A Letter From The Publisher: Jul. 27, 1981

America's military security depends in part on its ability to respond quickly to unexpected challenges. As the TIME staffers assigned to this week's cover story on the U.S. military discovered, reporting on the vast and myriad dimensions of the nation's armed forces often called for the same sort of responses.

To get the striking photographs that accompany the story, Photographer Neil Leifer spent four days in basic training with a brigade at Fort Knox, Ky., while Photographer Mark Meyer visited a strategic Air Force base in the Northeast and joined a B-52 bomber crew...

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