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The United States of America has seven federal uniformed services that commission officers as defined by Title 10, and subsequently structured and organized by Title 10, Title 14, Title 33 and Title 42 of the United States Code.

Uniformed servicesEdit

The seven uniformed services are, in order of precedence by ceremonial formation:[5]

  1. United States Army
  2. United States Marine Corps
  3. United States Navy
  4. United States Air Force
  5. United States Coast Guard
  6. United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
  7. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps

Each of the uniformed services is administratively headed by a federal executive department and its corresponding civilian Cabinet leader.

Federal executive departmentsEdit

United States Department of Defense (DOD)Edit

Note: The order of precedence within the U.S. Department of Defense is set by DOD Directive 1005.8 and is not dependent on the date of creation by the U.S. Congress.

United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS)Edit

Note: The U.S. Coast Guard was a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation from 1967 to 2002. Prior to 1967, it was a part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)Edit

United States Department of Commerce (DOC)Edit

Statutory definitionEdit

The seven uniformed services are defined by Title 10 of the United States Code § 101(a)(5):

The term "uniformed services" means—

 (A) the armed forces; 
(B) the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and
(C) the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service.

The five uniformed services that make up the United States Armed Forces are defined in the previous clause Title 10 of the United States Code § 101(a)(4):

The term "armed forces" means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Armed forcesEdit

Five of the uniformed services make up the U.S. armed forces, four of which are within the U.S. Department of Defense. The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security and has both military and law enforcement duties. Title 14 states that the Coast Guard is part of the military at all times, making it the only branch of the military outside the Department of Defense. During a declared state of war, however, the President or Congress may direct that the Coast Guard operate as part of the Navy.[6] The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, along with the NOAA Commissioned Corps, operate under military rules with the exception of the applicability of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, to which they are subject only when militarized by executive order or while detailed to any component of the armed forces.[7]

Reserve components of the United States armed forces are all members of the military. The National Guard is a reserve military force composed of state National Guard militia units, which operate under Title 32 and under state authority. The National Guard was first formed in the Colony of Virginia in 1607 and is the oldest uniformed military force founded in the New World. The National Guard can be mobilized by the President to operate under Federal authority through Title 10. When acting under federal direction, the National Guard of the United States is managed by the National Guard Bureau, which is a joint activity under the Department of Defense,[8][9][10] with a general[8][9] in the Army or Air Force as its top leader. The National Guard of the United States serves as a reserve component for both the Army and the Air Force and can be called up for federal active duty in times of war or national emergencies.[8][9]

Noncombatant uniformed servicesEdit

Commissioned officers of NOAA and PHS wear uniforms that are derived from U.S. Navy uniforms, except that the commissioning devices, buttons, and insignia reflect their specific service. Uniformed officers of NOAA and PHS are paid on the same scale as members of the armed services with respective rank and time-in-grade. Additionally, PHS Officers are covered by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act and the Service Members Civil Relief Act (formerly the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act). Furthermore, all seven Uniformed Services are subject to the provisions of 10 USC 1408, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA).

Both noncombatant uniformed services (PHS & NOAA) consist of commissioned officers only and have no warrant ranks or enlisted ranks. Commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can be militarized by the President of the United States. Statutory authorization to militarize the Public Health Service is under Title 42 U.S.C. (Based on rank, commissioned officers of the Public Health Service (USPHS) and NOAA can be classified as Category III, IV, and V under the Geneva Convention). The U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (a predecessor to NOAA) originally began commissioning its officers so that if captured while engaged in battlefield surveying, they could not legally be tried as spies. The Public Health Service (PHS) traces its origins to a system of marine hospitals created "for the relief of sick and disabled seamen" by the U.S. Congress in 1798; it adopted a military model of organization in 1871.[11][12]

See alsoEdit


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