Joint Chiefs Of Staff

A major component in the complex organization of the Department of Defense (DoD) is the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) serve in an advisory capacity to the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense on all matters concerning the US military, and provide such assistance to the President and Secretary as required to allow them to carry out their command responsibilities. Additionally the JCS are responsible for the preparation of strategic and logistic plans including the development of Defense budgets, Military aid programmes, Industrial mobilization plans, Research and development programmes, and providing contingency plans for operational commanders. They are also required to review and comment on such service plans as devised by field commanders.

The JCS is composed of a chairman (a senior officer from one of the armed services who has no other military responsibilities during his term of office) and the three service chiefs of the US army, US Air Force plus the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). The commandant of the Marine Corps is not a voting member of the JCS but is permitted to participate in deliberations on matters in which the Marine Corps has an interest. The four members are appointed personally by the President subject to Senate approval. The Chairman serves for a two year term and, except in wartime, may only be reappointed once. The other three service chiefs serve for fixed non-renewable four year terms.

The JCS are assisted in their functions by the Office of the Joint Staff and the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (OJCS). These provide such staff studies as required to allow the service chiefs to reach their planning decisions. Intelligence information is also provided through the office of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

The JCS are restricted by law to provide only direction in operational matters. They are specifically restricted from issuing orders to field commanders unless given authority to do so by the President through the Secretary of Defense.

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