U.S. Department of Defense

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is a stub and thus not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
Catalogs [?]
This editable Main Article is under development and subject to a disclaimer.

The armed forces of the United States of America, along with the civil servants supporting them, form the Department of Defense (also called U.S. Department of Defense and abbreviated to DoD). It is led by a civilian Secretary of Defense appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Secretary of Defense

The Secretary of Defense heads the department and is a statutory member of the National Security Council and the U.S. President's Cabinet.

National Command Authority

The President and Secretary of Defense, or their successors, constitute the National Command Authority (NCA). Only the NCA can order the use of nuclear weapons. Military units in the field are almost always authorized, by classified rules of engagement, to use force in self-defense. There has been a conflict, since President Theodore Roosevelt sent out the "Great White Fleet", between Presidentialand Congressional authority to order troops to take offensive action. This conflict comes from the Constitutionally mandated authority of the Congress "to make war"[1] and the President's authority as commander-in-chief. [2]

Office of the Secretary of Defense

A variety of offices, under officials of rank of Deputy, Assistant, or Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, report to the Secretary of Defense. The second highest official is the Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Armed Forces

The uniformed, armed services of the United States are under two lines of authority, both descending from the NCA.

Preparation for operations

Traditional service branches:

prepare military units and personnel for operations. The United States Coast Guard, while formally under the Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense, may be brought under Navy authority. In this line of command, the services report to the professional head of their service:

Deployment and operations

It is the second line of command that actually controls the operational use of joint forces under various multiservice Unified Combatant Commands:


In 1789 the new U.S. government created a War Department and in 1798 a Navy department, each headed by a cabinet-level secretary. This arrangement reflected the military capabilities of the time (land and sea).

The National Security Act of 1947,[3] created the "National Military Establishment", which joined together the War Department, Department of the Navy and the newly independent Air Force. Its name was changed in 1949 to Department of Defense. The Congressional Act created the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and established civilian positions as the heads of each branch of the military. Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force were established, each carrying the equivalent rank of Assistant Secretary of Defense. The United States Marine Corps remained a component reporting to the civilian Secretary of the Navy.

The 1947 act also created the National Security Council, Joint Chiefs of Staff, United States Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency. The Air Force celebrates its "birthday" each year based on the date the National Security Act was signed into law.


In February 2008 President George W. Bush sent Congress a DoD budget request is for $515.4 billion – a $35.9 billion increase over the 2008 level. The total is about 3.4% of U.S. gross domestic product. The total federal budget request for fiscal 2009 is $3.1 trillion. The budget funds the operations, training, recruiting and equipping of 2.2 million personnel in the Defense Department. Bush's budget allocates $140.7 billion for the Army, $149.2 billion for the Navy and Marine Corps and $143.8 billion for the Air Force.[4] The House passed a revised budget by a voice vote in May, moving the bill to the Senate. In the House version appropriations would increase 3.25% to $602 billion, with $70 billion targeted for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Further funds for the war are tied up in supplemental spending bills. The DoD's Fiscal Year 2010 budget was roughly $700B, which consists of the baseline budget plus funds to fight the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. [5]