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Chief of Army (Australia)
Incumbent David Morrison

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).

History[]

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] Reflecting this change from a staff to a command role, the post was renamed Chief of Army in 1997.[9]

Appointees[]

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.

Rank and
pre-nominal
Name
Post-nominal(s)
Term began
Term ended
Time in
Appointment
General Officer Commanding Australian Military Forces
Major General Sir Hutton, EdwardEdward Hutton KCBKCMG January 29, 1902 November 10, 1904 70001000000000000001 year, 7002285000000000000285 days
Major General Finn, HarryHarry Finn CBDCM November 11, 1904 January 12, 1905 50000000000000000000 years, 700162000000000000062 days
Chief of the General Staff
Colonel Bridges, WilliamWilliam Bridges CMG January 1, 1909 May 25, 1909 50000000000000000000 years, 7002144000000000000144 days
Major General Sir Hoad, JohnJohn Hoad KCMG May 26, 1909 May 30, 1911 70002000000000000002 years, 70004000000000000004 days
Lieutenant Colonel Wilson, Francis AdrianFrancis Adrian Wilson DSO June 1, 1911 May 10, 1912 50000000000000000000 years, 7002344000000000000344 days
Brigadier General Gordon, Joseph MariaJoseph Maria Gordon CB May 11, 1912 July 31, 1914 70002000000000000002 years, 700181000000000000081 days
Colonel Legge, James GordonJames Gordon Legge CMG August 1, 1914 May 23, 1915 50000000000000000000 years, 7002295000000000000295 days
Colonel Irving, GodfreyGodfrey Irving May 24, 1915 December 31, 1915 50000000000000000000 years, 7002221000000000000221 days
Colonel Foster, HubertHubert Foster January 1, 1916 September 30, 1917 70001000000000000001 year, 7002272000000000000272 days
Major General Legge, James GordonJames Gordon Legge CBCMG October 1, 1917 May 31, 1920 70002000000000000002 years, 7002243000000000000243 days
Lieutenant General Sir White, BrudenellBrudenell White KCMGKCVOCBDSO June 1, 1920 June 10, 1923 70003000000000000003 years, 70009000000000000009 days
General Sir Chauvel, HarryHarry Chauvel GCMGKCB June 11, 1923 April 15, 1930 70006000000000000006 years, 7002308000000000000308 days
Major General Coxen, WalterWalter Coxen CBCMGDSO April 16, 1930 September 30, 1931 70001000000000000001 year, 7002167000000000000167 days
Major General Sir Bruche, JuliusJulius Bruche KCBCMG October 1, 1931 April 20, 1935 70003000000000000003 years, 7002201000000000000201 days
Lieutenant General Lavarack, JohnJohn Lavarack CBCMGDSO April 21, 1935 October 12, 1939 70004000000000000004 years, 7002174000000000000174 days
Lieutenant General Squires, ErnestErnest Squires CBDSOMC October 13, 1939 January 26, 1940 50000000000000000000 years, 7002105000000000000105 days
Major General Northcott, JohnJohn Northcott CB January 27, 1940 March 17, 1940 50000000000000000000 years, 700150000000000000050 days
General Sir White, BrudenellBrudenell White KCBKCMGKCVODSO March 18, 1940 August 13, 1940 50000000000000000000 years, 7002148000000000000148 days
Lieutenant General Sturdee, VernonVernon Sturdee CBEDSO August 14, 1940 September 9, 1942 70002000000000000002 years, 700126000000000000026 days
Lieutenant General Northcott, JohnJohn Northcott CB September 10, 1942 November 30, 1945 70003000000000000003 years, 700181000000000000081 days
Lieutenant General Sir Sturdee, VernonVernon Sturdee KBECBDSO December 1, 1945 April 16, 1950 70004000000000000004 years, 7002136000000000000136 days
Lieutenant General Sir Rowell, SydneySydney Rowell KBECB April 17, 1950 December 15, 1954 70004000000000000004 years, 7002242000000000000242 days
Lieutenant General Sir Wells, HenryHenry Wells KBECBDSO December 16, 1954 March 22, 1958 70003000000000000003 years, 700196000000000000096 days
Lieutenant General Sir Garrett, RagnarRagnar Garrett KBECB March 23, 1958 June 30, 1960 70002000000000000002 years, 700199000000000000099 days
Lieutenant General Sir Pollard, RegReg Pollard KBECBDSO July 1, 1960 January 20, 1963 70002000000000000002 years, 7002203000000000000203 days
Lieutenant General Sir Wilton, JohnJohn Wilton KBECBDSO January 21, 1963 May 18, 1966 70003000000000000003 years, 7002117000000000000117 days
Lieutenant General Sir Daly, ThomasThomas Daly KBECBDSO May 19, 1966 May 18, 1971 70004000000000000004 years, 7002364000000000000364 days
Lieutenant General Sir Brogan, MervynMervyn Brogan KBECB May 19, 1971 November 19, 1973 70002000000000000002 years, 7002184000000000000184 days
Lieutenant General Hassett, FrankFrank Hassett ACCBCBEDSOLVO November 20, 1973 November 23, 1975 70002000000000000002 years, 70003000000000000003 days
Lieutenant General MacDonald, ArthurArthur MacDonald CBOBE November 24, 1975 April 20, 1977 70001000000000000001 year, 7002147000000000000147 days
Lieutenant General Sir Dunstan, DonaldDonald Dunstan KBECB April 21, 1977 February 14, 1982 70004000000000000004 years, 7002304000000000000304 days
Lieutenant General Sir Bennett, PhillipPhillip Bennett KBEAODSO February 15, 1982 February 12, 1984 70001000000000000001 year, 7002362000000000000362 days
Lieutenant General Gration, PeterPeter Gration AOOBE February 13, 1984 April 12, 1987 70003000000000000003 years, 700158000000000000058 days
Lieutenant General O'Donnell, LawrenceLawrence O'Donnell AC April 13, 1987 April 12, 1990 70002000000000000002 years, 7002364000000000000364 days
Lieutenant General Coates, JohnJohn Coates ACMBE April 13, 1990 April 30, 1992 70002000000000000002 years, 700117000000000000017 days
Lieutenant General Grey, JohnJohn Grey AC May 1, 1992 July 7, 1995 70003000000000000003 years, 700167000000000000067 days
Lieutenant General Sanderson, JohnJohn Sanderson AC July 8, 1995 February 18, 1997 70001000000000000001 year, 7002225000000000000225 days
Chief of Army
Lieutenant General Sanderson, JohnJohn Sanderson AC February 19, 1997 June 23, 1998 70001000000000000001 year, 7002124000000000000124 days
Lieutenant General Hickling, FrankFrank Hickling AOCSC June 24, 1998 July 15, 2000 70002000000000000002 years, 700121000000000000021 days
Lieutenant General Cosgrove, PeterPeter Cosgrove ACMC July 16, 2000 June 27, 2002 70001000000000000001 year, 7002346000000000000346 days
Lieutenant General Leahy, PeterPeter Leahy AC June 28, 2002 July 3, 2008 70006000000000000006 years, 70005000000000000005 days
Lieutenant General Gillespie, KenKen Gillespie ACDSCCSM July 4, 2008 June 24, 2011 70002000000000000002 years, 7002355000000000000355 days
Lieutenant General Morrison, DavidDavid Morrison AO June 24, 2011 Incumbent 70002000000000000002 years, 70033008000000000003,008 days

Images – Chief of Army[]

Images – Chief of the General Staff[]

See also[]

Notes[]

  1. Wood 2006, p. 13
  2. Wood 2006, pp. 50–51
  3. Wood 2006, pp. xv–xxi
  4. Wood 2006, pp. 54–59
  5. Wood 2006, p. 66
  6. Palazzo 2001, p. 66
  7. Palazzo 2001, pp. 221–222
  8. Palazzo 2001, pp. 316–318
  9. Palazzo 2001, p. 323

References[]

  • 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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