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Chief of Naval Operations (CNO)

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is the senior military officer of the Department of the Navy. The CNO is a four-star admiral and is responsible 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. A member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CNO is the principal naval adviser to the President and to the Secretary of the Navy on the conduct of war, and is the pricipal adviser and naval executive to the Secretary on the conduct of activities of the Department of the Navy.

The Chief of Naval Operations is the senior military officer of the Department of the Navy. He is the principal naval adviser to the President and the Secretary of the Navy on the conduct of war, and on the conduct of the activities of the Department of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Operations is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and is responsible for keeping the Secretary of the Navy fully informed on matters considered or acted upon by the JCS.

The Chief of Naval Operations is responsible for planning and determining the material support needs of the operating forces of the Navy (less Fleet Marine Forces and other assigned Marine Corps forces) including equipment, weapons or weapon systems, materials, supplies, facilities, maintenance, and supporting services. This responsibility includes the determination of the military performance requirements and priorities for things to be developed or procured; and the determination of the order in which ships, aircraft, surface craft, weapons or weapon systems, and facilities are to be acquired, constructed, maintained, altered, repaired, and overhauled.

The shore establishment provides support to the operating forces (known as "the fleet") in the form of: facilities for the repair of machinery and electronics; communications centers; training areas and simulators; ship and aircraft repair; intelligence and meteorological support; storage areas for repair parts, fuel, and munitions; medical and dental facilities; and air bases.

By the late 1830's everyday administration of the Navy Department had become cumbersome and inefficient. The Secretary of the Navy was personally performing many duties which could have been handled by clerks. There was no true division of labor among Navy Department employees or the Board of Navy Commissioners. Without a total reorganization of the Navy, business could no longer be carried out with the personnel then employed there. On 31 August 1842, Congress passed a Navy appropriations bill that was a blueprint for efficiency. The legislation provided for five bureaus to replace the Board of Navy Commissioners: Yards and Docks; Construction, Equipment, and Repair; Provisions and Clothing; Ordnance and Hydrography; and Medicine and Surgery. A Chief, appointed by the President, headed each bureau.

The most important single event in the integration of aviation into the Navy was the establishment of the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) in July 1921. In a single stroke, aviation acquired institutional parity with the rest of the Navy. At that time almost all of the real power and authority in the Navy, except for command of the fleet itself, was vested in semi-autonomous bureaus. Before BuAer was created, Naval Aviation was only loosely coordinated by the Director of Naval Aviation - under the Chief of Naval Operations - who had little power. After July 1921, the Navy's aviation program was centrally directed by an organization with real clout. Naval Aviation's steadily increasing share of the Navy's budget during the 192Os, a period of exceptional austerity, demonstrated the significance of the change.

BuAer played the vital role of steering the Navy through the tangle of the technical and nontechnical innovations required to successfully adapt airplanes for combat at sea and develop the know-how to use them. As one senior officer described the dilemma of aircraft carrier development in 1920, "You won't be able to get a plane until you get a ship, and we cannot design a ship without the plane." Most of the other problems associated with creating seaworthy aviation were no less thorny. But before BuAer was formed, responsibility for the design and manufacture of airframes rested with the Bureau of Construction and Repair; engine design and procurement were handled by the Bureau of Engineering; the Bureau of Ordnance controlled aircraft weapons; and so on. That system proved to be satisfactory for ships, but it was unsuited to aircraft. BuAer brought a sense of order to this confusion and made aviation work in the Navy. Remarkable achievements were made over the next two decades.

BuAer had more than material responsibilities. Under its charter, its chief could make recommendations to the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation regarding the selection, assignment, training, qualification and promotion of aviation personnel. The aggressive discharge of this prerogative by the bureau's first chief, William A. Moffett, made BuAer a dynamic force in the development of a professional aviation community within the Navy.

Perhaps most importantly for the integration of aviation into the Navy, BuAer's establishment was an expression of the importance the Navy placed on aviation. As such it was the alternative to a separate air corps - either within the Department of the Navy similar to the Marine Corps or in a separate Department of Aeronautics, a concept which gained widespread support after WW I. While the issue of a separate air corps did not die in 1921, the creation of this powerful institution forestalled such a movement from gaining momentum by placing aviation on an equal footing with older centers of power in the Navy.

The United States did not have anything comparable to the great fleets of Britain and France until the late 19th century, and in its early years the Navy's ships were designed by a curious hodgepodge of both government and private naval architects. Under the Bureau of Construction and Repair (BC&R), a Construction Corps of naval officers was established in 1866. Just before WWII, the Bureau of Construction & Repair was combined with the Bureau of Engineering to form the Bureau of Ships (BuShips); at the same time, the Construction Corps was disbanded, thus moving ship design into the hands of civilian naval architects.

On 01 December 1959 the Bureau of Ordnance (BUORD) merged with Bureau of Aeronautics (BUAER) to form the Bureau of Naval Weapons (BUWEPS).

On 01 May 1966, the Secretary of the Navy ordered the six Naval Bureaus, including BUDOCKS, placed under the command of the Chief of Naval Operations [CNO]. On 01 May 1966 the Bureau of Yards and Docks (BUDOCKS) became the Naval Facilities Engineering Command [NAVFAC]. The functions of the BUWEPS were split into the Naval Ordnance Systems Command (now NAVSEA) and the Naval Air Systems Command [NAVAIR]. BUSHIPS was split up into two Naval Systems Commands, NAVSHIPS and NAVELEX. The Naval Electronic Systems Command (NAVELEX) was one of five systems commands placed under the cognizance of the Naval Material Command (NAVMAT or NAVMATCOM). This fledgling command was established to provide the US Navy and Marine Corps operating forces with the best electronic systems, equipment and Command, Control and Communications (C3). The Bureau of Ordnance (BUORD) became the Naval Ordnance Command. The Bureau of Supplies and Accounts (BUSANDA) became the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP).

NAVSHIPS eventually merged with the Naval Ordnance Command, and the Naval Sea Systems Command - NAVSEA - was born in 1974. The Navy organization is a mix of military and civilian structures. The technical support agency for Navy procurement, NAVSEA, falls under the operational side (Chief of Naval Operations [CNO]) and has a military head. However, the responsibility for procurement itself falls under the civilian Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition, whose Program Executive Offices control acquisition through an operational agreement with NAVSEA (which increasingly shares design responsibility with industry).

In 1982 the Bureau of Naval Personnel changed to Naval Military Personnel Command [in 1991, it changed back to the Bureau of Naval Personnel]. The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) reorganized in 1982 to establish the Naval Medical Command (NAVMEDCOM).

For 19 years, NAVELEX engineers, scientists, technicians and support personnel worked to meet the demands of their mission. As the 21st century approached, the Navy Department reevaluated to maximize its strengths and a major reorganization took place. The Navy Material Command [NAVMAT] was disestablished and in May 1985, NAVELEX became Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR or SPAWARSYSCOM) - an echelon 2 command under the Chief of Naval Operations.

In July of 1992, the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations was reorganized to "mirror image" the structure and functions of the Joint Staff. As part of this change, the new Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Resources, Warfare Requirements and Assessment established six "Joint Mission Assessment Areas." Under this system, Navy procurement programs are scrutinized and evaluated against their specific contributions to joint warfighting. This reorganization has also eliminated traditional barriers between individual naval warfare communities.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:47:07 ZULU