Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | June 14, 2016

Why the U.S. Army’s Birthday Matters

Happy Birthday to The United States Army.  Our Continental Army took the field on June 14th, 1775 – over a year before the Declaration of Independence.  The Army is 241 years young.  It stays young with the 18 year olds coming in every year.  It’s up to the leadership of the Army to be wise enough, knowing the lessons of generations of soldiers, to spend their lives sparingly and let them grow old someday, but spend their lives without reservation if the mission demands that awful price.

That life and death distinction is why the U.S. Army’s birthday matters.  Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coasties get injured and killed in training and combat, too, but upon the life and death of soldiers rests the fate of the American Nation.  All wars are ultimately decided on the ground.  Even obliteration without occupation isn’t decisive.

The one nuclear war, our bombing of Japan, without the threat of the imminent invasion might have been decided differently.  Lucky for us that the Japanese didn’t know we’d used our nuclear arsenal of two weapons.  The infantry is the decisive arm of Land Warfare.

As the Nation was born and borne on the bayonets of the Army, so will the Nation’s defense ultimately lie in the hands and skills of soldiers.  The Navy is necessary to get to any overseas conflict and to keep conflicts from getting to America.  The standing Navy is required by our Constitution.  The Air Force brings air and space power that enables victory, but doesn’t attain it.  The Marine Corps supports the Army in Land Warfare, but isn’t the Army.  Since America became a world power with the Spanish American War and started fighting overseas, Marines contribute, but don’t decide the outcome. (The exceptions are the small wars around the Caribbean in the early 20th Century and the shores of Tripoli in the early 19th Century.)

The scale of effort in our Land Warfare is clear.  WWI: 1 Marine Brigade in an Army Division/30 or so Army Divisions in France, WW II: 6 Marine Divisions/90 Army Divisions, Korea through OEF/OIF roughly 2 Marine Divisions or Brigades/10 Army Divisions or Brigades in every theater.  Yet, The Army is being cut to be smaller than it was before WW II, while the USMC is about 5 times larger than it was before WW II.  The Army sucks at politics.  It always has.

The culture of the Army – especially its senior leadership is “National Servant”.  The Army could be cut back, as it was after the Revolution, to Carlisle Barracks, PA and West Point, NY and the soldiers would salute smartly.  That’s precisely why Americans should care about the U.S. Army’s birthday.

Sooner or later, the Army will be called to fight and win another special operation, raid, battle, campaign or war in Land Warfare.  An Army that is too small, morally corrupted by political correctness, institutionally impotent with the political elevation of the National Guard and Special Operations (and Reserves next?), and paying the bills for a Marine Corps bigger than all the marine corps of the world put together – will pay another bitter price in the blood of young Americans and wasted national treasure.

The Army will live up to its motto – “This We’ll Defend”.  But, it will cost America dearly.  Again.


I hope The Army perseveres.  I was commissioned into an armed mob in June 1972.  The task of rebuilding the Army was a lot of hard work.  It paid off.

This was the last time we rebuilt the Army.

This was the last time we rebuilt the Army.


I regret that others might have to do it again.  I’m counting on the Regulars, Officer and Non-Commissioned Officers, to make it happen.  Just like America trusts the Regulars of the 3rd Infantry, The Old Guard, to keep doing their duty.

This We'll Defend.

This We’ll Defend.


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