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The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) is the professional head of the
British Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military, military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom, its British Overseas Territories, overseas territories and the Crown dependencies. They a ...
and the most senior uniformed military adviser to the
secretary of state for defence The secretary of state for defence, also referred to as the defence secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for the business of the Ministry o ...
and the
prime minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a ...
. The chief of the defence staff is based at the
Ministry of Defence Ministry of Defence or Ministry of Defense may refer to: * Ministry of defenceMinistry of Defence or Ministry of Defense may refer to: * Ministry of defence, a type of government department responsible for matters of defence Current ministries ...
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 The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
and the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
is known as the '' chief of defence''. Constitutionally, the
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from the Latin word ''superānus'', meaning "above". The roles of a sovereign v ...
is the ''
de jure In law and government, ''de jure'' ( ; , "by law") describes practices that are legally recognized, regardless of whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, ("in fact") describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legally ...
'' commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. However, in practice, the
Government of the United Kingdom ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, date_established = , state = United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, comm ...
''
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law"), which refers to th ...
'' exercises the
royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions wr ...
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 Admiral
Sir Tony Radakin
Sir Tony Radakin
, who succeeded General Sir Nick Carter in November 2021. 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 monarch.


Supporting and associated posts

The CDS is supported by a deputy, the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, who since 1997 (when the CDS post was downgraded) has been of equivalent rank but is ordinarily from a different service to the CDS. There are also several
Deputy Chief of the Defence StaffThe Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff is a senior United Kingdom, British military officer who reports to the Chief of the Defence Staff (United Kingdom), Chief of the Defence Staff and Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (United Kingdom), Vice-Chief of ...
(DCDS) posts who support the VCDS. As of 2015 these are: *Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Military Strategy & Operations) (DCDS (MSO)) *Chief of Defence People (CDP) *Deputy Chief of Defence Staff for Military Capability (DCDS (Mil Cap)) The CDS maintains a close working relationship with the Ministry of Defence's Permanent Under Secretary, who is the Ministry's senior civil servant, and they both report directly to the
Secretary of State for Defence The secretary of state for defence, also referred to as the defence secretary, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for the business of the Ministry o ...
. The CDS focuses on military operations and strategy while the Permanent Under Secretary's remit concerns administrative and financial policy.


History of the post

The post was created in 1959 to reflect the new concept of
joint operations ''Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising'' is a 2004 first-person shooter First-person shooter (FPS) is a video game genre Video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting Broadcasting is the distribution ...
that had come to the fore in the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. 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 The Chiefs of Staff Committee (CSC) is composed of the most senior military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed c ...
, from 1956 onwards. 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 An admiral of the fleet or fleet admiral (equivalent rank to admiral of the navy Admiral of the Navy was the highest possible rank in the United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country" ...
, a
field marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space force ...
or
marshal of the Royal Air Force Marshal of the Royal Air Force (MRAF) is the highest rank in the Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) o ...
, ( NATO rank code
OF-10 150px, The insignia used by the United States of America generals and admirals of OF-10 rank. A five-star rank is the highest military rank, first established in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the U ...

OF-10
). However, with the post-
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
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 Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, general in ...
,
general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral zone in suppo ...
or air chief marshal, (NATO
OF-9 A four-star rank is the rank of any four-star officer described by the NATO OF-9 code. Four-star officers are often the most senior commanders in the armed services, having ranks such as (full) admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks i ...

OF-9
), which he invariably already holds. However, during the 2010s Guthrie, Boyce,
Walker Walker or The Walker may refer to: People *Walker (given name) *Walker (surname) *Walker (Brazilian footballer) (born 1982), Brazilian footballer Places In the United States *Walker, Arizona, in Yavapai County *Walker, Mono County, California * ...
and
Stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to Mammal#Anatomy, an animal's back by a girth (tack), girth. The most com ...
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 The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is an amphibious Amphibious means able to use either land or water. In particular it may refer to: * ''Amphibious'' (film), a 2010 film * Amphibious aircraft An amphibious aircraft or amphibian is an air ...
officer being appointed, few officers in the Corps attain a high enough rank to be considered for the post. However, in 2016,
Gordon Messenger General (United Kingdom), General Sir Gordon Kenneth Messenger, (born 15 April 1962) is a retired senior Royal Marines officer who served as Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (United Kingdom), Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff from May 2016 to May 20 ...
was promoted to the four star rank of general and appointed as Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff.


List of Chiefs of the Defence Staff (1959–present)


Living former Chiefs of the Defence Staff


Timeline


Peerage

Customarily, former Chiefs of Defence Staff receive a
life peerage In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefe ...
on retirement, sitting in the House of Lords as non-political crossbench peers. Their appointment is recommended not via the
House of Lords Appointments Commission The House of Lords Appointments Commission is an independent advisory non-departmental public body In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage i ...
as is normal procedure, but is instead nominated directly to Her Majesty The Queen by the Prime Minister, who elects to nominate "a limited number of distinguished public servants" on retirement for a peerage. Sir Jock Stirrup was introduced to the House of Lords on 1 February 2010 as ''Baron Stirrup'' of Marylebone in the City of Westminster.


See also

*
Head of the British Armed Forces The Head of the British Armed Forces, also known as Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, refers to the supreme command authority of the British Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are ...


References


Sources

* {{Chief of military by country Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom) British military appointments
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...