ADF command – general

ADF command – general

Government sources

An Adaptive Army for the Future, Media Release, Department of Defence, 27 August 2008

The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, this evening announced the restructuring of the Australian Army’s higher command and control structures. The Adaptive Army initiative better positions Army to conduct the generation of land forces for current operations and preparation for other contingencies directed by Government.

“As operational tempo has increased over the past few years, the development and implementation of more effective and efficient structures and processes has become necessary.  This ensures we continually improve our ability to achieve operational objectives,” Lieutenant General Gillespie said. “The evolved structures and processes will allow those about to deploy to receive the benefits of the lessons learnt by preceding force elements on current operations.  This ensures our soldiers are well postured, and prepared, for future commitments. “The current Functional Command structure has served the Australian Army well over the last couple of decades.  However, the rapid improvements in the ability of our soldiers and headquarters to share information in recent years have challenged this traditional approach to command and control,” Lieutenant General Gillespie said.

Outcome One: Command of Operations, Outcome Performance, Annual Report 2005-06, Department of Defence

The Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, is accountable for delivering the Command of Operations.
“Throughout this intense operational period, Defence has continued to refine its command and control doctrine and structures. In July 2005, the Chief of the Defence Force initiated a review of the ADF higher command and control arrangements, drawing on our operational experience and a body of research work completed since 2003. This review, known as the Wilson Review, developed options for a new concept for command and control of ADF operations, which would build on the effectiveness of the current model, and would enhance the efficient use of people and technology into the future. The review outcomes were agreed by the Chiefs of Service Committee and the Chief of the Defence Force sought and gained Government agreement for the review outcomes. A transition program will see the outcomes in place by the end of 2008, which will coincide with the commissioning of the new Joint Operations Command facility at Bungendore.

“The new command and control arrangements will continue to see the Chief of the Defence Force commanding the ADF for operations through the Vice Chief of the Defence Force and for the raising, training and sustainment of the three Services through the Chiefs of the Navy, Army and Air Force. The most significant change will see the current component and multi-headquartered method of command of operations replaced by a single, unified joint headquarters command model. This arrangement will cut duplication, simplify information management, make more efficient use of equipment and manpower resources and move the ADF to an improved level of joint operations capability.

“The Joint Offshore Protection Command has been established and is now operating effectively under joint ADF and Australian Customs Service arrangements. The Joint Offshore Protection Command provides maritime surveillance and offshore protection for Australia. Within this organisation, the ADF is responsible for military surveillance and offshore protection functions, and the Australian Customs Service is responsible for civil maritime surveillance and law enforcement, through its Coastwatch Division. Under this arrangement, operations in our northern and southern waters to enforce the protection of Australia’s oceans and fisheries and to prevent illegal immigration have been a feature of the last year.”

Changes to Australian Defence Force Higher Command Arrangements, Senator Robert Hll, Minister for Defence, 16 March 2004.

“A new Joint Operations Command will be established to simplify and streamline the Australian Defence Force’s command structure. The Joint Operations Command will report directly to the Chief of the Defence Force, bringing into the one structure the following divisions:

  • Strategic Operations Division

  • Headquarters Australian Theatre

  • Headquarters Northern Command’s operational responsibilities. NORCOM will continue as a decentralised element of Joint Operations Command located in Darwin.

  • Deployable Joint Force Headquarters.”

Headquarters Joint Operations Command Project – Fact Sheets

, Department of Defence


Command and control structure diagrams, Media release, Department of Defence, MSPA 43/04, 16 March, 2004

“A new Joint Operations Command will be established to simplify and streamline the Australian Defence Force’s command structure and allow more effective control of forces on operations.”


Australian Defence Force Command Arrangements 2004

Australian Command of Operations, an Address to the United Services Institute, Canberra, by Vice Admiral Russ Shalders, Chief Joint of Operations and Vice Chief of the Defence Force, 9 March 2005

Account of strategic and operational command arrangements following the 2004 restructure by the first Chief of Joint Operations. On the Joint Operations Command:

“In simple terms, Joint Operations Command brings together the former Headquarters Australian Theatre, along with the operational functions of our existing Maritime, Land and Air Headquarters. The Command also now incorporates two specialist headquarters – Special Operations Command and Joint Logistics Command, as well as a number of direct command units such as Northern Command based in Darwin, Strategic Operations Division in Canberra, the ADF Warfare Centre in Williamtown and the Joint Operations Intelligence Centre, based in Sydney.

“15. The mission of Joint Operations Command is to plan, mount and conduct campaigns, operations, joint exercises and other activities as directed. In doing so, I exercise Theatre Command over assigned forces. Some of you may not be aware of what is meant by Theatre Command. The definition of Theatre Command is as follows:

 ‘Operational art is the skilful employment of military forces to attain strategic goals through the design, organisation, sequencing and direction of campaigns and major operations. Operational art translates strategy into operational and ultimately tactical action. It requires a commander to: identify the military conditions – or end-state – that constitute their given strategic objective; decide the operational objectives that must be achieved to reach the desired end-state; order a sequence of actions that lead to fulfilment of the operational objectives; and apply the military resources allocated to sustain the commander’s desired sequence of actions.’
[from Australian Defence Force Publication (ADFP) 6: Operations]

“Joint Operations Command’s tasks include the following:

a. Support CJOPS in exercising command and control of campaigns, operations and other activities,
b. Plan and conduct campaigns, operations and major exercises,
c. National surveillance,
d. Preparedness,
e. Operational analysis,
f. Doctrine development, and

Command and Control, Navy Contribution to Australian Maritime Operations (NCAMO), Sea Power Centre, Royal Australian Navy, 2005

RAN handbook of strategic doctrine. Provides detailed formal account of command and control.

“Command and control describes the system that empowers designated commanders to exercise lawful authority and direction over assigned forces for the accomplishment of missions and tasks.

“Command in the ADF is based on Commonwealth legislation, and is legally vested in the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) and the Chief of Navy (CN), the Chief of Army (CA) and the Chief of Air Force (CAF). The legislation permits command to be formally delegated to other officers and members of the ADF. In exercising their authority, commanders draw on information, advice and support from organisations outside their immediate chain of command as a result of the support and structural arrangements that flow from the different powers and responsibilities of the CDF and the Secretary of the Department of Defence. Command and control is executed at the strategic, operational and tactical levels.

“Strategic Level of Command
The strategic level is concerned with the employment of national power to secure national objectives. Within the ADF, this level is mainly concerned with the use of military resources to achieve national strategic objectives. CDF commands at this level, assisted by the Service Chiefs who command their own Services, except for those forces required by CDF for operations.

“Operational Level of Command
Command at the operational level is concerned with the planning and conduct of ADF campaigns, operations and other activities as directed by CDF. This is the responsibility of the Vice Chief of the Defence Force (VCDF) in the role of the Chief of Joint Operations (CJOPS). CDF’s operational command of the ADF is executed through CJOPS. CJOPS exercises theatre command through Strategic Operations Division and Headquarters Joint Operations Command. Other senior commanders may also command at this level for specific campaigns or operations. The CJOPS commands Joint Operations Command in order to plan, control and conduct campaigns, operations, joint exercises, and other activities on behalf of CDF. Joint Operations Command consists of the Headquarters Joint Operations Command, five environmental components (Maritime, Land, Air, Special Operations and Joint Logistics) and a number of direct command units.”


New Army Chief Flags Shake-Up to Fight Modern War, Brendan Nicholson, Age, 2008-08-28

The Australian Army has too many headquarters and a command structure that has not evolved to keep up with modern warfare in the “email and Blackberry age”. Chief of Army Ken Gillespie announced a restructuring of high command to make land forces more flexible and better able to fight modern wars, often in heavily built up areas.The changes are the most significant since the 1970s.

Command arrangements, Australian Defence Force, Wikipedia Useful short account.

Towards a Philosophy of Australian Command, Command Papers 2/2002, Centre for Defence Command Leadership and Management Studies, Weston Creek, June 2002

The Evolution of Australian Higher Command Arrangements, Command Papers 3/2002, Centre for Defence Command Leadership and Management Studies, Weston Creek, July 2002

The Australian Centenary History of Defence, Volume 4, Making the Australian Defence Force, David Horner, Oxford University Press, 2001.

Key account by Australia’s premier historian of the ADF.

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Updated: 16 August 2010