Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal established the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC) in 1948, following a suggestion from Kenneth C. Royall, Secretary of the Army, to institute "a joint course for top-flight civilian leaders." The initial concept was a ten-day course for about 60 participants, four times a year, with the State Department, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Army, Navy, and Air Force involvement. The course would supplant separate Service civic leader programs, to "present an integrated picture of the military establishment ..." It would "deal with national policy, the problems confronting the United States in pursuing its policies, and the economic, political, and military means to carry out that policy."
As planning progressed, Secretary Forrestal changed "course" to "conference", and separate Service programs remained. The ten day JCOC shrank to six days (the original Washington phase was three days). In January 1952, it was decided there would be no repeat participants. Four JCOCs per year became two per year in 1953, and one per year in 1962. Numbers of participants ranged from a low of 20-plus to a high of nearly 90. JCOC continues to be run out of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense.
JCOC historical highlights:
Initiated in 1948 by the Defense Department under the first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal.
A JCOC has been held every year since 1948 except for the years 1961, 1971, 1975, 1976 and 1977. The ASD (PA) canceled the JCOC planned for May 1974 because of the energy situation that year.
JCOC 56, originally planned for the April/May 1991 timeframe, was canceled due to Operations Desert Storm/Shield.
JCOC 11 was devoted entirely to Mayors of key cities, the result of a letter from Mayor David Lawrence of Pittsburgh, PA, President of the United States Conference of Mayors, to President Harry Truman.
The U.S. Coast Guard began their participation with JCOC 60 in 1997.
- JCOC 66 was the first trip to expand to include international installations with visits to the European Command.