Chief of the Defence Force (Australia)
|Chief of the
Australian Defence Force
Air Chief Marshal
|Member of||Australian Defence Force|
|Reports to||Minister of Defence|
|Term length||Four years (renewable)|
|Inaugural holder||Lieutenant General
Sir Henry Wells
|Formation||23 March 1958|
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 the Department of Defence, the most senior public servant in the Department of Defence.
The position is a fixed-term appointment of four years. Prior to June 2014, this was three year appointment. The position is notionally rotated between the three services, (Navy, Army and Air Force), but 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.
During peacetime, the CDF is the only four-star officer in the ADF (admiral, general, or air chief marshal). CDF is assisted by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force (VCDF) and the service chiefs: 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).
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.
|Rank and prefix||Name||Postnominals||Service||Term began||Term ended||Time in appointment|
|Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Wells, HenryHenry Wells||KBE, CB, DSO||Army||23 Mar 1958||22 Mar 1959||364 days|
|Vice Admiral Sir||Dowling, RoyRoy Dowling||KBE, CB, DSO, RAN||Navy||23 Mar 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 Nov 1970||4 years, 187 days|
|Admiral Sir||Smith, VictorVictor Smith||AC, KBE, CB, DSC, RAN||Navy||23 Nov 1970||23 Nov 1975||5 years, 0 days|
|General||Hassett, FrankFrank Hassett||AC, CB, CBE, DSO, LVO||Army||24 Nov 1975||8 Feb 1976||76 days|
|Chief of Defence Force Staff|
|General Sir||Hassett, FrankFrank Hassett||AC, KBE, CB, DSO, LVO||Army||9 Feb 1976||20 Apr 1977||1 year, 70 days|
|General Sir||MacDonald, ArthurArthur MacDonald||KBE, CB||Army||21 Apr 1977||20 Apr 1979||1 year, 364 days|
|Admiral Sir||Synnot, AnthonyAnthony Synnot||KBE, AO, RAN||Navy||21 Apr 1979||20 Apr 1982||2 years, 364 days|
|Air Chief Marshal Sir||McNamara, NevilleNeville McNamara||KBE, AO, AFC, AE||Air Force||21 Apr 1982||12 Apr 1984||1 year, 357 days|
|General Sir||Bennett, PhillipPhillip Bennett||AC, KBE, DSO||Army||13 Apr 1984||25 Oct 1984||195 days|
|Chief of the Defence Force|
|General Sir||Bennett, PhillipPhillip Bennett||AC, KBE, DSO||Army||26 Oct 1984||12 April 1987||2 years, 168 days|
|General||Gration, PeterPeter Gration||AC, OBE||Army||13 Apr 1987||16 Apr 1993||6 years, 3 days|
|Admiral||Beaumont, AlanAlan Beaumont||AC, RAN||Navy||17 Apr 1993||6 Jul 1995||2 years, 80 days|
|General||Baker, JohnJohn Baker||AC, DSM||Army||7 July 1995||3 Jul 1998||2 years, 361 days|
|Admiral||Barrie, ChrisChris Barrie||AC, RAN||Navy||4 Jul 1998||3 Jul 2002||3 years, 364 days|
|General||Cosgrove, PeterPeter Cosgrove||AC, MC||Army||4 Jul 2002||3 Jul 2005||2 years, 364 days|
|Air Chief Marshal||Houston, AngusAngus Houston||AC, AFC||Air Force||4 Jul 2005||3 Jul 2011||5 years, 364 days|
|General||Hurley, DavidDavid Hurley||AC, DSC||Army||4 Jul 2011||30 Jun 2014||2 years, 361 days|
|Air Chief Marshal||Binskin, MarkMark Binskin||AC||Air Force||30 Jun 2014||Incumbent||0 years, 333 days|
Living current and former Chiefs of the Defence Force
|General||Sir Phillip Bennett AC, KBE, DSO||27 Dec 1928 (age 86)|
|General||Peter Gration AC, OBE||6 Jan 1932 (age 83)|
|Admiral||Chris Barrie AC, RAN||29 May 1945 (age 70)|
|General||The Hon. Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC||28 Jul 1947 (age 67)|
|Air Chief Marshal||Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC||9 Jun 1947 (age 67)|
|General||The Hon. David Hurley AC, DSC||26 Aug 1953 (age 61)|
|Air Chief Marshal||Mark Binskin AC||20 Mar 1960 (age 55)|
Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee
Chief of Defence Force Staff
Chief of the Defence Force
Sir Phillip Bennett
Sir Peter Cosgrove
Sir Angus Houston
- "New Australian Defence Force Command Team". Media Release (Office of the Prime Minister of Australia). 4 April 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
- 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".
- 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).