The U.S. Military Online

A Directory for Internet Access to the Department of Defense

2nd Edition (1998)

William M. Arkin

The U.S. Military Online (ISBN 1-57488-178-7, 256 p. paperback, illus., index), a National Security Archive book published by Brassey's (U.S.), is available from the publisher (1-800-776-2518) or online at and other booksellers.  Want to read comments and reviews for the 1st Edition?

Overview and Contents
Why a written guide to the .mil domain when the Internet has such a fleeting quality and the U.S. military has its own culture of constant reorganization?  The answer is the very complexity of the military establishment, the size of the .mil domain, and the increasing inability and unwillingness of the Internet search engines to index the totality of the web, particularly in areas of such specialized and limited interest as military affairs.

Since the first edition of this guide was published in 1997, the U.S. military march to use the web for so-called "public affairs" and internal communications and for the conduct of basic business continues.  The list of commands or bases who don't have a public Internet presence is getting very small–the scope of activity on the net is so broad now that even a directory of this size only covers the top-level and most publicly relevant sites, ignoring much specialized material "below."

Just a year or so ago it was remarkable to note that speeches by Defense Department and military service officials, press releases, and fact sheets were available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  But now, the novelty of online PR has waned, and it is the regulations and manuals, studies, program descriptions and documents, budget data and business solicitations, and databases and search engines that are increasingly the guts of Internet content.

The U.S. Military Online is not a how-to guide about accessing or using the Internet nor an exhaustive listing of its resources.  It is instead a decoding of the U.S. military and its information assets as represented by the websites of the hundreds of bases, commands and activities, presented, it is hoped, in easily accessible form--by organization, subject matter, and geographic location.  Because I believe that the Internet does not spell the end of the printed word, a variety of means are presented for contacting military establishments, whether by good old-fashioned telephone and postal service, or via E-mail.  The Guide is thus also a general directory of the U.S. military that will be useful to any scholarly researcher, journalist, librarian, or active citizen hoping to make heads or tails of America's most influential institution.

The Directory is in three main parts, and the military establishment is presented by organization, subject, and location.  Given the ever shifting nature of the military and the Internet, it is as important to know how to find something online as it is to rely on the snapshot provided in this directory.  Chapter 1 provides background on general search tools of the Internet, as well as descriptions of the mega-directories that will be useful for finding Internet assets (including official Web indexes maintained by the military as well as some commercial services).  Sources for understanding military acronyms and terminology are provided, as well as the means to locate military personnel, related associations, biographies, fact sheets, photos, etc.

Chapter 2 highlight the most prominent homepages ("gateways") maintained by the Defense Department (DefenseLINK) and the services (AirForceLINK, ArmyLINK, NavyOnline, MarineLINK), as well as some mega-pages of note (e.g., the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)).  Given the decentralized and complex nature of the military, official gateways are hardly comprehensive directories of subordinate bases and organizations.  Under each entity in Chapter 2 are some of the more popular public affairs resources – such as the many military news services available online at Web sites and the growing number of Pentagon-published magazines and journals, the full-text of which are freely available online.

Chapter 3 covers the impressive array of official think tanks, schools, libraries and military history collections.  These institutions are of the greatest value to the social science researcher or journalist, for they deal with subjects ranging from military sociology to international relations.  The think tanks and academic institutions of the military tend to have excellent web sites with plenty of useful information (e.g., reports, bibliographies, analysis) online.  The extensive military history establishment is far behind the think tanks and schools in terms of resources online, though the day of online historical documents and finding aids is not far away.  Finally, the major military libraries with publicly-accessible online catalogs and other Internet materials are listed, with instructions for online access.  Some of the collections are truly unique.

Chapter 4 covers defense policies, weapons information and other high profile warfighting and doctrinal initiatives.  Tracking current military policy is now feasible online, and the official doctrine of the military, in the form of Joint Publications, Field Manuals, and Naval Warfare Publications, are increasingly accessible in full text.  What is more, Defense Department directives and regulations, as well as an increasing array of service regulations, publications and forms, are also being placed online.

Chapter 5, which is new with this edition, covers the business of the Defense Department.  This includes resources for tracking the defense budget, and the Defense Department's research, development, test, evaluation, and contracting activities.

Chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9 are thorough explanations of Defense Department organization and online access.  Chapter 5 proceeds, more or less hierarchically, through the Defense Department headquarters, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Defense Agencies, and DOD Field Activities; followed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Unified Commands.  Chapters 7, 8, and 9 repeat the process for the Departments of the Air Force, Army, and Navy.  For each service, the Office of the Secretary and the Chiefs are described, as are the headquarters staff, major commands, field operating agencies, and operating forces.  For major commands and agencies, full descriptions of online resources is provided in these chapters.

Chapters 10 and 11 list, alphabetically state by state, and country by country, major military installations in the United States and overseas, including a description of the commands, activities, and units at each facility.  The coverage is only of major active duty organizations and facilities.  For brevity, only military units at higher echelons are included (e.g., generally down to wing-level in the Air Force, division and separate brigade in the Army, regiment in the Marines, wing and group level in the Navy).  Many of the base or headquarters homepages listed provide links to further subordinate units and activities.

 Recommended Sites

One of the features of the 2nd Edition is the highlighting of about 100 of the best and most useful sites in (and about) the .mil domain.  The links and descriptions of these sites are provided here.

Web Locators and Reference

Major Homepages Educational Institutions and Military Think Tanks
  • College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education (CADRE)

    A think tank of the Air University, the website includes the full-text archive of Airpower, the Air Force's premier scholarly journal, as well as discussion threads relating to articles in the journal.
  • Naval Postgraduate School

    Located in Monterey, California.  Naval and Joint higher education institution with excellent resources in the fields of naval sciences; command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I), information warfare, and space systems.

    Military Libraries

    Publication Repositories

  • Washington Headquarters Services Directives and Records Branch Home Page

    Online library of Defense Department official directives and instructions.

    Department of Defense Business-Related Sites

  • Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology ("ACQWeb")

    The main weapons and systems starting point for DOD-wide research, development, test, and acquisition programs.  Includes the LabLINK homepage of military and federal research laboratory resources, the Acquisition Reform Homepage, and other acquisition-related websites, such as the DOD Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR).
    Service, Base and Command Sites Air Force Army Navy Marine Corps Special Subject Sites Compiled 15 September 1998