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  Chapter Eleven:

  Government Spending
  Government Employees
  Federal Entitlements
  Federal Judiciary
  Military Personnel
  Blacks in the Military
  Women in the Military
  War Deaths
  Patriotic Attitudes



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Military Personnel

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U.S. armed forces expanded rapidly for each major conflict during the century. During the Cold War, the nation maintained a large permanent force for the first time in its history.
The Founding Fathers regarded standing armies as inimical to constitutional government. Throughout the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century, the United States had a much smaller military establishment in peacetime than any other great power and made no peacetime use of conscription. 

With the outbreak of each war, the armed forces were expanded with extraordinary speed, from 179,000 active personnel in 1916 to almost 3 million in 1918, and from less than half a million in 1940 to more than 12 million in 1945. The contraction in the number of personnel was equally rapid. The number of military personnel on active duty declined by 88 percent between 1918 and 1920, and by exactly the same percentage between 1945 and 1948. 

The Cold War, which was neither war nor peace, altered this pattern. From 1948 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the armed services remained at historically high numbers, peaking at 3.6 million during the Korean War and 3.5 million during the Vietnam War. After 1987, the size of the armed forces declined slowly from year to year. 

The conversion to an all-volunteer force in 1972 and the subsequent increase in military pay to the level of market wages had dramatic effects on the military community. At the end of the century, enlisted soldiers and sailors were older, better educated, and more highly trained than their predecessors. The majority were married and lived with their spouses when serving at domestic stations. The harsher forms of military discipline were largely replaced by job incentives. Courts-martial were rare by the end of the century; the usual penalty for a serious military offense was dismissal from the service.

Chapter 11 chart 5

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

HS series Y 904; SA 1997, table 557; and SA 1999, table 587. See also the Department of Defense’s Military Personnel Statistics web site at (accessed August 31, 2000).


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