The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is by law the highest ranking military officer overall in the United States Armed Forces , and the principal military adviser to the President of the United States. The Chairman outranks all respective heads of each service branch but does not have operational command authority over them or their service branches . He leads the meetings and coordinates the efforts of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), comprising the Chairman, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chiefs of Staff of the United States Army and United States Air Force, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps . The Joint Chiefs of Staff have offices in The Pentagon.
Although the office of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is considered very important and highly prestigious, neither the Chairman nor the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a body have any command authority over combatant forces. The chain of command runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense directly to the commanders of the Unified Combatant Commands . However the chiefs do have authority over personnel assignments and oversite over resources and personnel allocated to the combatant commands within their respective services. The Chairman may also transmit communications to the combatant commanders from the President and Secretary of Defense as well as allocate additional funding to the combatant commanders if necessary . He also performs all other functions prescribed under or allocates those duties and responsibilities to other officers in the joint staff under his name.
Since 2005, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff has been advised on enlisted personnel matters by the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman who serves as a communication conduit between the Chairman and the senior enlisted advisors (sergeants major, command master chief petty officers, and command chief master sergeants) of the combatant commands.
Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, USN, served as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy (July 20, 1942–March 21 1949). Leahy's office was the precursor to the post of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
|Name||Photo||Branch||Term began||Term ended|
|1.||FADM William D. Leahy||USN||July 20, 1942||March 21 1949|
|Name||Photo||Branch||Term began||Term ended||Appointed By|
|1.||General of the Army Omar Bradley||USA||August 16, 1949||August 15 1953||President Harry Truman|
|2.||ADM Arthur W. Radford||USN||August 15 1953||August 15 1957||President Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|3.||Gen Nathan F. Twining||USAF||August 15 1957||September 30, 1960||President Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|4.||GEN Lyman Lemnitzer||USA||October 1, 1960||September 30, 1962||President Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|5.||GEN Maxwell D. Taylor||USA||October 1, 1962||July 1, 1964||President John F. Kennedy|
|6.||GEN Earle Wheeler||USA||July 3, 1964||July 2, 1970||President Lyndon B. Johnson|
|7.||ADM Thomas H. Moorer||USN||July 2, 1970||July 1, 1974||President Richard Nixon|
|8.||Gen George S. Brown||USAF||July 1, 1974||June 20, 1978||President Richard Nixon|
|9.||Gen David C. Jones||USAF||June 21, 1978||June 18, 1982||President Jimmy Carter|
|10.||GEN John W. Vessey Jr.||USA||June 18, 1982||September 30, 1985||President Ronald Reagan|
|11.||ADM William J. Crowe, Jr.||USN||October 1, 1985||September 30, 1989||President Ronald Reagan|
|12.||GEN Colin Powell||USA||October 1, 1989||September 30, 1993||President George H.W. Bush|
|(acting)||ADM David E. Jeremiah||USN||October 1, 1993||October 24, 1993||President Bill Clinton|
|13.||GEN John Shalikashvili||USA||October 25, 1993||September 30, 1997||President Bill Clinton|
|14.||GEN Hugh Shelton||USA||October 1, 1997||September 30, 2001||President Bill Clinton|
|15.||Gen Richard B. Myers||USAF||October 1, 2001||September 30, 2005||President George W. Bush|
|16.||Gen Peter Pace||USMC||October 1, 2005||September 30, 2007||President George W. Bush|
|17.||ADM Michael Mullen||USN||October 1, 2007||Incumbent||President George W. Bush|
Note: The above list does not include FADM Leahy and ADM Jeremiah.