Title 10 of the United States Code outlines the role of armed forces in the U.S. federal law. Section 101 includes definitions for key terms such as 'Department of Defense', 'armed forces', 'combatant command', and others. It defines the 'armed forces' as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard when it is operating under the Navy during a war or national emergency declared by Congress or the President. This section is foundational for understanding the legal framework that governs the U.S. military.
Under this section, the Secretary of Defense has authority, direction, and control over the Department of Defense, which is the principal agency responsible for the military forces. The Secretary is responsible for the creation of policies relating to the Armed Forces, and is the principal defense policy advisor to the President. This statute establishes the Secretary's role in overseeing the military departments and the defense agencies, and in ensuring the effective execution of the President's military policies.
Section 162 of Title 10 U.S. Code establishes the chain of command within the United States military. The President, through the Secretary of Defense, shall assign all forces under the Department of Defense to unified and specified combatant commands to perform military missions. The President, with advice from the Secretary of Defense, designates the chain of command for these commands and may also establish a different chain of command if necessary for the functions of combatant commands. This statute is crucial for understanding how military operations are directed and how orders are issued within the Armed Forces.
The Coast Guard, established in 14 U.S. Code § 1, is a military service and a branch of the armed forces at all times. However, it operates under the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime and can be transferred to the Department of the Navy by the President or Congress during a war or when the President deems it necessary. The Coast Guard is responsible for a variety of maritime duties, including enforcing federal laws on the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, promoting safety of life at sea, and performing other duties as the President may prescribe.
The United States Space Force, as established by 10 U.S. Code § 9081, is a military service branch within the Department of the Air Force, one of the three military departments within the Department of Defense. The Space Force is organized, trained, and equipped to provide freedom of operation for the United States in, from, and to space, and prompt and sustained space operations. Its creation reflects the growing importance of space to national security and the need for a dedicated military service to protect U.S. interests in space.