The President of the United States
is the Commander-in-Chief of all U.S. military forces. Although a
civilian, he outranks all generals and admirals.|
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The Chairman of the
JCS is the highest-ranking uniformed military officer. He is appointed by the
President and confirmed by Congress. He serves a two-year term.
JCS Chairman: Admiral Mike Mullen
Vice-chairman Marine General James E. Cartwright
Joint Chiefs of
The Building |
Headquarters of the Department of Defense and all four U.S. armed
services. Although it has a Washington ZIP code, it is physically
located in Arlington, Virginia.
Colonel (later General) Leslie Groves oversaw construction of the
building during WWII. Groves later commanded the Manhattan Project,
which developed the first atomic bomb.
Secretary of Defense: Robert M. Gates, second in command of
the armed forces after the President.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell is Pentagon spokesman.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael P. Donley.
Secretary of the Army Preston Green
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter
Central Command (Covers Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan) CENTCOM Commander-in-Chief Marine General James Mattis (designee,) Marine Lieutenant General John R. Allen, Acting Commander, Headquartered at MacDill AFB, FL
European Command Commander-in-Chief Army General Bantz J. Craddock. Headquartered in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany
Northern Command Commander-in-Chief Air Force General Gene Renuart. Headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, CO (See Space Command, below)
Pacific Command Commander-in-Chief Admiral Timothy J. Keating Headquartered in Honolulu, HI
Southern Command Commander-in-Chief Admiral James G. Stavridis. Headquartered in Miami, FL.
Other Commands: Cyber Command Responsible for offensive and defensive military cyberspace planning and operations. Headquartered at Ft. Meade, MD, and subordinate to Strategic Command (see below). Commanded by Army General Keith B. Alexander, who also heads the National Security Agency at the same location.
Joint Forces Command Commander-in Chief Marine Corps General James N. Mattis. Headquartered at Norfolk, VA
Joint Special Operations Command Commander-in Chief Admiral Eric T. Olson. Headquartered at MacDill AFB, FL
Space Command Commander-in-Chief Air Force General Kevin P. Chilton. Headquartered at Peterson AFB, CO (See Northern Command, above)
Strategic Command (NOT the "Strategic Air Command," which has been
disbanded) Commander-in-Chief Air Force General Kevin P. Chilton. Headquartered at Offutt AFB, NB.
Transportation Command Commander-in-Chief Air Force General Norton A. Schwartz. Headquartered at Scott AFB, IL.
Center for Defense Information
Air Force |
Both male and female members of the U.S. Air Force are referred to as "airmen." The highest-ranking officer in the Air Force is the Chief of Staff.
The Army is the oldest U.S. military force, established on June 14, 1775. Members of the U.S. Army are referred to as "soldiers." The
highest-ranking officer in the Army is the Chief of Staff.
The primary combat mission of the Army is to engage enemy land forces.
Airborne (Parachute and helicopter-borne troops.)
Rangers (Special operations)
Green Berets (Special operations)
Delta Force (Special ops., hostage rescue)
Special Aviation Regiment "Nightstalkers" (special ops air-insertion helicopters) Ft. Campbell, KY
Army Special Operations Command, Ft. Bragg, NC
The Marine Corps is the smallest U.S. armed force. It is a part of the U.S. Navy and is overseen
by the Secretary of the Navy.
Often using amphibious tactics to open the way for heavier Army
units, Marines are often "first in" during a larger ground assault.
Members of the U.S. Marine Corps are referred to as "marines." Do not
refer to them as "soldiers." The highest-ranking officer in the
Marine Corps is the Commandant, who serves as a member of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
Marine Force Recon
Members of the U.S. Navy are referred to as "sailors." The
highest-ranking officer in the Navy is the Chief of Naval Operations.
The primary mission of the Navy is to prosecute combat on and from the sea.
SEALs -- Acronym for Sea Air Land (Special
Seals site 1
Seals site 2
Seals site 3
Best known for its air-sea rescues of sailors in distress and the
interception of drug and alien smugglers, the U.S. Coast Guard is
part of the Department of Homeland Security. Members of the U.S. Coast
Guard are referred to as "Coast Guardsmen." The highest-ranking
officer in the Coast Guard is the Commandant.
During times of emergency, units of the Coast Guard may be
transferred to operational command of the Navy. Coast Guard units
have deployed overseas in every war in which the U.S. has fought.
The Army and Air National Guards are the contemporary equivalents of the
Revolutionary-era militia. During peacetime National Guard units are
under the command of the various state governors. They may be
activated for state emergencies, such as wildfires, riots, etc. at
the sole discretion of the governor. During national emergencies, the
NG may be activated by the President and placed under command of the
Army and Air Force.
Former active-duty members of the military who may be recalled to
active duty by the President.