Commandant of the Marine Corps
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Commandant of the Marine Corps

Commandant of the Marine Corps
Flag of the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.svg
Flag of the commandant of the Marine Corps
Gen. David H. Berger.jpg
General David H. Berger

since 11 July 2019
Department of the Navy
Member ofJoint Chiefs of Staff
Reports toSecretary of Defense
Secretary of the Navy
SeatThe Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Term length4 years
Renewable once (In time of war or during a national emergency declared by Congress)
Constituting instrument10 U.S.C. § 5043
Formation28 November 1775de facto,
12 July 1798de jure
First holderSamuel Nicholas
DeputyAssistant Commandant of the Marine Corps
WebsiteOfficial website

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.[1] 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,[1] the Homeland Security Council,[1] 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.[2] The commandant performs all other functions prescribed in Section 5043 in Title 10 of the United States Code[3] 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.[3] By statute, the commandant is appointed as a four-star general while serving in office.[3] "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."[4] Since 1801, the official residence of the commandant has been located in the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., and his main offices are in Arlington County, Virginia.


The responsibilities of the commandant are outlined in Title 10, Section 5043, the United States Code[3] and the position 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".[3]

List of commandants

38[5] men have served as the commandant of the Marine Corps. The first commandant was Samuel Nicholas, who took office as a captain,[5] 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.[6] 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.[5] In the 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.[5]

# Picture Name Rank Term Notes
Took office Left office Duration
1 black & white portrait of Samuel Nicholas NicholasSamuel Nicholas O-04 Major 7 years, 272 days The first de facto Commandant for his role as the senior-most officer of the Continental Marines.[7]
2 black & white portrait of William W. Burrows BurrowsWilliam W. Burrows O-05 Lieutenant colonel 5 years, 238 days The first de jure Commandant, he started many important organizations within the Marine Corps, including the United States Marine Band
3.03 black & white portrait of Franklin Wharton WhartonFranklin Wharton O-05 Lieutenant colonel 14 years, 178 days The first commandant to be court-martialed (acquitted) and the first to occupy the commandant's house at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.
3.5 black & white portrait of Archibald Henderson Henderson1Archibald Henderson
O-05 Major 167 days Acting Commandant, would later serve as Commandant from 1820 to 1859
GaleAnthony Gale O-05 Lieutenant Colonel 1 year, 219 days 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.
5 black & white portrait of Archibald Henderson Henderson2Archibald Henderson O-07 Brevet Brigadier General 38 years, 81 days 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[8]
6 black & white photograph of John Harris HarrisJohn Harris O-06Colonel 5 years, 115 days Commandant during most of the American Civil War
7 black & white photograph of Jacob Zeilin ZeilinJacob Zeilin O-07Brigadier General 3 years, 143 days 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
8 black & white photograph of Charles G. McCawley McCawleyCharles G. McCawley O-06Colonel 23 years, 89 days Chose "Semper Fidelis", Latin for "Always Faithful", as the official Marine Corps motto
9 black & white portrait of Charles Heywood HeywoodCharles Heywood O-08 Major General 12 years, 94 days Was the first Marine to hold the rank of Major General
10 black & white portrait of George F. Elliott ElliottGeorge F. Elliott O-08 Major General 7 years, 58 days Successfully resisted attempts to remove seagoing Marines from capital ships and to merge the Corps into the United States Army
11 black & white photograph of William P. Biddle BiddleWilliam P. Biddle O-08 Major General 3 years, 21 days Established the Advanced Base Force, forerunner of today's Fleet Marine Force
12 black & white portrait of George Barnett BarnettGeorge Barnett O-08 Major General 6 years, 127 days Served as Commandant during World War I, which caused a huge increase in personnel during his term
13 black & white portrait of John A. Lejeune LejeuneJohn A. Lejeune O-08 Major General 8 years, 246 days Started the tradition of the birthday ball with Marine Corps Order 47, still read annually. Commanded a US Army division (the 2nd Infantry Division) in combat during World War I.
14 black & white portrait of Wendall C. Neville NevilleWendell C. Neville O-08 Major General 1 year, 125 days Recipient of the Medal of Honor and Marine Corps Brevet Medal
15 black & white photograph of Ben H. Fuller FullerBen H. Fuller O-08 Major General 3 years, 234 days Consolidated the Fleet Marine Force concept
16 black & white photograph of John H. Russell Jr. RussellJohn H. Russell Jr. O-08 Major General 2 years, 274 days 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.
17 black & white photograph of Thomas Holcomb HolcombThomas Holcomb O-09 Lieutenant General 7 years, 30 days 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
18 black & white photograph of Alexander A. Vandegrift VandegriftAlexander Vandegrift O-09 General 3 years, 364 days 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
19 black & white photograph of Clifton B. Cates CatesClifton B. Cates O-10General 3 years, 364 days Recipient of the Navy Cross. Commandant during early stage of the Korean War.
20 black & white photograph of Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. ShepherdLemuel C. Shepherd Jr. O-10General 3 years, 364 days Recipient of the Navy Cross and last World War I veteran to be Commandant. First Commandant to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Commandant during the Korean War.
21 black & white photograph of Randolph M. Pate PateRandolph M. Pate O-10General 3 years, 364 days Commandant between U.S. involvement in the Korean War and Vietnam War.
22 black & white photograph of David M. Shoup ShoupDavid M. Shoup O-10General 3 years, 364 days Recipient of the Medal of Honor. Opposed U.S. involvement in South Vietnam based on strategy and undue influence of corporations and military officials in foreign policy. Historians consider Shoup's criticisms to be among the most pointed and high-profile leveled by a veteran against the Vietnam War.
23 black & white photograph of Wallace M. Greene Jr. GreeneWallace M. Greene Jr. O-10General 3 years, 364 days Oversaw the expansion of the Corps role in the Vietnam War
24 black & white photograph of Leonard F. Chapman Jr. ChapmanLeonard F. Chapman Jr. O-10General 3 years, 364 days Was the commandant during the final years of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. During his period in command, the III Marine Amphibious Force withdrew from Vietnam and the strength of the Corps dropped from a peak of 289,000 to 198,000.
25 black & white photograph of Robert E. Cushman Jr. CushmanRobert E. Cushman Jr. O-10General 3 years, 180 days Oversaw the withdrawal of the Marines from Vietnam and a decline in the Corps' peacetime strength to 194,000
26 Color of Louis H. Wilson Jr. WilsonLouis H. Wilson Jr. O-10General 3 years, 364 days Recipient of the Medal of Honor for capture of Guam
27 color photograph of Robert H. Barrow BarrowRobert H. Barrow O-10General 3 years, 364 days Last World War II veteran to be Commandant. 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
28 Color photograph of Paul X. Kelley KelleyPaul X. Kelley O-10General 3 years, 364 days Commandant when the Marine Barracks bombing occurred in Beirut during the 1982-84 multinational force peacekeeping mission under the Reagan Administration. In 2007, General Kelley published in the Washington Post an opinion piece that had a negative opinion on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques
29 color photograph of Alfred M. Gray Jr., the only Marine in this list wearing utilities instead of a service or dress uniform GrayAlfred M. Gray Jr. O-10General 3 years, 364 days 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.
30 color photograph of Carl E. Mundy Jr. MundyCarl E. Mundy Jr. O-10General 3 years, 364 days After retirement, he served as president and CEO of the United Service Organizations (USO), and was the chairman of the Marine Corps University Foundation.
31 color photograph of Charles C. Krulak KrulakCharles C. Krulak O-10General 3 years, 364 days 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'. Introduced The Crucible, a final test of Marine recruits.
32 color photograph of James L. Jones JonesJames L. Jones O-10General 3 years, 195 days 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.
33 color photograph of Michael W. Hagee HageeMichael W. Hagee O-10General 3 years, 304 days Guided the Corps through the initial years of the Iraq War
34 color photograph of James T. Conway ConwayJames T. Conway O-10General 3 years, 343 days Commanded Marines forces in the Iraq War and oversaw expansion of the Corps to 202,000 personnel.
First Commandant in nearly 40 years to have not served in the Vietnam War.
35 Official portrait from Amos, 2010 AmosJames F. Amos O-10General 3 years, 360 days First naval aviator to serve as Commandant.[9]
36 Official portrait from Dunford, 2014 DunfordJoseph Dunford O-10General 342 days First Commandant and second Marine to be promoted to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
37 Official portrait from Neller, 2015 NellerRobert Neller O-10General 3 years, 290 days Led the integration of women into combat roles. Made administrative regulations for Marines on social media.
38 General David H. Berger BergerDavid H. Berger O-10General Incumbent 127 days


David BergerRobert NellerJoseph F. Dunford, Jr.James F. AmosJames T. ConwayMichael HageeJames L. JonesCharles C. KrulakCarl Epting Mundy, Jr.Alfred M. Gray, Jr.Paul X. KelleyRobert H. BarrowLouis H. Wilson Jr.Robert E. Cushman, Jr.Leonard F. Chapman, Jr.Wallace M. GreeneDavid M. ShoupRandolph M. PateLemuel C. Shepherd Jr.Clifton B. CatesAlexander VandegriftThomas HolcombJohn H. Russell, Jr.Ben Hebard FullerWendell Cushing NevilleJohn A. LejeuneGeorge BarnettWilliam P. BiddleGeorge F. ElliottCharles HeywoodCharles Grymes McCawleyJacob ZeilinJohn Harris (USMC)Anthony GaleArchibald HendersonFranklin WhartonWilliam Ward Burrows ISamuel Nicholas

See also



  1. ^ a b c 10 U.S.C. § 151 Joint Chiefs of Staff: composition; functions.
  2. ^ 10 U.S.C. § 165 Combatant commands: administration and support
  3. ^ a b c d e 10 U.S.C. § 5043 Commandant of the Marine Corps
  4. ^ "Appendix A: How the Marines Are Organized". Marine Corps Concepts and Programs 2006 (PDF). United States Marine Corps. p. 252. Retrieved 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d "Commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps". Historical Topics: Frequently Requested. Reference Branch, History Division, United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 19 December 2011. Retrieved 2007.
  6. ^ Journal of the Continental Congress (10 November 1775). "Resolution Establishing the Continental Marines". United States Marine Corps History Division. Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  7. ^ Hoffman, Col Jon T. (2002). Marine Corps Association (ed.). USMC: A Complete History. Beth L. Crumley (illustration editor), Charles J. Ziga (design), Col John Greenwood (editor), James O. Muschett (editor). Hugh Lauter Levin Associates. ISBN 0-88363-650-6. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009.
  8. ^ Krivdo, Michael E. (2009). "Harpers Ferry: Last Action of "Henderson Era"". Fortitudine. Quantico, VA: United States Marine Corps Historical Program. 34 (4): 7-11. ISBN 0-16-010404-1. Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  9. ^ Shea, Sgt Jimmy D. (22 October 2010). "Taking the Reins: Marine Corps Welcomes New Commandant". Headquarters Marine Corps. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. Retrieved 2010.


External links

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