9 April 2024

Government announces David Johnston as next Chief of Defence Force

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Defence leaders

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, incoming CDF VADM David Johnston, incoming VCDF AIRMSHL Robert Chipman, and Defence Minister Richard Marles at this morning’s announcement. Photo: LinkedIn.

The Federal Government has announced that the current Vice-Chief of the Defence Force, Vice-Admiral David Johnston, will be promoted to Admiral and will replace General Angus Campbell as the new Chief of the Australian Defence Force (CDF) from July.

The announcement was made this morning and is subject to the Governor-General’s consideration and approval.

The move is one of many as the services’ senior leadership moves around to fill new roles.

The current Chief of Air Force Air Marshall Robert Chipman will move into the Vice Chief of Defence Force (VCDF) role, while the Air Force’s current Head of Military Strategic Commitments Air-Vice Marshal Stephen Chappell will be promoted to Air Marshal and take over as Chief of Air Force (CAF).

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The Chief of Army (CA), Lieutenant General Simon Stuart, and Chief of Navy (CN) Vice-Admiral Mark Hammond will remain in their current roles for a further two years.

The current Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS), Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, will retire and be replaced by his deputy, Rear Admiral Justin Jones, who will be promoted to Vice-Admiral.

Similarly, the Chief of Joint Capabilities (CJC), Lieutenant General John Frewen, will also retire and be replaced by the current Commander of Army’s Forces Command, Major General Susan Coyle, who will be promoted to Lieutenant General.

The Chief of Defence Intelligence, Lieutenant General Gavan Reynolds, will also retire and will be replaced by a civilian appointment to be named in due course.

Vice Admiral Johnston will be the first Navy CDF for over two decades, after a succession of Army and Air Force chiefs. He joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1978 and has held the position of VCDF since 2018.

The government noted, “his experience in command and the strategic design of the integrated force will be critical to embedding the outcomes of the Defence Strategic Review”.

“The Government extends its sincerest gratitude to General Campbell and Lieutenant Generals Bilton, Frewen and Reynolds, and to their families, for their longstanding commitment to defending the nation, their service to country and their lasting contribution to the ADF.”

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese congratulated the new leaders.

“I’d like to congratulate all personnel for accepting these appointments and leading the Australian Defence Force with the values and tenets the Australian public expect of our military leaders,” he said.

“I look forward to working with you to plan and deliver a more integrated and focused Defence Force.”

Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles added, “It is an honour to announce these senior appointments, who will lead the Australian Defence Force during a period of increasing strategic competition and remain focused on delivering on key defence priorities and outcomes.”

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