The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) consist of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman, the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The collective body of the JCS is headed by the Chairman (or the Vice Chairman in the Chairman’s absence). The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military adviser to the President, Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council (NSC). Today, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have no executive authority to command combatant forces. The issue of executive authority was clearly resolved by the Goldwater-Nichols DOD Reorganization Act of 1986: “The Secretaries of the Military Departments shall assign all forces under their jurisdiction to unified and specified combatant commands to perform missions assigned to those commands…”; the chain of command “runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense; and from the Secretary of Defense to the commander of the combatant command.”
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