The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military. While the President is the overall head of the military, the United States Department of Defense (DoD), a federal executive department, is the principal organ by which military policy is carried out. The DoD is headed by the Secretary of Defense, who is a civilian and a member of the Cabinet, who also serves as the President's second-in-command of the military. To coordinate military action with diplomacy, the President has an advisory National Security Council headed by a National Security Advisor. Both the President and Secretary of Defense are advised by a six-member Joint Chiefs of Staff, which includes the head of each of Department of Defense service branches, led by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Commandant of the Coast Guard is not a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
All of the branches work together jointly during operations, under the Unified Combatant Commands, under the authority of the Secretary of Defense with the exception the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard falls under the administration of the Department of Homeland Security and receives its operational orders from the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard may be transferred to the Department of the Navy by the President or Congress during a time of war. All five armed services are among the seven uniformed services of the United States; the others are the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps.
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