On August 10, 1949, the Department of Defense (DoD) was born.
Yep, the DoD is actually a really young department of our government.
While our country had established military branches long before then, it wasn’t until the late 40s that an officially structured defense department was settled upon. The National Security Act of 1947 birthed the DoD, which made it easier for U.S. presidents to create foreign policy and national security measures.
The DoD’s birthday is not a national holiday — no one gets the day off for it — but some bases do have little celebrations throughout the week.
In honor of the DoD’s birthday, we’re sharing 7 interesting DoD facts you may not know.
1. The DoD is the Largest U.S. Employer
As America’s oldest government agency, the DoD employs a ton of people — both civilian and service members. In total, the DoD has 732,079 civilians workers and 2.87 million military service members. Globally, the employment opportunities vary greatly from engineering to public affairs and everything in-between. Some of the more interesting civilian employment opportunities include Missile Defense Agency, Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA), and Washington Headquarters Service (WHS).
2. Big Budgets Keep the DoD Afloat
In March, the Fiscal Year (FY 2020) proposed budget was $718.3 billion for the Department of Defense alone. The DoD budget pays for department activities including updating ground systems, keeping technology updated, pay raises, and increasing military readiness. Proposed investments for the upcoming year include cyber ($9.6 billion), space ($14.1 billion), air domain ($57.7 billion), maritime domain ($34.7 billion), ground systems ($14.6 billion), multi-domain and nuclear triad ($31 billion), and various munitions productions, technology updates, and more.
3. The World’s Largest Office Building is DoD Run
As the Department of Defense’s headquarters, the Pentagon is a lot bigger than it looks. With about 26,000 employees and 17.5 miles of hallways, the five-sided building is called the world’s largest office building. Every year, more than 100,000 visitors check out the nation’s busiest government building under The Pentagon Tours program.
4. A Lot of Space is Required for DoD Activities
It probably comes as no surprise that America’s largest government agency also takes up a ton of space. Spread across more than 30 acres of land, the DoD structures and individual buildings are located at over 5,000 locations worldwide. Perhaps one of the largest is the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico which expands over 3,200 square miles of area.
5. The Pentagon is Quite Historic
In addition to being the DoD’s most important building, the Pentagon, by far, is the most recognizable of buildings in our nation’s capitol. Because of its significance, the Pentagon is considered “worthy of preservation” and is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1992, it was also added to the National Historic Landmarks List.
6. Military Branches Existed Before the DoD
Before the DoD was an official department, the Marine Corps, Army, and Navy were already well established dating back to 1775. Long before it became known as the DoD, it was called the “War Department” as founded in 1789. A year later, the Coast Guard was formed followed by the formal development of the Department of the Navy. Much later, the Air Force came to life in 1947.
7. The DoD Touches Every Continent
All 7 continents host DoD activities, which includes more than 150 countries total. These countries are where members of our armed forces serve on missions from humanitarian efforts to combat operations on the ground. Around the world, there are 4,800 defense sites. Additionally, the DoD uses 10 combatant commands that have a functional or geographic mission to instruct military forces during times of peace and war.
Learn More DoD Facts by Visiting the Capitol
If there were ever a time to make a trip to our nation’s defense headquarters, it’s during the DoD’s birthday month. For a better look into how our nation runs homeland security and defense operations, a Pentagon tour is a perfect way to get behind the scenes of the DoD headquarters.
During a Pentagon tour you’ll learn:
- Details on the 5 branches of services
- Mission of the Secretary of Defense
- Insight into Joint Staff operations
- DoD facts and Pentagon history
The 1.49 mile, 60-minute tour through the Pentagon also gives visitors a detailed look at the mission of the DoD along with an up-close view of a variety of military displays. Be sure to book at least 14 days in advance since tours fill up quickly.
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