The United States Navy


The Naval Services comprise the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps, two independent military services within the Department of the Navy. Both are part of a dual command structure: an administrative structure that originates with the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps; and an operational structure that originates with the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Unified Commanders-in-Chief (CinCs). This structure relieves Fleet and task force commanders from the administrative and procurement burdens that would otherwise detract from their primary task — the command of combat forces.

Administrative Organization

The administrative organization of the Navy and Marine Corps begins with the Secretary of Defense and extends through the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC). The latter are “double-hatted” as both the chiefs of their respective services and as members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Secretary of the Navy, the CNO, and the Commandant are charged by the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act with the responsibility for supporting the CinCs. They are responsible for logistics, maintenance, personnel management, procurement of systems and supplies, and research and development. To accomplish these tasks, each has headquarters staff organizations.

The Navy’s administrative chain of command flows from the President and the Secretary of Defense to the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations, and to the Commanders-in-Chief of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, and the Commander, Naval Reserve Force. The CinC Atlantic Fleet and CinC Pacific Fleet function in both the administrative and operational commands; in the latter role, as a naval component commander. These second- echelon commanders have responsibility for the readiness of their forces, which are operationally subordinate to the Unified Commands. Readiness includes maintenance and logistics as well as the assignment and training of personnel.

Each of the two Fleet Commanders-in-Chief has five subordinate “type” commanders who supervise specific categories of forces and activities: Naval Air Force, Naval Surface Force, Submarine Force, Training Command, and a Naval Construction Brigade. The Commander, Naval Reserve Force commands the Naval Reserve through two lower-echelon commands, the Naval Air Reserve and Naval Surface Reserve forces.

Type commanders primarily supervise personnel, training, logistics, maintenance, and other support to ships, aircraft, and units.

The Marine Forces structure — the Marine Forces, Atlantic (MARFORLANT) and Marine Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC) — serves as a de facto administrative command structure.

Each operational Navy and Marine Corps unit and shore facility is led by a commanding officer or officer-in-charge who is ultimately responsible for its mission and proper administration. Figure 17 [Use your Back button to return here] shows the location of major Navy and Marine Corps command activities.

Operational Organizations


The Navy’s operating forces are subordinate to the Unified Commands. Most naval forces are assigned to the naval component commanders of four Unified Commands, as shown here:
Unified Command   Naval Component       Operating Fleet
USA Command       Atlantic Fleet        Second Fleet
European Command  Naval Forces, Europe  Sixth Fleet(Occasionally Second Fleet)
Pacific Command   Pacific Fleet         Third Fleet, Seventh Fleet 
Central Command   Naval Forces,         Fifth Fleet, plus Sixth or Seventh Fleet	
                  Central Command       assets as required

The naval component commanders are full admirals (except COMUSNAVCENT, who is a vice admiral) with shore-based staffs. The numbered Fleet commanders are vice admirals, whose staffs can be embarked on a flagship or based ashore.

Marine Corps

Marine Corps operating forces are provided from MARFORLANT and MARFORPAC. Each of the four Unified Commands is assigned a Marine Component for planning purposes and is provided task-organized Marine forces for execution of specific operational plans. The Marine Corps principal operating force in the eastern United States is II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), located at bases in North and South Carolina; in the western United States, I MEF is based in California; in the western Pacific, III MEF, which was previously based in Okinawa and Japan, has been disbanded, and replaced by the I MEF (Forward) Command Element, which retains all of the functions previously found in III MEF. The MEFs provide a Marine Expeditionary Unit — Special Operations Capable [MEU(SOC)] for afloat forward deployment.

Each MEF can be considered the administrative structure for Marine units deployed in Marine Air-Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs). The MAGTF is the basic building block of Marine Corps operating forces, and, like the parent MEF, is an integrated, combined-arms force comprising command, ground combat, aviation combat, and service support elements. The Marine Corps Reserve consists of an additional ground division, aircraft wing, and support group. Regardless of size — from relatively small, special purpose MAGTFs to multi-division size Marine Expeditionary Forces — all MAGTFs are “expeditionary” forces, capable of carrying out specific missions with organic support. For example, MEFs, comprising 40,000 or more troops, are capable of amphibious assaults and sustained operations for up to 60 days without replenishment of ammunition, food, water, and other supplies.

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