About the CDS - Responsibilities

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The Chief of the Defence Staff has primary responsibility for command, control and administration of the Canadian Forces and military strategy, plans and requirements.

The Chief of the Defence Staff is appointed by the Governor-in-Council on the advice of the Prime Minister. The CDS also has a special relationship to the Governor General who, as the Queen's representative in Canada, exercises virtually all of her powers under the Constitution and, therefore, serves as Commander in Chief of the Canadian Forces. Thus there is in formal terms, though not in practice, a direct "line of command" from the Head of State through the CDS to all the officers who hold the Queen's Commission and, through them, to all members of the Canadian Forces.

The Chief of the Defence Staff is charged with the command, control and administration of the Canadian Forces and advises the Minister on all these matters - including military requirements, capabilities, options and the possible consequences of undertaking or failing to undertake various military activities. Whenever required, the Chief of the Defence Staff advises the Prime Minister and Cabinet directly on major military developments. The CDS is thus the senior military advisor to the Government as a whole.

The Chief of the Defence Staff implements government decisions involving the Canadian Forces by issuing appropriate orders and instructions. The CDS is accountable to the Minister for the conduct of CF activities, as well as for the condition of the Forces and their ability to fulfil the military commitments and obligations undertaken by the government.