How large is the US standing army?

How many “fighting men” does the US have and how many support personnel? gives the definitive answer of 1,384,812 as of Dec 31.

According to the 2003 World Almanac, these are the figures for Total strength, Active Duty by branch, 2002:

Army: 485,536
Navy: 384,576
Marine Corps: 173,385
Air Force: 369,721
Coast Guard: 37,166

Total: 1,450,384 (any math error is mine)

That brings up a different question- how many of the U.S. military personnel are genuine “fighting men”? We may have roughly 650,000 people in the Army and Marines, but many of them are support personnel of one kind or another. How many people could we actually put into combat, armed and ready to fight? A far smaller number, obviously.

Could an army tuba player get sent to see some action? And by “action” I, of course, don’t mean a Shanghai hooker on a Thursday night.

Even tuba players go through basic, right?


**How many people could we actually put into combat, armed and ready to fight? **

All of them. That’s what boot camp is for. IANITS but from what I can gather. If your the cook, you still have to attend training excersises everyonce and a while.

I’ve got this mental image now of a guy crawling through mud-filled trenches under barbed wire, while wearing a sousaphone.

Amusingly, the only friend I still have from basic is a clarinet player. He serves in the Army Band based at Fort Meade, Md, where I did AIT.

As for the OP: Currently, Congress has mandated the Army for a year-end strength of 480,000. It looks like that may be exceeded, so the number of re-enlistments is being tweeked at the time. Also to help with this some who want to re-enlist will have to reclassify - probably into more combat-heavy MOSs.

It isn’t at all clear to me how many soldiers are the “hand’em a gun and have’m shoot people” types, but I know enlisting in the Infantry gets you all sorts of bonusses.

Training? Yes, even non-combat types have to requalify with weapons and simple training like land nav every several months.

For some MOSs, however, and depending where you are, this really means very little.