The command authority of a CINC is termed combatant command (COCOM). It resides
only in a unified or specified commanders. It is not shared with other echelons of command, and is not
transferable. Combatant commanders exercise COCOM through service component commanders
functional component commanders, subordinate unified commanders, commanders of single service
forces, and commander's of JTFs.
In peacetime, a CINC's responsibilities are consistent with legislation, military
department and service policy, budgetary considerations, and local conditions. Disputes are referred to
the military department for consideration. Failure to receive timely resolution there allows a CINC to
forward a matter through the CJCS to the SECDEF for resolution.
During crisis or war, a CINCs authority and responsibility are expanded, to
include the use of facilities and supplies of all forces under his command. Joint logistics doctrine
developed by the CJCS establishes wartime logistic policy.
Operational control (OPCON) is transferable command authority that may be exercised
by commanders at any echelon. OPCON is inherent in COCOM. It is the authority to perform those
command functions over subordinate forces. It involves organizing and using commands and forces,
assigning tasks, setting goals, and giving authoritative direction needed to do the mission. It includes
direction over all aspects of military operations and joint training needed to do assigned missions. It
should be exercised through the commanders of subordinate organizations. OPCON usually provides
full authority to organize commands and forces. It also provides full authority to use those forces as the
OPCON commander deems necessary to do assigned missions. OPCON does not include authoritative
direction for logistics or matters of administration, discipline, internal organization, or unit training.
Tactical control (TACON) is used in executing operations. It is the detailed and, usually,
local direction and control of movements or maneuvers needed to do assigned missions or tasks. It
provides sufficient authority for controlling and directing the military operations of designated forces or
the tactical use of combat support assets. It does not provide organizational authority or authoritative
directions for administration and logistics. Commanders at any echelon may exercise TACON.
Administrative control (ADCON) is directing or exercising authority over subordinate or
other organizations on administrative matters. These include personnel management, supply, services,
and other matters not included in the operational missions of subordinate or other organizations.
ADCON is often called "command less OPCON."
Joint staff organization.
A joint staff is the staff of a commander of a unified command, specified command, JTF,
or subordinate joint component. It has major elements of more than one service. Each service has
developed a different concept of how its staff should be organized. However, the basic staff concept is
consistent among all services.