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Commander-in-Chief

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  • Commander-in-Chief

    Having taught civics, government, and the US Constitution for at least three years, I am surprised that the term 'commander-in-chief' is continually being used to describe the office of President of the United States by journalists, guests, talking heads, etc.

    The United States has no commander-in-chief. The office is President of the United States with a subordinate or ancillary responsibility of commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the United States.

    When I was in the Marine Corps, the president was indeed my commander-in-chief. Now that I'm retired and a civilian, he no longer is.

    If you take a look at Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution states that 'The executive Power shall be invested in a President of the United States of America.' It says nothing about a commander-in-chief of the United States.

    Section 2 of the same article states that 'The President shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several states, when called into the actual Service of the United States...'

    It is quite clear that the term President takes precedence and that the term Commander-in-Chief is quite specific and limited in scope. The two terms are not interchangeable except when dealing with or referring to the Armed Forces.

    There is no commander-in-chief of the United States and the President only acts in that role with regard to the Armed Forces, not the country and populace at large.
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
    Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
    To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

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