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The United States Army is the largest and oldest branch of the armed forces of the United States. Like all armies, it has the primary responsibility for land-based military operations.
The modern Army had its roots in the Continental Army which was formed on June 14, 1775, before the establishment of the United States, to meet the demands of the American Revolutionary War. Congress created the United States Army on June 3, 1784 after the end of the war to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The Army considers itself to be descended from the Continental Army, and thus dates its inception from the origins of that force.
Control and operation of the Army is administered by the Department of the Army, one of the three service departments of the Department of Defense. The civilian head is the Secretary of the Army and the highest ranking military officer in the department is the Chief of Staff. As of August 31, 2007, the Regular Army reported a strength of 519,471 soldiers. By the end of 2006, the Army National Guard (ARNG) reported 346,288 and the United States Army Reserve (USAR) reported 189,975, putting the approximate combined component strength total at 1,055,734.
Beginning in 2004, accounts of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, including torture, rape, of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (also known as Baghdad Correctional Facility) came to public attention. These acts were committed by military police personnel of the United States Army together with additional US governmental agencies.
holding a leash attached to a prisoner, known to the guards as "Gus", who is lying on the floor.
Revealed in the Taguba Report, an initial criminal investigation by the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command had already been underway, where soldiers of the 320th Military Police Battalion had been charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with prisoner abuse. In 2004, articles describing the abuse, including pictures showing military personnel appearing to abuse prisoners, came to public attention, when a 60 Minutes II news report (April 28) and an article by Seymour M. Hersh in The New Yorker magazine (posted online on April 30 and published days later in the May 10 issue) reported the story.
The United States Department of Defense removed seventeen soldiers and officers from duty, and eleven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery. Between May 2004 and March 2006, eleven soldiers were convicted in courts-martial, sentenced to military prison, and dishonorably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner, and his former fiancée, Specialist Lynndie England, were sentenced to ten years and three years in prison, respectively, in trials ending on January 14, 2005 and September 26, 2005. The commanding officer of all Iraq detention facilities, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, was reprimanded for dereliction of duty and then demoted to the rank of Colonel on May 5, 2005. Col. Karpinski has denied knowledge of the abuses, claiming that the interrogations were authorized by her superiors and performed by subcontractors, and that she was not even allowed entry into the interrogation rooms.
The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib was in part the reason that on April 12, 2006, the United States Army activated the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion, the first of four joint interrogation battalions.
A shell casing flies out with a trail of smoke as U.S. Army PFC Michael Freise fires an M4 carbine rifle during a firing exercise.
Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Day, defenselink.mil
U.S. Army News
The Black Beret and ACU
Replacement of Black Beret by Patrol Cap one of several changes made by uniform board
After polling Army personnel for input, the Army's uniform board has instituted several changes to the Army's attire. First and foremost, the Black Beret will be relegated to the Army's service dress uniform. Velcro is also being made optional for some closures. Soldiers will be provided the chance to sew patches to their uniform.
The beret has been the standard headgear for the Army's ACU combat uniform since June 2001. The beret is worn on base and for ceremonies while the patrol cap is worn in the field. Soldiers disliked the beret for its nonexistent practical purpose and the redundancy of having to carry both a beret and hat at all times. “The [ACU] signifies a uniform that should be worn in combat or training for combat, yet a beret doesn’t even make the cut on the deployment packing list,” said one NCO. The Army will now issue only one beret to each soldier for a cost savings of $6.5 million over the lifecycle of the ACU.
Soldiers will still wear their berets with their Army Service Uniform. Soldiers are pleased overall with the appearance of the beret on the ASU. The change does not effect Special Forces soldiers such as the Army Special Forces who wear distinctive Green Berets.
Velcro replaced buttons on the digital ACU replacement for the BDU. Velcro was received as being too noisy, messy, and unprofessional looking by early users after the new ACU uniform was adopted by the Army. Soldiers voiced their opposition to velcro to the Army's Uniform board earlier this year prior to the decision.
Sources: AT:Beret going away?, AT:Army dumps Beret, ANS:Velcro optional, Patrol Cap default
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