The Adjutant-General to the Forces, commonly just referred to as the Adjutant-General (AG), was for just over 250 years one of the most senior officers in the British Army. He was latterly responsible for developing the Army's personnel policies and supporting its people. The Adjutant-General usually held the rank of general or lieutenant general. Despite his administrative role, the Adjutant-General, like most officers above the rank of major general, was invariably drawn from one of the combat arms, not from the support corps.
In origin the Adjutant-General was chief staff officer to the Commander-in-Chief of the Forces. The post of Adjutant-General is first recorded in 1673 and it was established on a permanent basis in the English Army from 1680. For a time there were two Adjutants-General, one 'for the Foot' and one 'for the Horse' until the two were consolidated into a single appointment 'of the Forces' in 1701. Until the passing of the respective Acts of Union there were Scottish and Irish Adjutants-General; on occasions a separate Adjutant-General would be appointed for deployments overseas; and the Board of Ordnance had an independent Adjutant-General and Deputy for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers (respectively) until they were integrated into the British Army in the 1850s.
In the 18th century the Adjutant-General was tasked with issuing orders to the Army, receiving monthly returns from the Regiments, regulation of officers' appointments and leave of absence, and oversight of military reviews, exercises, manoeuvres and matters of discipline. By the early 1800s the Adjutant-General had responsibility for 'all subjects connected with the Discipline, Equipment and Efficiency of the Army'; he also took on general responsibility for recruitment at this time. A century later he is described as 'a general officer and at the head of his department of the War Office, which is charged with all duties relative to personnel'.
In the 20th century the Adjutant-General was the Second Military Member of the Army Council and its successor the Army Board. Headquarters Adjutant-General was latterly based at the former RAF Upavon, now Trenchard Lines, Upavon, Wiltshire. On 1 April 2008 it amalgamated with HQ Land Command to form HQ Land Forces under 'Project Hyperion'.
In December 2009 it was announced that the responsibilities of the Commander Regional Forces (i.e. responsibility for support) would be subsumed within those of the Adjutant-General to the Forces who henceforth would take responsibility for both personnel and support. In 2015 the post was re-designated Commander Personnel and Support Command (renamed Commander Home Command the following year). In evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee the Chief of the General Staff explained:
- "In my new operating model, I no longer have an Adjutant-General. The reason that I do not have an Adjutant-General is that effectively I am the Adjutant-General. People matter so much to me that I have put that at the heart of my agenda. I am the first CGS ever to have done that." (14 June 2016)
The appointment of a Deputy Adjutant-General is first recorded in 1757, with Assistant Adjutants-General being appointed from 1806.
List of Adjutants-General to the Forces
Holders of the post include:
- 1763 to 1778 Lieutenant-General Edward Harvey
- 1778 to 1781 Lieutenant-General William Amherst
- 1781 to 1799 General Sir William Fawcett
- 1799 to 1820 Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Calvert
- 1820 to 1828 Major-General Sir Henry Torrens
- 1828 to 1830 Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert Taylor
- 1830 to 1850 Lieutenant-General Sir John Macdonald
- 1850 to 1853 General Sir George Brown
- 1853 to 1854 General Sir George Cathcart
- 1854 to 1860 General Sir George Weatherall
- 1860 to 1865 General Sir James Yorke Scarlett
- 1865 to 1870 General Lord William Paulet
- 1870 to 1876 General Sir Richard Airey
- 1876 to 1882 General Sir Charles Ellice
- 1882 to 1890 General Lord Wolseley
- 1882 Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Taylor
- 1890 to 1897 Lieutenant-General Sir Redvers Buller
- 1897 to 1901 Lieutenant-General Sir Evelyn Wood
- 1901 to 1904 Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Kelly-Kenny
- 1904 to 1909 Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Douglas
- 1909 to 1910 Lieutenant-General Sir Ian Hamilton
- 1910 to 1914 Lieutenant-General Sir Spencer Ewart
- 1914 to 1916 Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Sclater
- 1916 to 1918 Lieutenant-General Sir Nevil Macready
- 1918 to 1922 Lieutenant-General Sir George Macdonogh
- 1922 to 1923 Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Chetwode
- 1923 to 1927 Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Whigham
- 1927 to 1931 General Sir Walter Braithwaite
- 1931 to 1933 General Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd
- 1933 to 1935 General Sir Cecil Romer
- 1935 to 1937 General Sir Harry Knox
- 1937 to 1939 General Sir Clive Liddell
- 1939 to 1940 General Sir Robert Gordon-Finlayson
- 1940 to 1941 Lieutenant-General Colville Wemyss
- 1941 to 1946 General Sir Ronald Adam
- 1946 to 1947 General Sir Richard O'Connor
- 1947 to 1950 General Sir James Steele
- 1950 to 1953 General Sir John Crocker
- 1953 to 1956 General Sir Cameron Nicholson
- 1956 to 1959 General Sir Charles Loewen
- 1959 to 1960 General Sir Hugh Stockwell
- 1960 to 1963 General Sir Richard Goodbody
- 1963 to 1964 General Sir James Cassels
- 1964 to 1967 General Sir Reginald Hewetson
- 1967 to 1970 General Sir Geoffrey Musson
- 1970 to 1973 General Sir John Mogg
- 1973 to 1976 General Sir Cecil Blacker
- 1976 to 1978 General Sir Jack Harman
- 1978 to 1981 General Sir Robert Ford
- 1981 to 1984 General Sir George Cooper
- 1984 to 1986 General Sir Roland Guy
- 1986 to 1988 General Sir David Mostyn
- 1988 to 1990 General Sir Robert Pascoe
- 1990 to 1993 General Sir David Ramsbotham
- 1993 to 1995 General Sir Michael Wilkes
- 1995 to 1997 General Sir Michael Rose
- 1997 to 2000 General Sir Alexander Harley
- 2000 to 2003 Lieutenant-General Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman
- 2003 to 2005 Lieutenant-General Sir Alistair Irwin
- 2005 to 2008 Lieutenant-General Sir Freddie Viggers
- 2008 to 2009 Lieutenant-General Sir William Rollo
- 2009 to 2012 Lieutenant-General Sir Mark Mans
- 2012 to 2015 Lieutenant-General Sir Gerald Berragan
For subsequent equivalent appointments see Commander Home Command.
Deputy Adjutants-General to the Forces
- Army conducts Top Level Organisational Review Defence News, 9 December 2009
- Roper, Michael (1998). The Records of the War Office and Related Departments, 1660-1964. Kew, Surrey: Public Record Office.
- General Regulations and Orders for the Army. Horse Guards, London: Adjutant General's Office. 1811. p. 47.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .
- The Army in 1906: A Policy and a Vindication By Hugh Oakeley Arnold-Forster, Page 481 Bibliobazaar, 2008, ISBN 978-0-559-66499-1
- Drumbeat Archived 2012-03-07 at the Wayback Machine
- "A new painting marks Army's relationship with Scotland over last 100 years". Ministry of Defence. 7 October 2005. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
- "Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 and the Army". parliament.uk. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
- Army Commands Archived July 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
- Arthur William Alsager Pollock, The United service magazine (1882), p. 102: "The Adjutant-Generalship. — The appointment of Lieutenant-General R. C. H. Taylor, C.B., to officiate as Adjutant-General to the Forces, during the absence of Sir Garnet Wolseley on special service, is one that cannot fail to afford much satisfaction to the army." Wolseley was overseas to command British forces during the Second Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882.
- "No. 27360". The London Gazette. 1 October 1901. p. 6400.
- "No. 27168". The London Gazette. 23 February 1900. p. 1260.
- "No. 27433". The London Gazette. 13 May 1902. p. 3179.