National Command Authority
National Command Authority
The national command authorities of a nation are the persons or officeholders (or their duly deputized alternates or successors) who have the legal power to direct military activities. In almost all national governments, ultimate national command authority rests in a single office or individual, but there are almost always others involved in carrying out military policy. In the United States, the national command authorities are the president, the secretary of defense, and/or their duly deputized alternates or successors.
One of the hallmarks of the American system, and that of virtually all constitutional democracies, is civilian control over the military. Therefore, ultimate military authority rests in the civilian chain of command, the national command authority. Highest in the chain of command, of course, is the president. However, the chief executive oversees so many aspects of national policy that even in wartime, his duties necessarily force his attention to be directed toward other matters. Therefore, the secretary of defense plays a critical role in the oversight of military action. He or she answers to the president, and in turn guides military action along two lines of authority.
On the one hand are military forces not specifically assigned to combatant commands. These answer to the chiefs of the services, who report to the secretaries of the military departments (Army, Navy, and Air Force). The secretaries are in turn subordinate to the secretary of defense. On the other hand, there are combatant commands, whose commanders answer directly to the secretary of defense. During the Persian Gulf War of 1991, the distinction between these two lines of authority became particularly noticeable in the form of the war's two most prominent military figures: General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of allied forces on the ground, and General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
█ FURTHER READING:
Richelson, Jeffrey T. The U.S. Intelligence Community, 4th ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999.
Trask, Roger R., and Alfred Goldberg. The Department of Defense, 1947–1997: Organization and Leaders. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997.
"National Command Authority." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Encyclopedia.com. (January 17, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/national-command-authority
"National Command Authority." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Retrieved January 17, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/national-command-authority
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.