April 7, 2012: The U.S. military is reducing its budget about ten percent in the next five years and the cuts are coming in some very visible areas. For example, the U.S. Air Force is reducing its military bands and musicians by over ten percent. Over a hundred musician jobs will be eliminated, along with three bands.
There were always a few full time military bands, and since World War II there have been more and more professional bands. There are still some amateur military bands and ensembles but most of the musicians are professionals. They have basic military training and, in theory, could be used for purely military functions.
The military bands are considered good for morale but most troops consider the ceremonies and events where they march to the band music to be a chore they could do without. The bands end up spending most of their time performing for social functions. Now it's been noted that you can hire civilian musicians for such events.
The U.S. military services have over a hundred bands and spend over $300 million a year on them each year. Time once was when many military bands were amateur, part-time organizations put together from troops who could play an instrument and were willing to spend their spare time practicing. Increasingly, many bands became semi-professional, with troops performing most of the time but still having a wartime job (moving casualties or some other simple support chore).