers have been awarded. The most notable of these recipients is former president Theodore Roosevelt.

18 | The Army burns an insane amount of fuel | If you think your truck guzzles gas, it’s got nothing on military usage. A 2011 study found that the Army uses about 22 gallons of fuel per soldier per day. This adds up to nearly a billion gallons per year. It takes a lot of power to run complex and powerful military vehicles.

19 | Military cemeteries and memorials make great destinations | Our nation sports 26 permanent military cemeteries and 32 federal memorials, many of which are in beautiful and historic destinations like Washington D.C. or foreign countries like Belgium and France. These destinations make for great additions to vacations, allowing you to balance somber history with fun sight-seeing.

20 | There is a massive worldwide network of U.S. Military installations | In order to maintain its interests, the U.S. Military has a vast array of personnel deployed in over 150 countries around the world. In 2005, there was an estimated 737 military bases in foreign countries. Japan has the most currently active bases with 120, but Germany follows it with a close 119. South Korea comes in third with 73.

BONUS: The United States has military bases in at least 74 countries | There are more than 800 military bases around the world. This is more than any other country in history.

Bottom Line

The U.S. Armed forces are an ever-changing, multi-faceted set of systems, the scope of which is hard to comprehend. However, this means there is a treasure trove of fascinating things to discover. We hope this list has given you some insights into a few pockets of its complexity and helped you appreciate how powerful and historical these systems are.


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* Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.

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