Use of Armed Forces

Benjamin Franklin, an American Icon, quoted "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." These words ring to the heart of the Urbandale Veterans Memorial. The Memorial is place to involve yourself, to contemplate, to reflect and to learn. In the spirit of remembering the past Marie Antoinette quoted "There is nothing new except what has been forgotten." To provide a context for your journey and to spark your memory we offer a brief overview of the use of United States armed forces abroad. These are the times in which those who are listed at the Urbandale Veterans Memorial were involved.

Declarations of War by Congress or Conflict?

The use of U.S. armed forces abroad differs greatly in number of forces, purpose, extent of hostilities, and legal authorization. The U.S. has formally declared war against foreign nations 11 times in its history. The constitution grants congress the sole power to declare war. These 11 U.S. war declarations encompassed 5 separate wars:

  • The war with Great Britain declared in 1812
  • The war with Mexico declared in 184
  • The War with Spain declared in 1898
  • The 1st World War, during which the U.S. declared war with Germany and with Austria-Hungary during 1917
  • World War II, during which the U.S. declared war against Japan, Germany, and Italy in 1941, and against Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania in 1942

Undeclared Wars

Some of the instances were extended military engagements that might be considered undeclared wars. These include:

  • The Undeclared Naval War with France from 1798 to 1800
  • The 1st Barbary War from 1801 to 1805
  • The 2nd Barbary War of 1815
  • The Korean War of 1950-53
  • The Vietnam War from 1964 to 1973
  • The Persian Gulf War of 1991
  • Global actions against foreign terrorists after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States
  • The War with Iraq in 2003

With the exception of the Korean War, all of these conflicts received congressional authorization in some form short of a formal declaration of war.

Other, more recent instances often involve deployment of U.S. military forces as part of a multinational operation associated with NATO or the United Nations.

Conflicts Urbandale Veterans Served

Revolutionary War

American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the 13 "United Colonies" which expelled royal officials in 1775, set up the 2nd Continental Congress, formed an army, and declared their independence as a new nation - the United States of America, in 1776. U.S. casualties included 4,435 deaths (4,044 Army, 342 Navy and 49 Marines) and 6,188 wounded (6,004 Army, 114 Navy and 70 Marines).

Civil War

American Civil War (1861-1865) was a major war between the United States (the "Union") and 11 southern states that declared their secession and formed the Confederate States of America, led by President Jefferson Davis. The Union, led by President Abraham Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery and rejected any right of secession. Casualties included 364,511 Union (359,528 Army, 4,523 Navy and 460 Marines) and approximately 258,000 Confederacy deaths, and 281,881 Union (280,040 Army, 1,710 Navy and 131 Marines) and approximately 100,000 Confederacy wounded.

Spanish-American War

Spanish-American War (April-August of 1898) was a conflict between the Kingdom of Spain and the United States of America that took place in 1898. The war ended in victory for the U.S. and after 113 days of war and the Treaty of Paris gave the U.S. control over the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam, and control over the process of independence of Cuba. U.S. casualties included 2,446 deaths (2,430 Army, 10 Navy and 6 Marines) and 1,662 wounded (1,594 Army, 47 Navy and 21 Marines).

World War I

World War I (1914-1918) also known as the 1st World War or the Great War, was a world conflict between the Allied Powers and Central Powers. The Allied Powers, led by France, the Russian Empire, the British Empire and later Italy and the United States, defeated the Central Powers of Austria-Hungary, the German Empire, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. U.S. casualties included 116,516 deaths (106,378 Army, 7,287 Navy and 2,851 Marines) and 204,002 wounded (193,663 Army, 819 Navy and 9,520 Marines).

World War II

World War II (1941-1945) also known as the 2nd World War, was a worldwide conflict between the Allied Powers and the Axis Powers. Armed forces from over 70 nations engaged in combat, spanning much of the globe. The result was over 60 million deaths, making it the deadliest conflict in human history. U.S. casualties included 405,399 deaths (318,274 Army, 62,614 Navy and 24,511 Marines) and 670,846 wounded (565,861 Army, 37,778 Navy and 67,207 Marines).

Korean War

Korean War (1950-1953) was a civil war between the states of North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (Republic of Korea) that were created out of the post-World War II Soviet and United States occupation zones in Korea. U.S. casualties included 36,574 deaths (29,856 Army, 657 Navy, 4,509 Marines and 1,552 Air Force) and 103,284 wounded (77,596 Army, 1,576 Navy, 23,744 Marines and 368 Air Force).

Vietnam War

Vietnam War (1955-1975) was a Cold War era conflict the occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The war was between North Vietnam, supported by China and other communist allies, and South Vietnam supported by the United States and other anti-communist countries. U.S. involvement first began before the war as U.S. military advisers arrived in French Indochina in 1950. U.S. casualties included 58,220 deaths (38,224 Army, 2,566 Nay, 13,095 Marines and 2,586 Air Force) and 153,303 wounded (96,802 Army, 4,178 Navy, 51,392 Marines and 931 Air Force).


Cuba (1962) also known as the Cuban missile crisis or October crisis, was a 13-day confrontation in October 1962 between the Soviet Union and Cuba, and the United States. It was a cold war confrontation based on U.S. nuclear missiles being placed in Turkey and Soviet Union nuclear missiles being placed in Cuba. U.S. casualties included 1 death (Air Force).

Gulf War

Gulf War (1990-1991) also known as Desert Storm, Persian Gulf War, 1st Gulf War, and Iraq War, was a conflict between Iraq and a coalition force of 34 nations. The war was led by the United States and mandated by the United Nations in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait. U.S. casualties included 383 deaths (224 Army, 55 Navy, 68 Marines and 35 Air Force) and 467 wounded (354 Army, 12 Navy, 92 Marines and 9 Air Force).

Iraq War

Iraq War (2003-2011) was a conflict in Iraq consisting of 2 phases. The 1st phase was an invasion of Iraq in 2003 led by U.S. forces and backed by the United Nations to replace the Iraqi leader and establish a new government. The 2nd phase followed in which insurgency emerged to oppose the occupying forces and newly formed Iraqi government. U.S. casualties included 4,474 deaths and 31,827 wounded.


Afghanistan (2001-Present) is a conflict based on the intervention in the Afghan Civil War by the U.S. and its allies to dismantle Al-Qaeda and the Taliban government in Afghanistan, after the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. U.S. casualties include 2,194 deaths and 17,674 wounded.