Office of the Secretary of Defense

Flags of Senior Officials

On this page:

Return to Sea Flags home page

The personal flag of any statutory official of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, each of whom is appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, is flown from the aftermost mast of a Navy ship throughout an official visit.  As with the flags of the President, Vice President, or officials of the Navy Department, flags of OSD officials displace the commission pennant or, in the case of a flagship, the personal flag or command pennant of the senior naval officer.  In the latter case, the flag officer's flag or unit commander's command pennant remains flying, but is shifted to the starboard main yardarm throughout the civil official's visit.  When these officials visit shore installations of the Navy, the seniormost official's flag is displayed at the point where the installation commander's flag, if any, normally flies.  These flags are also flown at the bow of boats of the Navy and may be displayed in a smaller size on automobiles.  For indoor and parade use, the flags are trimmed with 2 1/2 inch fringe and the staff is decorated with cord and tassels as described below.



Secretary of Defense

The establishment of the Department of Defense in 1947, creating a new cabinet secretary and staff structure in the Navy's chain of command, inevitably led to the development of a new series of personal distinguishing flags.  The first of these, naturally enough, was that of the Secretary of Defense himself.  This flag, approved by President Truman on October 7, 1947, is medium or "Defense" blue with an American bald eagle in full color in the center and a white star in each corner.  The eagle's wings are expanded, its talons grasp three crossed arrows, and the United States shield is displayed on its breast.  All the personal flags used by officials of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as by the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, use the same eagle and arrows, which also forms the central device in the departmental seal.  When used as a ceremonial or indoor flag, it is trimmed with white fringe and has a medium blue and white cord and tassels attached.  The staff of this ceremonial flag and the Secretary's boat flag is topped with a brass spread eagle.


Return to top of page


Deputy Secretary of Defense

The flag of the Deputy Secretary of Defense was approved by the President on April 20, 1949, for the use of the Under Secretary of Defense, who was then the second ranking official of the department.  This flag, the same as the Secretary's but with the colors of the field and stars reversed, became that of the Deputy Secretary when the number two post was given that designation later in 1949.  For indoor and ceremonial use, this flag has a medium blue fringe and medium blue and white cord and tassels.  The flagstaff ornament used by the Navy with this flag is a spread eagle.


Return to top of page


Under Secretaries of Defense

There are currently four under secretaries of defense, one each for acquisition, technology and logistics; policy; personnel and readiness; and comptroller.  The current version of Navy Regulations is contradictory as to the display of this flag aboard ship--it provides for a gun salute when an under secretary of defense's flag is flying aboard a ship, but the table on flags to be flown during official visits prescribes the national ensign at the fore rather than this flag.  This is presumably an editing error resulting from the fact that, for a time after the creation of the position of deputy secretary, there were no under secretaries in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  The flag now used by under secretaries was originally approved by the Secretary of Defense on February 18, 1959, for the Director of Defense Research and Engineering.  The title was subsequently changed to Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.  The flag is medium blue with a large dark blue triangle extending from the base to the center of the upper edge, with the Department device on the center and four white stars across the top.


 

Return to top of page


Deputy Under Secretaries of Defense


Deputy Under Secretaries of Defense were created relatively recently by law to provide senior officials to back up the critical positions of Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and Under Secretary for Policy.  Their flag is the same as that of the under secretaries but with the colors of the field and the triangle reversed.  As in the case of the under secretaries, Navy Regulations do not yet provide for flying this flag aboard ship but presumably will when the Regulations are updated in the future.  These two officials, who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, outrank the assistant secretaries of Defense and are more generally known within the Department of Defense as principal deputy under secretaries to distinguish them from officials with the title of DUSD who are not Senate-confirmed, are not entitled to the honorific "The Honorable," rank after rather than before assistant secretaries.
 

Return to top of page


Assistant Secretaries of Defense and General Counsel

The flag for assistant secretaries of defense (also used by the General Counsel of the department) is the same as that of the Deputy Secretary, but with red stars rather than blue.  For indoor use, the fringe is also red and the cord and tassels red and white.  This flag was approved by the President on August 16, 1949.

 Return to top of page


Inspector General

The Department of Defense Inspector General uses the same flag as assistant secretaries but with dark blue rather than red stars, fringe, and cord and tassels. Current Navy Regulations do not provide for display of this flag aboard ship, but will probably do so after the next revision.

Return to top of page
Return to Sea Flags home page
 



Sea Flags
Copyright 2000-2002 by Joseph McMillan