Chief of Naval Operations

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The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is typically the highest ranking officer in the United States Navy (unless the chairman or vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is a naval officer) and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[1] The CNO reports directly to the Secretary of the Navy for the command, utilization of resources and operating efficiency of the operating forces of the Navy and of the Navy shore activities assigned by the Secretary.[2] Under the authority of the Secretary of the Navy, the CNO also designates naval personnel and naval resources to the commanders of Unified Combatant Commands.[3][4] The CNO also performs all other functions prescribed under 10 U.S.C. ยง 5033 and those assigned by the secretary[3] or delegates those duties and responsibilities to other officers in his administration under his name. Like the other joint chiefs, the CNO is an administrative position and has no operational command authority over United States naval forces.[2]

The CNO is the principal adviser to the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense and to the Secretary of the Navy on the conduct of naval warfare.[2] The Chief of Naval Operations is nominated by the President for appointment and must be confirmed via majority vote by the Senate.[5] A requirement for being Chief of Naval Operations is having significant experience in joint duty assignments, which includes at least one full tour of duty in a joint duty assignment as a flag officer.[5] However, the president may waive those requirements if he determines the officer is necessary for national interest.[5] By statute, the CNO is appointed as a four-star admiral.[5]

The position of CNO replaced the position of Aide for Naval Operations, which was a position established by administrative law rather than statute.

The Chief of Naval Operations is also the head of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OpNav).[6]


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