A joint task force (JTF) has assigned or attached elements of two or more of the
services. It is established by the SECDEF or by the commander of a unified or specified command or a
subordinate unified command.
A joint staff is the staff of a unified or specified command or a JTF. It includes
members from the services that make up the force.
The military departments assign forces to the unified and specified commands. The
responsibility for their support and administration is assigned by the SECDEF to a military department.
Operational control of US combat forces is assigned to the unified and specified commands. The chain
of command runs from the President to the SECDEF, to the unified and specified CINCs. The president
or SECDEF sends orders and other communications through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Service component commands are designated as Army Forces, Naval Forces, or Air
Forces of the appropriate command. They are organized to support the missions of the unified or
specified command. Headquarters staff and facilities for component commanders are provided by the
Command and control.
The Goldwater-Nichols DOD Reorganization Act of 1986 had two intents. One was to
clarify the command line to the CINCs. The other was to preserve civilian control of the military. The
act states that the operational chain of command runs from the President to the SECDEF, to the
combatant commanders. However, a provision permits the President to authorize communications
through the CJCS. Thus, DOD Directive 5100.1 directed that communications between the NCA and
the combatant commanders pass through the CJCS.
The 1986 act made CINCs responsible to the NCA for the performance of their assigned
missions. With that came the authority, direction, and control that Congress considered necessary to
execute that responsibility. The act defines the command authority of a CINC to:
Prescribe the chain of command within his command.
Give direction to subordinate commands. This includes all aspects of military
operations, joint training, and logistics.
Organize commands and forces to carry out assigned missions.
Coordinate and approve administration, support, and discipline.
Exercise authority to select subordinate commanders and combatant command