As you advance in rate, you will become more involved in Medical Department administration, the paperwork required of any functioning organization. To perform effectively within the organization, you must understand the structure of the Navy, its relationship to other organiza- tions, and the relationship between the various components within the Navy. It is also important that you understand your relationship to these organizations.
Let us begin with you, as a senior corpsman. If there are others below you, they look to you as their first step in the chain of command. You, in turn, are responsible to your division officer, who reports to the executive officer (XO), who in turn represents and reports to the commanding officer (CO). As far as the internal function of the ship is concerned, the organization culminates there. However, the CO reports to the type commander, on up the line to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), through the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), and eventually to the President of the United States.
Compared to civilian businesses, the Navy is a massive organization. It operates on the assumption that every individual knows what is expected of him or her in any given situation. Jobs run the gamut from the recruit who swabs the deck to the President, who is Commander in Chief of all the Armed Forces. Since the President cannot become involved with telling the recruit how, when, and where to swab the deck, the task is delegated to others through the chain of command.
Delegating authority means assigning it to certain individuals within the command, from the top downwards through the chain of command, to accomplish the task at hand. To achieve an effective Navy, authority is delegated down the chain of command at all levels, from the Commander in Chief to the last individual in the organization. The delegation of authority and the issuance of orders and instructions by people in the naval service does not relieve such persons from any responsibility imposed on them. They must ensure that the delegated authority is properly exercised and the orders are properly executed. The Navy expects all individuals to fully understand the command organization and to function in their capacity within the command.
The Department of Defense (DOD) consists of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the Joint Staff, the unified and specified commands, as well as the Departments of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.
The Department of the Navy (DON) is organized under SECNAV and operates under the authority, direction, and control of the SECDEF. DON is composed of three major elements: the Navy Department, the Shore Establishment, and the operating forces. In time of war or when directed by the President, the U.S. Coast Guard comes under DON, but at all other times is a part of the Department of Transportation.
The Navy Department is the executive part of DON and is located at the seat of government. Members of the Navy Department include the SECNAV, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the Chief of Naval Material, the Surgeon General, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Judge Advocate General (JAG), the Office of the Comptroller, and the Head of the U.S. Coast Guard (when operating as part of DON.)