Minister of defense

"Minister of Defense" redirects here. For the American football player nicknamed "the Minister of Defense", see Reggie White.

The title Defence Minister, also known as Minister of Defence, Minister for Defence, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of National Defense or some similar variation, is assigned to the person in a cabinet position in charge of a Ministry of Defence, which regulates the armed forces in some sovereign nations. The minister usually has a very important role in a cabinet.

When cabinets first started appearing in the late 18th century, the defence ministers were often called "Ministers of War", and were in charge of the land forces of a nation. Since the end of World War II, the title has changed from war to defence, and has often involved putting a single defence minister in charge of all the armed forces. Another common reform which occurred at the end of World War II was to place the defence minister in a national security council or a "Kitchen Cabinet", which allows the head of government or head of state to coordinate military, diplomatic and economic activities.

The Defence Ministry in some countries is a very important ministry, sometimes considered more important than the foreign ministry. If war is common for a country, the minister's position is often assumed by the Prime Minister. (For example, five Prime Ministers of Israel have held the Defence (Security) Ministry during their Premiership). In many nations it is a strong convention that the defence minister be a civilian, in order to highlight civilian control over the military. In less democratic countries, the minister is often an active military official; in several countries the minister also holds the position of Commander of the Armed Forces.

People's Republic of China

The People's Republic of China is very unusual in that the Minister of National Defence (who is usually a senior, although not the highest ranking, military officer) and the Ministry of National Defence (MND) are both low ranking and relatively powerless; they do not have command over the People's Liberation Army. Command of the military belongs in the party and in the state Central Military Commissions; the MND exists primarily as a liaison and protocol office to communicate with foreign militaries. Essentially, the MND exists only because most other nations have defence ministries, and for protocol and liaison purposes, the PRC needs to have an institution corresponding with those of other governments. In ancient China this office was variously referred to as the Grand Marshal (Eastern Han dynasty), Grand Commandant (Qin and Han dynasty) and Grand Protector (Zhou dynasty).

List of defence ministries or departments


See also

Template:Types of government minister

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