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April 14, 2024

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Department of Defense

POSTED: January 09, 2009, 12:00 am

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Secretary: Leon Panetta
Department of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1155

The Secretary of Defense is the principal defense policy adviser to the President and is responsible for the formulation of general defense policy and policy related to DOD, and for the execution of approved policy. Under the direction of the President, the Secretary exercises authority, direction, and control over the Department of Defense.

Background: The Department of Defense is responsible for providing the military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of the country. The major elements of these forces are the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, consisting of about 1.4 million men and women on active duty. They are backed, in case of emergency, by the 1.3 million members of the Reserve and National Guard. In addition, there are about 700,000 civilian employees in the Defense Department. Under the President, who is also Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense exercises authority, direction, and control over the Department, which includes the separately organized military departments of Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Joint Chiefs of Staff providing military advice, the combatant commands, and defense agencies and field activities established for specific purposes.

Historical Note: The National Security Act Amendments of 1949 redesignated the National Military Establishment as the Department of Defense and established it as an executive department (10 U.S.C. 111) hosted by the Secretary of Defense.

Agencies under Jurisdiction:

Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Joint Chiefs of Staff 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 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military adviser to the President, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense. The other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are military advisers who may provide additional information upon request from the President, the National Security Council, or the Secretary of Defense. They may also submit their advice when it does not agree with that of the Chairman.

Source: United States Government Manual

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