Air Chief Marshal

At this current moment in time the highest ranking person in the RAF is the Air Chief Marshall. As a Marshall of the RAF is only appointed in official war time. So what authority does the Air Chief Marshall actually have, as the “boss” of the RAF?

Like, could he super command the RAF and send them all to war, or his he just the most responsible person who delegates to people below him? As I can imagine him having executive power to higher and sack people.

The decision to go to war is not a military one, but a civilian one, devolved to the Government of the day by HM.

CAS is then consulted on how to deliver the war and told what the limits are. He administers the RAF, essentially.

And, fyi, it’s Marshal. Single l

1 Like

So I take it these day’s war is not an anything goes thing. Because even though there is the Geneva Convention, it’s not like the other country can do anything about it after you just beat them at war.

Remember we have a Civilian overview of the military through the Minister of Defence and the MoD. If an RAF officer decided to “go bad” they would very quickly be removed by the MoD.

It never really has been, but no, definitely not “anything goes”.

Amazon Prime it mate. Guaranteed delivery of war by midday the next day if you order it by 4pm. :slight_smile:

And they’ve got drones.


Jeff Bezos also has the money to fund such army if he wanted

This may seem an oblique way of gaining an understanding of defence policy and the prosecution of war, but the OP may wish to start by reading
British Naval Intelligence Through The Twentieth Century by Andrew Boyd

It’s fairly heavy going in places and understandably biased (prejudiced?) but nonetheless informative.


1 Like

In regards to your question about the rank of Air Chief Marshal and their responsibilities I’ll give you a simple answer. The rank alone carries no operational authority as people can be honorarily promoted to ACM, for example members of the Royal Family etc.

The Chief of the Air Staff, who’s the professional head of the Royal Air Force, is promoted to the rank of Air Chief Marshal upon appointment. This is the person who’s the “boss”, so-to-speak of the RAF. There’s also other people higher than the CAS who can also hold the rank of ACM, such as the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and Chief of the Defence Staff (if they were originally a member of the RAF); these two, although they hold RAF ranks, have authority over the whole of the British Armed Forces within reason.

About the rank of Marshal of the Royal Air Force, nowadays it is used as an honorary appointment for former Chief of the Defence Staffs and royals. MRAFs will not have operational authority, it’s simply used as a “gift” to former CDS’ and royals alike (if they served as an RAF officer during their career of course). MRAF is the equivalent of Admiral of the Fleet (Royal Navy) and Field Marshal (British Army). Same structure, different branches.

None of the people I mentioned can start a war or send anyone to war unless the government decide to go to war.


There is at least one surviving ‘real’ substantive MRAF, Lord Craig. 5* officers do not retire…!

Is Sir Peter Harding still about or has he passed on?

Sir Jock Stirrup got it on retirement didn’t he?

Harding died in August. Stirrup got the Honorary rank after retirement, never had it as a substantive rank.

The rank MRAF is only held in war time. So is there a reason why it can’t be held in times of peace or these days is MRAF reserved for royalty always.

Not really.

It’s more that it only because effective and necessary in times of total and massive war. We’ve had plenty of fights since and not had one.

1 Like

Not true, anyway - Lord Craig was CDS in the 1980s and was promoted to MRAF. It was more that it was a casualty of the reduction of the size of the armed forces following the end of the Cold War, and Options for Change. With the reduction in forces came a realisation we didn’t need 5* ranks for now, unless another major war brewed and there was a corresponding increase again.

He did but was it substantive or acting? I believe it was the latter.

Harding did resign his commission over the affair etc - only 5* to do so

Well certainly when the rules were changed so that all Officers serving could have the LSGC he was given his and it said MRAF in the Gazette. (This was in 2018).
Page 19121 | Supplement 62445, 23 October 2018 | London Gazette | The Gazette