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A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces. Some country's commander-in-chief does not need to have been a soldier or involved in the military. The term was first used by King Charles I of England in 1639.

Commanders-in-Chief is sometimes referred to as Supreme Commander, which is sometimes used as a specific term.[1]


The role of command in chief is done by the Governor-General of Australia as the Queen's representative.[2]

United Kingdom

The title Commander-in-Chief is rarely used by the King or Queen of England, but usually refers to local commanders-in-chief.


After independence from Britain on August 15, 1947, each Service was given its own Chief Commander (navy, army, airforce).


Before 1979, the Shah was the commander-in-chief in Iran. After the creation of the Islamic Republic, the Supreme Leader of Iran has taken on the role.


In Ireland, the commander-in-chief of the army is the President.


In Pakistan, the President is by law the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, however the elected Prime Minister has the real power.

Hong Kong

When Hong Kong was a British colony the Governor was also the Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong.

United States of America

Commander-in-chief is one of the many roles given to the president of the United States


  1. Dupuy, Trevor N., Curt Johnson, and Grace P. Hayes. "Supreme Commander." Dictionary of Military Terms. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1986.
  2. Address by HE the Rt Hon. Sir Ninian Stephen, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, on the occasion of the graduation of course no. 27/83 of the Joint Services Staff College, Canberra, on Tuesday, 12 June 1983: The Governor-General as Commander-in-ChiefLua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Category handler/data' not found.Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Category handler/data' not found.[dead link]