Commandant of the Marine Corps

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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 July 11, 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
FormationNovember 28, 1775de facto,
July 12, 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[edit]

Thirty-eight[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 November 28, 1775 August 27, 1783 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 July 12, 1798 March 6, 1804 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 March 7, 1804 September 1, 1818 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 September 16, 1818 March 2, 1819 167 days Acting Commandant, would later serve as Commandant from 1820 to 1859
GaleAnthony Gale O-05 Lieutenant Colonel March 3, 1819 October 8, 1820 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 October 17, 1820 January 6, 1859 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 January 7, 1859 May 1, 1864 5 years, 115 days Commandant during most of the American Civil War
7 black & white photograph of Jacob Zeilin ZeilinJacob Zeilin O-07Brigadier General June 10, 1864 October 31, 1876 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 November 1, 1876 January 29, 1891 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 June 30, 1891 October 2, 1903 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 October 3, 1903 November 30, 1910 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 February 3, 1911 February 24, 1914 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 February 25, 1914 June 30, 1920 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 July 1, 1920 March 4, 1929 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 March 5, 1929 July 8, 1930 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 July 9, 1930 February 28, 1934 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 March 1, 1934 November 30, 1936 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 December 1, 1936 December 31, 1943 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 January 1, 1944 December 31, 1947 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 January 1, 1948 December 31, 1951 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 January 1, 1952 December 31, 1955 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 January 1, 1956 December 31, 1959 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 January 1, 1960 December 31, 1963 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 January 1, 1964 December 31, 1967 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 January 1, 1968 December 31, 1971 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 January 1, 1972 June 30, 1975 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 July 1, 1975 June 30, 1979 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 July 1, 1979 June 30, 1983 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 July 1, 1983 June 30, 1987 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 July 1, 1987 June 30, 1991 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 July 1, 1991 June 30, 1995 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 July 1, 1995 June 30, 1999 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 July 1, 1999 January 12, 2003 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 January 13, 2003 November 13, 2006 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 November 13, 2006 October 22, 2010 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 October 22, 2010 October 17, 2014 3 years, 360 days First naval aviator to serve as Commandant.[9]
36 Official portrait from Dunford, 2014 DunfordJoseph Dunford O-10General October 17, 2014 September 24, 2015 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 September 24, 2015 July 11, 2019 3 years, 290 days Led the integration of women into combat roles. Made administrative regulations for Marines on social media to combat and deal with the ' US Armed Forces nude photo,' social media incident.
38 General David H. Berger BergerDavid H. Berger O-10General July 11, 2019 Incumbent 5 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[edit]



  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 May 6, 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 December 19, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2007.
  6. ^ Journal of the Continental Congress (November 10, 1775). "Resolution Establishing the Continental Marines". United States Marine Corps History Division. Archived from the original on October 7, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 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 May 4, 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 May 27, 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  9. ^ Shea, Sgt Jimmy D. (October 22, 2010). "Taking the Reins: Marine Corps Welcomes New Commandant". Headquarters Marine Corps. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on October 26, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2010.


External links[edit]