forces, the Fleet Marine Forces (FMF), are under the command of the Chief Naval
Officer (CNO), the highest officer in the Navy, equivalent to the Army Chief of Staff. He
commands all of the Navy's operating forces. (The Commandant of the Marine Corps,
however, is not under the CNO. While the CNO had operational control of the FMF, the
fighting units of the Marines, the Commandant retained administrative control over the
whole Marine Corps.) This status within the Navy Department at the time of Korea was
defined by Department of the Navy General Order No. 5. This order established that the
Commandant of the Marine Corps was "a naval executive assistant to the Secretary of
the Navy," or what is known as a "Command Assistant." (See Chart #1)
The Commandant of the Marine Corps, under the Secretary of the Navy,
shall command the United States Marine Corps. He is directly responsible to the
Secretary of the Navy for its administration, discipline, internal organization,
training requirements, efficiency, readiness, operation of its materiel support
system, and for the total performance of the Marine Corps. When performing
these functions, the Commandant of the Marine Corps is not a part of the
command structure of the Chief of Naval Operations. However, there must be a
close cooperative relationship between the Chief of Naval Operations, as the
senior military officer of the Department of the Navy, and the Commandant of the
Marine Corps, who has command responsibility over that organization. The
Commandant of the Marine Corps is directly responsible to the Chief of Naval
Operations for the organization, training, and readiness of those elements of the
operating forces of the Marine Corps assigned to the Operating Forces of the
Navy [the FMF]. Such Marine Corps forces, when so assigned, are subject to the
command exercised by the Chief of Naval Operations over the Operating Forces
of the Navy.
... [These] operating forces.., consist of (1) the Fleet Marine Forces; (2)
detachments afloat, that is, Marine complements aboard naval vessels; (3)
security forces at shore (field) activities of the naval establishment; and (4) U. S.
Marine Corps combat forces not otherwise assigned.2
However, the Commandant's status with the CNO, the Corps's relationship to the
Navy, and the Marine Corps's status as a separate service remained cloudy depending
Thomas, Heinl, and Ageton, Marine Officer's Guide, Chapter 4; James Donovan, The United States
Marine Corps (New York: Praeger, 1967): 81-82; Thomas, Heinl, and Ageton, Marine Officer's Guide, 75.
2 James Donovan, U. S. Marine Corps, 82.
Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/. Accessed October 4, 2015.