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An aide-de-camp (UK /ˌeid.dəˈkɑ̃ː/ or US //; French expression meaning literally helper in the [military] camp) is a personal assistant or secretary to a person of high rank, usually a senior military, police or government officer, a member of a royal family, or a head of state. This is not to be confused with an adjutant, who is the senior administrator of a military unit. The first aide-de-camp is typically the foremost personal aide.
In some countries, the aide-de-camp is considered to be a title of honour (which confers the post-nominal letters ADC or A de C), and participates at ceremonial functions.
The badge of office for an aide-de-camp is usually the aiguillette, a braided cord in gold or other colours, worn on the shoulder of a uniform. Whether it is worn on the left or the right shoulder is dictated by protocol.
In Argentina, three officers (one from each armed service, of the rank of lieutenant colonel or its equivalent), are appointed as aide-de-camp to the president of the republic and three others to the minister of defense, these six being the only ones to be called "edecán", which is one Spanish translation for aide-de-camp ("ayudante de campo" is another – "edecán" is a phonetic imitation of the French term; "ayudante de campo" is a word-for-word translation of it).
A controversy was raised in 2006, when president Néstor Kirchner decided to promote his army aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel Graham to colonel, one year ahead of his class. Upon taking office, former president Cristina Kirchner decided to have, for the first time, female officers as her aides-de-camp.
In each of the armed forces, the chief of staff and other senior officers have their own adjutants, normally of the rank of major or lieutenant colonel, or its equivalent. At unit level, the unit S-1 (personnel officer) doubles as the unit commander's adjutant, although in recent times in many units this practice has been left only for ceremonial purposes, while for everyday duties a senior NCO performs the adjutant's activities.
An aiguillette is worn on the right shoulder by aides-de-camp and adjutants as a symbol of their position, the colour of the aiguillette depending of the rank of the person they are serving (there are golden, tan, silver and red aiguillettes, as well as an olive-green one for combat uniform).
Charles James Esquire's Military Dictionary (1810) pp 29–30 stated that an aide-de-camp is an officer appointed to attend a general officer and is seldom under the grade of captain: “The King may appoint for himself as many as he pleases, which appointment gives the rank of colonel in the army. Generals being field marshals, have four, lieutenant generals two, major generals one”.
In British colonies and modern-day British overseas territories, the aide-de-camp is appointed to serve the governor.
On the last day of British rule in Hong Kong on 30 June 1997, the police aide-de-camp to Governor Chris Patten, presented Patten with the flag at Government House. He then gave the Vice Regal Salute before proceeding, with the Pattens, to leave Government House for the last time.
Australian Defence Force officers serve as aides-de-camp to specific senior appointments, such as the Queen, Governor-General, state governors, Chief of the Defence Force, and other specified Army, Navy and Air Force command appointments. Honorary aides-de-camp to the Governor-General or state governors are entitled to the post-nominal ADC during their appointment. Officers of and above the ranks of rear admiral, major general, and air vice marshal in specifically designated command appointments are entitled to an aide de camp with the army rank of captain (or equivalent). Within the navy, an aide-de-camp is called a "flag lieutenant" (as senior naval officers are "flag officers").
Aides-de-camp in Canada are appointed to the Queen and some members of the royal family, the governor general, lieutenant governors, and to certain other appointments (e.g., Minister of National Defence, flag and general officers, Canadian heads of mission, foreign heads of state visiting Canada).
In addition to the military officers appointed as full-time aides-de-camp to the governor general, several other flag/general and senior officers are appointed ex officio as honorary aides-de-camp to the governor general including:
Most aides-de-camp wear a gold pattern aiguillette when acting in their official capacity; however, members of St. John Ambulance Canada wear silver aiguillettes consistent with their other accoutrements as aide-de-camp or as a symbol of ceremonial representation such as a member of the honor guard or a position of command on parade. All aides-de-camp also wear the cypher or badge of the principal to whom they are appointed. Honorary appointees to the Queen (royal cypher), to the Duke of Edinburgh, or the Prince of Wales, wear the appropriate cypher on their uniform epaulette and are entitled to use the post-nominal letters ADC for the duration of their appointment.
Aides-de-camp to the governor general wear the governor general's badge (crest of the arms of Canada) and aides-de-camp to a lieutenant governor wear the lieutenant governor's badge (the shield of the province surmounted by a crown). They are appointed from officers of the Canadian Forces. Aides-de-camp to lieutenant governors are appointed from officers of the Canadian Forces, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and, depending on the province, aides may also be appointed from other uniformed organizations such as municipal or provincial police and emergency services. In certain instances, civilians may be appointed. Non-uniformed civilians do not wear the aiguillette, but do wear their lieutenant governor's badge as a symbol of their appointment. On November 29, 1973, Governor General Roland Michener concluded his initiative to permit aides-de-camp to the governor general and lieutenant governors to use the post-nominal letters A de C for the duration of their appointment.
Aides-de-camp to royal and vice-regal personages wear the aiguillette on the right shoulder. Aides-de-camp to all others wear their aiguillette on the left shoulder.
As in other Commonwealth countries where the Queen is head of state, personnel from the New Zealand Defence Force serve as aides-de-camp to royal and vice-regal personages. The governor-general of New Zealand has two full-time aides-de-camp of the rank of army captain, lieutenant RNZN or RNZAF flight lieutenant. Additional and honorary aides-de-camp to the governor-general are of the rank of lieutenant colonel or equivalent. Aiguilettes are of the standard palace No. 1 type and worn on the right shoulder. Equivalent appointments also serve the minister of Defence, the chief of Defence Force and service chiefs. These are usually known as military assistants (MA) personal staff officers (PSOs) or, in the case of the RNZN, flag lieutenant (flags), and wear service-specific No. 2 aigullettes with coloured flecks (dark blue for navy, red for army and light blue for air force) on the left shoulder.
In the United Kingdom, junior officers serve as aides-de-camp to certain senior officers. Flag lieutenant is the Royal Navy's equivalent. Equerries are equivalents to aides-de-camp in the Royal Household, in which aides-de-camp are restricted to senior officers with a primarily honorific role.
There are several categories of these senior aides-de-camp to the Queen. Most are serving military, naval, and RAF officers, usually of colonel or brigadier rank or equivalent. There are also specific posts for very senior officers, such as first and principal naval aide-de-camp, flag aide-de-camp, aides de camp general, and air aides-de-camp. Analogous offices include the Lieutenant of the Admiralty, the Rear Admiral of the United Kingdom, and the Gold Stick and Silver Stick.
Certain members of the Royal Family with military rank may be appointed personal aides-de-camp to the Queen. Those currently holding this appointment are HRH The Duke of Kent; HRH The Prince of Wales; HRH The Duke of Cambridge; Captain Mark Phillips; HRH The Duke of York; HRH The Earl of Wessex and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.
Aides-de-Camp and Equerries (along with certain other officers) are distinguished by the addition of aiguillettes to dress uniforms, which differ in size, colour and position of wear, depending on the appointment. In addition, ADCs to the monarch wear the monarch's royal monogram on their shoulder straps in various orders of dress. A distinctive and elaborate full-dress uniform used to be worn by army ADCs, but use of full-dress was largely discontinued after World War I.
The President, as commander-in-chief of the French armed forces, is served by aides-de-camp. In general, there are three, including one who traditionally serves in the French Army, and all of whom are at the rank of lieutenant colonel. In essence, their mission is to transport the briefcase permitting the use of nuclear weapons. They can also provide general assistance to the President: For instance, at times aides-de-camp are seen placing the president's speech on his lectern when he arrives, or holding up notes during award ceremonies to remind him of the official words to be pronounced when handing over medals.
When the president travels, an aide-de-camp often rides in the front passenger seat of the presidential car. He is one of the people who are closest to the president.
The Hong Kong Police Force, the Fire Services Department, the Customs and Excise Department, the Immigration Department, the Government Flying Service, the Civil Aid Service, the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force, the Auxiliary Medical Service, the St. John Ambulance Brigade, and the Correctional Services Department each sends an aide-de-camp to the territory's chief executive, which replaced the governor in 1997.
In the 18th-Century, under Catherine the Great of Russia, favorites of the Empress were frequently appointed as her aides-de-camp.
In India, officers of the rank of major general and equivalent and above in the sister services who are in command of divisions or of peacetime commands have aides-de-camp who usually belong to their general's parent regiment/battalion. There have been instances where the sons have served a tenure of aide-de-camp to their fathers. The service chiefs (Chief of the Army/Air/Navy Staff) usually have three aides-de-camp and the President of India has five aides-de-camp (three from the army and one each from the navy and the air force). There is also one honorary aide-de-camp from the Territorial Army.The president may at his pleasure appoint any distinguished officer from the armed forces including the service chiefs as honorary aide-de-camp. The governors of the states have two aides-de-camp, one each from the Indian armed forces and the Indian and state police services except for the state of Jammu and Kashmir where both the aides-de-camp to the governor are appointed from the Indian Army.
In Pakistan the President, Prime Minister and Governors have their own aides-de-camp. The aide-de-camp can be from any one of the three Armed Forces and typically are of the rank of captain (army), lieutenant (navy) or flight lieutenant (air force). It is interesting to note that the aide-de-camp to Justice Khan Habibullah Khan, while he was chief minister and leader of the house of West Pakistan, was his son, a senior bureaucrat, Captain Akhtar Munir Marwat and Captain Gohar Ayub Khan was to his father, President Field Marshal Ayub Khan. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and all the three service chiefs are authorised to have an aide-de-camp. In Pakistan, officers of the rank of major general and equivalent and above in the sister services who are in command of divisions or of peacetime commands have aides-de-camp who usually belong to their general's parent regiment/battalion.
In Singapore, the President appoints aides-de-camp from the armed services as well as officers selected from the police force and civil defence force. These officers usually hold the rank of major or military expert 5 in the armed services or major in the Singapore civil defence force, whereas an assistant superintendent of police is chosen from the Singapore police force. Both male and female officers may serve as aides-de-camp.
Their duties include assisting in liaison for important guests on behalf of the president and taking care of visiting foreign dignitaries.
In Sri Lanka, the president has aides-de-camp from the three armed services as well as extra-aide-de-camp. All general, flag and air officers have their ownaide-de-camp usually selected from their parent regiment or unit.
Within the United States Army, aides-de-camp are specifically appointed to general-grade officers (NATO Code OF-6 through OF-10), the Secretary of the Army, Secretary of Defense, Vice President, and President of the United States; rank and number determined by the grade. For those general officers with more than one aide, the senior-ranking aide is usually considered to be the senior aide and serves in the capacity of coordinating the other aides and the others of the general's personal staff such as the driver, orderlies, et al. In general, for the majority officers, the maximum tour of duty for aides is two years. The following is a listing of the accepted number of aides and allowable maximum rank allotted a general officer:
Lieutenant colonels and colonels commanding units (battalions and brigades, respectively) do not have aides. Occasionally, the unit's adjutant – called the S-1 – will assist the commanding officer as an aide but this is uncommon.
U.S. Army aides-de-camp wear a special device in place of the branch-of-service (i.e., infantry, artillery, quartermaster, et al.) insignia they would otherwise wear on the lapels of their service uniform. The rank of the general officer being served is indicated on the device worn by the aide-de-camp, as illustrated below. Although the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are O-10 positions, their aides-de-camp wear devices specific to those offices, rather than the normal four-star aide device. Also, an aide-de-camp wears a special aiguillette on the shoulder of his or her dress uniform.
Insignia for an aide to a general of the army (the most recent general of the army retired from active service in 1953)
The military aides to the President number five (one from each of the armed services), and they are majors and lieutenant colonels (in the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force). Navy and Coast Guard military aides to the President hold the rank of lieutenant commander or commander. One of their major roles is to hold the Presidential emergency satchel. There are, in addition to these five permanent aides-de-camp, some 40-45 military social aides, who are more junior (lieutenant to major) and are temporary officers whose appointment is, as their titles suggest, for social purposes (primarily as hosts at the White House). They are part-time, required for perhaps 2-4 afternoons a month.