Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) includes the Service Chiefs of the four military branches, plus a Chairman and a Vice Chairman. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is, by law, the senior ranking member of the U.S. Armed Forces, and is the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council. The other members are also considered military advisors, and may voluntarily submit their own opinions.
A common misconception is that the Joint Chiefs of Staff exercise authority over combat commanders. This has not been true in practice since World War II, and not true legally since 1953. The chain of command, as codified by the Goldwater-Nichols DOD Reorganization Act of 1986, runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense, and then directly to the individual combat commanders. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are principally advisors and planners, with the Service Chiefs having a secondary responsibility for the operations of their services; in this latter responsibility they report to the Secretary of their Military Department, and generally delegate day-to-day management to their respective Vice Chiefs.
Current Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Chairman (General Richard Myers, USAF) now retired
- Vice Chairman (General Peter Pace, USMC) now chief
- Chief of Staff of the Air Force (General John Jumper)
- Chief of Staff of the Army (General Peter Schoomaker)
- Commandant of the Marine Corps (General Michael Hagee)
- Chief of Naval Operations (Admiral Vern Clark)
Department of Defense. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Retrieved June 7, 2004.