The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) is the professional head of the British Armed Forces and the principal military adviser to the British Government. Constitutionally, the British Monarch is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and therefore is senior to the CDS. In practice the Government provide direction through the Defence Council of which the CDS is a member. The post was created in 1959 to reflect the new conceptions of joint operations that had come to the fore in World War II. Prior to the creation of the post, Sir William Dickson served as the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee from 1956 onwards. Before 1956, although no permanent post of chairman existed, the three service chiefs took it in turn to act as chairman.
From the creation of the post until 1997, the Chief of the Defence Staff was appointed to the highest rank in the branch of the British armed forces to which he belonged, being an Admiral of the Fleet, a Field Marshal or Marshal of the Royal Air Force, (NATO rank code OF-10). However, with the post-Cold War size of the British Armed Forces and the reasoning that no new Field Marshals are to be routinely appointed in peacetime, since 1997 the Chief of the Defence Staff has been appointed at the rank of Admiral, General or Air Chief Marshal, (NATO OF-9). The CDS is supported by a deputy, the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, who since 1997 has been of equivalent rank but is ordinarily from a different service to the CDS.
Chiefs of the Defence Staff
- "Gen Sir David Richards new head of British armed forces". BBC News. 14 July 2010. http://search.bbc.co.uk/click/p/4/ds/latest/t/Gen%2520Sir%2520David%2520Richards%2520new%2520head%2520of%2520British%2520armed%2520forces/id/17231391125538127918360779657154000/sp/420996ebadbd18ae661bdfde4ef05edb/-/http%253a%252f%252fwww%252ebbc%252eco%252euk%252fnews%252f10637366.
- Barrass, Malcolm (25 September 2007). "Marshal of the RAF Sir William Dickson". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. http://www.rafweb.org/Biographies/Dickson.htm. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
- Barrass, Malcolm (16 June 2007). "Marshal of the RAF The Lord Elworthy of Timaru". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. http://www.rafweb.org/Biographies/Elworthy.htm. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- Barrass, Malcolm (16 June 2007). "Marshal of the RAF Lord Cameron of Balhousie". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. http://www.rafweb.org/Biographies/Cameron_N.htm. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
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