- Chief of Army (Australia)
Chief of Army (Australia) Style Lieutenant General Term length Three years (renewable)
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 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 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 stint in said position.
Name Post-nominal(s) Term began Term ended General Officer Commanding Australian Military Forces Major General Sir Edward Hutton KCB, KCMG 29 January 1902 10 November 1904 Major General Harry Finn CB, DCM 10 November 1904 12 January 1905 Chief of the General Staff Colonel William Throsby Bridges CMG 1 January 1909 25 May 1909 Major General Sir John Hoad KCMG 26 May 1909 30 May 1911 Lieutenant Colonel Francis Adrian Wilson DSO 1 June 1911 10 May 1912 Brigadier General Joseph Maria Gordon CB 11 May 1912 31 July 1914 Major General James Gordon Legge CMG 1 August 1914 23 May 1915 Colonel Godfrey Irving 24 May 1915 31 December 1915 Colonel Hubert John Foster 1 January 1916 30 September 1917 Major General James Gordon Legge CB, CMG 1 October 1917 31 May 1920 Lieutenant General Sir Brudenell White KCMG, KCVO, CB, DSO 1 June 1920 10 June 1923 General Sir Harry Chauvel GCMG, KCB 11 June 1923 15 April 1930 Major General Walter Adams Coxen CB, CMG, DSO 16 April 1930 30 September 1931 Major General Sir Julius Henry Bruche KCB, CMG 1 October 1931 20 April 1935 Lieutenant General John Lavarack CB, CMG, DSO 21 April 1935 12 October 1939 Lieutenant General Ernest Squires CB, DSO, MC 13 October 1939 26 January 1940 Major General John Northcott CB 27 January 1940 17 March 1940 General Sir Brudenell White KCB, KCMG, KCVO, DSO 18 March 1940 13 August 1940 Lieutenant General Vernon Sturdee CBE, DSO 14 August 1940 9 September 1942 Lieutenant General John Northcott CB 10 September 1942 30 November 1945 Lieutenant General Sir Vernon Sturdee KBE, CB, DSO 1 December 1945 16 April 1950 Lieutenant General Sir Sydney Rowell KBE, CB 17 April 1950 15 December 1954 Lieutenant General Sir Henry Wells KBE, CB, DSO 16 December 1954 22 March 1958 Lieutenant General Sir Ragnar Garrett KBE, CB 23 March 1958 30 June 1960 Lieutenant General Sir Reginald George Pollard KBE, CB, DSO 1 July 1960 20 January 1963 Lieutenant General Sir John Wilton KBE, CB, DSO 21 January 1963 18 May 1966 Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Joseph Daly KBE, CB, DSO 19 May 1966 18 May 1971 Lieutenant General Sir Mervyn Brogan KBE, CB 19 May 1971 19 November 1973 Lieutenant General Francis Hassett AC, CB, CBE, DSO, LVO 20 November 1973 23 November 1975 Lieutenant General Arthur MacDonald CB, OBE 24 November 1975 20 April 1977 Lieutenant General Sir Donald Dunstan KBE, CB 21 April 1977 14 February 1982 Lieutenant General Sir Phillip Bennett KBE, AO, DSO 15 February 1982 12 February 1984 Lieutenant General Peter Gration AO, OBE 13 February 1984 12 April 1987 Lieutenant General Lawrence O'Donnell AC 13 April 1987 15 April 1990 Lieutenant General John Coates AC, MBE 13 April 1990 30 April 1992 Lieutenant General John Grey AC 1 May 1992 7 July 1995 Lieutenant General John Sanderson AC 8 July 1995 18 February 1997 Chief of Army Lieutenant General John Sanderson AC 19 February 1997 23 June 1998 Lieutenant General Frank Hickling AO, CSC 24 June 1998 15 July 2000 Lieutenant General Peter Cosgrove AC, MC July 2000 27 June 2002 Lieutenant General Peter Leahy AC 28 June 2002 3 July 2008 Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie AC, DSC, CSM 4 July 2008 24 June 2011 Lieutenant General David Morrison AO 24 June 2011 Incumbent
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"Boss Gunner" Coxen
- 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 0195515064
- 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
Leadership of the Australian Defence Force Australian Army Components Equipment History Personnel
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