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The mission of the Armed Forces is to: 1. Deter aggression and defeat attack against the Nation; 2. Strengthen and build alliances; 3. Prevent a hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests; and 4. Prevent conflicts by reducing sources of regional turmoil through various means, including humanitarian aid, counter-terrorism, or limiting the spread of militarily significant technology.

The Army and Air Force prepare for defensive and offensive operations, on land and in the air respectively. The Navy organizes and trains forces primarily for sea operations while the Marine Corps, part of the Department of the Navy, prepares for land invasions in support of naval or amphibious operations. The Coast Guard, under the Department of Transportation (except in war-time, when it serves with the Navy), enforces Federal maritime laws, rescues distressed vessels and aircraft at sea, operates aids to navigation, and prevents smuggling.

Today the Armed Forces constitute America's largest employer. Maintaining a strong defense encompasses such diverse activities as running a hospital, commanding a tank, programming computers, operating a nuclear reactor, and repairing and maintaining a helicopter. The military's occupational diversity provides educational opportunities and work experience in literally thousands of occupations. Military personnel hold managerial and administrative jobs; professional, technical, and clerical jobs; construction jobs; electrical and electronic jobs; mechanical and repair jobs; and many others. The military provides job training and work experience for people who can serve for a relatively brief period (3 to 6 years of active duty) or embark on a career that lasts 20 years or more.

There are more than 360 basic and advanced military occupational specialties for enlisted personnel, almost as many for officers. Over 75 percent of these occupational specialties have civilian counterparts.


Opportunities should be good in all branches of the Armed Forces through the year 2006 for applicants meeting the desired standards.

The needs of the military always come first, so hours and working conditions may vary substantially.

Some training or duty assignments may be hazardous, even in peacetime.


"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Department of Labor.


Anyone considering a military career should be interested in knowing what the long-range plan might be for the armed services. In September 1997, after a year-long assessment, the Joint Chiefs of Staff published a report entitled "National Military Strategy of the United States of America-Shape, Respond, and Prepare Now: A Military Strategy for a New Era." Here are excerpts from the conclusion of this document:

The National Military Strategy...carries forward the theme that US military power is, and will continue to be, fundamental to ensuring our national security.

The United States will remain the world's only global power for the near-term, but will operate in a strategic environment characterized by rising regional powers, asymmetric challenges including WND (Weapons of New Destruction), transnational dangers, and the likelihood of wild cards that cannot be specifically predicted.

As we pursue the President's strategy for enhancing our security in this new era, the demand for military capabilities and skills is unlikely to diminish, both to deter and defeat aggression in two distant and overlapping MTWs (Major Theater Wars), and in roles other than traditional war-fighting. Our Armed Forces' core competence-the ability to apply decisive military power to deter or defeat acts of aggression-must remain the primary consideration in determining the structure, training and employment of our military forces.

We cannot know with certainty who our foes will be or where our forces will be needed in the future. In a time of both uncertainty and promise, this National Military Strategy and our Armed Forces provide our Nation with the means to protect our interests and promote a peace that benefits America and all like-minded nations.

Your Mission in the Armed Forces

Before you consider the vocational opportunities that may await you in the military, you must take time to think about the real reason for taking the oath of allegiance.

None of the branches of the Armed Forces were created to provide job opportunities for young men and women. Rather, as stated earlier, their combined purpose is to protect our nation from enemy attack, prevent hostile powers from dominating regions important to our interests, and avert conflicts by various means. To carry out these goals, each of the services must have an adequate number of trained men and women ready and able to carry out its objectives.

If you join one of the services, your first obligation is to become a useful, loyal, and enthusiastic member of that service and give it everything you can during peacetime and wartime. This is the basic reason for joining (not to learn a trade and hold down a job) that is the requirement you must fulfill in order to do your part in furthering the overall purpose of the unit to which you belong. You will have made a commitment, a promise. Joining the Armed Forces is more than signing up for job training and certain benefits that come with enlistment. It is serving your country as a member of this huge organization that stands between America and any enemy. This is serious stuff. You should consider it carefully and understand what joining means before you apply for enlistment or a commission.

For reasons best known to them-selves, some Americans want to have nothing to do with the military establishment. Since ours is a free society, that attitude is acceptable. If you too do not like the Armed Forces, even though it offers many excellent career possibilities and benefits, this book is not for you, if indeed you have even read this far.


You may not approve of how our nation conducts its foreign policy and uses the Armed Forces to carry out certain objectives. This is not the military's doing or fault; rather it is a question of obeying the Commander-in-Chief (the President) and/or the Congress. What the services are ordered to do while you are a member involves you too, whether or not you may approve the action. However, while you are a member of the establishment, you have to accept whatever orders it gives and willingly do your part.

The military is not perfect, nothing is. You doubtless have read about sexual harassment. Unfortunately, this possibility is a fact of life whether you are a soldier, sailor, marine, or employed as a secretary, sales person, banker, broker, airline attendant, or in any other civilian occupation. Sexual orientation has been a difficult issue in the military; it can be just as difficult in much of the civilian workplace.

It is no secret that now and then there is an accident wherein a recruit is wounded or even killed during a training exercise. Fortunately such incidents are rare, but young people also lose their lives as college undergraduates or in the course of training for a hazardous job.

Adjusting to new living conditions may not be easy; nor is it for the weak. When you enter the military you should have no problems if you are ready to embrace this new way of life that is as honorable and important as any other profession. In time of war or threat from a potential enemy, nothing in our country is as important as the role of the Armed Services, which may include you. As a member, you could have every reason to be proud of your job that is vital to the success of the entire establishment.

We mention all this because a career in the military is far, far more than learning a trade or profession and holding down a job. It is foremost a solemn and almost sacred responsibility to join with all your associates in a mutual and determined effort to protect our nation. Your military career and that of your fellow soldiers is what makes the goal possible. Your most important reason for becoming an airman, soldier, sailor, or marine is to protect our country in time of peril.
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