Scope Note - US Military Operations
This comprehensive guide to American wars and military operations includes profiles of and links to resource related to declared wars and other major military operations since the American Revolution, with particular emphasis on the late 20th Century. Departing from the standard American typographic convention of capitalizing operation names in the their entirety, only declared WARS and COMBAT OPERATIONS are entirely capitalized. Peacekeeping and humanitarian operations are in lower case, and current operations are in bold.
With the decline in the practice of declared war and the diverse deployments of US military forces in recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to construct a historically consistent list of significant military operations. The most comprehesive listings are the Congressional Research Service Use of U.S. Forces Abroad and Senator McCain's U.S. NAVY CRISIS RESPONSES, 1946-89 which offers even greater detail. These lists, however, fail to differentiate between major combat operations and minor movements of forces. The standard military lists of wars, however, fail to capture both siginificant military operations and other interesting combat engagements.
The most interesting range of operations seems to be capatured by including military operations for which service medals or streamers were awarded, as well as named operations conducted in recent decades. However, in both cases some operations are excluded. In the case of campaigns and expeditions prior to 1950, those operations that were occupation forces rather than combat expeditions are not included. And the numerous incidents, mainly in the 19th century, in which small detachments of Marines were dispatched to defend diplomatic legations are not included, as these minor evolutions did not merit campaign honors. In recent years, the proliferation of named operations has expanded to include relatively trivial movements of forces in peacetime humanitarian support roles. This list does not include some humanitarian operations in response to natural disasters which did not involve civil disturbances, nor does it include the innumerable named operations consisting the deployment of only a few aircraft.
However, unlike most such listings, we also include a number of counterdrug operations, though some of the details of these are a bit sketchy, to say the least.
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