US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Up to 1947, the military establishment of the United States was embodied in two coequal cabinet-level departments: the Department of War (responsible for the Army) and the Department of the Navy. In that year, a fundamental reorganization of the US military establishment was carried out. The US Air Force was established as a separate branch of service, coequal with the Army and Navy, and a unified Department of Defense (DoD) was created. The Department of War (renamed the Department of the Army), the Department of the Navy and a new Department of the Air Force were subordinated to DoD. The Secretary of Defense became a member of the presidential cabinet and the senior civilian official within the defense establishment. On the uniformed side of the house, the Joint Chief of Staff, consisting of a Chairman plus the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force chiefs, became the president's senior military advisors.
A range of position colors was developed for the officials and officers of the new Department of Defense. The base color chosen was "medium blue" and the central emblem was the insignia of DoD, an American eagle clutching three arrows symbolic of the three service branches. The colors of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff were introduced in 1947-48; the others were added as the organization of the new department was elaborated.
DoD positional colors are made of rayon banner cloth with embroidered insignia, 4 feet 4 inches at the hoist by 5 feet 6 inches on the fly, plus 2 1/2-inch fringe. Field and boat flags, made of wool bunting without fringe, are also authorized.
Note on the Music: Senior government officials, including those of the Department of Defense, are entitled to musical honors on occasions of ceremony: four ruffles and flourishes followed by the grandioso (last 32 bars) of "The Stars and Stripes Forever." The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who hold four-star rank, receive four ruffles and flourishes followed by the "General's March" (Army and Air Force) or the "Flag Officer's March" (Navy and Marine Corps). On this page, the Army Ceremonial Band sounds honors for senior government officials.
DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE & GENERAL COUNSEL
UNDER SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE
SECRETARIES OF DEFENSE
GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF • VICE CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
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