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A commander-in-chief is the most senior commander of a nation's military forces or a major division of those forces such as the navy, army or air force. In modern times the head of the combined forces may not be a serving member of the military but the president or monarch.

The US Constitution describes the Commander in Chief in Article II, Section 2:

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;