skip to navigation skip to content skip to footer

Vice Chief of the Defence Force

Image of the Australian Defence Force Tri-Services Emblem

Vice Chief of the Defence Force

The Vice Chief of the Defence Force (VCDF) Vice Admiral David Johnston, AO, RAN is responsible for joint force integration, interoperability, designing the future force, preparedness and military strategy in his role as the Joint Force Authority. The Joint Force Authority is responsible for ensuring the current and future joint force meets the capability requirements directed by Government and preparedness requirements directed by Chief of the Defence Force (CDF).

VCDF is also the deputy to the CDF. In the absence of the CDF he assumes the role under the standing acting arrangements.


Vice Admiral David Johnston, AO, RAN

Vice Admiral David Johnston RAN was born in 1962 and entered the Royal Australian Naval College as a junior entry Cadet Midshipman in 1978. He graduated from the College in 1982 as a seaman officer, later specialising as a Principal Warfare Officer. He was appointed Vice Chief of the Defence Force on 7 July 2018.

His operational naval tours include serving as Commanding Officer of HMAS Adelaide (FFG 01) and HMAS Newcastle (FFG 06). In these commands he conducted border security patrols and deployed on Operation QUICKSTEP to Fiji in 2006. His staff appointments include Command and Control specialist staff positions in Australian Defence Headquarters, Operations Manager at Sailors' Career Management and later as Director Joint Plans in Strategic Operations Division, where he developed strategic military response options for consideration by Government.

Commands and Divisions


Military Strategic Commitments Division provides strategic level management and situational awareness of potential and current ADF Commitments.


Military Strategic Plans Division provides a strategic military planning capability that complements the existing strategic framework, strengthens the strategic centre and enhances the link between policy, strategy and operations.


Force Design Division’s role is to test the force in being, provide preparedness assurance, design and guide the development of a balanced and affordable future force, in order to provide the Government of Australia a capable, agile and potent Joint Force.


Force Integration Division's role is to execute the Joint Capability Management, Command, Control, Communications, Computer Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Design Authority, Joint Test and Evaluation, and Integration and Interoperability assurance roles on behalf of the VCDF.