Let’s raise a glass to the Department of Defense (DoD), which celebrates its birthday today!
Although the federal government has overseen the U.S. Armed forces since the nation’s inception, a centralized defense department did not previously exist in the U.S. before August 10, 1949, when an amended National Security Act created the agency as we know it today.
The Department of Defense is run by the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) with the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the various military services operating subordinately to the SECDEF.
Here are five cool things you may not know about the DoD:
- It is one of the largest employers in the world; there are more than one million active duty service members, more than 800,000 members of the Guard and Reserve, and more than 700,000 civilian employees. That is more than the amount of employees of Exxon, Ford, GE, General Motors, and Mobil combined.
- The Pentagon, the DoD headquarters, is three times more square footage than the Empire State Building and had 17 miles of hallways. Anyone need a map?
- The Pentagon has no marble. When the Pentagon was built during World War II, Italy, the world’s marble supplier, was not a U.S. ally.
- The Department of Defense was first known as the War Department (now the mission statement of the DoD is to provide “the military forces needed to deter war”). For a brief two years between 1947 and 1949, it was called the National Military Establishment.
- The Coast Guard is not actually operated by the DoD. It is operated by the Department of Homeland Security.
One of the best ways to celebrate the DoD’s birthday today is to thank a servicemember. Another is to support the USO. Federal employees and military can give to the Combined Federal Campaign, which promotes and supports philanthropy “through a program that is employee focused, cost-efficient, and effective in providing all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.”