United States Secretary of Defense

Secretary of DefenseU.S. Secretary of DefenseDefense SecretaryUS Secretary of DefenseU.S. Defense SecretaryUS Defense SecretarySecretarySecretaries of DefenseDefenseSECDEF
The secretary of defense (SecDef) is the leader and chief executive officer of the United States Department of Defense, the executive department of the Armed Forces of the U.S.wikipedia
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United States Air Force

U.S. Air ForceAir ForceUSAF
Subject only to the orders of the president, the secretary of defense is in the chain of command and exercises command and control, for both operational and administrative purposes, over all Department of Defense forces – the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force – as well as the U.S. Coast Guard when its command and control is transferred to the Department of Defense.
The Air Force, through the Department of the Air Force, is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Air Force, who reports to the Secretary of Defense, and is appointed by the President with Senate confirmation.

United States Navy

U.S. NavyUS NavyNavy
Subject only to the orders of the president, the secretary of defense is in the chain of command and exercises command and control, for both operational and administrative purposes, over all Department of Defense forces – the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force – as well as the U.S. Coast Guard when its command and control is transferred to the Department of Defense.
The Department of the Navy is itself a division of the Department of Defense, which is headed by the Secretary of Defense.

President of the United States

PresidentU.S. PresidentUnited States President
The secretary of defense (SecDef) is the leader and chief executive officer of the United States Department of Defense, the executive department of the Armed Forces of the U.S. The secretary of defense's position of command and authority over the U.S. military is second only to that of the president.
The present-day operational command of the Armed Forces is delegated to the Department of Defense and is normally exercised through the secretary of defense.

United States Indo-Pacific Command

United States Pacific CommandU.S. Pacific CommandCINCPAC
Only the secretary of defense (or the president or Congress) can authorize the transfer of operational control of forces between the three military departments (the departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force) and the 10 Combatant Commands (Africa Command, Central Command, European Command, Indo-Pacific Command, Northern Command, Southern Command, Cyber Command, Special Operations Command, Strategic Command, Transportation Command).
The commander reports to the President of the United States through the Secretary of Defense and is supported by service component and subordinate unified commands, including U.S. Army Pacific, Marine Forces Pacific, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Forces Japan, U.S. Forces Korea, Special Operations Command Korea, and Special Operations Command Pacific.

United States Department of the Air Force

Department of the Air ForceHeadquarters, United States Air ForceAir Force
Only the secretary of defense (or the president or Congress) can authorize the transfer of operational control of forces between the three military departments (the departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force) and the 10 Combatant Commands (Africa Command, Central Command, European Command, Indo-Pacific Command, Northern Command, Southern Command, Cyber Command, Special Operations Command, Strategic Command, Transportation Command).
The Department of the Air Force is headed by the Secretary of the Air Force (SAF/OS), a civilian, who has the authority to conduct all of its affairs, subject to the authority, direction and control of the Secretary of Defense.

United States Armed Forces

United States militaryU.S. militaryUS military
The secretary of defense (SecDef) is the leader and chief executive officer of the United States Department of Defense, the executive department of the Armed Forces of the U.S. The secretary of defense's position of command and authority over the U.S. military is second only to that of the president.
The DoD is headed by the secretary of defense, who is a civilian and member of the Cabinet.

Mark Esper

Mark T. Esper
Since July 23, 2019, the secretary of defense has been Mark Esper, the 27th person to hold the office.
Mark Thomas Esper (born April 26, 1964) is the 27th and current United States secretary of defense.

United States Secretary of the Treasury

Secretary of the TreasuryTreasury SecretaryU.S. Secretary of the Treasury
The secretary of defense, secretary of state, the attorney general, and the secretary of the treasury are generally regarded as heading the four most important departments.
The secretary of the treasury, the secretary of state, the attorney general, and the secretary of defense are generally regarded as the four most important cabinet officials because of the importance of their departments.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

ChairmanChairman of the Joint ChiefsChairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
(The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military adviser to the secretary of defense and the president, and while the chairman may assist the secretary and president in their command functions, the chairman is not in the chain of command.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is, by U.S. law, the highest-ranking and senior-most military officer in the United States Armed Forces and is the principal military advisor to the President, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense.

United States Department of the Army

Department of the ArmyU.S. Department of the ArmyArmy
Only the secretary of defense (or the president or Congress) can authorize the transfer of operational control of forces between the three military departments (the departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force) and the 10 Combatant Commands (Africa Command, Central Command, European Command, Indo-Pacific Command, Northern Command, Southern Command, Cyber Command, Special Operations Command, Strategic Command, Transportation Command).
The Department of the Army is the Federal Government agency within which the United States Army is organized, and it is led by the Secretary of the Army, who has statutory authority under to conduct its affairs and to prescribe regulations for its government, subject to the limits of the law, and the directions of the Secretary of Defense and the President.

James Forrestal

James V. ForrestalForrestalJim Forrestal
The first secretary of defense, James Forrestal, who in his previous capacity as the secretary of the Navy had opposed creation of the new position, found it difficult to exercise authority over the other branches with the limited powers his office had at the time.
James Vincent Forrestal (February 15, 1892 – May 22, 1949) was the last Cabinet-level United States Secretary of the Navy and the first United States Secretary of Defense.

United States Department of Defense

Department of DefenseU.S. Department of DefenseUS Department of Defense
The secretary of defense (SecDef) is the leader and chief executive officer of the United States Department of Defense, the executive department of the Armed Forces of the U.S. The secretary of defense's position of command and authority over the U.S. military is second only to that of the president.
The Department of Defense is headed by the Secretary of Defense, a cabinet-level head who reports directly to the President of the United States.

United States Northern Command

U.S. Northern CommandUSNORTHCOMNORTHCOM
Only the secretary of defense (or the president or Congress) can authorize the transfer of operational control of forces between the three military departments (the departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force) and the 10 Combatant Commands (Africa Command, Central Command, European Command, Indo-Pacific Command, Northern Command, Southern Command, Cyber Command, Special Operations Command, Strategic Command, Transportation Command).

United States Secretary of the Air Force

Secretary of the Air ForceOffice of the Secretary of the Air ForceAir Force Secretary
To address this and other problems, the National Security Act was amended in 1949 to further consolidate the national defense structure in order to reduce interservice rivalry, directly subordinate the secretaries of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force to the secretary of defense in the chain of command, and rename the National Military Establishment as the Department of Defense, making it one Executive Department. Some of those high-ranking officials, civil and military (outside of OSD and the Joint Staff) are: the secretary of the Army, secretary of the Navy, and secretary of the Air Force, Army chief of staff, commandant of the Marine Corps, chief of naval operations, and Air Force chief of staff, chief of the National Guard Bureau and the combatant commanders of the Combatant Commands.
The Secretary reports to the Secretary of Defense and/or the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and is by statute responsible for and has the authority to conduct all the affairs of the Department of the Air Force.

United States Secretary of War

Secretary of WarU.S. Secretary of WarUS Secretary of War
The War Department, headed by the secretary of war, was created by Act of Congress in 1789 and was responsible for both the Army and Navy until the founding of a separate Department of the Navy in 1798.
In 1947, with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947, the Secretary of War was replaced by the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Air Force, which, along with the Secretary of the Navy, have since 1949 been non-Cabinet subordinates under the Secretary of Defense.

National Security Act of 1947

National Security ActNational Defense Act of 1947National Security Law
The resulting National Security Act of 1947 was largely a compromise between these divergent viewpoints.
The majority of the provisions of the Act took effect on September 18, 1947, the day after the Senate confirmed James Forrestal as the first Secretary of Defense.

Office of the Secretary of Defense

OSDOffice of the Secretary of Defense (OSD)Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
The general trend since 1949 has been to further centralize management in the Department of Defense, elevating the status and authorities of civilian OSD appointees and defense-wide organizations at the expense of the military departments and the services within them.
It is the principal civilian staff element of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and it assists the Secretary in carrying out authority, direction and control of the Department of Defense in the exercise of policy development, planning, resource management, fiscal, and program evaluation responsibilities.

United States National Security Council

National Security CouncilU.S. National Security CouncilUS National Security Council
The secretary of defense is appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate, and is by custom a member of the Cabinet and by law a member of the National Security Council.
Its members are the Vice President (statutory), the Secretary of State (statutory), the Secretary of Defense (statutory), the Secretary of Energy (statutory), the National Security Advisor (non-statutory), the Attorney General (non-statutory), the Secretary of Homeland Security (non-statutory), the Representative of the United States to the United Nations (non-statutory), and the Secretary of the Treasury (non-statutory).

United States Secretary of State

Secretary of StateU.S. Secretary of StateUS Secretary of State
The secretary of defense, secretary of state, the attorney general, and the secretary of the treasury are generally regarded as heading the four most important departments.
The secretary of state, along with the secretary of the treasury, secretary of defense, and attorney general, are generally regarded as the four most important Cabinet members because of the importance of their respective departments.

Commandant of the Marine Corps

CommandantMarine Corps CommandantCommandant of the United States Marine Corps
Some of those high-ranking officials, civil and military (outside of OSD and the Joint Staff) are: the secretary of the Army, secretary of the Navy, and secretary of the Air Force, Army chief of staff, commandant of the Marine Corps, chief of naval operations, and Air Force chief of staff, chief of the National Guard Bureau and the combatant commanders of the Combatant Commands.
The CMC reports directly to the United States secretary of the Navy and is responsible for ensuring the organization, policy, plans, and programs for the Marine Corps as well as advising the president, the secretary of defense, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and the secretary of the Navy on matters involving the Marine Corps.

Unified combatant command

Combatant Commandcombatant commandscombatant commander
Only the secretary of defense (or the president or Congress) can authorize the transfer of operational control of forces between the three military departments (the departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force) and the 10 Combatant Commands (Africa Command, Central Command, European Command, Indo-Pacific Command, Northern Command, Southern Command, Cyber Command, Special Operations Command, Strategic Command, Transportation Command). Some of those high-ranking officials, civil and military (outside of OSD and the Joint Staff) are: the secretary of the Army, secretary of the Navy, and secretary of the Air Force, Army chief of staff, commandant of the Marine Corps, chief of naval operations, and Air Force chief of staff, chief of the National Guard Bureau and the combatant commanders of the Combatant Commands.
The chain of command for operational purposes (per the Goldwater–Nichols Act) goes from the President through the Secretary of Defense to the combatant commanders.

United States Marine Corps

U.S. Marine CorpsMarinesMarine Corps
Subject only to the orders of the president, the secretary of defense is in the chain of command and exercises command and control, for both operational and administrative purposes, over all Department of Defense forces – the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force – as well as the U.S. Coast Guard when its command and control is transferred to the Department of Defense.
Under the "Forces for Unified Commands" memo, in accordance with the Unified Command Plan approved by the President, Marine Corps Forces are assigned to each of the Combatant Commands at the discretion of the Secretary of Defense.

United States Army

U.S. ArmyUS ArmyArmy
Subject only to the orders of the president, the secretary of defense is in the chain of command and exercises command and control, for both operational and administrative purposes, over all Department of Defense forces – the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force – as well as the U.S. Coast Guard when its command and control is transferred to the Department of Defense.
The U.S. Army is led by a civilian secretary of the Army, who has the statutory authority to conduct all the affairs of the army under the authority, direction and control of the secretary of defense.

Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force

Chief of Staff of the Air ForceAir Force Chief of StaffChief of Staff
Some of those high-ranking officials, civil and military (outside of OSD and the Joint Staff) are: the secretary of the Army, secretary of the Navy, and secretary of the Air Force, Army chief of staff, commandant of the Marine Corps, chief of naval operations, and Air Force chief of staff, chief of the National Guard Bureau and the combatant commanders of the Combatant Commands.
The Chief of Staff of the Air Force (acronym: CSAF, or AF/CC) is a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Air Force, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Air Force, and as such is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Air Force; and is in a separate capacity a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and thereby a military adviser to the National Security Council, the Secretary of Defense, and the President.

Robert Gates

Robert M. GatesBob GatesSecretary of Defense Robert Gates
The latest version, signed by former secretary of defense Robert Gates in December 2010, is the first major re-write since 1987.
Robert Michael Gates (born September 25, 1943) is an American statesman, scholar, intelligence analyst, and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011.