Origin of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

At the beginning of WWII, President Roosevelt created a committee of U.S. staff commanders to coordinate operational strategy for the armed services. It was established as the American component of the Combined Chiefs of Staff of Great Britain and the United States, which prepared and implemented Allied strategy. The group became known as the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The members of the new JCS were the counterparts of the British Chiefs of the Army, Navy, and Royal Air Force.

The first members of the JCS were Adm. William D. Leahy, President Roosevelt's special military advisor, with the title of Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, who presided over the JCS; Gen. George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army; Adm. Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations and Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet; and Gen. Henry H. Arnold, Deputy Army Chief of Staff for Air and Chief of the Army Air Corps. Each member was promoted to five-star rank in December 1944, when the new grades were established.

The National Security Act of 1947 formally established the Joint Chiefs of Staff and laid the foundation for a series of legislative and executive changes that produced today's defense organization.


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Joint Chiefs of Staff The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Past Chairmen of the JCS