For much of its history, the United States has eschewed maintaining a large standing army. This was by design: while the U.S. constitution directs Congress to provide and maintain a navy, it only gives the power to Congress to raise and support armies as needed.
America was true to this model through the end of World War II, raising large armies during wartime but quickly dismantling them afterwards. Even still, the U.S. Army since the start of the 20th century as been highly effective, especially in battle against nation-states. It was America’s entry into WWI and WWII that helped tip the balance of power in favor of the allies. The United States also demolished Saddam Hussein’s Army in Kuwait in 1991 and Iraq in 2003.
More tellingly, the United States is the only power in history to be deploy massive amounts of military force, including land power, in a quick and effective manner. This highlights one of the major factors in the U.S. Army’s success; namely, while not as large numerically as countries like the Soviet Union, the U.S. Army is a highly-trained fighting force operating superior technology. It is also backed up by the greatest naval and air power the world has ever known.
This article first appeared in July 2015.
Image: Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Zachary A. Gardner, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Public Affairs Office