|Chief of Army (Australia)|
The Chief of Army is the most senior appointment in the Australian Army, responsible to both the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) and the Secretary, Department of Defence (SECDEF). The rank associated with the position is Lieutenant General (3-star).
The first Commander of the Australian Army was titled General Officer Commanding, Australian Military Forces, in line with the usual British practice of the time. Experience soon showed that the position concentrated more power than the Ministers for Defence—of whom there were twelve in as many years in 1901–1913—liked. Moreover, the British Army had encountered administrative problems in the Second Boer War which led to the abolition of the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Forces there in 1904, and its replacement by an Army Board.
In 1904, Minister for Defence Anderson Dawson commissioned a report which recommended a similar system for Australia, with a Military Board consisting of four military members, the minister, and a finance member. This was implemented by his successor, James Whiteside McCay. However instead of creating a Chief of the General Staff as per the report, McCay's Military Board consisted of only three military members, the Deputy Adjutant General, the Chief of Ordnance, and the Chief of Intelligence. The post of Chief of the General Staff was finally created by the new Minister of Defence, George Pearce, in 1909, with Colonel William Bridges becoming the first Chief of the General Staff. The military members of the Military Board then became the Chief of the General Staff, Adjutant General, Chief of Ordnance, and Quartermaster General.
During the Second World War, the threat of invasion led to a reversion to the old system. A Commander in Chief, General Sir Thomas Blamey, was appointed, and the Military Board was suspended, with its powers being transferred to the Commander in Chief. The post of Chief of the General Staff remained, but was now subordinate to the Commander in Chief. This was successful from a military point of view but the problem of a concentration of power recurred and, after the war ended, the government decided to re-form the Military Board. Blamey was replaced by Lieutenant General Vernon Sturdee in 1945 and the next year the post of Commander in Chief was again abolished, with Sturdee becoming Chief of the General Staff.
The system continued until the reforms of Arthur Tange in 1973. The three services were unified under the Department of Defence. The Military Board was abolished and the Chief of the General Staff became subordinate to the Chief of the Defence Force Staff and the Secretary of Defence. Reflecting this change from a staff to a command role, the post was renamed Chief of Army in 1997.
The following table lists all those who have held the post of Chief of Army or its preceding positions. Ranks and honours are as at the completion of their tenure.
|General Officer Commanding Australian Military Forces|
|Major General Sir||Edward Hutton||KCB, KCMG||January 29, 1902||November 10, 1904||1 year, 285 days|
|Major General||Harry Finn||CB, DCM||November 11, 1904||January 12, 1905||0 years, 62 days|
|Chief of the General Staff|
|Colonel||William Bridges||CMG||January 1, 1909||May 25, 1909||0 years, 144 days|
|Major General Sir||John Hoad||KCMG||May 26, 1909||May 30, 1911||2 years, 4 days|
|Lieutenant Colonel||Francis Adrian Wilson||DSO||June 1, 1911||May 10, 1912||0 years, 344 days|
|Brigadier General||Joseph Maria Gordon||CB||May 11, 1912||July 31, 1914||2 years, 81 days|
|Colonel||James Gordon Legge||CMG||August 1, 1914||May 23, 1915||0 years, 295 days|
|Colonel||Godfrey Irving||May 24, 1915||December 31, 1915||0 years, 221 days|
|Colonel||Hubert Foster||January 1, 1916||September 30, 1917||1 year, 272 days|
|Major General||James Gordon Legge||CB, CMG||October 1, 1917||May 31, 1920||2 years, 243 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Brudenell White||KCMG, KCVO, CB, DSO||June 1, 1920||June 10, 1923||3 years, 9 days|
|General Sir||Harry Chauvel||GCMG, KCB||June 11, 1923||April 15, 1930||6 years, 308 days|
|Major General||Walter Coxen||CB, CMG, DSO||April 16, 1930||September 30, 1931||1 year, 167 days|
|Major General Sir||Julius Bruche||KCB, CMG||October 1, 1931||April 20, 1935||3 years, 201 days|
|Lieutenant General||John Lavarack||CB, CMG, DSO||April 21, 1935||October 12, 1939||4 years, 174 days|
|Lieutenant General||Ernest Squires||CB, DSO, MC||October 13, 1939||January 26, 1940||0 years, 105 days|
|Major General||John Northcott||CB||January 27, 1940||March 17, 1940||0 years, 50 days|
|General Sir||Brudenell White||KCB, KCMG, KCVO, DSO||March 18, 1940||August 13, 1940||0 years, 148 days|
|Lieutenant General||Vernon Sturdee||CBE, DSO||August 14, 1940||September 9, 1942||2 years, 26 days|
|Lieutenant General||John Northcott||CB||September 10, 1942||November 30, 1945||3 years, 81 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Vernon Sturdee||KBE, CB, DSO||December 1, 1945||April 16, 1950||4 years, 136 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Sydney Rowell||KBE, CB||April 17, 1950||December 15, 1954||4 years, 242 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Henry Wells||KBE, CB, DSO||December 16, 1954||March 22, 1958||3 years, 96 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Ragnar Garrett||KBE, CB||March 23, 1958||June 30, 1960||2 years, 99 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Reg Pollard||KBE, CB, DSO||July 1, 1960||January 20, 1963||2 years, 203 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||John Wilton||KBE, CB, DSO||January 21, 1963||May 18, 1966||3 years, 117 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Thomas Daly||KBE, CB, DSO||May 19, 1966||May 18, 1971||4 years, 364 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Mervyn Brogan||KBE, CB||May 19, 1971||November 19, 1973||2 years, 184 days|
|Lieutenant General||Frank Hassett||AC, CB, CBE, DSO, LVO||November 20, 1973||November 23, 1975||2 years, 3 days|
|Lieutenant General||Arthur MacDonald||CB, OBE||November 24, 1975||April 20, 1977||1 year, 147 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Donald Dunstan||KBE, CB||April 21, 1977||February 14, 1982||4 years, 304 days|
|Lieutenant General Sir||Phillip Bennett||KBE, AO, DSO||February 15, 1982||February 12, 1984||1 year, 362 days|
|Lieutenant General||Peter Gration||AO, OBE||February 13, 1984||April 12, 1987||3 years, 58 days|
|Lieutenant General||Lawrence O'Donnell||AC||April 13, 1987||April 12, 1990||2 years, 364 days|
|Lieutenant General||John Coates||AC, MBE||April 13, 1990||April 30, 1992||2 years, 17 days|
|Lieutenant General||John Grey||AC||May 1, 1992||July 7, 1995||3 years, 67 days|
|Lieutenant General||John Sanderson||AC||July 8, 1995||February 18, 1997||1 year, 225 days|
|Chief of Army|
|Lieutenant General||John Sanderson||AC||February 19, 1997||June 23, 1998||1 year, 124 days|
|Lieutenant General||Frank Hickling||AO, CSC||June 24, 1998||July 15, 2000||2 years, 21 days|
|Lieutenant General||Peter Cosgrove||AC, MC||July 16, 2000||June 27, 2002||1 year, 346 days|
|Lieutenant General||Peter Leahy||AC||June 28, 2002||July 3, 2008||6 years, 5 days|
|Lieutenant General||Ken Gillespie||AC, DSC, CSM||July 4, 2008||June 24, 2011||2 years, 355 days|
|Lieutenant General||David Morrison||AO||June 24, 2011||Incumbent||2 years, 3,008 days|
Images – Chief of Army
Images – Chief of the General Staff
- Beaumont, Joan (2001). "Australian Defence: Sources and Statistics". South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. pp. 75–76. ISBN 0-19-554118-9.
- Palazzo, Albert (2001). "The Australian Army: A History of Its Organisation 1901–2001". South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-551506-4.
- Wood, James (2006). "Chiefs of the Australian army: Higher Command of the Australian Military Forces 1901–1914". Loftus, New South Wales: Australian Military History Publications. ISBN 1-876439-40-8.
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