Secretary of State for Defence

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Secretary of State for Defence
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).png
Flag of the Secretary of State for Defence.png
Flag of the Secretary of State for Defence
Ben Wallace

since 24 July 2019
Ministry of Defence
StyleDefence Secretary
The Right Honourable
(within the UK and the Commonwealth)
Member of
Reports toPrime Minister of the United Kingdom
SeatWestminster, London
AppointerThe Monarch
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthAt Her Majesty's Pleasure
Formation1 April 1964
First holderPeter Thorneycroft
DeputyMinister of State for the Armed Forces

Secretary of State for Defence [1] or formally Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Defence (Defence Secretary) is a senior official within HM Government and head of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The office is a British Cabinet–level position, and has been held by Ben Wallace since July 2019.


The post was created in 1964 as successor to the posts of Minister for Coordination of Defence (1936–1940) and Minister for Defence (1940-1964). It replaced the positions of First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for War, and Secretary of State for Air, as the Department of Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry were unified into the Ministry of Defence (the Secretary of State for War had already ceased to be a cabinet position in 1946, with the creation of the cabinet-level Minister of Defence).

Office Holders

  1. Rt Hon. Peter Thorneycroft, (April-October 1964).
  2. Rt Hon.Denis Healey, (1964-1970)
  3. Rt Hon. Peter Carington, (1970-1974).
  4. Rt Hon.Ian Gilmour, (January-March 1974).
  5. Rt Hon. Roy Mason, (1974-1976)
  6. Rt Hon. Fred Mulley, (1976-1979)
  7. Rt Hon. Francis Pym, (1979-1981)
  8. Rt Hon. John Nott, (1981-1983)
  9. Rt Hon. Michael Hestletine, (1983-1986)
  10. Rt Hon. George Younger, (1986-1989)
  11. Rt Hon. Tom King, (1989-1992)
  12. Rt Hon. Malcom Rifkind, (1992-1995)
  13. Rt Hon. Michael Portillo, (1995-1997)
  14. Rt Hon. George Robertson, (1997-1999)
  15. Rt Hon. Geoff Hoon, (1999-2005)
  16. Rt Hon. John Reid, (2005-2006)
  17. Rt Hon. Des Browne, (2006-2008)
  18. Rt Hon. John Hutton, (2008-2009)
  19. Rt Hon. Bob Ainsworth, (2009-2010)
  20. Rt Hon. Liam Fox (2010-2011)
  21. Rt Hon. Philip Hammond, (2011-2014)
  22. Rt Hon. Sir Michael Fallon, (2014-2017)
  23. Rt Hon. Gavin Williamson, (2017-2019)
  24. Rt Hon. Penny Mordaunt, (2019-2019)
  25. Rt Hon. Ben Wallace, (2019-current)

Current Responsibilities

The Secretary of State for Defence is currently responsible for strategic operations and operational strategy, including as a member of the National Security Council defence planning, programme and resource allocation. Strategic international partnerships: US, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, NATO. Nuclear operations, policy and organisations and strategic communications.[2]


  1. "Secretary of State for Defence - GOV.UK". HM Government UK. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  2. Secretary of State for Defence. Responsibilities. HM Government. 2019.