APPENDIX B — ORGANIZATION AND
STRUCTURE OF THE NAVAL SERVICES
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.
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
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.
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 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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