Secretary of the Army John McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey laid a wreath commemorating the Army's 240th birthday at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on the day of the Army's birth, June 14, 1775. (Photo by J.D. Leipold, ARNEWS)

Happy 241st Birthday, U.S. Army! [VIDEO]

Secretary of the Army John McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey laid a wreath commemorating the Army's 240th birthday at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on the day of the Army's birth, June 14, 1775. (Photo by J.D. Leipold, ARNEWS)

Today is the 241st birthday of the U.S. Army.

“For 241 years … our Soldiers have answered our Nation’s call to defend our freedom. This year’s birthday theme … embodies my readiness priority … As an American Soldier, you are the best trained, best equipped, best manned and best led Army in the world. You have earned the trust and respect of not only America, but also the world, because you are disciplined, fit, and prepared to meet any challenge, anywhere, at anytime – and to win … Happy Birthday, Army. I’m proud to serve with you!”

— Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley

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On 14 June 1775, the Continental Congress authorized enlistment of riflemen to serve the United Colonies for one year. These riflemen were the first members of what became the U.S. Army.

After the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress approved the creation of an army, the Continental Army, which combined the militias of the 13 colonies. Its new force included the militiamen already gathered outside of Boston (roughly 22,000), and 5,000 militiamen in New York. Congress named Virginian George Washington as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army

This year’s birthday theme is “The American Soldier: Always Ready, Always Leading.”

The Army is the strategic land power of the joint forces of the U.S. military. Soldiers are trained and ready to engage America’s enemies “in conventional, asymmetrical, or full spectrum combat operations.” The Army’s number one priority is combat readiness.

However, according to Army Times, the Army’s numbers are significantly down:

Personnel strength of the Regular Army has dropped below 500,000 for the first time in 10 years, with 498,642 soldiers being listed on active duty in the most recent official headcount of the force.

Statistics compiled by the Defense Manpower Data Center show that as the Army entered 2015 its reserve components had a combined strength of 547,007 soldiers — 349,881 in the National Guard, and 197,126 in the Army Reserve.

The drawdown is projected to continue after Oct. 1, with the fiscal 2016 spending request now before Congress listing an objective end-strength for next year of 475,000 soldiers, which is well shy of the manning projections of 450,000 to 420,000 soldiers that may be necessary if mandatory spending cuts called sequestration continue to the end of the decade.

DMDC statistics show that over the past 12 months, Army strength was reduced by 24,331 soldiers.

There were 498,642 soldiers and cadets on active duty with the regular component Dec. 31, the Pentagon’s latest official strength reporting total. Defense Department statistics also show that on that date, 349,881 soldiers were in service with the Army National Guard, and 197,126 with the Army Reserve.

Celebrations today are taking place nationwide. Go to www.army.mil to find events near you, and thank a veteran today for his/her service.

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