A commander-in-chief, also sometimes called supreme commander, or
chief commander, is the person or body that exercises supreme
operational command and control of a nation's military forces. As a
technical term, it refers to military competencies that reside in a
nation-state's executive leadership—a head of state, a head of
Often, a given country's commander-in-chief (if held by an official)
need not be or have been a commissioned officer or even a veteran. In
these countries this follows the principle of civilian control of the
2 Heads of state as commanders-in-chief
2.10 People's Republic of China
2.10.1 Hong Kong
2.12 Czech Republic
2.14 Dominican Republic
2.33 Republic of China
2.35 Saudi Arabia
2.39 Sri Lanka
2.44 United Kingdom
2.44.1 Constitutional monarchy
2.44.2 Historic office of Commander-in-Chief
Military and Air commands
2.44.4 Colonial Governors
2.45 United States
2.45.1 U.S. States
3 Other officeholders as commanders-in-chief or other situations
3.2.1 East Germany
3.9 North Korea
4 See also
The role of commander-in-chief derives from the Latin, imperator.
Imperatores of the
Roman Republic and
Roman Empire possessed imperium
(command) powers. In its modern use, the term first applied to King
Charles I of England
Charles I of England in 1639. It continued to be used
during the English Civil War. A nation's head of state (monarchical
or republican) usually holds the nominal position of
commander-in-chief, even if effective executive power is held by a
separate head of government. In a parliamentary system, the executive
branch is ultimately dependent upon the will of the legislature;
although the legislature does not issue orders directly to the armed
forces and therefore does not control the military in any operational
sense. Governors-general and colonial governors are also often
appointed commander-in-chief of the military forces within their
A commander-in-chief is sometimes referred to as supreme commander,
which is sometimes used as a specific term. The term is also used for
military officers who hold such power and authority, not always
through dictatorship, and as a subordinate (usually) to a head of
state (see Generalissimo). The term is also used for officers who hold
authority over an individual military branch, special branch or within
a theatre of operations.
Heads of state as commanders-in-chief
According to the Constitution of Afghanistan, The
Afghanistan is the
Commander-in-chief of Afghan Armed Forces.
According to the Constitution of Albania, The
President of the
Republic of Albania is the
Commander-in-chief of Albanian Armed
Forces. The incumbent
President Ilir Meta.
Mauricio Macri of Argentina, as the
Argentine Armed Forces
Argentine Armed Forces since December 10th 2015.
Under part II, chapter III, article 99, subsections 12, 13, 14 and 15,
the Constitution of
Argentina states that the
President of the
Argentine Nation is the "
Commander-in-chief of all the armed forces of
the Nation". It also states that the
President is entitled to provide
military posts in the granting of the jobs or grades of senior
officers of the armed forces, and by itself on the battlefield; runs
with its organization and distribution according to needs of the
Nation and declares war and orders reprisals with the consent and
approval of the Argentine National Congress.
The Ministry of Defense is the government department that assists and
President in the management of the armed forces (Army, Navy
and Air Force).
General The Lord Gowrie (right) signing the declaration of
Japan with Prime Minister
John Curtin (left) looking on.
(8 December 1941)
Under chapter II of section 68 titled Command of the naval and
military forces, the
Constitution of Australia
Constitution of Australia states that:
The command in chief of the naval and military forces of the
Commonwealth is vested in the
General as the Queen's
In practice, however, the Governor-
General does not play an active
part in the Australian Defence Force's command structure, and the
democratically accountable Australian Cabinet (chaired by the Prime
Minister) de facto controls the ADF. The Minister for Defence and
several subordinate ministers exercise this control through the
Australian Defence Organisation. Section 8 of the Defence Act 1903
The Minister shall have the general control and administration of the
Defence Force, and the powers vested in the Chief of the Defence
Force, the Chief of Navy, the Chief of Army and the Chief of Air Force
by virtue of section 9, and the powers vested jointly in the Secretary
and the Chief of the Defence Force by virtue of section 9A, shall be
exercised subject to and in accordance with any directions of the
The Constitution (German: Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz) states, in Article
80, that the
President is the
Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Armed
Forces. However, it further provides that the
President may only have
the Federal Armed Forces at his disposal to the extent provided in the
Defence Act (German: Wehrgesetz); and that the supreme command over
the Federal Armed Forces is exercised by the federal minister
authorized to serve in this capacity by the Federal Government, i.e.
the cabinet under the chairmanship of the Federal Chancellor, as
defined in Article 69.
The commander-in-chief is the president, although executive power and
responsibility for national defense resides with the prime minister.
The only exception was the first commander-in-chief,
General M. A. G.
Bangladesh Liberation War
Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, who was commander of
all Bangladesh Forces, reinstated to active duty by official BD
government order, which after independence was gazetted in 1972. He
retired on 7 April 1972 and relinquished all authority and duties to
President of Bangladesh.
President Lula, with his wife Marisa Letícia, reviews troops
during Independence Day military parade in Brasília, Brazil.
Article 142 of the
Brazilian Constitution of 1988 states that the
Brazilian Armed Forces
Brazilian Armed Forces is under the supreme command of the President
of the Republic.
Sultan of Brunei
Sultan of Brunei is the
Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Brunei
Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces
The powers of command-in-chief over the
Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Armed Forces are
vested in the Canadian monarch, and are delegated to the Governor
General of Canada, who also uses the title Commander-in-Chief. In
this capacity, the governor general is entitled to the uniform of a
general/flag officer, with the crest of the office and special cuff
braid serving as rank insignia.
By constitutional convention, the Crown's prerogative powers over the
armed forces and constitutional powers as commander-in-chief are
exercised on the advice of the prime minister and the rest of Cabinet,
the governing ministry that commands the confidence of the House of
Commons. According to the National Defence Act, the Minister of
National Defence is responsible and accountable to parliament for all
matters related to national defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.
In theory, the governor general could also use his or her powers as
commander-in-chief to stop any attempts to use the Canadian Forces
unconstitutionally, though this has never occurred and would likely be
People's Republic of China
Main article: Supreme
Military Command of the People's Republic of
Article 93 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China
states the authority to direct the Armed Forces of the People's
Republic of China
Republic of China is vested with the Central
composed of a Chairman, and numerous Vice-Chairmen and members. The
same article also states that the Chairman of the Central Military
Commission assumes overall responsibility for the work of the Central
Military Commission, and that it is responsible to the National
People's Congress and the Standing Committee.
Furthermore, Article 80 gives the
President of the People's Republic
of China (in addition to ceremonial head of state duties) the power to
proclaim martial law, proclaim a state of war, and to issue
mobilisation orders upon the decision of National People's Congress
and its Standing Committee.
The CMC Chairman and the
President are distinctly separate state
offices and they have not always been held by the same persons.
However, beginning in 1993, during the tenure of
Jiang Zemin as CMC
General Secretary of the Communist Party, it has been
standard practice to have the President, the Chairman of the Central
Military Commission, and the
General Secretary of the Communist Party
to be normally held by the same person; although the slight
differences in the start and end of terms for those respective offices
means that there is some overlap between an occupant and his
Hong Kong was under British authority, the civilian
Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces Overseas Hong
Kong. After the territory's handover to the People's Republic of China
in 1997, the commanders of the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong
Garrison are PLA personnel from mainland China.
According to the Croatian constitution, the
President of Croatia
President of Croatia is
Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia. In
peace, the commander-in-chief exercises his command through the
Minister of Defense. In war and in cases where the Minister of Defense
is not fulfilling orders, the commander-in-chief exercises his command
directly through the chief of
According to the 1992 constitution, the
President of the Czech
Republic is the
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces according to
Article 63(1)(c), and appoints and promotes generals under Article
President needs the countersignature of the Prime
Minister for decisions concerning the above-mentioned provisions as
per Articles 63(3-4), or otherwise they are not valid. The Prime
Minister may delegate to other ministers the right to countersign
these decisions of the President. The political responsibility for the
Armed Forces is borne by the Government, which in Article 67 is
defined as the "supreme body of executive power". According to
Articles 39 & 43, the Parliament must give consent to the dispatch
of Czech military forces outside the territory of the Czech
The Ministry of Defence is the central authority of the state
administration for the control of the Armed Forces. The actual
day-to-day management is vested in the Chief of the
General Staff, the
Czech chief of defence equivalent.
The position of the Danish monarch as the head of the military is
deeply rooted in tradition. While the 1953 constitution does not
explicitly designate the monarch as commander-in-chief; it is
implicit, given the general provision in article 12 and the more
specific wording of article 19 (2): "Except for purposes of defence
against an armed attack upon the Realm or Danish forces, the King
shall not use military force against any foreign state without the
consent of the Folketing. Any measure which the King may take in
pursuance of this provision shall forthwith be submitted to the
However, when reading the Danish Constitution, it is important to bear
in mind that the King in this context is understood by Danish jurists
to be read as the Government (consisting of the Prime Minister and
other ministers). This is a logical consequence of articles 12, 13 and
14, all of which in essence stipulates that the powers vested in the
monarch can only be exercised through ministers, who are responsible
for all acts. Thus, the Government, in effect, holds the supreme
command authority implied in articles 12 and 19(2).
Danish Defence Law (Danish: Forsvarsloven) designates in article 9
Minister of Defence as the supreme authority in Defence (Danish:
højeste ansvarlige myndighed for forsvaret). Under the Minister is
the Chief of Defence, the senior-ranking professional military officer
heading the Defence Command, who commands the Army, the Navy, the Air
Force and other units not reporting directly to the Ministry of
King Christian IV onboard his flagship during the 1644 Battle of
Colberger Heide, by Wilhelm Marstrand. The King's personal commitment
during the battle, are memorized in first lines of the Danish royal
HDMY Dannebrog, the Danish royal yacht named after the national flag
and operated by the Royal Danish Navy, in Vagur,
Faroe Islands on 21
According to the Constitution, Article 128, Section II, Title IV, the
President is the head of foreign policy, the civil administration and
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the National Police and
all other state's security agencies.
In Egypt, the
President of the Republic holds the ceremonial title of
Commander of the Armed Forces. A member of the government,
usually defence minister, is commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed
Forces, the incumbent being Sedki Sobhi. The president still remains
the only individual capable of declaring war. Until the election of
Mohamed Morsi in June 2012, prior Egyptian presidents had all been
former military officers, and during the
Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War the president
played a major role at all levels of the planning of the war, and was
in a literal sense Supreme
Commander of the Armed Forces giving direct
orders to the commanders from the headquarters during the war as field
marshal of the army, colonel general of the air force and air defence
forces and admiral of the navy.
Anwar Sadat often wore his military
uniform, while former president
Hosni Mubarak had abandoned this
According to the Finnish constitution, the
President of Finland
President of Finland is the
commander-in-chief of all Finnish military forces. In practice, the
everyday command and control is in the hands of
Chief of Defence
Chief of Defence and
Commander of the Finnish Border Guard. The economic administration
Finnish Defence Force
Finnish Defence Force is the responsibility of Ministry of
Defence. The duty of the president is to decide upon:§31
main principles of the military defence of the realm
principles of the execution of the military defence
other military command matters with wide-ranging importance to the
military activity or the military establishment
any other military command issue that he wishes to decide upon
Since the constitutional reform of 2000, the
Minister of Defence has
the right to be present when the president uses his command powers,
unless the matter is of immediate concern. In questions of strategic
importance, the Prime Minister has the same right.:§32
The president commissions and promotes officers and decides on
activating reservists for extraordinary service and on the
mobilisation of the Defence Forces.:§40:§ 128.2 If
Parliament is not in session when a decision to mobilise is taken, it
must be immediately convened.:§ 129 Declarations of a state of
emergency (Finnish: valmiustila, literally, "state of preparedness")
and state of war (Finnish: puolustustila, lit. "state of defence") are
declared by a presidential decree, given after a motion by the
government, which is then submitted to the Parliament for
The president has, in a state of emergency, the right to transfer the
position of the commander-in-chief to another Finnish citizen.:§
Commander-in-Chief of the French Armed Forces
In France, the
President of the Republic is designated as "Chef des
Armées" (literally "Chief of the Armies") under article 15 of the
constitution, and is as such the supreme executive authority in
military affairs. Article 16 provides the president with extensive
However, owing to the nature of the semi-presidential system, the
prime minister also has key constitutional powers under article 21:
"He shall be responsible for national defence" and has "power to make
regulations and shall make appointments to civil and military
President of the Republic and
Georgelin, Chief of the Defence Staff, reviewing troops during the
Bastille Day military parade
Bastille Day military parade on the
Napoléon I, Emperor of the French, reviewing the Imperial Guard at
Battle of Jena-Auerstedt
Battle of Jena-Auerstedt in 1806, by Horace Vernet.
Since the reign of Louis XIV,
France has been strongly centralized.
After crushing local nobles engaged in warlord-ism, the Kings of
France retained all authority with the help of able yet discreet Prime
ministers (Mazarin, Richelieu).
The 1789 Revolution transferred the supreme authority to the King (in
the context of the short-lived constitutional Monarchy), then to the
multi-member Comité de Salut Public during the Convention, and later
to the Directoire, before being regained in the hands of Consul
Napoléon Bonaparte, later Emperor Napoléon I, alone.
The Restoration restored the authority of the King, first in an
absolute monarchy, then the constitutional
July Monarchy of Louis
Philippe, before it was overthrown in turn by the Second Republic and
later the Second Empire of Napoleon III.
The following Third Republic was a parliamentary system, where the
military authority was held by the
President of the Council of
Ministers. During World War I, the many visits to the trenches by the
Georges Clemenceau impressed the soldiers and earned
him the nickname Father of Victory (French: Le Père de la Victoire).
During World War II, Maréchal
Philippe Pétain assumed power and held
the supreme authority in Vichy France, while Général Charles De
Gaulle, acting on behalf of the previous regime, founded the Free
French Forces, upon which he held supreme authority all through the
The following and short-lived Fourth Republic was a parliamentary
system, which was replaced by the present Fifth Republic, a
Commander-in-chief of the
Ghana Armed Forces
Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) military
rank was held by GAF military personnel until the ratification of the
Constitution of Ghana
Constitution of Ghana ratified by Ghana Air Force (GHF) Flight
Jerry Rawlings and in accordance to the Constitution of
Head of State of Ghana
Head of State of Ghana and
President of Ghana
President of Ghana is the
Commander-in-chief of GAF. The incumbent
Commander-in-chief of GAF
(Ghana Armed Forces) is
Head of State of Ghana
Head of State of Ghana and
President of Ghana
John Dramani Mahama.
Supreme command of the
Indian Armed Forces
Indian Armed Forces is vested in the President
of India, although effective executive power and responsibility for
national defence resides with the
Cabinet of India headed by the Prime
Minister. This is discharged through the Ministry of Defence, headed
by the Minister of Defence, which provides the policy framework and
resources to the Armed Forces to discharge their responsibilities in
the context of the defence of the country.
On 15 August 1947, each service was placed under its own
commander-in-chief. In 1955, the three service chiefs were
re-designated as the Chief of the Army Staff (rank of general), the
Chief of the Naval Staff (rank of vice-admiral) and the Chief of the
Air Staff (rank of air marshal) with the president as the supreme
commander. The Chief of the Air Staff was raised to the rank of air
chief marshal in 1965 and the Chief of the Naval Staff raised to the
rank of admiral in 1968.
Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces
According to Article 10 of the Constitution of Indonesia, the
President of Indonesia
President of Indonesia holds the supreme command of the Indonesian
National Armed Forces. Day-to-day operations of the Armed Forces is
handled by the commander of the Armed Forces (Indonesian: Panglima
TNI, a 4-star officer whom can be
General (Army/Marine), Admiral
Air Chief Marshal
Air Chief Marshal (Air Force)).
Indonesian Armed Forces has three service branches: Indonesian Army,
Indonesian Navy (including Indonesian Marine Corps), and Indonesian
Air Forces. Each service branch is headed by a Chief of Staff (also a
4-star officer) who has the task of developing soldier professionalism
in each branch. However, the commanding authority is held by Commander
of Indonesian National Armed Forces. Commanders have direct commanding
authority to Main Combatants Command (Indonesian: Komando Utama
Tempur) from all service branches such as Army
Special Forces Command,
Army Strategic Reserve Command,
Military Area Command, Fleet Command,
Military Sea Traffic Command, National Air Defense Command and
Air-Force Operational Command. The
Commander of the Armed Forces is
appointed by the president from active Chiefs of Staff (Army, Navy, or
Air Force) and must get approval from the House of Representatives.
Chief of Staff is also appointed by the president from senior military
officers. The president as commander-in-chief also has authority in
senior military officer mutation and promotion in tour of duty.
Minister of Defense has responsibility to assist the president in
defense issues and create policies about authorization use of military
force, manage defense budget, etc. For authorization use of military
forces or declaration of war, the president must get approval from
House of Representatives. The
Commander of Armed Forces gives
recommendations to the Minister of Defense in creating national
Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Armed Forces
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the commander-in-chief of the Iranian
Before 1979, the
Shah was the commander-in-chief in Iran. After the
inception of the Islamic Republic, the
President of Iran
President of Iran was initially
appointed that task, with
Abolhassan Bani Sadr
Abolhassan Bani Sadr being the first
Abolhassan Bani Sadr
Abolhassan Bani Sadr was impeached on 22
June 1981. It was after this event that the role of commander-in-chief
Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran was given to the
Supreme Leader of Iran.
Commander of the Defence Forces is the
Ireland, but in practice the Minister for Defence acts on the
President's behalf and reports to the Government of Ireland. The
Minister for Defence is advised by the Council of Defence on the
business of the Department of Defence. The Defence Forces are
organised under the Chief of Staff, a three star officer, and are
organised into three service branches, the Army, Naval Service, and
The Constitution of Italy, in article 87, states that the
the Republic: "is the commander of the armed forces and chairman of
the supreme defense council constituted by law; he declares war
according to the decision of the parliament".
Chapter 131 of the
Constitution of Kenya
Constitution of Kenya identifies the
Commander-in-Chief of the
Kenya Defence Forces
Kenya Defence Forces and the chairperson
of the National Security Council. The
President appoints a chief
of general staff, known as the Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, who
acts as the principal military adviser to the
President and the
National Security Council. The Chief of the
Kenya Defence Forces
Kenya Defence Forces is
drawn from one of the branches of the Armed Forces, the Kenya Army,
Kenya Navy or the Kenya Air Force.
In accordance with Article 41 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia,
Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Supreme
Commander of the Malaysian Armed
Forces. As such, he is the highest-ranking officer in the military
establishment, with the power to appoint the Chief of Staff (on the
advice of the Armed Forces Council). He also appoints the service
heads of each of the three branches of the military.
The Federal Constitution establishes that the office of Supreme
Commander is attached to the person of the
Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Yang di-Pertuan Agong as
the Federation's head of state:
Federal Constitution, Article 41 - The
Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be
Commander of the Armed Forces of the Federation.
The Federal Parliament passed the Federal Armed Forces Act to
consolidate in one law all regulations that govern the three services
( Army, Navy, and Air Force ). It establishes the function and duties
of the Federal Head of State in the capacity as Supreme Commander.
In the Republic of Mauritius, the
President of the Republic is the
commander-in-chief, according to Article 28 of the Constitution.
After independence in 1968,
Mauritius continued to recognise the Queen
of Mauritius, as represented by the Governor-
General of Mauritius, as
commander-in-chief. After the country was proclaimed a Commonwealth
Republic in 1992, the new constitution stipulated that a President
would assume the position of the head of state and commander-in-chief.
In accordance with the Nigerian Constitution, the
President of Nigeria
is the commander-in-chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Harald V, King of Norway, officially retains executive power. Article
25 of the constitution states: "The King is commander-in-chief of the
armed forces of the realm"
However, following the introduction of a parliamentary system of
government, the duties of the Monarch have since become strictly
representative and ceremonial, such as the formal appointment and
dismissal of the Prime Minister and other ministers in the executive
government. Accordingly, the Monarch is commander-in-chief of the
Norwegian Armed Forces, and serves as chief diplomatic official abroad
and as a symbol of unity.
In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, before the 1973 Constitution, the
head of the army, i.e., the Chief of the Army Staff, was referred as
Commander-in-Chief.:105 The term was replaced by Chief of Army
Staff on 20 March 1972:62 The Chief of Army Staff is a four-star
general whose term is 3 years, but can be extended or renewed once.
The Chief of Army Staff is chosen by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
President of the Philippines
President of the Philippines is both head of state and head of
government, and is mandated by Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987
Constitution to be
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
During the Fourth Republic, the 1973 Constitution introduced by
Ferdinand Marcos created a semi-presidential system that split the
Executive into two, with the prime minister retaining the office of
commander-in-chief and the president reduced to a figurehead. The
wording of Article VII, Section 9 in the previous constitution enabled
Marcos as commander-in-chief to declare Martial Law and suspend the
writ of habeas corpus on 21 September 1972. Marcos also issued an
edict, conferring the rank of five-star general in the military to the
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He consequently
sat as both president and prime minister until 1981, when Cesar Virata
succeeded him to the latter office.
Salvador Laurel was the country's
last prime minister when the office was abolished after the 1986
People Power Revolution, and the position's powers (including military
authority) were again merged with the Presidency.
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
President Rodrigo Duterte, serving as the supreme commander of all
Filipino military units in the Philippines.
In Poland, the
Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed
Forces. However, the art. 134 ust. 4 of the constitution states:
President of the Republic, for a period of war, shall appoint the
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on request of the Prime
Minister. He may dismiss the
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in
accordance with the same procedure. The authority of the
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, as well as the principle of
his subordination to the constitutional organs of the Republic of
Poland, shall be specified by statute.
During the interbellum period, the
General Inspector of the Armed
Forces was appointed the commander-in-chief for the time of war
Commander of the Armed Forces). However, after the war this
function ceased to exist—thus it is likely that if Poland formally
participates in a war, Chief of the
General Staff of the Polish Armed
Forces will be appointed Supreme Commander.
President of the Portuguese Republic is the constitutional Supreme
Commander of the Armed Forces (in Portuguese: Comandante Supremo das
Forças Armadas). However, the operational command is delegated in the
Chief of the
General Staff of the Armed Forces.
In the Portuguese military parlance, the term "Commander-in-Chief" (in
Portuguese: comandante-em-chefe or simply comandante-chefe) refers to
the unified military commander of all the land, naval and air forces
in a theater of operations.
Republic of China
As stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of China, the
President is also the
Commander-in-Chief of the ROC Armed Forces
Military Police), the
Special Forces, and the National
The ceremony of passing the
Cheget (i.e. the nuclear briefcase) from
Dmitry Medvedev's military aide to Vladimir Putin's military aide
during the 2012 presidential inauguration.
According to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, (Chapter 4,
Article 87, Section 1) the
President is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief
of the Armed Forces. The
President approves the military doctrine
and appoints the defense minister and the chief and other members of
the general staff.
Russian Armed Forces
Russian Armed Forces is divided into three services: the Russian
Ground Forces, the Russian Navy, and the Russian Air Force. In
addition there are three independent arms of service: Strategic
Missile Troops, Russian Aerospace Defense Forces, and the Russian
Airborne Troops. The Air Defence Troops, the former Soviet Air Defence
Forces, have been subordinated into the Air Force since 1998.
Article 60 of the
Basic Law of Saudi Arabia
Basic Law of Saudi Arabia states: "The King is the
commander-in-chief of all the armed forces. He appoints officers and
puts an end to their duties in accordance with the law."
Article 61 further states: "The King declares a state of emergency,
general mobilization and war, and the law defines the rules for this."
Lastly, Article 62 states: "If there is a danger threatening the
safety of the Kingdom or its territorial integrity, or the security of
its people and its interests, or which impedes the functioning of the
state institutions, the King may take urgent measures in order to deal
with this danger And if the King considers that these measures should
continue, he may then implement the necessary regulations to this
In accordance with the law, the
President of Serbia is
Commander-in-chief of Armed Forces and in command of the military. He
appoints, promotes and recalls officers of the Army of Serbia.
In Slovenia, the commander-in-chief is formally the
Slovenia, although he or she does not exercise this position in
peacetime. Instead, this role is usually assumed by the Minister of
King Felipe VI at the Naval NCO Academy in 2014.
As with most remaining European monarchies, the position of the
Spanish monarch as the nominal head of the armed forces is deeply
rooted in traditions going centuries back.
Spanish Constitution of 1978
Spanish Constitution of 1978 gives the King in article 62 (h):
supreme command of the Armed Forces
However, article 64 require that all official acts of the King must be
countersigned, by the
President of the Government or other competent
minister, for them to become valid. Furthermore, article 97 stipulates
The Government shall conduct domestic and foreign policy, civil and
military administration and the defence of the State
And article 98 furthermore specifies the composition of the Government
(which the King is not a member of). No provision in the constitution
requires the King/Government to seek approval from the Cortes
Generales before sending the armed forces abroad.
Since 1984, the Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of
the armed forces and, under the authority of the Minister of Defence,
is responsible for military operations and military organisation.
As head of state, the
President of Sri Lanka, is nominally the
commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The National Security Council,
chaired by the president is the authority charged with formulating and
executing defence policy for the nation. The highest level of military
headquarters is the Ministry of Defence, since 1978 except for a few
rare occasions the president retained the portfolio defence, thus
being the Minister of Defence. The ministry and the armed forces have
been controlled by the during these periods by either a Minister of
Deputy Minister for defence, and of recently the Permanent
Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. Prior to 1978 the prime minister
held the portfolio of
Minister of Defence and External Affairs, and
was supported by a
Parliamentary Secretary for Defence and External
Responsibility for the management of the forces is Ministry of
Defence, while the planning and execution of combined operations is
the responsibility of the Joint Operations Command (JOC). The JOC is
headed by the Chief of the Defence Staff who is the most senior
officer in the Armed Forces and is an appointment that can be held by
an Air Chief Marshal, Admiral, or General. The three services have
their own respective professional chiefs: the
Commander of the Army,
Commander of the Navy and the
Commander of the Air Force, who have
In Suriname, the constitution gives the president "supreme authority
over the armed forces and all of its members".
The King is
Commander in Chief of the Umbufto Swazi Defence Force
See also: Head of the Royal Thai Armed Forces
The "Head of the Thai Armed Forces" (Thai:
จอมทัพไทย; RTGS: Chom Thap Thai) is a position
vested in the Thai monarch, most recently held by King Bhumibol
Adulyadej until his death in October 2016, who as sovereign and head
of state is the commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Armed Forces.
President of Turkey and
Commander-in-chief of Turkish Armed
Forces Mareşal Mustafa Kemal Pasha (center),
General Mehmet Emin
General Ali Sait Pasha (right) at İnebolu in 1925.
President of the Republic of Turkey has the constitutional right to
represent the Supreme
Military Command of the Turkish Armed Forces, on
behalf of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, and to decide on the
mobilization of the Turkish Armed Forces, to appoint the Chief of the
General Staff, to call the National Security Council to meet, to
preside over the National Security Council, to proclaim martial law or
state of emergency, and to issue decrees having the force of law, upon
a decision of the Council of Ministers meeting under his/her
chairmanship. With all these issues above written in the Constitution
of Turkey, the executive rights are given to the
President of the
Republic of Turkey to be represented as the commander-in-chief of the
Commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces
The British monarch is the "Head of the Armed Forces" and their
commander-in-chief. Long-standing constitutional convention,
however, has vested de facto executive authority, by the exercise of
Royal Prerogative powers, in the prime minister and the Secretary of
State for Defence. The Prime Minister (acting with the support of the
Cabinet) makes the key decisions on the use of the armed
forces. The Queen, however, remains the "ultimate authority"
of the military, with officers and personnel swearing allegiance only
to the monarch. A new constitutional convention appears to have
become enshrined since the 2003 war in Iraq, whereby the UK will only
take military action (other than in circumstances of having to
immediately react defensively) with the consent of the House of
Commons. Ultimately however The Queen remains the "ultimate authority"
and can exercise such at will. As well as the
Military the UK Police
forces also swear allegiance only to the Monarch, not the Government.
This is to ensure that Government Officials (including the Prime
Minister) can be arrested for committing indictable offences just as
any normal citizen, and are therefore not 'above the law' unlike the
The Ministry of Defence is the Government department and highest level
of military headquarters charged with formulating and executing
defence policy for the Armed Forces; it employed 103,930 civilians in
2006. The department is controlled by the Secretary of State
for Defence (or "the Defence Secretary") and contains three deputy
Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Minister for
Defence Procurement, and Minister for Veterans' Affairs.
Responsibility for the management of the forces is delegated to a
number of committees: the Defence Council, Chiefs of Staff Committee,
Defence Management Board, and three single-service boards. The Defence
Council, composed of senior representatives of the services and the
Ministry of Defence, provides the "formal legal basis for the conduct
of defence". The three constituent single-service committees
(Admiralty Board, Army Board, and Air Force Board) are chaired by the
Secretary of State for Defence.
The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the Armed
Forces and is an appointment that can be held by an Admiral, General
Air Chief Marshal
Air Chief Marshal (four-star officers). Before the practice was
discontinued in the 1990s, those who were appointed to the position of
CDS (professional head of the Armed Forces) had been elevated to the
most senior rank in their respective service (a five-star
officer). The CDS, along with the Permanent Under Secretary, are
the principal advisers to the departmental minister. The three
services have their own respective professional chiefs (likewise
four-star officers): the
First Sea Lord
First Sea Lord who is also Chief of Naval
Staff, the Chief of the
General Staff and the Chief of the Air Staff.
Historic office of Commander-in-Chief
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
From 1660 until 1904 the professional head of the Army was known as
Commander-in-Chief and as such had significant independence and
power. Under the Commonwealth Government, the
Commander-in-chief was a
de facto head of state.
Military and Air commands
Until 2012 each of the three services also had one or more commands
with a (four-star) commander-in-chief in charge of operations. These
Commander-in-Chief Fleet (CINCFLEET – sharing a
Command HQ with
Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command (CINCNAVHOME)),
Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces (CINCLAND) and
(CINCAIR). (At one time there were many more Naval,
Military and Air
Commands, each with (in many cases) their own Commanders-in-Chief.)
Since 2012, however, full operational command has been vested in the
three Chiefs of Staff, and the appointment of distinct
Commanders-in-Chief has been discontinued. This change was implemented
in response to the 2011 Levene report, which advised that it would
serve to "streamline top-level decision-making, simplify lines of
accountability..., remove duplication between the posts and also
provide impetus to the leaning of the senior leadership". New
three-star appointments (Fleet Commander,
Commander Land Forces)
mirror the old ones, but these are subordinate officers with delegated
command responsibility, rather than Commanders-in-Chief.
King George II at the
Battle of Dettingen
Battle of Dettingen in 1743, by John Wootton. It
remains the last time a British monarch personally led his troops into
King George V inspecting the British 29th Division prior to the
division's departure for Gallipoli in 1915. The division commander,
General Aylmer Hunter-Weston, rides alongside the King at the
right of the photo.
Queen Elizabeth II posing for a photograph with soldiers from the
Household Cavalry, at
Combermere Barracks in 2012.
A warning sign posted "By Command of the Defence Council".
In the colonies of the English Empire, and subsequently the British
Empire, the duties of Lords
Lieutenant were generally performed by the
Commander-in-Chief or the Governor. Both offices may have been
occupied by the same person.
By way of an example, this is still the case in Britain's second, and
oldest remaining, where the Royal Navy's headquarters, main base, and
dockyard for the North America and West Indies Station was established
following independence of the United States of America. The colony had
Militia and Volunteer forces since official settlement in 1612
(with a troop-of-horse added later), and a small force of regular
infantry from 1701 to 1783. A large regular army garrison was built up
after 1794, and the reserve forces faded away following the conclusion
of the American
War of 1812
War of 1812 as the local government lost interest in
paying for their upkeep. From this point until the 1960s, Governors
were almost exclusively senior officers of the Royal Artillery or
Royal Engineers who were also military Commanders-in-Chief (and
initially also Vice Admirals). Attempts to rekindle the militia
Militia Act or funds from the colonial government were made
throughout the century under the authorisation of the
Commander-in-Chief, but none proved lasting. The colonial government
was finally compelled to raise militia and volunteer forces (the
Bermuda Militia Artillery
Bermuda Militia Artillery and the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle
Corps by act
in the 1890s (the Bermuda Cadet Corps, Bermuda Volunteer Engineers,
Bermuda Militia Infantry
Bermuda Militia Infantry were added at later dates), and these
fell under the
Governor and Commander-in-Chief, as well as under
operational control of his junior, the
Brigadier in charge of the
Bermuda Command (or Bermuda Garrison, which included the regular as
well as the part-time military (as opposed to naval) forces in the
colony. Although the Royal Naval and the regular army establishments
have been withdrawn from Bermuda, the
Governor of Bermuda remains the
Commander-in-Chief (though most recent office holders have not been
career army officers) of the Royal Bermuda
Regiment (a 1965 amalgam of
the BMA and BVRC, which had both been re-organised in line with the
Territorial Army after the First World War).
According to Article II, Section 2, Clause I of the Constitution, the
President of the United States is “
Commander in Chief of the Army
and Navy of the United States, and of the
Militia of the several
States, when called into the actual Service of the United
States.” Since the National Security Act of 1947, this has been
understood to mean all United States Armed Forces. U.S. ranks have
their roots in British military traditions, with the President
possessing ultimate authority, but no rank, maintaining a civilian
status, other than the title of
Commander in Chief. The exact
degree of authority that the Constitution grants to the
Commander in Chief has been the subject of much debate throughout
history, with Congress at various times granting the
authority and at others attempting to restrict that authority.
The amount of military detail handled personally by the
wartime has varied dramatically. George Washington, the first U.S.
president, firmly established military subordination under civilian
authority. In 1794, Washington used his constitutional powers to
assemble 12,000 militia to quell the Whiskey Rebellion—a conflict in
western Pennsylvania involving armed farmers and distillers who
refused to pay excise tax on spirits. According to historian Joseph
Ellis, this was the "first and only time a sitting American president
led troops in the field", though
James Madison briefly took control of
artillery units in defense of Washington D.C. during the War of
Abraham Lincoln was deeply involved in overall strategy and in
day-to-day operations during the American Civil War, 1861–1865;
historians have given Lincoln high praise for his strategic sense and
his ability to select and encourage commanders such as Ulysses S.
Grant. On the other extreme,
Woodrow Wilson paid very little
attention to operational military details of
World War I
World War I and had very
little contact with the War Department or with
General John J.
Pershing, who had a high degree of autonomy as commander of the armies
in France. As
President in World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt
worked closely with his generals, and admirals, and assigned Admiral
William D. Leahy
William D. Leahy as Chief of Staff to the
Commander in Chief.
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman believed in a high amount of civilian leadership of
the military, making many tactical and policy decisions based on the
recommendations of his advisors—including the decision to use atomic
weapons on Japan, to commit American forces in the Korean War, and to
Douglas MacArthur from his command. Lyndon B. Johnson
kept a very tight personal control of operations during the Vietnam
War, which some historians have sharply criticized.
In 1990, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the ensuing
Gulf War in
George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush assemble and lead one of the largest
military coalitions of nations in modern times. Confronting a major
constitutional issue of murky legislation that left the wars in Korea
and Vietnam without official declarations of war, Congress quickly
authorized sweeping war-making powers for Bush. The leadership of
George W. Bush
George W. Bush during the War in Afghanistan and
Iraq War achieved
mixed results. In the aftermath of the
September 11 attacks
September 11 attacks by
al-Qaeda, the subsequent
War on Terror
War on Terror that followed, and the 2003
invasion of Iraq due to Iraq's sponsorship of terrorism and alleged
possession of weapons of mass destruction, the speed at which the
Taliban and Ba'ath Party governments in both Kabul and Baghdad were
toppled by an overwhelming superiority of American and allied forces
defied the predictions of many military experts. However, insufficient
post-war planning and strategy by Bush and his advisors to rebuild
those nations were costly.
Before 1947, the
President was the only common superior of the Army
(under the Secretary of War) and the Navy and Marine
Corps (under the
Secretary of the Navy). The National Security Act of 1947, and the
1949 amendments to the same act, created the Department of Defense and
the services (Army, Navy, Marine
Corps and Air Force) became subject
to the "authority, direction and control" of the Secretary of Defense;
the civilian cabinet-level official serving as the head of the
Department of Defense and who is appointed by the
President with the
advice and consent of the Senate.
Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986 codified the default operational
chain of command: running from the
President to the Secretary of
Defense, and from the
Secretary of Defense to the combatant
commander. While the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
outranks all other military officers, he does not have operational
command authority over the Armed Forces. However, the chairman does
President and the
Secretary of Defense in the exercise of
their command functions.
During the 20th century, certain area commanders came to be called
"Commander-in-chief". As of 2011, there are nine combatant
commanders: six have regional responsibilities, and three have
functional responsibilities. Before 2002, the combatant commanders
were referred to in daily use as "Commanders-in-chief" (for instance:
Commander in chief, U.S. Central Command"), even though the offices
were in fact already designated as "combatant commander" (CCDR) in the
law specifying the positions. On 24 October 2002, Secretary of
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Donald H. Rumsfeld announced his decision that the use of
"Commander-in-chief" would thereafter be reserved for the President
A painting depicting
George Washington and his troops before
their march to suppress the
Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania,
Abraham Lincoln and
George B. McClellan
George B. McClellan in a
military tent after the Battle of Antietam, 1862.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson awards the Distinguished Service Cross to
Lieutenant Marty A. Hammer in Vietnam, 1966.
The Football is a briefcase, carried by an aide-de-camp, which gives
President the ability to access the
Gold Codes and to launch a
nuclear attack while away from a fixed command center.
Mike Mullen and
Secretary of Defense
Robert M. Gates
Robert M. Gates attend a
meeting of combatant commanders with
George W. Bush
George W. Bush in the
Cabinet Room at the White House, 2008.
Donald Trump (third from right), as commander-in-chief,
meets with Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central
Command Commander, and Gen. Raymond A. "Tony" Thomas, U.S. Special
Commander at USCENTCOM headquarters on MacDill Air
Force Base, 2017.
In U.S. states, the governor also serves as the commander-in-chief of
the National Guard, State Militia, and State Defense Forces. In the
Commonwealth of Kentucky, for example, KRS 37.180 states:
Governor shall be commander in chief of the Kentucky active
militia, and the adjutant general shall be the executive officer and
shall be responsible to the
Governor for the proper functioning of the
Kentucky active militia, and he is hereby authorized and empowered to
take necessary action to perfect and maintain an efficient
organization for the purposes herein set out. He shall have charge of
all matters of administration and organization, which shall be in all
respects, insofar as necessary and applicable, the same as that of the
Similarly, Section 7 of Article 5 of the Constitution of the State
of California states:
Governor is commander in chief of a militia that shall be provided
by statute. The
Governor may call it forth to execute the law.
The commander-in-chief of the armed forces is the
Vietnam, through his post as Chairman of National Defense and Security
Council. Though this position is nominal and real power is assumed by
Military Commission of the Communist Party of Vietnam. The
Secretary of Central
Military Commission (usually the General
Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam) is the de facto
Minister of Defence oversees operations of the Ministry of
Defence, and the Vietnam People's Army. He also oversees such agencies
General Staff and the
General Logistics Department. However,
military policy is ultimately directed by the Central Military
Commission of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.
Other officeholders as commanders-in-chief or other situations
The 1995 Constitution designates the
Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Prime Minister of Ethiopia as
Commander-in-Chief of the national armed forces" in Article
Upon the re-militarization of
West Germany in 1955, when it joined
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany was amended in
1956 to include constitutional provisions for the command of the armed
In peacetime, under Article 65a, the Federal Minister of Defence
(German: Bundesminister der Verteidigung) holds the supreme command
authority (German: Inhaber der Befehls- und Kommandogewalt - IBuK)
over the German Armed Forces.
Bundestag declares the state of defence (German:
Verteidigungsfall), the Federal Chancellor, under Article 115b,
assumes the command authority over the armed forces. As of
2016[update], this has never happened.
President of Germany has thus no role in the command of the
forces, although he continues to receive the ceremonial honors due to
his position as a head of state.
Werner von Blomberg
Werner von Blomberg (left) saluting
Adolf Hitler (right) with a baton
at the 1937 Nuremberg Rally.
The rationale for placing the command authority over the armed forces
directly with the responsible minister in charge of the military
establishment, and thus breaking with the longstanding German
constitutional tradition in both earlier monarchical and republican
systems of placing it with the head of state, was that in a democratic
parliamentary system the command authority should directly reside
where it would be exercised and where it is subject to the
parliamentary control of the
Bundestag at all times. By assigning it
directly to the responsible minister, instead of with the Federal
Chancellor, this also meant that military affairs is but one of the
many integrated responsibilities of the government; in stark contrast
of earlier times when the separate division of the military
establishment from the civil administration allowed the former to act
as a state within a state (in contrast to the Federal Republic, the
Weimar Republic began with the Ebert–Groener pact, which kept the
military establishment as an autonomous force outside the control of
politics; the 1925 election of
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg as Reichpräsident,
surrounded by his camarilla, did little to reverse the trend).
The legislature of the
German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic (GDR), the
Volkskammer, enacted on 13 February 1960 the Law on the Formation of
the National Defense Council of the GDR, which established a council
consisting of a chairman and at least 12 members. This was later
incorporated into the GDR Constitution in April 1968. The National
Defense Council held the supreme command of the National People's Army
(including the internal security forces), and the Council's chairman
General Secretary of the ruling Socialist Unity Party)
was considered the GDR's commander-in-chief.
The GDR joined with the
Federal Republic of Germany
Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990,
upon which the GDR's constitution and armed forces were abolished.
During the Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire,
Weimar Republic and the
Nazi era, whoever was the head of state—the King of Prussia/German
Emperor (under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Prussia/Constitution
of the German Empire) to 1918, the Reichspräsident (under the Weimar
Constitution) to 1934, and the
Führer from 1934 to 1945—was the
Head of the Armed Forces (German: Oberbefehlshaber: literally "Supreme
Below the level of the Head of State, each military branch (German:
Teilstreitkraft) had its own head who reported directly to the Head of
State and held the highest rank in his service; in the
Generalfeldmarschall, and in the
Reichsmarine - Grossadmiral.
Adolf Hitler assumed power as Führer (after the
President Paul von Hindenburg), he would later grant his war
Generalfeldmarschall Werner von Blomberg, the title of
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in 1935, when conscription was
reintroduced. However, in 1938 due to the Blomberg–Fritsch Affair,
Hitler withdrew the
Commander-in-Chief title, abolished the war
ministerial post and assumed personal command of the Armed Forces. The
war ministerial post was de facto overtaken by the Oberkommando der
Wehrmacht, which was headed by
Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel
until the German surrender.
According to Article 45 of the Greek Constitution, the
the Head of the Greek Armed Forces, but their administration is
exercised by the Government. The Prime Minister, the Minister for
National Defence and the Chief of the
General Staff are the ones who
command the Armed Forces.
In Israel, the applicable basic law states that the ultimate authority
Israel Defense Forces rests with the Government of Israel
(chaired by the Prime Minister) as a collective body. The authority of
the Government is exercised by the Minister of Defense on behalf of
the Government. However, the
Commander-in-Chief of the IDF is the
General Staff who, despite being subordinate to the Minister
of Defense, holds the highest level of command within the
In Japan, prior to the
Meiji Restoration the role of the
commander-in-chief was vested in the shōgun (the most militarily
powerful samurai daimyō). After the dissolution of the Tokugawa
shogunate the role of the commander-in-chief, resided with the Emperor
of Japan. The present-day constitutional role of the Emperor is that
of a ceremonial figurehead without any military role.
After Japan's move towards democracy, the position of
Commander-in-Chief of the
Japanese Self-Defence Forces
Japanese Self-Defence Forces is held by the
Prime Minister of Japan.
Military authority runs from the Prime
Minister to the cabinet-level Minister of Defense of the Japanese
Ministry of Defense.
Malta Armed Forces Act does not directly establish the President
Malta as the Supreme
Commander of the Armed Forces. However,
Maltese law allows the
President to raise by voluntary enlistment and
maintain an armed force. Likewise, the law allows the
issue orders in order to the administrate the armed forces.
It is important to note that the Armed Forces do not swear allegiance
Malta but rather to the Republic of Malta. On this
basis, there is no direct link between the head of state and the armed
forces. For this reason, this link is mediated by the Minister
responsible for defence.
Nonetheless, the Presidential Palaces are guarded by the Armed Forces
as a symbolic gesture of social cohesion.
See also Tatmadaw
Myanmar Commander-in Chief,Senior
General Min Aung Hlaing
Royal insignia (Dutch: distinctief) worn by King Willem-Alexander,
instead of a regular military rank, whenever he wears a Dutch military
Constitution of the Netherlands
Constitution of the Netherlands states, in article 97, that "the
Government shall have supreme authority over the armed forces".
Article 42 defines the Government as the Monarch and the ministers,
and that only ministers are responsible for acts of government.
Article 45 further defines the ministers as constituting the Cabinet,
chaired by the Prime Minister, with "authority to decide upon overall
Before a constitution change took place in 1983, even though the
equivalent section stated that: "The King shall have supreme authority
over the armed forces"; that did not give the monarch any autonomous
Minister of Defence has the primary ministerial responsibility for
the armed forces, which are formally a part of the Ministry of
Chief of Defence
Chief of Defence is the highest ranked professional
military officer, and serves as an intermediary between the Minister
of Defence and the Armed Forces, and is responsible to the Minister
for military-strategic planning, operations and deployment of the
Flag of the Supreme Commander
Constitution of North Korea
Constitution of North Korea is ambiguous about which official
really is the country's head of state.
Is it the Eternal
President of the Republic, the late Kim Il-sung,
designated as such in the preamble;
is it the
President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly,
who under article 117 of the constitution directs the work of the
Presidium, represents the State, and accredits North Korean diplomats
and receives credentials from foreign diplomats;
or is it the
Chairman of the National Defence Commission
Chairman of the National Defence Commission who in
article 100 is described as the "highest military leading organ of
State power and an organ for general control over national defense of
the Democratic People's Republic of Korea"?
In any case, the North Korean constitution, in article 102, is quite
explicit regarding which official commands the armed forces:
Chairman of the National Defence Commission
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea is the supreme commander of the whole armed
forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and commands and
directs all the armed forces of the State.
The Chairman is formally elected by the Supreme People's Assembly
(article 91:5) and serves for terms of office of five years
(articles 101 & 90:1); but in practice, the office is
hereditary within the Kim Dynasty, as the late
Kim Jong-il was
posthumously designated as "Eternal Chairman of the National Defence
Commission", while his son, Kim Jong-un, was appointed as the "First
Chairman of the National Defence Commission".
The Swedish Monarch (King Carl XVI Gustaf) is no longer the
Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish Armed Forces, although he continues
to receive treatment befitting a head of state.
In Sweden, with the
Ordinance of Alsnö in 1280, nobles were exempted
from land taxation if they provided cavalrymen to the King's service.
Swedish War of Liberation
Swedish War of Liberation (1521–53) from the Kalmar
Union, a Guards
Regiment was formed under the King and from there the
Swedish Army has its roots. During the age of the Swedish
Empire, several kings—Gustavus Adolphus, Charles X, Charles XI &
Charles XII—personally led their forces into battle. Under the
Instrument of Government of 1809, which was in force until the current
Instrument of Government of 1974 went into force on 1 January 1975;
the Monarch was in §§ 14-15 explicitly designated as the
Commander-in-Chief of the
Swedish Armed Forces
Swedish Armed Forces (Swedish: Högste
At present, the Government (Swedish: Regeringen) as a collective body,
chaired and formed by the Prime Minister of Sweden, holds the highest
Executive Authority, subject to the will of the Riksdag; and is thus
the present day closest equivalent of a command-in-chief, although not
explicitly designated as such. The reason for this change was,
apart from the fact that the King was since 1917 no longer expected to
make political decisions without ministerial advice, that the new
Instrument of Government was intended to be made as descriptive on the
workings of the State as possible, and reflective on how decisions are
actually made. Minister of Justice
Lennart Geijer further remarked in
the government bill that any continued pretensions of royal
involvement in government decisions would be of a "fictitious nature"
and "highly unsatisfactory".
Certain Government decisions regarding the Armed Forces (Swedish:
Särskilda regeringsbeslut) may be delegated to the Minister for
Defence, under the supervision of the Prime Minister and to the extent
laid down in ordinances.
To add to some confusion to the above, the title of the agency head of
Swedish Armed Forces
Swedish Armed Forces and highest ranked commissioned officer on
active duty, is actually Supreme
Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces
However, the Monarch (as of present King Carl XVI Gustaf), is still a
four-star general and admiral à la suite in the Swedish Army, Navy
and Air Force and is by unwritten convention regarded as the foremost
representative of the Swedish Armed Forces. The King has, as part
of his court, a military staff. The military staff is headed by a
senior officer (usually a general or admiral, retired from active
service) and is composed of active duty military officers serving as
aides to the King and his family.
The epaulet for the wartime-only office and rank of General.
Supreme authority over the military belongs to the Federal Council,
which is the Swiss collegial head of state. Nothwithstanding the
previous sentence, under the Constitution, the Federal Council can
only, in the operational sense, command a maximum of 4,000 soldiers,
with a time limit of three weeks of mobilisation. For it to field
more service personnel, the Federal Assembly must elect a
below) who is given four stars. Thus, the
General is elected
by the Federal Assembly to give him the same democratic legitimacy as
the Federal Council.
In peacetime, the Armed Forces are led by the Chief of the Armed
Forces (Chef der Armee), who reports to the head of the Federal
Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports and to the Federal
Council as a whole. The Chief of the Armed Forces has the rank of
Korpskommandant or Commandant de corps (OF-8 in
In a time of declared war or national emergency, however, the Federal
Assembly, assembled as the United Federal Assembly, specifically for
the purpose of taking on the war-time responsibilities elect a General
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces under Article 168 of the
Constitution. While The
General acts as the highest military authority
with a high degree of autonomy, he is still subordinate to the Federal
Council (See Articles 58, 60, 174, 177, 180 & 185). The
Federal Assembly retains the sole power to dismiss the General, but
General remains subordinate to the Federal Council by the
Council's ability to demobilise and hence making the position of
Four generals were appointed in Swiss history,
General Henri Dufour
during the Swiss Civil War,
Hans Herzog during the
Ulrich Wille during the First World War,
Henri Guisan during the
Second World War
Second World War ("la Mob", "the
Mobilisation"). Although Switzerland remained neutral during the
latter three conflicts, the threat of having its territory used as a
battlefield by the much bigger war parties of Germany and France
required mobilization of the army.
NATO and the European Union, the term
Chief of Defence
Chief of Defence (CHOD)
is usually used as a generic term for the highest-ranked office held
by a professional military officer on active duty, irrespective of
their actual title or powers.
Other Articles of Interest
Civilian control of the military
Command and control
Minister of Defence
State within a state
^ For example: "Ordered, That this House joins and agrees with the
House of Commons in this Vote; and that the Lord
Admiral is hereby
desired, from both Houses of Parliament, that the
Commander in Chief
of this Summer's Fleet under his Lordship, may be the Earl of
Warwicke.", House of Lords Journal 15 March 1642
^ Dupuy, Trevor N., Curt Johnson, and Grace P. Hayes. "Supreme
Commander." Dictionary of
Military Terms. New York: The H.W. Wilson
^ "CONSTITUTION OF THE ARGENTINE NATION". Argentine Senate. Archived
from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
^ "Ministerio de Defensa" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on
18 September 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
^ "The Constitution as in force on 1 June 2003 together with
proclamation declaring the establishment of the Commonwealth, letters
patent relating to the Office of Governor-General, Statute of
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