All of the branches work together during operations and joint missions in Unified Combatant Commands, under the authority of the Secretary of Defense with the typical exception of the Coast Guard. Each of the Unified Combatant Commands is headed by a Combatant Commander, a senior commissioned officer who exercises supreme command authority per 10 U.S.C. § 164 over all of the forces, regardless of branch, within his geographical or functional command. By statute, the chain of command flows from the President to the Secretary of Defense to each of the Combatant Commanders.[22] In practice, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff often acts as an intermediary between the Secretary of Defense and the Combatant Commanders.
Under current Department of Defense regulation, the various components of the U.S. Armed Forces have a set order of seniority. Examples of the use of this system include the display of service flags, placement of Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen in formation, etc. When the Coast Guard shall operate as part of the Department of the Navy, United States Coast Guard Academy cadets, the United States Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Reserve shall take precedence after United States Naval Academy midshipmen; the United States Navy; and Navy Reserve, respectively.[51]
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a comprehensive test that helps determine students’ eligibility and suitability for careers in the military. Students who score in the 31st percentile are eligible for a wide variety of careers (combined with standards such as physical condition and personal conduct). Students and schools are also encouraged to take advantage of a free career exploration program that links personal interests with demonstrated aptitudes from the 9 ASVAB subtests, half of which relate to vocational skills, in addition to math and verbal skills.
Initially, recruits without higher education or college degrees will hold the pay grade of E-1 and will be elevated to E-2 usually soon after basic training. Different services have different incentive programs for enlistees, such as higher initial ranks for college credit, being an Eagle Scout and referring friends who go on to enlist as well. Participation in DEP is one way recruits can achieve rank before their departure to basic training.
The CAT-ASVAB is an adaptive test which means the test adapts to the ability of the test-taker. It is possible to administer a shorter test this way than with the pencil and paper test. When you complete a subsection of the test, you can then move onto the next section of the test without having to wait for an administrator. Subsections are still timed however and on average it takes about 1 ½ hours to complete the computer ASVAB.
Obviously, the most important way to prepare to take the test is to spend plenty of time reviewing practice test questions. Look at questions from all sections of the test, but pay special attention to questions on the Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning, and Mathematics Knowledge sections, which will be used to calculate your Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score for enlistment.

Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester became the first woman to receive the Silver Star, the third-highest U.S. decoration for valor, for direct participation in combat. In Afghanistan, Monica Lin Brown was presented the Silver Star for shielding wounded soldiers with her body.[45] In March 2012, the U.S. military had two women, Ann E. Dunwoody and Janet C. Wolfenbarger, with the rank of four-star general.[46][47] In 2016, Air Force General Lori Robinson became the first female officer to command a major Unified Combatant Command (USNORTHCOM) in the history of the United States Armed Forces.[48]