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The Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) is the professional head of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the most senior uniformed military adviser to the Minister of Defence.

Responsibilities

The CDF commands the ADF under the direction of the Minister of Defence and provides advice on matters that relate to military activity, including military operations.[2] In a diarchy, the CDF serves as Co-Chairman of the Defence Committee, conjointly with the Secretary of Defence, in the command and control of the Australian Defence Organisation.[3]

The CDF is the Australian equivalent position of what in NATO and the European Union is known as the Chief of Defence, in the United Kingdom is known as the Chief of the Defence Staff, and in the United States is known as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, although with the latter prohibited by law from having operational command authority over the US Armed Forces.[4]

Constitutionally, the Governor-General of Australia, is the de jure Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force. However, in practice, the Australian Government de facto exercises executive power via the Federal Executive Council.[5] The CDF is appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of his/her ministers. The appointment is politically neutral, as are all military positions, and not affected by a change of government.

Since 4 July 2014, the CDF is appointed for a fixed four-year term under the Defence Act (1903). Prior to this date, the appointment was for three years.[1] The position of CDF is notionally rotated between the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force. However, in practice this has not been the case; of eighteen appointees, nine have been from the Army, five from the Navy and four from the Air Force.[6] The current Chief of the Defence Force is Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin.

During peacetime, the Chief of the Defence Force is the only four-star officer in the ADF (admiral, general, or air chief marshal). The CDF is assisted by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force (VCDF) and serves as the Chairman of the Chiefs of Service Committee, composed of the service chiefs: the Chief of Navy (CN), Chief of Army (CA), and Chief of Air Force (CAF), all of whom are three-star officers (vice admiral, lieutenant general, and air marshal).

History

Prior to 1958 there was no CDF or equivalent; a Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) existed but no separate position was established as its senior officer. Instead, the senior service chief served as Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.[7] In March 1958, Lieutenant General Sir Henry Wells was appointed Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, a role independent of and notionally senior to the Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs. However, Wells and his successors did not command the Australian armed forces in any legal sense; the chairman had only an advisory role in the running of the separate services. In February 1976, COSC was dissolved and the new position of Chief of Defence Force Staff (CDFS) was created with command authority over the ADF. In October 1984 the position was renamed Chief of the Defence Force to more clearly reflect the role and its authority.[8]

Appointments

The following list chronologically records those who have held the post of Chief of the Defence Force or its preceding positions. The official title of the position at that period of time is listed immediately before the officers who held the role. The honours are as at the completion of the individual's term.

Name Took office Left office Time in office Defence branch
Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee
1
Sir Henry Wells KBE, CB, DSO
Wells, HenryLieutenant General Sir Henry Wells KBE, CB, DSO
(1898–1973)
23 March 1958 22 March 1959 364 days Army, Army
2
Sir Roy Dowling KBE, CB, DSO, RAN
Dowling, RoyVice Admiral Sir Roy Dowling KBE, CB, DSO, RAN
(1901–1969)
23 March 1959 27 May 1961 2 years, 65 days Navy, Navy
3
Sir Frederick Scherger KBE, CB, DSO, AFC
Scherger, FrederickAir Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Scherger KBE, CB, DSO, AFC
(1904–1984)
28 May 1961 18 May 1966 4 years, 355 days Air force, Air force
4
Sir John Wilton KBE, CB, DSO
Wilton, JohnGeneral Sir John Wilton KBE, CB, DSO
(1910–1981)
19 May 1966 22 November 1970 4 years, 187 days Army
5
Sir Victor Smith AC, KBE, CB, DSC, RAN
Smith, VictorAdmiral Sir Victor Smith AC, KBE, CB, DSC, RAN
(1913–1998)
23 November 1970 23 November 1975 5 years, 0 days Navy
6
Frank Hassett AC, CB, CBE, DSO, LVO
Hassett, FrankGeneral Frank Hassett AC, CB, CBE, DSO, LVO
(1918–2008)
24 November 1975 8 February 1976 76 days Army
Chief of Defence Force Staff
6
Sir Frank Hassett AC, KBE, CB, DSO, LVO
Hassett, FrankGeneral Sir Frank Hassett AC, KBE, CB, DSO, LVO
(1918–2008)
9 February 1976 20 April 1977 1 year, 70 days Army
7
Sir Arthur MacDonald KBE, CB
MacDonald, ArthurGeneral Sir Arthur MacDonald KBE, CB
(1919–1995)
21 April 1977 20 April 1979 1 year, 364 days Army
8
Sir Anthony Synnot KBE, AO, RAN
Synnot, ArthurAdmiral Sir Anthony Synnot KBE, AO, RAN
(1922–2001)
21 April 1979 20 April 1982 2 years, 364 days Navy
9
Sir Neville McNamara KBE, AO, AFC, AE
McNamara, NevilleAir Chief Marshal Sir Neville McNamara KBE, AO, AFC, AE
(1923–2014)
21 April 1982 12 April 1984 1 year, 357 days Air force
10
Sir Phillip Bennett AC, KBE, DSO
Bennett, PhillipGeneral Sir Phillip Bennett AC, KBE, DSO
(born 1928)
13 April 1984 25 October 1984 195 days Army
Chief of the Defence Force
10
Sir Phillip Bennett AC, KBE, DSO
Bennett, PhillipGeneral Sir Phillip Bennett AC, KBE, DSO
(born 1928)
26 October 1984 12 April 1987 2 years, 168 days Army
11
Peter Gration AC, OBE
Gration, PeterGeneral Peter Gration AC, OBE
(born 1932)
13 April 1987 16 April 1993 6 years, 3 days Army
12
Alan Beaumont AC, RAN
Beaumont, AlanAdmiral Alan Beaumont AC, RAN
(1934–2004)
17 April 1993 6 July 1995 2 years, 80 days Navy
13
John Baker AC, DSM
Baker, JohnGeneral John Baker AC, DSM
(1936–2007)
7 July 1995 3 July 1998 2 years, 361 days Army
14
Chris Barrie AC, RAN
Barrie, ChrisAdmiral Chris Barrie AC, RAN
(born 1945)
4 July 1998 3 July 2002 3 years, 364 days Navy
15
Peter Cosgrove AC, MC
Cosgrove, PeterGeneral Peter Cosgrove AC, MC
(born 1947)
4 July 2002 3 July 2005 2 years, 364 days Army
16
Angus Houston AC, AFC
Houston, AngusAir Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC, AFC
(born 1947)
4 July 2005 3 July 2011 5 years, 364 days Air force
17
David Hurley AC, DSC
Hurley, DavidGeneral David Hurley AC, DSC
(born 1953)
4 July 2011 30 June 2014 2 years, 361 days Army
18
Mark Binskin AC
Binskin, MarkAir Chief Marshal Mark Binskin AC
(born 1960)
30 June 2014 Incumbent 3 years, 279 days Air force

Living current and former Chiefs of the Defence Force

Rank Name Born
General Sir Philip Bennett AC, KBE, DSO 27 December 1928 (1928-12-27) (age 89)
General Peter Gration AC, OBE 6 January 1932 (1932-01-06) (age 86)
Admiral Chris Barrie AC, RAN 29 May 1945 (1945-05-29) (age 72)
General The Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC 28 July 1947 (1947-07-28) (age 70)
Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC 9 June 1947 (1947-06-09) (age 70)
General The Honourable David Hurley AC, DSC 26 August 1953 (1953-08-26) (age 64)
Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin AC 20 March 1960 (1960-03-20) (age 58)

Timeline

Mark Binskin David Hurley Angus Houston Peter Cosgrove Chris Barrie (admiral) John Baker (general) Alan Beaumont Peter Gration Phillip Bennett Phillip Bennett Neville McNamara Anthony Synnot Arthur MacDonald Frank Hassett Frank Hassett Victor Smith John Wilton (general) Frederick Scherger Roy Dowling Henry Wells (general)

References

  1. ^ a b "New Australian Defence Force Command Team" (Press release). Office of the Prime Minister of Australia. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Chief of the Defence Force – Roles and Responsibilities". Department of Defence. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "The Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force – "the Diarchy"". Department of Defence. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  4. ^ [1] 10 USC 152. Chairman: appointment; grade and rank
  5. ^ "Federal Executive Council Handbook". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Commonwealth of Australia. September 2009. ISBN 0-9752387-2-8. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Chief of the Defence Force: Previous Chiefs". Department of Defence. Archived from the original on 30 January 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2008. 
  7. ^ Rowell, Full Circle, p. 178
  8. ^ Horner, David (2002). "The Evolution of Australian Higher Command Arrangements". Command Papers. Canberra: Centre for Defence Leadership Studies, Australian Defence College. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. 

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