The Chain of Command - How the Navy is Organized

Navy Logo.

One of the first things you will need to know is the Chain of Command.  In fact, once you start Boot Camp, it's required to memorize it.

What’s a chain of command?  The chain of command is a line-up in order of who has responsibility / authority / power, and how that is wielded and / or delegated from the top of the chain (possesses the most) to the bottom (possesses the least).  The chain of command also directs information flow, with instructions flowing from top to bottom, and requested information flowing up.

Believe it or not, you’ve always had a chain of command in one way or another, it’s just that you’ve never called that. 

For a loose example, let’s say you started work as a delivery person at a “pizza joint” – if there was a problem, you would look to your immediate supervisor for help / direction, who would (if necessary) go to the manager, who would go to the boss / owner for resolution.  Any changes to the job would likewise use the same route in reverse – the boss makes a decision that drivers must wear a company jacket when making deliveries – s/he tells the manager, who tells the supervisor, who tells you (and, hopefully, gives you the necessary jacket).

Even in the home and at school, there were various chains of command - even if they weren't strictly set out as such.  Were you on a sports team - who were the team captains, who were the coaches?  See the connections?

The Navy’s Chain of Command is used to maintain good communications within the Navy, and you will use it in everything you do – not just in basic training, but throughout your career.

 The Chain of Command in recruit training is as follows:

  • President of the United States
  • Vice President of the United States
  • Secretary of Defense (SECDEF)
  • Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV)
  • Chief of Naval Operations (CNO)
  • Chief of Naval Education and Training (CNET)
  • Commander NTC (CNTC)
  • Commanding Officer RTC (CO RTC)
  • Executive Officer RTC (XO RTC)
  • Military Training Officer (MTO)
  • Military Training Assistant (MTA)
  • Division Officer (DO)
  • Division Leading Chief Petty Officer (LCPO)
  • Company Commander (CC)
  • Recruit

For an idea of how the chain of command looks on a ship, see the series Diary of a Seagoing Sailor  - Part 6, Ship's Chain of Command/Organization

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