David Johnston (admiral)

Vice Admiral David Lance Johnston, AO (born 1962) is a senior officer in the Royal Australian Navy. He served as Deputy Commander Joint Task Force 633 on Operation Slipper in 2010, Commander Border Protection Command from 2011 to 2013 and, following promotion to vice admiral, was posted as Chief of Joint Operations from 2014 until 2018. Johnston was appointed Vice Chief of the Defence Force in July 2018.[2]

David Johnston
Johnston (left) with US Admiral Scott H. Swift in July 2016
Born1962 (age 5657)[1]
Service/branchRoyal Australian Navy
Years of service1978 – present
RankVice Admiral
Commands heldVice Chief of the Defence Force
Chief of Joint Operations
Border Protection Command
HMAS Newcastle
HMAS Adelaide
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
War against ISIL
AwardsOfficer of the Order of Australia
Commendation for Distinguished Service
Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)

Johnston graduated from the Royal Australian Naval College in 1982 and subsequently served as Commanding Officer of the frigates, HMAS Adelaide and HMAS HMAS Newcastle. The latter command included deployment on Operation Quickstep to Fiji in 2006.[1]

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 the military response options for consideration by the government. In July 2007 on promotion to commodore he joined Fleet Headquarters as Commodore Flotillas where he was responsible for planning of maritime operations and the operational training and preparedness of navy's ships, submarines and diving teams.[1] In 2008 he performed the Deputy Coalition Force Maritime Component Commander role and Australian National Commander for Exercise RIMPAC 08. In November 2008 Commodore Johnston assumed the role of J3 (Director General Operations) at Headquarters Joint Operations Command. This role encompassed the operational level execution of all Australian Defence Force operations both overseas and within Australia.[1]

In October 2010, he deployed to Operation Slipper in the Middle East Area of Operations as the Deputy Commander Joint Task Force 633. He supported the Commander JTF in providing national command oversight of all Australian Defence Force elements conducting maritime, land and air operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was promoted to rear admiral in March 2011 to perform the role of Deputy Commander of the Combined AS/US Task Force for Exercise Talisman Sabre and assumed the role of Deputy Chief Joint Operations Command on 6 June 2011. He commanded the Defence operations that supported CHOGM 2011 and the visit to Australia by the President of the United States of America, also in 2011. Johnston was appointed Commander Border Protection Command in December 2011,[1] and the next month made a Member of the Order of Australia for "exceptional service" in senior staff appointments and awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service in recognition of his leadership on Operation Slipper.[3][4]

Johnston was promoted vice admiral and appointed Chief of Joint Operations on 20 May 2014.[2] After four years in the post, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on 16 April 2018 that Johnston would succeed Vice Admiral Ray Griggs as Vice Chief of the Defence Force in July.[5] He was replaced as Chief of Joint Operations by Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld on 24 May.[6]

Johnston holds a Master of Science in Operations Research from the United States Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies from the Australian Defence College.[1]


  1. "Rear Admiral David Johnston". Our people: Biographies. Royal Australian Navy, Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  2. "New Chief of Joint Operations announced" (Press release). Australia: Department of Defence. 28 March 2014.
  3. "Member of the Order of Australia". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 26 January 2012. Citation: For exceptional service to the Royal Australian Navy in senior Naval and Joint operational staff appointments.
  4. "Commendation for Distinguished Service". It's an Honour. Commonwealth of Australia. 26 January 2012. Citation: For distinguished performance of duty in warlike operations as Deputy Commander Joint Task Force 633 on Operations SLIPPER and KRUGER from October 2010 to March 2011.
  5. Greene, Andrew (16 April 2018). "Angus Campbell will be Australia's next Chief of Defence". ABC News. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  6. Marise Payne [@MarisePayne] (24 May 2018). "Chief of Joint Operations Transition of Authority Ceremony" (Tweet) via Twitter.
Military offices
Preceded by
Vice Admiral Raymond Griggs
Vice Chief of the Defence Force
Preceded by
Lieutenant General Ash Power
Chief of Joint Operations
Succeeded by
Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld
Preceded by
Rear Admiral Tim Barrett
Commander Border Protection Command
Succeeded by
Rear Admiral Michael Noonan
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