The CDF is the most senior appointment in the ADF and commands the force. The CDF is the only four-star officer in the ADF and is a general, admiral or air chief marshal. As well as having command responsibilities, the CDF is the Minister for Defence’s principal military adviser. General Angus Campbell is the current CDF, and assumed this position on 1 July 2018. Hugh White, a prominent academic and former Deputy Secretary in the Department of Defence, has criticised the ADF’s current command structure. White argues that the Minister plays too large a role in military decision-making and does not provide the CDF and Secretary of Defence with necessary and sufficient authority to manage the ADO effectively.
Under the current ADF command structure the day-to-day management of the ADF is distinct from the command of military operations. The services are administered through the ADO, with the head of each service (the Chief of Navy, Chief of Army and Chief of Air Force) and the service headquarters being responsible for raising, training and sustaining combat forces. Each chief is also the CDF’s principal adviser on matters concerning the responsibilities of their service. The CDF chairs the Chiefs of Service Committee which comprises the service chiefs, Vice Chief of the Defence Force and the Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS). The CDF and service chiefs are supported by an integrated ADF Headquarters, which replaced separate service headquarters on 1 July 2017.