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The United States secretary of defense (SecDef) is the head of the
United States Department of Defense The United States Department of Defense (DoD, USDOD or DOD) is an executive branch department of the federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entityâ ...
, the
executive department The United States federal executive departments are the principal units of the Federal government of the United States, executive branch of the federal government of the United States. They are analogous to Ministry (government department), minis ...
of the
U.S. Armed Forces The United States Armed Forces are the Military, military forces of the United States of America. The armed forces consists of six Military branch, service branches: the United States Army, Army, United States Marine Corps, Marine Corps, Unit ...

U.S. Armed Forces
, and is a high ranking member of the federal cabinet. DoDD 5100.1: Enclosure 2: a The secretary of defense's position of command and authority over the military is second only to that of the
president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of ...

president of the United States
, who is the
commander-in-chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men' ...
. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a
defense minister A defence minister or minister of defence is a cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent ...
in many other countries. The secretary of defense is appointed by the president with the
advice and consent Advice and consent is an English phrase frequently used in enacting formulae of bill Bill(s) may refer to: Common meanings * Banknote A banknote (often known as a bill (in the US and Canada), paper money, or simply a note) is a type o ...
of the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
, and is by custom a member of the
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
and by law a member of the
National Security Council#REDIRECT National security council A National Security Council (NSC) is usually an executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State ...
. The secretary of defense is a statutory office, and the general provision in provides that "subject to the direction of the President", its occupant has "authority, direction, and control over the Department of Defense". The same statute further designates the secretary as "the principal assistant to the President in all matters relating to the Department of Defense". To ensure
civilian control of the military File:050218-N-3333H-011 Admiral John B. Nathman, far right, and Admiral William J. Fallon salute during honors arrival of Secretary of the Navy, Gordon R. England.jpg, 300px, Admiral John B. Nathman (far right) and Admiral William J. Fallon salut ...
, no one may be appointed as the secretary of defense within seven years of serving as a
commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically author ...
of a regular military component (i.e., non- reserve) without a waiver from Congress. Subject only to the orders of the president, the secretary of defense is in the
chain of command A command hierarchy is a group of people who carry out orders based on others' authority within the group. It can be viewed as part of a power structure, in which it is usually seen as the most vulnerable and also the most powerful part. Milit ...
and exercises
command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ...
hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men's beaver felt hats A hat is a head covering which is worn for various reasons, including protection against weather conditions, ceremonial reasons such as university graduation, religious reasons, safet ...

hat
employs human, physical, and information resources to solve problems and accomplish missions" to achieve the goals of an organization or enterpris ...
, for both operational and administrative purposes, over all service branches administered by the Department of Defensethe
Army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch Military branch ...
,
Marine Corps Marines, or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate in in support of naval operations. Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included helping maintain discipline and order aboard the ship (reflecting the natu ...
,
Navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense ...
,
Air Force
Air Force
, and
Space Force A space force is a military branch Military branch (also service branch or armed service) is according to common standard a subdivision of the national armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily arme ...

Space Force
as well as the
Coast Guard A coast guard or coastguard is a maritime security Maritime may refer to: Geography * Maritime Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps * Maritime Region, a region in Togo * Maritime Southeast Asia * The Maritimes ...
when its command and control is transferred to the Department of Defense. Joint Publication 1: II-9, II-10 & II-11. Only the secretary of defense (or the president or Congress) can authorize the transfer of operational control of forces between the three military departments (
Department of the Army The United States Department of the Army (DA) is one of the three military departments within the Department of Defense of the U.S.. The Department of the Army is the federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a ...
, the Navy, and the Air Force) and the eleven
Unified Combatant Command A unified combatant command (CCMD), also referred to as a combatant command, is a joint military command A command in military terminology Military terminology refers to the terms and language of military A military, also known colle ...
s. Because the secretary of defense is vested with legal powers that exceed those of any
commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically author ...
, and is second only to the president in the military hierarchy, its incumbent has sometimes unofficially been referred to as "deputy
commander-in-chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men' ...
". Trask & Goldberg: pp.11 & 52 Cohen: p.231. The
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is the presiding officer of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is the body of the most senior uniformed leaders within the United States Department of D ...
is the principal military adviser to the secretary of defense and the president; while the chairman may assist the secretary and president in their command functions, the chairman is not in the chain of command. The
secretary of the treasury The United States secretary of the treasury is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with all financial and monetary matters relating to the federal government, and, until 2003, also included several major ...
, the secretary of state, the
attorney general #REDIRECT Attorney general In most common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinio ...
, and the secretary of defense are generally regarded as the four most important cabinet officials because of the size and importance of their respective departments. The current secretary of defense is retired
general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral zone in suppo ...
Lloyd Austin Lloyd James Austin III (born August 8, 1953) is an American retired United States Army Four-star rank, four-star General (United States), general serving as the 28th United States Secretary of Defense, United States secretary of defense since J ...
, who is the first African American to serve in the position.


History

An Army, Navy, and Marine Corps were established in 1775, in concurrence with the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colo ...
. The War Department, headed by the
secretary of war The secretary of war was a member of the U.S. president The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foak ...
, was created by
Act of Congress An Act of Congress is a statute enacted by United States Congress, Congress. Acts can affect only individual entities (called private laws), or the general public (public laws). For a Bill (law), bill to become an act, the text must pass through ...
in 1789 and was responsible for both the Army and Navy until the founding of a separate Department of the Navy in 1798. Based on the experiences of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, proposals were soon made on how to more effectively manage the large combined military establishment. The Army generally favored centralization while the Navy had institutional preferences for decentralization and the status quo. The resulting
National Security Act of 1947 The National Security Act of 1947 (Act of Congress, Pub.L.]80-253 61 United States Statutes at Large, Stat.]495 enacted July 26, 1947) was a law enacting major restructuring of the Federal government of the United States, United States government' ...
was largely a compromise between these divergent viewpoints. It renamed the United States Department of War, Department of War the
Department of the Army The United States Department of the Army (DA) is one of the three military departments within the Department of Defense of the U.S.. The Department of the Army is the federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a ...
, and added both it and the Department of the Navy to a newly established
National Military Establishment The United States Department of Defense (DoD, USDOD or DOD) is an executive branch department of the federal government charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government directly related to national secur ...
(NME). The Act also separated the
Army Air Forces The United States Army Air Forces (USAAF or AAF) was the major land-based aerial warfare Aerial warfare is the use of military aircraft A military aircraft is any fixed-wing A fixed-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machi ...
from the Army to become its own branch of service, the
United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosph ...

United States Air Force
. A new title was coined by the Act for the head of the NME: Secretary of Defense. At first, each of the service secretaries maintained cabinet status. The first secretary of defense,
James Forrestal James Vincent Forrestal (February 15, 1892 â€“ May 22, 1949) was the last Cabinet-level United States Secretary of the Navy The secretary of the Navy (or SECNAV) is a statutory officer () and the head ( chief executive officer) of the Dep ...

James Forrestal
, who in his previous capacity as the
secretary of the Navy The secretary of the Navy (or SECNAV) is a statutory officer () and the head (chief executive officer) of the United States Department of the Navy, Department of the Navy, a military department (component organization) within the United States D ...
had opposed the 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. 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 Interservice rivalry is the rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting competitive relationship. Rivalry is the "against each other" spirit between two competing sides. The relationship itself may also be c ...
, 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 The United States federal executive departments are the principal units of the Federal government of the United States, executive branch of the federal government of the United States. They are analogous to Ministry (government department), minis ...
. The position of the
deputy secretary of defense The deputy secretary of defense (acronym An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, usually using individual initial letters, as in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or European Union, ...
, the number two position in the department, was also created at this time. 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. The last major revision of the statutory framework concerning the position was done in the Goldwater–Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986. In particular, it elevated the status of joint service for commissioned officers, making it in practice a requirement before appointments to general officer and flag officer grades could be made. As the secretary of defense is a civilian position intended to be independent of the active-duty leadership, a secretary is required to have been retired from service for at least seven (originally ten) years unless a waiver is approved by Congress. Since the creation of the position in 1947, such a waiver has been approved only three times, for Army general
George Marshall George Catlett Marshall Jr. (December 31, 1880 – October 16, 1959) was an American soldier and statesman. He rose through the United States Army to become Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Chief of Staff under presidents Franklin D. Ro ...
in 1950, Marine Corps General
Jim Mattis James Norman Mattis (born September 8, 1950) is a retired who served as the 26th from January 2017 to January 2019. During his 44 years in the Marine Corps, he commanded forces in the , the , and the . Mattis was commissioned in the Marine C ...
in 2017, and retired Army general Lloyd J. Austin III in 2021.


Powers and functions

The secretary of defense, appointed by the
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

president
with the advice and consent of the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
, is by federal law () the head of the Department of Defense, "the principal assistant to the President in all matters relating to Department of Defense", and has "authority, direction and control over the Department of Defense". Because the
Constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
vests all military authority in
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, ...

Congress
and the president, the statutory authority of the secretary of defense is derived from their constitutional authorities. Since it is impractical for either Congress or the president to participate in every piece of Department of Defense affairs, the secretary of defense and the secretary's subordinate officials generally exercise military authority. As the head of DoD, all officials, employees and service members are "under" the secretary of defense. Some of those high-ranking officials, civil and military (outside of OSD and the Joint Staff) are: the
secretary of the Army The secretary of the Army (SA, SECARM or SECARMY) is a senior civilian official within the United States Department of Defense The United States Department of Defense (DoD, USDOD or DOD) is an United States federal executive departments, exec ...
,
secretary of the Navy The secretary of the Navy (or SECNAV) is a statutory officer () and the head (chief executive officer) of the United States Department of the Navy, Department of the Navy, a military department (component organization) within the United States D ...
, and
secretary of the Air Force The secretary of the Air Force, sometimes referred to as the secretary of the Department of the Air Force, (SecAF, or SAF/OS) is the head of the United States Department of the Air Force, Department of the Air Force and the service secretary fo ...
, Army chief of staff,
commandant of the Marine Corps The commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) is normally the highest-ranking officer in the United States Marine Corps The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines, is the maritime land force service bran ...
,
chief of naval operations#REDIRECT Chief of Naval Operations The chief of naval operations (CNO) is the professional head of the United States Navy. The position is a statutory office () held by an admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, a ...
,
Air Force chief of staff The chief of staff of the Air Force (acronym An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, usually using individual initial letters, as in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or European Un ...
,
chief of space operations The chief of space operations (CSO) is a statutory office () held by a general in the United States Space Force, and is the principal military adviser to the secretary of the Air Force for Space Force operations; and is in a separate capacity a ...
, and
chief of the National Guard Bureau The chief of the National Guard Bureau (CNGB) is the highest-ranking officer of the National Guard National Guard is the name used by a wide variety of current and historical uniformed organizations in different countries. The original National ...
and the combatant commanders of the Combatant Commands. All these high-ranking positions, civil and military, require Senate confirmation. The Department of Defense is composed of the
Office of the Secretary of Defense The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is a headquarters-level staff of the United States Department of Defense. It is the principal civilian staff element of the United States Secretary of Defense, U.S. Secretary of Defense, and it assists ...
(OSD), the
Joint Chiefs of Staff The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is the body of the most senior uniformed leaders within the , that advises the , the , the and the on military matters. The composition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is defined by and consists of a (CJCS), a ...
(JCS) and the
Joint Staff The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is the body of the most senior uniformed leaders within the United States Department of Defense, that advises the president of the United States, the United States Secretary of Defense, secretary of defense, th ...
(JS),
Office of the Inspector General In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Wash ...
(DODIG), the Combatant Commands, the Military Departments (
Department of the Army The United States Department of the Army (DA) is one of the three military departments within the Department of Defense of the U.S.. The Department of the Army is the federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a ...
(DA), Department of the Navy (DON) &
Department of the Air Force The United States Department of the Air Force (DAF) is one of the three military departments within the Department of Defense of the United States of America. The Department of the Air Force was formed on September 18, 1947, per the National Se ...
(DAF)), the Defense Agencies and DoD Field Activities, the
National Guard Bureau The National Guard Bureau is the federal instrument responsible for the administration of the United States National Guard, National Guard established by the United States Congress as a joint bureau of the Department of the Army and the Department ...

National Guard Bureau
(NGB), and such other offices, agencies, activities, organizations, and commands established or designated by law, or by the president or by the secretary of defense. Department of Defense Directive 5100.01 describes the organizational relationships within the Department and is the foundational issuance for delineating the major functions of the Department. The latest version, signed by former secretary of defense
Robert Gates Robert Michael Gates (born September 25, 1943) is an American intelligence analyst and university president who served as the 22nd United States secretary of defense from 2006 to 2011. He was originally appointed by president George W. Bush and ...

Robert Gates
in December 2010, is the first major re-write since 1987. Department of Defense Directive 5100.01 Functions of the Department of Defense and Its Major Components DoDD 5100.1: p.1.


Office of the Secretary of Defense

The secretary's principally civilian staff element is called the
Office of the Secretary of Defense The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is a headquarters-level staff of the United States Department of Defense. It is the principal civilian staff element of the United States Secretary of Defense, U.S. Secretary of Defense, and it assists ...
(OSD) and is composed of the
deputy secretary of defense The deputy secretary of defense (acronym An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, usually using individual initial letters, as in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or European Union, ...
(DEPSECDEF) and five under secretaries of defense in the fields of acquisition & sustainment, research & engineering, comptroller/chief financial officer,
intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction, logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. More generally, it can be des ...
, personnel & readiness, and
policy Policy is a deliberate system of guideline A guideline is a statement by which to determine a course of action. A guideline aims to streamline particular processes according to a set routine or sound practice. Guidelines may be issued by a ...
; several
assistant secretaries of defense Assistant Secretary of Defense is a title used for many high-level executive positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense within the U.S. Department of Defense. The Assistant Secretary of Defense title is junior to Under Secretary of Defense ...
; other directors and the staffs under them. The name of the principally military staff organization, organized under the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the
Joint Staff The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is the body of the most senior uniformed leaders within the United States Department of Defense, that advises the president of the United States, the United States Secretary of Defense, secretary of defense, th ...
(JS).


Awards and decorations

The
Defense Distinguished Service Medal The Defense Distinguished Service Medal is a military decoration Military awards and decorations are distinctions given as a mark of honor for military heroism, meritorious or outstanding service or achievement.United States Department of Defen ...

Defense Distinguished Service Medal
(DDSM), the
Defense Superior Service Medal The Defense Superior Service Medal (DSSM) is a military decoration Military awards and decorations are distinctions given as a mark of honor for military heroism, meritorious or outstanding service or achievement.United States Department of De ...

Defense Superior Service Medal
(DSSM), the
Defense Meritorious Service Medal The Defense Meritorious Service Medal (DMSM) is an award bestowed upon members of the United States military The United States Armed Forces are the military forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily ar ...

Defense Meritorious Service Medal
(DMSM), the
Joint Service Commendation Medal The Commendation Medal is a mid-level United States military The United States Armed Forces are the military forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intende ...

Joint Service Commendation Medal
(JSCM) and the
Joint Service Achievement Medal The Achievement Medal is a military Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces, decoration of the United States Armed Forces. The Achievement Medal was first proposed as a means to recognize the contributions of military personnel wh ...

Joint Service Achievement Medal
(JSAM) are awarded, to military personnel for service in joint duty assignments, in the name of the secretary of defense. In addition, there is the
Joint Meritorious Unit Award The Joint Meritorious Unit Award (JMUA) is a military award that was established on June 4, 1981 by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and was implemented by Department of Defense Directive 1348.27 dated July 22, 1982. The Joint Meritorious ...

Joint Meritorious Unit Award
(JMUA), which is the only ribbon (as in non-medal) and unit award issued to joint DoD activities, also issued in the name of the secretary of defense. The DDSM is analogous to the distinguished services medals issued by the military departments (i.e.
Army Distinguished Service Medal The Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) is a Awards and decorations of the United States military, military decoration of the United States Army that is presented to soldiers who have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to ...
,
Navy Distinguished Service Medal The Navy Distinguished Service Medal is a military decoration Military awards and decorations are distinctions given as a mark of honor for military heroism, meritorious or outstanding service or achievement.United States Department of Defense ...
&
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal The Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (AFDSM) is a Awards and decorations of the United States military, military decoration of the United States Air Force and United States Space Force and is presented to airmen and guardians to recognize dis ...

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
), the DSSM corresponds to the
Legion of Merit The Legion of Merit (LOM) is a military award Military awards and decorations are distinctions given as a mark of honor for military heroism, meritorious or outstanding service or achievement.United States Department of Defense, DoD Manual ...
, the DMSM to the
Meritorious Service MedalA Meritorious Service Medal is an award presented to denote acts of meritorious service, and sometimes gallantry, that are worthy of recognition. Notable medals with similar names include: *Meritorious Civilian Service Award *Meritorious Service Meda ...

Meritorious Service Medal
, the JSCM to the service commendation medals, and the JSAM to the achievement medals issued by the services. While the approval authority for DSSM, DMSM, JSCM, JSAM and JMUA is delegated to inferior DoD officials: the DDSM can be awarded only by the secretary of defense. Recommendations for the
Medal of Honor The Medal of Honor (MOH) is the highest and most prestigious that may be awarded to recognize American , , , , , and who have distinguished themselves by acts of . The medal is normally awarded by the , but as it is presented "in the name of ...

Medal of Honor
(MOH), formally endorsed in writing by the secretary of the military department concerned and the
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is the presiding officer of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is the body of the most senior uniformed leaders within the United States Department of D ...
, are processed through the
under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, or USD (P&R), is a high-ranking civilian position in the Office of the Secretary of Defense The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is a headquarters-level staff of the United St ...
, and such recommendations be must approved by the secretary of defense before it can be handed over to the president, who is the final approval authority for the MOH, although it is awarded in the name of
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, ...

Congress
. The secretary of defense, with the concurrence of the secretary of state, is the approval authority for the acceptance and wear of
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
medals issued by the
secretary general of NATO The secretary general of NATO is the chief civil servant of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Allia ...
and offered to the U.S. permanent representative to NATO in recognition of U.S. servicemembers who meet the eligibility criteria specified by NATO. DoDM 1348.33, Vol 3: p.39 (Enclosure 3)


Congressional committees

As the head of the department, the secretary of defense is the chief witness for the congressional committees with oversight responsibilities over the Department of Defense. The most important committees, with respect to the entire department, are the two authorizing committees, the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and the United States House Committee on Armed Services, House Armed Services Committee (HASC), and the two appropriations committees, the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senate Appropriations Committee and the United States House Committee on Appropriations, House Appropriations Committee. For the DoD intelligence programs the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have the principal oversight role.


National Security Council

The secretary of defense is a statutory member of the
National Security Council#REDIRECT National security council A National Security Council (NSC) is usually an executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State ...
. As one of the principals, the secretary along with the Vice President of the United States, vice president, secretary of state and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, assistant to the president for national security affairs participates in biweekly Principals Committee (PC) meetings, preparing and coordinating issues before they are brought before full NSC sessions chaired by the president.


Role in the military justice system

The secretary is one of only five or six civiliansthe others being the president, the three "service secretaries" (the secretary of the Army, secretary of the Navy, and secretary of the Air Force), and the Secretary of Homeland Security, secretary of homeland security (when the United States Coast Guard is under the United States Department of Homeland Security and has not been transferred to the Department of the Navy under the Department of Defense)authorized to act as convening authority in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, military justice system for Courts-martial in the United States, General Courts-Martial (: article 22, Uniform Code of Military Justice, UCMJ), Special Courts-Martial (: article 23, UCMJ), and Summary Courts-Martial (: article 24 UCMJ).


Salary

Secretary of Defense is a Executive Schedule#Level I, Level I position in the Executive Schedule, thus earning a salary of US Dollar, US$221,400, as of January 2021.


List of secretaries of defense

The longest-serving secretary of defense is Robert McNamara, who served for a total of 7years, 39 days. Combining his two non-sequential services as the secretary of defense, the second-longest serving is Donald Rumsfeld, who served just ten days fewer than McNamara. The second-longest unbroken tenure was Caspar Weinberger's, at 6years, 306 days. The shortest-serving secretary of defense is Elliot Richardson, who served 114 days and then was appointed US Attorney General, U.S. attorney general amid the Richard Kleindienst, resignations of the Watergate Scandal. (This is not counting United States Deputy Secretary of Defense, deputy secretaries of defense William P. Clements and William Howard Taft IV, who each served a few weeks as temporary/acting secretary of defense). For precursors to this position prior to the establishment of the Department of Defense, see the lists of United States Secretary of the Navy#Executive Department, 1798–1949, Secretaries of the Navy and United States Secretary of War#Secretary of War (1789–1947), Secretaries of War prior to 1947. ; Parties ; Status


Succession


Presidential succession

The secretary of defense is sixth in the United States presidential line of succession, presidential line of succession, following the
secretary of the treasury The United States secretary of the treasury is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with all financial and monetary matters relating to the federal government, and, until 2003, also included several major ...
and preceding the
attorney general #REDIRECT Attorney general In most common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinio ...
.


Secretary succession

On December 10, 2020, President Donald Trump modified the order of succession for the office of Secretary of Defense in an Executive Order (unnumbered as of December 15, 2020). The order of succession is:


See also


References


Citations


General sources


Federal law

* Title 10 of the United States Code * Title 50 of the United States Code


Directives, regulations and manuals

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Further reading

* * * * * * Mahan, Erin R., and Jeffrey A. Larsen, eds. (2012)
"Evolution of the Secretary of Defense in the Era of Massive Retaliation: Charles Wilson, Neil McElroy, and Thomas Gates, 1953–1961"
Cold War Foreign Policy Series: Special Study3 (September 2012), vii–41. * *


Primary historical sources

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Online sources

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External links

* , - {{DEFAULTSORT:United States Secretary Of Defense 1947 establishments in the United States Lists of members of the Cabinet of the United States, Defense, Secretary of Cabinet of the United States, Defense United States Secretaries of Defense, Defence ministers