Commandant of the Marine Corps
The Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) is the senior officer of the United States Marine Corps unless the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is a Marine officer. He is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, currently for a four-year term, and usually retires after that single term.
A member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), he does not directly command operational forces of the Marine Corps, which are under Unified Combatant Commands that report to the Secretary of Defense and the President of the United States; the latter two constitute the National Command Authority.
The CMC reports to the Secretary of the Navy, especially in matters such as Congressional relations, but has complex relationships with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense. While he does not have operational command over naval forces, he has enormous influence.
The Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps acts in his absence.
General James T. Conway is the 34th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. A 1973 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, his senior responsibilities included command of Battalion Landing Team 3/2 during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Selected for colonel, he served as the Ground Colonels' Monitor, and as Commanding Officer of The Basic School. His general officer duties included Deputy Director of Operations, J-34, Combating Terrorism, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.; and President, Marine Corps University at Quantico, Va. After promotion to Major General, he assumed command of the 1st Marine Division. In November 2002, Major General Conway was promoted to Lieutenant General and assumed command of the I Marine Expeditionary Force. He commanded I Marine Expeditionary Force during two combat tours in Iraq. In 2004, he was reassigned as the Director of Operations, J-3, Joint Staff, in Washington, D.C.