Why is everybody all a buzz about a chain of command being broken in the federal government? Indeed, there are other people (lots of other people) who will eagerly step up in an emergency, especially in a military or defense situation.
Now, there’s a civics issue involved here, so let’s discuss it.
What is the chain of command in a defense situation? I need clarity on this issue. As best as I can determine, we must have a civilian Cabinet Secretary of Defense at the top of the command, right under the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. So, it looks like this:
Chain of Command
Secretary of Defense (a civilian whom the Senate must approve)
Deputy Secretary of Defense
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Office of the Inspector General
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Military Departments (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Space Force)
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Senior Officers in each Military Branch
For those who wonder about the Coast Guard, it is a federal law enforcement agency and part of the Armed Forces. It is not a part of the Dept. of Defense.
What the Constitution Says
When the head of a department is unavailable, there must be another person in charge. Look back up at the chain of command. Who is at the top of the list? The Commander-in-Chief must know when someone cannot fulfill their duties, even for a few minutes. Why? Because our safety-yours and mine- is at stake. Our Founders took this very seriously.
Article II, Section 2: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices…”
“The Congress shall have Power To . . . raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years…” is found in Article I, Section 8, clause 12.
Article I, Section 8, clause 13 “[The Congress shall have Power . . . ] To provide and maintain a Navy; “
Sixth In Line for the Presidency
According to the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the Secretary of Defense is sixth in line for the presidency.
While we have various levels of capable people to “mind the store” in the absence of a top official, it is safe to conclude that the names and whereabouts of the personnel in charge must be known at all times. It’s part of the job description, and all who are responsible for the Defense of our country know this. Ultimately, We the People must know the Chain of Command is secure. Surely, if we don’t know, our enemies do.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.🇺🇸
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