1. Who exercises Combatant Command (COCOM), with its defined authorities and limits, of forces assigned ADCON to Service Secretaries?
2. When forces assigned ADCON to Service Secretaries are further assigned or allocated, usually under Operationaly Control (OPCON) or Tactical Control (TACON), who exercise COCOM, with its non-transferable authorities, of those forces?
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While JFCOM’s dissolution may have resulted in some forces being temporarily unassigned to a specific Combatant Command, the law requires they be so assigned at some point. This will be reflected in the Unified Command Plan. The Service Secretaries have administrative control (ADCON) (that is, the mission to organize, train, equip, etc.) their forces in any case, whether temporarily unassigned to a Combatant Command or not. Upon assignment to a specific Combatant Command, the operational control (OPCON) of those forces resides with the Combatant Commander.
10 USC, paragraph 162, states: “Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretaries of the military departments shall assign all forces under their jurisdiction to unified and specified combatant commands or to the United States element of the North American Aerospace Defense Command to perform missions assigned to those commands. Such assignments shall be made as directed by the Secretary of Defense, including direction as to the command to which forces are to be assigned. The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that such assignments are consistent with the force structure prescribed by the President for each combatant command.” The paragraph (2) referred to above has to do with forces involved in administrative, training and logistics tasks, e.g., Recruiting, Organizing, Supplying, Equipping (including research and development) Training, Servicing, Mobilizing, Demobilizing, Administering (including the morale and welfare of personnel), and Maintaining – units performing these missions are not operational-type units. A typical unit assigned to a Combatant Command would be something like the 82nd Airborne Division, in other words, a tactical/operational field unit with a combat power capable of fulfilling combat/operational missions.