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United States Secretary of Defense

United States Secretary of Defense
PostUnited States Secretary of Defense
InsigniaUnited States Department of Defense Seal.svg
InsigniacaptionOfficial Seal
IncumbentLeon Panetta
IncumbentsinceJuly 1, 2011
FirstJames Forrestal
FormationSeptember 19, 1947

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The Secretary of Defense (SecDef) is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries.

Under the direction of the President, the Secretary of Defense has per federal law ( ) authority, direction and control over the Department of Defense, and is further designated by statute as the principal assistant to the President in all matters relating to the Department of Defense. The Secretary of Defense is in the chain of command for all Department of Defense forces; i.e. Army, Navy, Air Force & Marine Corps; for both operational and administrative purposes. Only the Secretary of Defense (and the President) can authorize the transfer of forces from one Combatant Command to another. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military adviser to the Secretary of Defense, and to the President, but the Chairman is not in the chain of command.

The Secretary of Defense is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and is a member of the Cabinet and the National Security Council. An individual may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force. Secretary of Defense is a Level I position of the Executive Schedule and thus earns a salary of $199,700 per year.

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