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|
The Australian 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. 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. In a diarchy with the Secretary of the Department of Defence, the CDF shares control of the Australian Defence Organisation. 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.
Constitutionally, the Sovereign's Australian representative, 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. 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 Chief of the Defence Force is appointed for a fixed four year term under the Defence Act (1903). Prior to this date, the appointment was for three years. 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. 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 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).
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.
While in appointment
|Name||Postnominals||Service||Term began||Term ended||Time in appointment|
|Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Wells, HenryHenry Wells||KBE, CB, DSO||Australian Army||23 March 1958||22 March 1959||364 days|
|Vice Admiral Sir||Dowling, RoyRoy Dowling||KBE, CB, DSO, RAN||Royal Australian Navy||23 March 1959||27 May 1961||2 years, 65 days|
|Air Chief Marshal Sir||Scherger, FrederickFrederick Scherger||KBE, CB, DSO, AFC||Royal Australian Air Force||28 May 1961||18 May 1966||4 years, 355 days|
|General Sir||Wilton, JohnJohn Wilton||KBE, CB, DSO||Australian Army||19 May 1966||22 November 1970||4 years, 187 days|
|Admiral Sir||Smith, VictorVictor Smith||AC, KBE, CB, DSC, RAN||Royal Australian Navy||23 November 1970||23 November 1975||5 years, 0 days|
|General||Hassett, FrankFrank Hassett||AC, CB, CBE, DSO, LVO||Australian Army||24 November 1975||8 February 1976||76 days|
|Chief of Defence Force Staff|
|General Sir||Hassett, FrankFrank Hassett||AC, KBE, CB, DSO, LVO||Australian Army||9 February 1976||20 April 1977||1 year, 70 days|
|General Sir||MacDonald, ArthurArthur MacDonald||KBE, CB||Australian Army||21 April 1977||20 April 1979||1 year, 364 days|
|Admiral Sir||Synnot, AnthonyAnthony Synnot||KBE, AO, RAN||Royal Australian Navy||21 April 1979||20 April 1982||2 years, 364 days|
|Air Chief Marshal Sir||McNamara, NevilleNeville McNamara||KBE, AO, AFC, AE||Royal Australian Air Force||21 April 1982||12 April 1984||1 year, 357 days|
|General Sir||Bennett, PhillipPhillip Bennett||AC, KBE, DSO||Australian Army||13 April 1984||25 October 1984||195 days|
|Chief of the Defence Force|
|General Sir||Bennett, PhillipPhillip Bennett||AC, KBE, DSO||Australian Army||26 October 1984||12 April 1987||2 years, 168 days|
|General||Gration, PeterPeter Gration||AC, OBE||Australian Army||13 April 1987||16 April 1993||6 years, 3 days|
|Admiral||Beaumont, AlanAlan Beaumont||AC, RAN||Royal Australian Navy||17 April 1993||6 July 1995||2 years, 80 days|
|General||Baker, JohnJohn Baker||AC, DSM||Australian Army||7 July 1995||3 July 1998||2 years, 361 days|
|Admiral||Barrie, ChrisChris Barrie||AC, RAN||Royal Australian Navy||4 July 1998||3 July 2002||3 years, 364 days|
|General||Cosgrove, PeterPeter Cosgrove||AC, MC||Australian Army||4 July 2002||3 July 2005||2 years, 364 days|
|Air Chief Marshal||Houston, AngusAngus Houston||AC, AFC||Royal Australian Air Force||4 July 2005||3 July 2011||5 years, 364 days|
|General||Hurley, DavidDavid Hurley||AC, DSC||Australian Army||4 July 2011||3 July 2014||2 years, 361 days|
|Air Chief Marshal||Binskin, MarkMark Binskin||AC||Royal Australian Air Force||4 July 2014||incumbent||1 years, 223 days|
Living current and former Chiefs of the Defence Force
|General||Sir Phillip Bennett AC, KBE, DSO||27 December 1928 (age 87)|
|General||Peter Gration AC, OBE||6 January 1932 (age 84)|
|Admiral||Chris Barrie AC, RAN||29 May 1945 (age 70)|
|General||The Hon. Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC||28 July 1947 (age 68)|
|Air Chief Marshal||Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC||9 June 1947 (age 68)|
|General||The Hon. David Hurley AC, DSC||26 August 1953 (age 62)|
|Air Chief Marshal||Mark Binskin AC||20 March 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" (Press release). Office of the Prime Minister of Australia. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
- "Chief of the Defence Force - Roles and Responsibilities". Department of Defence. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- "The Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force - "the Diarchy"". Department of Defence. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
-  10 USC 152. Chairman: appointment; grade and rank
- "Federal Executive Council Handbook". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Commonwealth of Australia. September 2009. ISBN 0-9752387-2-8. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "Chief of the Defence Force: Previous Chiefs". Department of Defence. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
- Rowell, Full Circle, p. 178
- Horner, David (2002). "The Evolution of Australian Higher Command Arrangements". Command Papers (Canberra: Centre for Defence Leadership Studies, Australian Defence College).
- Australian Government. "Department of Defence". Commonwealth of Australia.
- "Defence Organisational Structure Chart" (PDF). Department of Defence. Commonwealth of Australia. 21 September 2015.