The U.S. Military’s Force Structure: A Primer


The U.S. military’s capabilities and budget are determined primarily by its forces. This report describes each type of major combat unit’s structure, function, strengths and limitations, past usage, size, and cost.

Data and Supplemental Information

Corrections and Updates

Update: CBO has developed an Interactive Force Structure Tool that lets users add or subtract brigades, ships, aircraft squadrons, and other units to see the effects on the Department of Defense’s operation and support costs and the size of the military. It is based on the approach developed in this report.

In addition, CBO has updated the data underlying this report to reflect DoD’s fiscal year 2019 budget submission. Those data are used in the interactive force structure tool.