The Secretary of the United States Army is a civilian official who works for the Department of Defense as the senior Army leader working under the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of the Army is responsible for all things related to the function and readiness of the Army from personnel to financial matters.
Out of necessity, the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps were created in 1775 as the American Revolution began to take shape.
The earliest version of today’s Department of Defense was known in 1789 as the War Department, and over time it was determined that the various branches of military service needed to be unified and controlled by a single department of the federal government,
DoD sources state that this goal was achieved in 1947 with the National Military Establishment, which gave way to the founding of the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Air Force. All branches of military service were placed under the control of a new position known as the Secretary of Defense.
In 1949, the National Military Establishment was re-branded as the Department of Defense. Military service secretaries were for a time given cabinet-level positions, but with the establishment of the DoD, the Secretary of the Army and other service secretaries would be non-cabinet level.
The very first Secretary of the Army was Kenneth Claiborne Royall, who served under President Harry S. Truman from September 18, 1947 – April 27, 1949. There are too many Secretaries of the Army to list them all here but they all share one trait in common–until 2021, all were men. That changed on May 28, 2021 when Christine Wormuth was sworn in as the 25th Secretary of the Army.
Wormuth has an impressive resume. Before her confirmation, Wormuth was the Director of the International Defense and Security Center at the RAND Corporation.
Her bio on the Army official site adds that from December 2010 until August 2012 she was a special assistant to the president and senior director for Defense at the National Security Council.
Her credits also include working as the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, and Forces. Wormuth also was a leader on the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review. She is a retired Navy officer.
The Office of the Secretary of the Army
The Office of the Secretary of the Army includes the office of the Undersecretary of the Army, plus the assistant secretaries of the Army, the general counsel of the Department of the Army, as well as the Army Reserve Forces Policy Committee. The organizational structure includes:
- Under Secretary of the Army
- Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology)
- Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works)
- Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller)
- Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy and Environment)
- Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs)
- General Counsel of the Army
- Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army
- Inspector General of the Army
Selection of the Secretary of the Army
Duties and selection of the Secretary of the Army are spelled out in 10 U.S. Code § 7013 – Secretary of the Army, which defines the office as follows:
“There is a Secretary of the Army, appointed from civilian life by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate”. The Army Secretary should be “to the greatest extent practicable”, selected “by reason of background and experience, including persons with appropriate management or leadership experience”.
It would make sense to select a Secretary of the Army directly from the ranks of highly experienced Army officers, but there is a provision in federal law that restricts this possibility. 10 U.S. Code states clearly, “A person may not be appointed as Secretary of the Army within five years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.”
Responsibilities Of The Secretary Of The Army
10 U.S. Code 7013 lists the priorities for this position, which include:
- Construction, outfitting, and repair of military equipment
- Construction, maintenance, and repair of buildings, structures, and utilities and the acquisition of real property and interests in real property
The Secretary of the Army has responsibilities to the Secretary of Defense, which include but are not limited to:
- Creating policies and programs by the Department of the Army
- Implementation of policy, program, and budget decisions and instructions of the President or the Secretary of Defense relating to the functions of the Department of the Army
- Fulfilling current and future operational requirements unified and specified combatant commands
- Establishing cooperation and coordination between the Department of the Army and the other military departments and agencies of the Department of Defense
The Secretary of the Army serves alongside the other service secretaries including the Secretaries of the Air Force and the Navy. The Marine Corps falls under the Secretary Of The Navy’s jurisdiction.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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