Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Commandant of the Marine Corps

Gen James F. Amos
since: October 22, 2010
First Samuel Nicholas
Formation November 28, 1775,
July 12, 1798


The Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) is normally the highest-ranking officer in the United States Marine Corps and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The CMC reports directly to the United States Secretary of the Navy and is responsible for ensuring the organization, policy, plans, and programs for the Marine Corps as well as advising the President, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and the Secretary of the Navy on matters involving the Marine Corps. Under the authority of the Secretary of the Navy, the CMC designates Marine personnel and resources to the commanders of Unified Combatant Commands. The commandant performs all other functions prescribed in Section 5043 in Title 10 of the United States Code or delegates those duties and responsibilities to other officers in his administration in his name. As with the other joint chiefs, the Commandant is an administrative position and has no operational command authority over United States Marine Corps forces.

The Commandant is nominated by the President for a four-year term of office and must be confirmed by the Senate. By statute, the Commandant is appointed as a four-star general while serving in office. "The Commandant is directly responsible to the Secretary of the Navy for the total performance of the Marine Corps. This includes the administration, discipline, internal organization, training, requirements, efficiency, and readiness of the service. The Commandant is also responsible for the operation of the Marine Corps material support system." Since 1801, the home of the Commandant has been located in the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. and his main offices are in Arlington, Virginia.


The responsibilities of the Commandant are outlined in Title 10, Section 5043 the United States Code and is "Subject to the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of the Navy". As stated in the U.S. Code, the Commandant shall preside over the Headquarters, Marine Corps, transmit the plans and recommendations of the Headquarters, Marine Corps, to the Secretary and advise the Secretary with regard to such plans and recommendations, after approval of the plans or recommendations of the Headquarters, Marine Corps, by the Secretary, act as the agent of the Secretary in carrying them into effect, exercise supervision, consistent with the authority assigned to commanders of unified or specified combatant commands under chapter 6 of this title, over such of the members and organizations of the Marine Corps and the Navy as the Secretary determines, perform the duties prescribed for him by section 171 of this title and other provisions of law and perform such other military duties, not otherwise assigned by law, as are assigned to him by the President, the Secretary of Defense, or the Secretary of the Navy.

Pay Grade: The salary for CMC is $20,587.80 per month.

List of commandants

Thirty-five men have served as the Commandant of the Marine Corps, including the current Commandant James F. Amos. The first Commandant was Samuel Nicholas, who took office as a captain, though there was no office titled "Commandant" at the time, and the Second Continental Congress had authorized that the senior-most Marine could take a rank up to Colonel. The longest-serving was Archibald Henderson, sometimes referred to as the "Grand old man of the Marine Corps" due to his thirty-nine-year tenure. In the 236-year history of the United States Marine Corps, only one Commandant has ever been fired from the job: Anthony Gale, as a result of a court-martial in 1820.

# Picture Name Rank Start of tenure End of tenure Notes

NicholasSamuel Nicholas O-04 Major 01775-11-28November 28, 1775 01783-08-27August 27, 1783 The first de facto Commandant for his role as the senior-most officer of the Continental Marines.

BurrowsWilliam W. Burrows O-05 Lieutenant Colonel 01798-07-12July 12, 1798 01804-03-06March 6, 1804 The first de jure Commandant, he started many important organizations within the Marine Corps, including the United States Marine Band

WhartonFranklin Wharton O-05 Lieutenant Colonel 01804-03-07March 7, 1804 01818-09-01September 1, 1818 The first Commandant to be court-martialed (acquitted) and the first to occupy the Commandant's House at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.

Henderson1Archibald Henderson (acting) O-05 Major 01818-09-16September 16, 1818 01819-03-02March 2, 1819 Acting Commandant, would later serve as Commandant from 1820 to 1859
4 x GaleAnthony Gale O-05 Lieutenant Colonel 01819-03-03March 3, 1819 01820-10-08October 8, 1820 The second Commandant to be court-martialed and the only Commandant to be fired. Burial location is unknown and no photos have ever been located.

Henderson2Archibald Henderson O-07 Brevet Brigadier General 01820-10-17October 17, 1820 01859-01-06January 6, 1859 The longest-serving Commandant; known as the "Grand old man of the Marine Corps"; known for his role in expanding the Marine Corps' mission to include expeditionary warfare and rapid deployment

HarrisJohn Harris O-06Colonel 01859-01-07January 7, 1859 01864-05-01May 1, 1864 Commandant during most of the American Civil War

ZeilinJacob Zeilin O-07Brigadier General 01864-06-10June 10, 1864 01876-10-31October 31, 1876 Became the Marine Corps' first general officer, officially approved of the design of the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor as the emblem of the Marine Corps

McCawleyCharles G. McCawley O-06Colonel 01876-11-01November 1, 1876 01891-01-29January 29, 1891 Chose "Semper Fidelis", Latin for "Always Faithful", as the official Marine Corps motto

HeywoodCharles Heywood O-08 Major General 01891-06-30June 30, 1891 01903-10-02October 2, 1903 Was the first Marine to hold the rank of Major General

ElliottGeorge F. Elliott O-08 Major General 01903-10-03October 3, 1903 01910-11-30November 30, 1910 Successfully resisted attempts to remove seagoing Marines from capital ships and to merge the Corps into the United States Army

BiddleWilliam P. Biddle O-08 Major General 01911-02-03February 3, 1911 01914-02-24February 24, 1914 Established the Advanced Base Force, forerunner of today's Fleet Marine Force

BarnettGeorge Barnett O-08 Major General 01914-02-25February 25, 1914 01920-06-30June 30, 1920 Served as Commandant during World War I, which caused a huge increase in personnel during his term

LejeuneJohn A. Lejeune O-08 Major General 01920-07-01July 1, 1920 01929-03-04March 4, 1929 Started the tradition of the birthday ball with Marine Corps Order 47, still read annually

NevilleWendell C. Neville O-08 Major General 01929-03-05March 5, 1929 01930-07-08July 8, 1930 Recipient of the Medal of Honor and Marine Corps Brevet Medal

FullerBen H. Fuller O-08 Major General 01930-07-09July 9, 1930 01933-02-28February 28, 1933 Consolidated the Fleet Marine Force concept

RussellJohn H. Russell, Jr. O-08 Major General 01934-03-01March 1, 1934 01936-11-30November 30, 1936 The system of seniority promotions of officers was changed to advancement by selection, the 1st Marine Brigade was withdrawn from Haiti, and the number of ships carrying Marine detachments continued to increase.

HolcombThomas Holcomb O-09 Lieutenant General 01936-12-01December 1, 1936 01943-12-31December 31, 1943 Expanded the Corps almost 20 times in size for World War II and integrated women into the Corps. The first Marine to be advanced (after retirement) to the rank of General

VandegriftAlexander Vandegrift O-09 General 01944-01-01January 1, 1944 01947-12-31December 31, 1947 Recipient of the Medal of Honor. Was the first active duty Marine to hold the rank of General, resisted attempts to merge the Corps with the Army

CatesClifton B. Cates O-10General 01948-01-01January 1, 1948 01951-12-31December 31, 1951 Recipient of the Navy Cross

ShepherdLemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. O-10General 01952-01-01January 1, 1952 01955-12-31December 31, 1955 First Commandant to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff

PateRandolph M. Pate O-10General 01956-01-01January 1, 1956 01959-12-31December 31, 1959

ShoupDavid M. Shoup O-10General 01960-01-01January 1, 1960 01963-12-31December 31, 1963 Recipient of the Medal of Honor

GreeneWallace M. Greene, Jr. O-10General 01964-01-01January 1, 1964 01967-12-31December 31, 1967 Oversaw the proliferation of the Corps in the Vietnam War

ChapmanLeonard F. Chapman, Jr. O-10General 01968-01-01January 1, 1968 01971-12-31December 31, 1971 Was the Commandant during the Vietnam War

CushmanRobert E. Cushman, Jr. O-10General 01972-01-01January 1, 1972 01975-06-30June 30, 1975 Saw the last of the Marines leave Vietnam and the peacetime strength fall to 194,000 while still maintaining readiness

WilsonLouis H. Wilson, Jr. O-10General 01975-07-01July 1, 1975 01979-06-30June 30, 1979 Recipient of the Medal of Honor

BarrowRobert H. Barrow O-10General 01979-07-01July 1, 1979 01983-06-30June 30, 1983 Was the first Commandant to serve as a full member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acquired approval of production of the American-modified Harrier aircraft, and several other improvements to enhance the effectiveness of the Marine Corps

KelleyPaul X. Kelley O-10General 01983-07-01July 1, 1983 01987-06-30June 30, 1987 In 2007, General Kelley published in the Washington Post an opinion piece that had a negative opinion on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques

GrayAlfred M. Gray, Jr. O-10General 01987-07-01July 1, 1987 01991-06-30June 30, 1991 The Alfred M. Gray Research Center at Marine Corps Base Quantico houses the Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections, the Quantico Base Library, and the research library for the Marine Corps University.
As a reminder that the primary role of every Marine is a rifleman, he had his official photograph taken in the Camouflage Utility Uniform, the only Commandant to have done so.

MundyCarl E. Mundy, Jr. O-10General 01991-07-01July 1, 1991 01995-06-30June 30, 1995 Is currently on the board of directors for General Dynamics and is the Chairman of the Marine Corps University foundation

KrulakCharles C. Krulak O-10General 01995-07-01July 1, 1995 01999-06-30June 30, 1999 Was the son of Marine Corps Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak. Came up with the concept of the 'Strategic Corporal' and the 'Three Block War'.

JonesJames L. Jones O-10General 01999-07-01July 1, 1999 02003-01-12January 12, 2003 Oversaw the Marine Corps' development of MARPAT camouflage uniforms and the adoption of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program; later became the first Marine officer to serve as Commander, U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), then as National Security Advisor for the Obama Administration.

HageeMichael W. Hagee O-10General 02003-01-13January 13, 2003 02006-11-13November 13, 2006 Guided the Corps through the initial years of the Iraq War

ConwayJames T. Conway O-10General 02006-11-14November 14, 2006 02010-10-22October 22, 2010 Commanded Marines forces in the Iraq War and oversaw expansion of the Corps to 202,000 personnel

AmosJames F. Amos O-10General 02010-10-22October 22, 2010 Incumbent First United States Naval Aviator to serve as Commandant

June 25, 1950

On June 25, 1950, North Korean troops poured across the 38th Parallel in strength and war had returned.  President Truman announced that the nation was not at war, but ships, planes and men were in motion, and in the gathering of “a fire brigade,” a token force of Marines was sent to the front to aid American Army forces.  The United Nations buzzed briefly before taking action; Puller recognized all the signs.  He immediately asked for a modification of his orders and said urgently to Headquarters:

“Attention is invited to the fact that I served as an officer in Haiti and Nicaragua, and in the Pacific Theater for eight years prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  This experience will prove of value in an assignment to combat duty in Korea.”


This was not enough, and he went to the cable office and at his own expense sent appeals to the Commandant, the Assistant Commandant, and the commander of the First Marine Division, begging for assignment to Korea.  The cables cost him nineteen dollars.


In the days of waiting he saw that the South Korean battalion commander who was an early victim of the Communist attack had been tragically prophetic; the North Koreans were still cutting their way at will through large forces of South Koreans and brushing aside with almost the same ease the first American forces to be thrown against them.  It appeared that the Communists were rolling toward complete victory.