Chief of the Defence Staff

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Chief of the Defence Staff
Ministry of Defence Tri Service Seal.png
Ministry of Defence Tri Service Seal
Flag of the Chief of the Defence Staff.png
Flag of the
Chief of the Defence Staff
Incumbent
General Sir Nicholas Carter

since 11 June 2018
Ministry of Defence
Member ofDefence Counci
Chiefs of Staff Committee
Reports toSecretary of State for Defence
NominatorSecretary of State for Defence
Appointer
on advice of the Prime Minister
Formation1 January 1959
First holderMarshal of the RAF Sir William Dickson
DeputyVice-Chief of the Defence Staff

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) is the professional head of the British Armed Forces and the most senior uniformed military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The Chief of the Defence Staff is based at the Ministry of Defence and works alongside the Permanent Under Secretary, the ministry's senior civil servant. The Chief of the Defence Staff is the British equivalent position of what in NATO and the European Union is known as the Chief of Defence.

History

The office was created in 1959 to reflect the new concept of joint operations that had come to the fore in the Second World War. The first incumbent was Marshal of the RAF Sir William Dickson. Prior to the creation of the post, he had served as the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, from 1956 onward. Before 1956, although no permanent post of chairman existed, the three service chiefs took it in turn to act as chairman at meetings. From the post's inception until the mid-to-late 1970s, CDS appointments were granted on a strict rotational basis between the three services. The first break in rotational order was precipitated by the death of Marshal of the RAF Sir Andrew Humphrey.

From the creation of the post until 1997, the Chief of the Defence Staff was appointed to the highest rank in the respective 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. However, with the post- Cold War reduction in the manpower strength of the British Armed Forces and the additional reasoning that no new 5-star appointments are to be made in peacetime, since 1997 the Chief of the Defence Staff has kept the rank of Admiral, General or Air Chief Marshal, (NATO OF-9), which he invariably already holds. However, during the 2010s Guthrie, Boyce, Walker and Stirrup were honorarily promoted to their respective services' senior ranks, sometime after they had each stepped down as CDS. Although there is no policy against a Royal Marines officer being appointed, few officers in the Corps attain a high enough rank to be considered for the post. However, in 2016, Gordon Messenger was promoted to the four star rank of general and appointed as Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff.

Constitutionally, the Queen Elizabeth II is the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces. However, in practice, the Government of the United Kingdom exercises the royal prerogative and provides direction of the Armed Forces through the Ministry of Defence's Defence Council, of which the Chief of the Defence Staff is a member.

The current Chief of the Defence Staff is General Sir Nick Carter, who succeeded Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peachin June 2018. Chiefs of the Defence Staff are appointed on the recommendation of the Secretary of State for Defence to the Prime Minister, before being approved by the Queen.

Office Holders

  1. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir William Dickson, (1 January 1956-12 July 1959)
  2. Admiral of the Fleet The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, (13 July 1959-15 July 1965)
  3. Field Marshal Sir Richard Hull, (16 July 1965-4 August 1967)
  4. Marshal of the Royal Air Force The Lord Elworthy, (7 August 1967-8 April 1971)
  5. Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Hill-Norton, (9 April 1971-21 October 1973)
  6. Field Marshal The Lord Carver (22 October, 1973-23 October 1976)
  7. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Andrew Humphrey (24 October 1976-24 January 1977)
  8. Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Beckwith Ashmore, (9 February 1977-30 August 1977)
  9. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Neil Cameron, (31 August 1977-31 August 1979)
  10. Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Lewin, (1 September 1979-30 September 1982)
  11. Field Marshal The Lord Bramall, (1 October 1982-31 October 1985)
  12. Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Fieldhouse, (1 November 1985-9 December 1988)
  13. Marshal of the Royal Air Force, The Lord Craig (9 December 1988-1 April 1991)
  14. Field Marshal The Lord Vincent (2 April 1991-31 December 1992)
  15. Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Peter Harding (1 January 1993-13 March 1994)
  16. Field Marshal The Lord Inge, (14 March 1994-1 April 1997)
  17. General The Lord Guthrie, (2 April 1997-15 February 2001)
  18. Admiral Michael Cecil Boyce, The Lord Boyce, (16 February 2001-2 May 2003)
  19. General Sir Michael Walker, (4 May 2003- 28 April 2006)
  20. Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, (28 April 2006 -29 October 2010)
  21. General Sir David Richards, GCB, CBE, DSO. (29 October 2010 - 18 July 2013)
  22. General Sir Nicholas Houghton, GCB, CBE, ADC. (18 July 2013 - 14 July 2016)
  23. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, GBE, KCB, ADC, DL. (14 July 2016 - 11 June 2018)
  24. General Sir Nicholas Carter GCB, CBE, DSO, ADC Gen, (11 June 2018 - current)

References