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U.S. Army history from the year you were born

  • 1980: Bright Star military exercise commences

    Army strength: 777,036 people (0.34% of U.S. population)

    The United States and Egypt held their first Operation Bright Star together in Egypt in 1980. The training exercises are intended to improve military ties between the two countries and include tactical air, ground, and naval operations. Bright Star is held every two years and grew in 1995 to include troops from the UAE, France, U.K., and several countries in the Middle East and west. The following year, NATO nations (France, U.K., Germany, and UAE) were added, with Kuwait added as well in 1998. Bright Star became among the biggest exercises with U.S. troops worldwide.

    1980 also represents the start of the U.S. Army's new tagline, “Army. Be all that you can be,” which was in use until 2001.

  • 1981: U.S. Army gets a new look

    Army strength: 781,419 people (0.34% of U.S. population)

    The U.S. Army switched its uniform design to woodland camouflage, which was in use in the U.S Army until 2004. The inspiration came from the Vietnamese jungle.


  • 1982: New recruits, new (amended) requirements

    Army strength: 780,391 people (0.34% of U.S. population)

    The U.S. Army in 1980 changed its Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) requirements for new recruits in 1980, reflecting that recruits must run two miles, and complete push-ups and sit-ups. A 1982 amendment to the APFT offered alternative tests to recruits with physical barriers.

  • 1983: U.S. Army invades Grenada

    Army strength: 779,643 people (0.33% of U.S. population)

    The United States invasion of Grenada came about following unrest within the People's Revolutionary Government there and the execution of Grenada's Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. On Oct. 25, 1983, the U.S. Army's Rapid Deployment Force, U.S. Army Delta Force, and multiple other military branches invaded and promptly overwhelmed Grenadian forces.

  • 1984: Pedro Colondres Rosa defrauds U.S. Army

    Army strength: 780,180 people (0.33% of U.S. population)

    Pedro A. Rodríguez-Colondres joined the U.S. Army in the 1970s under the assumed name of Pedro Colondres-Rosa, but was discharged in the 1970s for not passing the fitness tests. From 1984 until 2011, Colondres-Rosa used a false name to receive veterans benefits. He was arrested in 2014 for defrauding the U.S. Army Reserve.

  • 1985: El Salvador raid

    Army strength: 780,787 people (0.33% of U.S. population)

    A raid in El Salvador by U.S. Army Rangers was conducted in 1985 in retaliation for the deaths of six soldiers. The Rangers ended up killing 83 guerillas at a training camp.

  • 1986: U.S. troops arrive in Honduras

    Army strength: 780,980 people (0.33% of U.S. population)

    More than 3,000 U.S. troops arrived in Honduras in 1986 to show support for that country's government in its war with Nicaragua. Honduras claimed Nicaraguan troops had illegally crossed into Honduras while attempting to detain Nicaraguan rebels.

    That same year, the U.S. Army sent assistance to Bolivia for anti-narcotics operations, which included extensive cocaine raids throughout the country.

  • 1987: U.S. Army Airborne heads to Honduras

    Army strength: 780,815 people (0.32% of U.S. population)

    The U.S. Army Airborne Division was deployed to Honduras to the Nicaraguan border for army exercises. The exercises were created to show the continued strength of the U.S. military.


  • 1988: U.S. takes on Nicaraguan insurgents

    Army strength: 771,847 people (0.32% of U.S. population)

    More than 2,000 U.S. soldiers were flown to Honduras in 1988, where Nicaraguan insurgents were threatening the border. While there, the U.S. Army demonstrated its might with repeated training exercises.

  • 1989: Operation Just Cause

    Army strength: 769,741 people (0.31% of U.S. population)

    The Invasion of Panama called Operation Just Cause ended with the U.S. defeating Manuel Noriega with 26,000 deployed combat troops. President H.W. Bush used four justifications for the invasion: protecting U.S. citizens living in Panama at the time; safeguarding the Torrijos-Carter Treaties; protecting human rights and democracy in the country; and fighting drug traffickers.

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