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Defense Headquarters: Geographic Combatant Commands Rely on Subordinate Commands for Mission Management and Execution

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Technical Report

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U.S. Government Accountability Office Washington United States

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To perform its variety of missions around the world, the Department of Defense DOD operates six geographic combatant commands which manage all military operations in designated areas of responsibility U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. Southern Command. In March 2015, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee announced his priorities which included a review of DODs organization and lines of authority established as a result of the Goldwater-Nichols DOD Reorganization Act of 1986 which modified Title 10 of the U.S. Code to establish combatant command authorities and created a requirement for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to periodically review the missions, responsibilities and force structure of each combatant command.footnote 1 Additionally, in November 2015, the Secretary of Defense directed a review of DODs organizational structures and is considering a number of actions, including strengthening the role of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Joint Staff to help prioritize activities and resources across combatant command boundaries. At a time of growing fiscal constraints and evolving security challenges, it is important to ensure the combatant commands are organized to meet their mission requirements in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

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