Chief of the Defence Force (Australia)
|Chief of the
Australian Defence Force
Air Chief Marshal
|Term length||Three years (renewable)|
|Inaugural holder||Lieutenant General
Sir Henry Wells
Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) is the most senior appointment in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The CDF commands the ADF under the direction of the Minister of Defence. The appointment shares control of the Australian Defence Organisation in a coequal arrangement (a "diarchy") with the Secretary of Defence, the most senior public servant in the Department of Defence.
The position is a fixed-term appointment of three years, and is notionally rotated between the three services (Navy, Army and Air Force). However in practice this has not been the case: of eighteen appointees, ten have been from the Army, five from the Navy and three from the Air Force.
During peacetime, the CDF is the only four-star officer in the ADF (admiral, general, or air chief marshal). He is assisted by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force and the individual service chiefs—Chief of Navy, Chief of Army, and Chief of Air Force—all of whom are three-star officers (vice admiral, lieutenant general, or air marshal).
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.
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. 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.
||Time in appointment
|Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Wells, HenryHenry Wells||KBE, CB, DSO||Army||23 March 1958||22 March 1959||0 years, 364 days|
|Vice Admiral Sir||Dowling, RoyRoy Dowling||KBE, CB, DSO, RAN||Navy||23 March 1959||27 May 1961||2 years, 65 days|
|Air Chief Marshal Sir||Scherger, FrederickFrederick Scherger||KBE, CB, DSO, AFC||Air Force||28 May 1961||18 May 1966||4 years, 355 days|
|General Sir||Wilton, JohnJohn Wilton||KBE, CB, DSO||Army||19 May 1966||22 November 1970||4 years, 187 days|
|Admiral Sir||Smith, VictorVictor Smith||AC, KBE, CB, DSC, RAN||Navy||23 November 1970||23 November 1975||5 years, 0 days|
|General||Hassett, FrankFrank Hassett||AC, CB, CBE, DSO, LVO||Army||24 November 1975||8 February 1976||0 years, 76 days|
|Chief of Defence Force Staff|
|General Sir||Hassett, FrankFrank Hassett||AC, KBE, CB, DSO, LVO||Army||9 February 1976||20 April 1977||1 year, 70 days|
|General Sir||MacDonald, ArthurArthur MacDonald||KBE, CB||Army||21 April 1977||20 April 1979||1 year, 364 days|
|Admiral Sir||Synnot, AnthonyAnthony Synnot||KBE, AO, RAN||Navy||21 April 1979||20 April 1982||2 years, 364 days|
|Air Chief Marshal Sir||McNamara, NevilleNeville McNamara||KBE, AO, AFC, AE||Air Force||21 April 1982||12 April 1984||1 year, 357 days|
|General Sir||Bennett, PhillipPhillip Bennett||AC, KBE, DSO||Army||13 April 1984||25 October 1984||0 years, 195 days|
|Chief of the Defence Force|
|General Sir||Bennett, PhillipPhillip Bennett||AC, KBE, DSO||Army||26 October 1984||12 April 1987||2 years, 168 days|
|General||Gration, PeterPeter Gration||AC, OBE||Army||13 April 1987||16 April 1993||6 years, 3 days|
|Admiral||Beaumont, AlanAlan Beaumont||AC, RAN||Navy||17 April 1993||6 July 1995||2 years, 80 days|
|General||Baker, JohnJohn Baker||AC, DSM||Army||7 July 1995||3 July 1998||2 years, 361 days|
|Admiral||Barrie, ChrisChris Barrie||AC, RAN||Navy||4 July 1998||3 July 2002||3 years, 364 days|
|General||Cosgrove, PeterPeter Cosgrove||AC, MC||Army||4 July 2002||3 July 2005||2 years, 364 days|
|Air Chief Marshal||Houston, AngusAngus Houston||AC, AFC||Air Force||4 July 2005||3 July 2011||5 years, 364 days|
|General||Hurley, DavidDavid Hurley||AC, DSC||Army||4 July 2011||Incumbent||2 years, 248 days|
On 19 March 2008, it was announced that Air Chief Marshal Houston's appointment had been extended to 3 July 2011.
On 1 June 2011, it was announced that Air Chief Marshal Houston's appointment would cease on 3 July 2011. Prime Minister Julia Gillard recommended to the Governor-General that Lieutenant General David Hurley take over as Chief of the Defence Force effective 4 July 2011.
Living current and former Chiefs of the Defence Force
|Air Chief Marshal||Sir Neville McNamara, KBE, AO, AFC, AE||17 April 1923 (age 90)|
|General||Sir Phillip Bennett, AC, KBE, DSO||27 December 1928 (age 85)|
|General||Peter Gration, AC, OBE||6 January 1932 (age 82)|
|Admiral||Chris Barrie, AC, RAN||29 May 1945 (age 68)|
|General||Peter Cosgrove, AC, MC||28 July 1947 (age 66)|
|Air Chief Marshal||Angus Houston, AC, AFC||9 June 1947 (age 66)|
|General||David Hurley, AC, DSC||26 August 1953 (age 60)|
Images – Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee
Images – Chief of Defence Force Staff
Images – Chief of the Defence Force
- Chief of the Defence Force: Roles & Responsibilities. Retrieved on 29 March 2008.
- Chief of the Defence Force: The Diarchy. Retrieved on 29 March 2008.
- Chief of the Defence Force: Previous Chiefs. Retrieved on 29 March 2008.
- Rowell, Full Circle, p. 178
- Horner, "Evolution of Australian Higher Command Arrangements".
- Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston retained in defence shake-up. Retrieved on 29 March 2008.
- New Chiefs for the Australian Defence Force. Retrieved on 1 June 2011.
- Australian Government. "Department of Defence". Commonwealth of Australia.
- Horner, David (2002). "The Evolution of Australian Higher Command Arrangements". Command Papers (Centre for Defence Leadership Studies, Australian Defence College).