1. The Army is older than the country it serves.Americans celebrate the birth of their nation as July 4, 1776, but the Army is actually the country's "big brother." That makes sense, considering the Continental Army of 1775 — led by future President George Washington — needed to start beating the British in the colonies so Thomas Jefferson could finally get some time to write.
Before the Army was established, colonists were organized into rag-tag militias with no real structure or unified chain of command. But in spring 1775, most wanted to attack the British near Boston but knew they needed more structure to confront the professional soldiers on the other side. That's where the official birth of the Army came in, on June 14, 1775, through a resolution from the Continental Congress.
The next day, George Washington was appointed as commander-in-chief of the new Army, and he took command of his troops in Boston on July 3, 1775, according to the Army History Division.
2. If the US Army were a city, it would be the 10th largest in the United States.Just over 1 million soldiers are serving in the Army. About half of that number is on active duty and serving full time, while the rest make up the reserve components of the National Guard and Army Reserve. To put it in perspective, a city filled with soldiers would have more people in it than San Jose, California; Austin, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; and San Francisco.
3. It is also the second-largest employer.With 2.2 million people on the payroll, Walmart is America's largest employer. But the Army maintains the second spot with more than 1 million active-duty and reserve soldiers. While budget cuts will bring the number of soldiers in uniform down substantially in 2015 to about 1,042,200, the Army still beats the next-largest employer of Yum Brands, which has 523,000 total employees.
4. Specialist is the most prevalent rank among soldiers — by far.There's a reason many soldiers joke about the existence of an "E-4 Mafia." That's because if you want anything done in the Army, you'll probably need a specialist (or three) to get it done. Across active-duty and reserve ranks in 2015, there are 264,890 specialists, making up more than one-quarter of the US Army.
Though the Army used to have specialist ranks that had grades from Spec-4 to Spec-9, it eliminated that system in 1985, setting aside Specialist-4 as a junior-enlisted rank called just "Specialist" from then on. Unlike corporals, who are also E-4s, the specialist rank isn't considered a non-commissioned officer, which is probably why some are very good at earning their "sham shield."
5. The service burns through nearly 1 billion gallons of fuel every year.Just like any other large organization that needs energy to sustain operations, the Army needs fuel. A lot of fuel. A 2011 Army fact sheet estimated the Army used more than 22 gallons every day, per soldier — much more than only one gallon required per soldier during World War II.
A 2008 Army report said the service purchased approximately 880 million gallons of fuel for mobility operations. The report is a little dated though, and the Army — along with the rest of the DoD — has been working hard to bring down its energy usage, citing a reliance on fossil fuels as a major national-security risk and logistical problem for troops in the field.