The Handy Armed Forces Answer Book: Your Guide to the Whats and Whys of the U.S. Military

The Handy Armed Forces Answer Book: Your Guide to the Whats and Whys of the U.S. Military

by Richard Estep
The Handy Armed Forces Answer Book: Your Guide to the Whats and Whys of the U.S. Military

The Handy Armed Forces Answer Book: Your Guide to the Whats and Whys of the U.S. Military

by Richard Estep


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The story of the United States military is the story of the country itself. Both have grown and changed over time. Learn about the unique histories, traditions, weapons, leaders, stats, and fun facts of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Space Force, and their roles within the military in this fun and fascinating guide!

From the few hundred soldiers in its ranks when it was first established, to the over one million service members today, the U.S. military has grown in power and size over its 250-year history. Its organization and branches have changed to adapt to new technologies and national needs. The Handy Armed Forces Answer Book: Your Guide to the Whats and Whys of the U.S. Military looks at each branch of the U.S. military. It answers more than 500 of the most intriguing questions, including …

  • How is the U.S. military organized?

  • How do the branches work together?

  • When did the Army Air Corps become the U.S. Army Air Force?

  • What is the selection process like for Special Forces?

  • Who was the Continental Army’s first Commander in Chief?

  • How does the military rank structure function?

  • How does somebody become an Air Force officer?

  • What was the “Brown Water Navy”?

  • What is the motto of the Coast Guard?

  • How many bases does the military have?

  • What is the Marine Corps Hymn?

  • Did any Coast Guard vessels serve in combat?

  • What type of aircraft is Air Force One?

  • Who said “Retreat? Hell! We just got here!”

  • Who were the Buffalo Soldiers?

  • What are the Blue Angels?

  • What is the most challenging USAF plane to fly?

  • What is the origin of the Coast Guard “racing stripe”?

  • Does the Space Force have any operational bases?

  • How did a mutiny help establish the United States Naval Academy?

  • What is the longest-serving personal weapon used by the American soldier?

  • What is the difference between a UAV and a drone?

  • What attack submarines does the Navy deploy?

  • Who defends the United States against cyberattacks and other digital threats?

The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Space Force are uniquely American, each in their own way. Learn what makes each branch special in The Handy Armed Forces Answer Book! With more than 140 photos and graphics, this fascinating to me is richly illustrated. Its helpful bibliography and extensive index add to its usefulness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781578597437
Publisher: Visible Ink Press
Publication date: 04/12/2022
Series: The Handy Answer Book Series
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 1,041,213
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Richard Estep, author and researcher, has written twenty books, including Serial Killers: The Minds, Methods, and Mayhem of History's Most Notorious Murderers. He has also written for the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. He makes his home in Colorado, a few miles north of Denver, where he serves as a paramedic and lives with his wife and a menagerie of adopted animals.

Read an Excerpt

Special Operations Forces

What are Special Operations Forces?
Special Operations Forces are small units of elite soldiers that are used for specialist and atypical purposes. The selection process for such units is extremely rigorous, with a high wash-out rate being common during training. Special Operations Forces are usually provided with state-of-the-art equipment. A typical mission might involve clandestine insertion behind enemy lines, followed by any number of specific tasks, such as training local forces friendly to the United States; demolition and sabotage; counter-insurgency operations; reconnaissance and intelligence gathering; designating targets for air strikes; and a wide array of other missions.

Who were the first American special forces?
Arguably the first special operations unit in United States history was Rogers’ Rangers, an unconventional unit which served on the side of the British during the French and Indian War of 1755. They were led by Robert Rogers, who was born in Massachusetts in 1731 and later moved to New Hampshire. Gaining experience in the militia as a young man, Rogers was no stranger to the great outdoors, or to marksmanship. Attacks by Indians on settlements led him to form companies of Rangers, training them in tactics used by the Indians themselves. Rogers was determined to beat them at their own game. While the vaunted British Redcoats stood in line of battle, relying on the firepower of massed volleys of muskets to beat their enemy, the natives preferred to hit, run, and melt back into the shadows. The Rangers were taught to do the same thing, and Roberts issued a series of standing orders which still apply day. Some examples:

  • When we’re on the march, we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can’t go through two men.
  • Don’t ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won’t be ambushed.
  • Don’t sit down to eat without posting sentries.
  • Don’t sleep beyond dawn. Dawn’s when the French and Indians attack.
  • If somebody’s trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your tracks, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.

    Who was the Swamp Fox?
    Francis Marion, a commander of Continental irregulars during the War for Independence, was nicknamed the Swamp Fox by a frustrated British officer that was outmaneuvered by Francis in the swamps and trails of South Carolina. Much like Robert Rogers, Marion was a veteran of the French and Indian War, where he learned at first-hand how the Cherokee fought. When war broke out with the British, Francis Marion answered the call to arms again and accepted an officer’s commission. Adept in small unit tactics, Marion liked to outmaneuver his opponents, taking them surprise, striking hard, and withdrawing before the superior British numbers could be brought to bear. The Swamp Fox soon gained a well-deserved reputation for guile and cunning, demonstrating repeatedly how a small unit of motivated fighting men could outfox a bigger, more traditionally minded foe.

    What makes the AC-130 Spectre/Spooky/Stinger/Ghostrider gunship interesting?
    The C-130 Hercules has long been the U.S. military’s workhorse for transporting personnel and supplies. In its AC-130 variant, it is also a flying arsenal, used to provide close air support and battlefield surveillance to forces on the ground. As an eye in the sky, the AC-130 comes equipped with a state-of-the-art suite of optics and sensors that enable it to see in the darkness, through smoke, rain, snow, and to a certain degree, inside structures. Thanks to its large fuel capacity, the AC-130 can patrol on station for extended periods, orbiting out of sight of the enemy until its services are called upon. It also packs one heck of a punch. A 105mm cannon, the same caliber that was mounted on the first model of M1 Abrams main battle tank, fires heavy caliber rounds from a sideways mount. It is capable of taking out armored targets. For softer targets, such as dismounted infantry and soft-skinned vehicles, the gunship can mount rotary cannon capable of spitting out a huge volume of rounds. The AC-130 can also be equipped with guided bombs and missiles mounted on the wings, giving it a diverse mix of weaponry for taking out multiple different types of targets. Fielded by the Air Force, the AC-130 is an “angel on the shoulder” of troops during many special operations.

    How are Rangers selected and trained?
    R.A.S.P. (the Ranger Assessment & Selection Program) is the gateway to becoming a Ranger. Applicants must be active-duty soldiers who are U.S. citizens, a clean background check, and a willingness to become airborne qualified (or already be qualified). They must also be trained in a Military Occupation Speciality (M.O.S.) that is desirable to the 75th Ranger Regiment, or failing that, be willing to undertake re-training in order to get one. Because of the special operations nature of Ranger missions, the ability to obtain a security clearance is also a must. Prospective Rangers should be of high moral caliber and will have to pass a urine drug test. They will also undertake a psychological evaluation, to ensure that they are mentally stable for the immense pressures that will be placed upon them.

    In terms of physical fitness, candidates must crank out 53 push-ups, 63 sit-ups, 4 pull-ups, and run 2 miles in under 14 minutes and 30 seconds, then carry a 35lb pack and rifle over 12 miles in under 3 hours...just to get in the front door. There then follows 8 weeks of testing and training, a mixture of hard physical fitness work and a combination of instruction and assessment in basic Ranger skills, such as marksmanship, land navigation, demolition (breeching doors) and small unit tactics. Applicants will also be expected to know the history and composition of the Ranger Regiment. They are being constantly evaluated by the instructors, not just for their skills, but also for their mindset — do they have the personal qualities needed to make it as a Ranger? If they complete R.A.S.P., the graduates earn the right to wear the tan beret and scroll signifying their membership in the elite 75th Ranger Regiment.

    What are the Marine Raiders?
    They are the special operations troops of the United States Marine Corps. All are Marines who have been selected and given additional training to operate in the role of special forces. In a nod to the Corps’ history, these men are known as Marine Raiders.

    What are the requirements to become a Marine Raider?
    Applicants must be active-duty Marines (Raider positions are not open to reservists). There is no age cutoff. All Marines are at home in the water, by necessity, and this is doubly true of Raiders. In order to be accepted for Raider training, a candidate must successfully conduct an “abandon ship” drill by entering the water from 6 meters up, swim 300 meters while clothed (but without wearing boots) then tread water for 11 more minutes.

    What is MARSOC?
    MARSOC is the MARine Special Operations Command, the element of the Corps that is dedicated to specialist tasks such as counterinsurgency warfare and covert reconnaissance missions, to name just two. MARSOC units also excel at infiltrating enemy lines and carrying out raids. MARSOC falls under the overall umbrella of the U.S. Special Operations Command (U.S.S.O.C.) and was formed in 2006; its fighting arm was comprised of two special operations battalions. In 2015, MARSOC returned to its World War II Pacific theater roots by reclaiming the title of Marine Raider for its personnel.

    What is the Marine Raider Creed?
    My title is Marine Raider.  I will never forget the tremendous legacy and sacrifice of those who came before me.

    At all times my fires will be accurate.  With cunning, speed, surprise, and violence of action, I will hunt the enemies of my country and bring chaos to their doorstep. I will keep my body strong, my mind sharp and my kit ready at all times. Raiders forged the path I follow.  With Determination, Dependability and Teamwork I will uphold the honor of the legacy and valor passed down to me. I will do the right thing always, and I will let my actions speak for me. As a quiet professional, I will not bring shame upon myself or those with whom I serve.

    Spiritus Invictus, an Unconquerable Spirit, will be my standard. I will never quit; I will never surrender and I will never fail. I will adapt to the situation. I will gain and maintain the initiative. I will always go a little farther and carry more than my share.

    On any battlefield, at any point of the compass I will excel. I will set the example for all others to emulate. At the tip of the spear, I will teach and prepare others to seek out, dismantle and destroy our common enemies. I will fight side by side with my fellow countrymen and partners and will be the first in and the last out of any mission.

    Conquering all obstacles of mind, body, and spirit; the honor and pride of serving my country will be my driving force.  I will remain always faithful to my fellow Raiders and always forward in my service. (Note that the first letter of each paragraph forms the acronym MARSOC).

    Why was Major General Merritt Edson known as “Red Mike”?
    As a young man, Edson sported a red beard, which earned him his nickname. That was long before the word “red” was commonly associated with communism. The beard ultimately went, but the nickname stayed.

    How are Force Recon Marines different than Raiders?
    Both are highly trained specialists, experts at operating covertly and carrying out successful missions. One of the key differences between them is that the Raiders report to USSOC at the national level, which gives the MARSOC special operators a strategic role. Force Recon, on the other hand, is more of a local resource that reports directly to the senior Marine commander. Force Recon are the Marines who scope out the lie of the land prior to an amphibious assault or any other Corps operation, thoroughly assessing enemy defenses, locating high value targets and key mission objectives, and ensuring that the Marines who follow in their footsteps don’t run into any unpleasant surprises. Most of the time, the enemy will never be aware that they have been paid a visit by Force Recon...until the shooting starts.

    How did Army Special Forces start out?
    Most special operations units spring from the vision of one individual. The Army’s special forces were the brainchild of Colonel Aaron Bank. Bank had gained extensive operational experience in German-occupied France during World War II, with an emphasis on clandestine operations and guerrilla-type warfare. He also fought in Korea, and upon his return, specialized in psychological warfare. This made him the perfect man to organize the Army’s first dedicated guerrilla unit in 1952; not only would this unit conduct guerrilla missions against enemy forces, but it would also have a major emphasis on training the indigenous population to do the same thing, setting up training camps and teaching skills and tactics to U.S. allies who were under the occupation of a hostile power. This unit was the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). It was based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which is still the home of both the Airborne and the Special Forces today. Bank died in 2004, at the age of 101, but his legacy lives on in the form of the Army’s special operations community.

    Why do Special Forces wear the green beret?
    Many elite forces use distinctive headgear in order to signify their elite status. The British Royal Marine Commandos wear a green beret, though its color is darker than that worn by U.S. Special Forces; soldiers of the French Foreign Legion sport the kepi blank. President John F. Kennedy officially authorized Special Forces to wear a green beret, which comes in “shade 297.” Prior to that authorization, S.F. soldiers purchased their own berets, wearing them in the field but not at base, where the practice was frowned upon by the military establishment. After seeing the men wearing these berets, President Kennedy wrote in a memorandum to their commanding general: The challenge of this old but new form of operations is a real one and I know that you and the members of your Command will carry on for us and the free world in a manner which is both worthy and inspiring. I am sure that the Green Beret will be a mark of distinction in the trying times ahead. The beret became so well-known that those who wear it are usually referred to as “the Green Berets.”

    What is the Special Forces motto?
    De Oppresso Liber — To Liberate the Oppressed. It reflects the unique nature of their work in training native populations to engage in guerrilla warfare against their oppressors.

    How is the Q-course structured?
    The Special Forces Qualification Course is broken down into six distinct stages, or phases, each designed to teach and test different aspects of the S.F. soldier’s skill set. Training begins with the basics, including the history and ethos of Special Forces, and how the organization is put together and operates. Next comes a lengthy period of foreign language and cultural instruction, with the potential Green Berets immersing themselves in the nuances of many countries in which they are likely to deploy at some point in their career. The ability to be multi-lingual is essential to communicating with and effectively training indigenous populations. Those who pass advance to the third phase, in which they will learn to fight and operate as a small unit. This block of training is heavy on the tactics. Phase Four sees the students split off to learn their individual Military Occupational Specialty (M.O.S.) before applying those skills in the fifth phase, a major field training exercise named Robin Sage, which takes over huge chunks of the state of North Carolina, playing the imaginary country of Pineland. It’s a massive undertaking, supported by other military personnel and many civilians, who relish the chance to role-play as part of the Green Berets’ capstone event. Operating in A-Teams, the students are set problems that will face them in the real world and have to work together to overcome them. They’ll raise units of local forces and lead them on simulated combat missions, and also carry out civil affairs duties designed to win hearts and minds. Those who graduate this demanding test will finally earn the right to call themselves Special Forces.

    What is Delta Force?
    It’s the less formal name for 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta. The 1970s were a turbulent time on the international stage, seeing a resurgence of global terrorism. Barely a week went by without acts of terror making the evening news. Airliners were hijacked or bombed with depressing regularity. Atrocities such as the September 5, 1972, massacre in the Munich Olympic Village highlighted the need for specially trained forces to fulfill the counter-terrorism role. Germany responded by creating GSG-9 less than a month later. In Britain, the Special Air Service (S.A.S.) took on the responsibility. The United States established Delta Force in 1977, under the command of Colonel Charles Beckwith.

    How big is Delta Force today?
    The exact figure is classified but is believed to be somewhere close to 1,000 soldiers. The selection process for Delta Force has a fearsome reputation, and one that is well deserved. Delta operators are some of America’s most elite soldiers, if not the most elite. Although most soldiers over the age of 21 can try out for Delta, the majority of successful applicants come from other S.O.F. units, because the skillsets and training standards are similar. Infantry skills form a large part of the assessment process, with the ability to navigate accurately and move over long cross-country distances at speed, which carrying a full combat load, being essential to passing. The wash-out rate for Delta aspirants is high; it is said that only one in ten will pass the selection course and go on to complete advanced training.

    Who were the forefathers of the Navy SEALs?
    During the Second World War, combat or reconnaissance swimmers (also known as “frogmen”) performed demolition duty — this involved charting the location of or even blowing up beach obstacles before an amphibious landing, so the first wave to come ashore would have a clear path. This was hazardous work, often carried out under enemy machine gun, mortar, and even artillery fire. Underwater Demolition Teams (U.D.T.) were formed in the Pacific theater and went in to reconnoiter the landing beaches before the Marines assaulted fortified Japanese islands. The U.D.T. swimmers had none of the advanced equipment available to the Navy SEAL of today; snorkel, flippers, and a combat knife were the extent of it.

    It was the job of the frogmen to assess the viability of a given stretch of beach as a possible landing site. That meant measuring the grade to make sure that it wasn’t too steep and taking samples of the sand to check that it would bear the weight of tracked amphibious vehicles. It was dangerous, dirty work, and distinctly unglamorous, but it was also utterly essential. Without it, the chances were good that the Marine assault forces would have gotten bogged down as soon as they hit the beach, losing more men to obstacles and mines. A direct line can be traced from the work of U.D.T.s to the tasks of modern SEALs.

    What is the story of the “Lone Survivor?”
    Navy SEALs performed a wide variety of missions in Afghanistan. One common task was hunting for High Value Targets (HVTs) behind enemy lines. Such targets were often high-ranking Taliban or Al-Qaeda personnel. On June 28, 2005, Lt. Michael Murphy and three fellow SEALs were on such a hunt high in the mountains when their position was compromised by enemy fighters. Coming under heavy attack, the SEALs fought back and tried to execute a tactical withdrawal under fire, one of the most difficult maneuvers for a unit to execute. The mountainous terrain was harsh and uncompromising, and the SEALs were outnumbered more than ten to one. Trying to call base in order to get help, Lt. Murphy made his way out of the communications dead spot they were in, taking and returning fire every step of the way. He was also intentionally drawing fire away from his three comrades, all of whom had taken wounds.

    Lt. Murphy was wounded multiple times himself but was able to finally place a call for help. A rescue mission was launched, but the Chinook they were riding in was shot down, killing everybody aboard. Three of the SEALs — Michael Murphy, Danny Dietz, and Matthew Axelson — were killed in combat with the enemy. The remaining SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, was seriously wounded but made it to a local village, where he was sheltered by the occupants until his rescue on July 2. Luttrell told his account in the book LONE SURVIVOR, which was subsequently adapted into a movie starring Mark Wahlberg.

    Why was Michael Murphy awarded the Medal of Honor?
    His citation reads: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy’s team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

    How did the SEALs capture Osama bin Laden?
    In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, their mastermind, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, became the United States’ public enemy number one, topping the FBI’s Most Wanted List, and the subject of the largest international manhunt of recent years. Holed up in the Tora Bora cave complex in the eastern reaches of Afghanistan, in mid-December of 2001, bin Laden managed to cross the border into Pakistan and disappear, while British and American special forces assaulted the complex he had just left, supplemented by a series of air strikes. The terrorist icon and leader of al Qaeda remained on the run until 2010, when his whereabouts were finally uncovered by the U.S. intelligence services: he was hiding in a compound in Abbottabad, located within Pakistani territory.

    The possibility of an air strike was considered and quickly ruled out — there would be no way to confirm that bin Laden was even present in the compound, let alone prove his death. A helicopter assault by Navy SEALs from SEAL Team Six, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was the solution. On the night of May 1–2, 2010, the SEALs took the compound by storm. Bin Laden had surrounded himself with civilians, including a number of children. Although several adults were killed during the mission, none of the children were. Bin Laden himself was found on the third floor, and fatally shot in the head by a SEAL. The SEALs then gathered up every scrap of intel they could carry, including a plethora of computer hard drives and sheaves of paper documents, and returned to their stealth Black Hawks, bringing bin Laden’s dead body along with them. One of the Black Hawks had crashed on landing and was destroyed by the SEALs in order to prevent its technology falling into the hands of a non-allied nation. A back up helicopter was on hand for just such an eventuality, and the SEALs returned to base safely. After positive identification had occurred, bin Laden’s remains were given a burial at sea.

    What is the origin of the Navy SEAL trident?
    The SEAL trident is informally known by those who wear it as the Budweiser, due to its similarity to the logo of the famous beer company. Gold in color, the symbol depicts an eagle clutching a trident in one claw and a pistol in the other. In the foreground is an anchor. Each component has a specific meaning. The eagle represents the United States, and its outstretched wings indicate the fact that SEALs deploy from the air when the needs of the mission so dictate. Every SEAL is a sailor, as evidenced by the anchor; the pistol represents the land battlefield on which they fight, in conjunction with the trident, the mythologic weapon of the sea god Neptune, symbolizing that SEALs strike from the sea.

    Who are the Night Stalkers?
    Special Operations Forces reach the battlefield in a variety of ways. Parachute, inflatable boat, submarine, and even simply walking in, are all viable methods of transport. The helicopter has been a popular choice for troop insertion since the days of Korea and Vietnam. The U.S. military’s most skilled rotary wing unit is the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (S.O.A.R.) otherwise known as the Night Stalkers. As an army unit, the 160th deploys battalions, not squadrons. Its role is to support special operations conducted around the world with very little notice. When they aren’t flying top secret missions, the Night Stalkers can usually be found honing their skills in training.

    Which helicopters do they operate?
    There is a proper tool for every task, and the Night Stalkers field several different helicopter types, depending upon the type of mission they are undertaking. Although the same basic types of helicopters are flown by other U.S. military regiments and squadrons, the versions used by the 160th S.O.A.R. come equipped with a few modifications — some of which are highly classified in nature. Medium and heavy lift capability is provided by the MH-47 Chinook and the MH-60M Black Hawk. This variant of the Black Hawk is specially set up for the rapid deployment and extrication of troops, with rappelling rope attachments and power winch modifications. Soldiers are able to get in and out of their target zone with the minimum amount of delay. The Night Stalkers also field an air support/strike version of the Black Hawk known as the Direct Action Penetrator (D.A.P.), which essentially converts the transport helicopter into a gunship, complete with rockets, missiles, miniguns, or chain guns. This flying artillery platform is able to effectively suppress enemy ground defenses or taking out threats to the ground forces, such as tanks and armored fighting vehicles.

    The MH-6M Little Bird may be small, as its name states, but it packs quite a wallop. Used to deliver direct fire support from a smaller airframe, the Little Bird is a fast and versatile gun platform capable of spitting out thousands of rounds at a time or blasting heavier targets with a barrage of high-explosive rockets. It can also be fitted with external seating, which allows a small team of soldiers to ride into battle on either side of the helicopter’s cockpit.

    How did the Night Stalkers get that name?
    Their preference for flying under the cover of darkness led to the 160th’s famous nickname. Helicopters are slow-moving, vulnerable targets on the battlefield. Flying as low as possible and making skillful use of the terrain offers the pilots a safety advantage, but so does operating a blacked-out helicopter at night, when it’s harder for the enemy to see them coming. The U.S. military has always led the way when it comes to night vision technology, and Night Stalker pilots tend to me even more comfortable flying with Night Vision Goggles (N.V.G.s) than they are in broad daylight.

    What is the Night Stalker creed?
    Service in the 160th is a calling only a few will answer for the mission is constantly demanding and hard. And when the impossible has been accomplished the only reward is another mission that no one else will try. As a member of the Night Stalkers, I am a tested volunteer seeking only to safeguard the honor and prestige of my country, by serving the elite Special Operations Soldiers of the United States. I pledge to maintain my body, mind and equipment in a constant state of readiness for I am a member of the fastest deployable Task Force in the world, ready to move at a moment’s notice anytime, anywhere, arriving time on target plus or minus 30 seconds.

    I guard my unit’s mission with secrecy, for my only true ally is the night and the element of surprise. My manner is that of the Special Operations Quiet Professional, secrecy is a way of life. In battle, I eagerly meet the enemy for I volunteered to be up front where the fighting is hard. I fear no foe’s ability, nor underestimate his will to fight. The mission and my precious cargo are my concern. I will never surrender. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy, and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

    Gallantly will I show the world and the elite forces I support that a Night Stalker is a specially selected and well-trained soldier. I serve with the memory and pride of those who have gone before me for they loved to fight, fought to win and would rather die than quit. Night Stalkers Don't Quit!

    Does the Air Force have Special Operations Forces?
    It does, in the form of the 24th Special Operations Wing. The wing provides operators to fulfill a variety of clandestine missions. These can range from direct action and assault against enemy targets, to rescuing air crew that were shot down, to covert reconnaissance and demolition. Specialist battlefield surgical teams can be forward deployed in order to provide advanced emergency care to casualties; these are known as Special Operations Surgical Teams, or S.O.S.T., and are comprised of emergency physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, surgical techs, and respiratory therapists, all of whom are highly trained field operatives in addition to their medical specialties.

  • Table of Contents

    Photo Sources

    1. U.S. Armed Forces Basics

    2. Army ... The Revolutionary War … West Point … The U.S. Civil War … World War I … World War II … The War in Korea … Vietnam … Desert Storm

    3. Navy ... The Revolutionary War … The Quasi-War … Barbary War … The Naval Academy … The Civil War … Turn of the Twentieth Century … World War I … World War II … Vietnam … Naval Aircraft … Submarines … The Future of the Navy

    4. Marines ... Marine Basics … Establishment of the Marine Corps …War of 1812 … The Mexican-American, Civil, and Spanish-American Wars … World War I … World War II … Korea … Vietnam … Lebanon … Grenada … Desert Shield and Desert Storm

    5. Coast Guard ... Origins of the Coast Guard … World War I … World War II and Korea … The Greatest Rescue of All Time … Vietnam … The Coast Guard in the Twenty-first Century

    6. Air Force ... Early History … U.S. Army Air Corps and World War II … The Air Force after World War II … The Cold War … The Age of Jet Planes … Korea … Vietnam … The Air Force after Vietnam … Air Force One … Drones and Other Modern Aircraft

    6. Space Force ... Early Space Defenses … Establishment of the Space Force … NORAD

    7. Special Operations Forces ... The Rangers … Marine Raiders … Marine Force Recon … Army Special Forces … Delta Force … Navy SEALS … Night Stalkers

    8. The Future

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