Ceremony To Install NZ's Defence Chief

22 January 2014

Major General Timothy James Keating will assume command of the 13,000-strong New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) at a ceremony at Government House in Wellington on 31 January.

The operationally experienced military commander will be promoted to Lieutenant General at the change of command ceremony that will be presided over by the Governor-General, Lieutenant General the Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae.

Major General Keating is currently the Vice Chief of Defence Force. He is the first officer cadet who completed initial officer training in New Zealand to lead the Defence Force. In October 1997, Major General Keating was posted on promotion as the Commanding Officer of the New Zealand contingent in the Sinai peninsula. As Commanding Officer of 1st New Zealand Special Air Service, Major General Keating facilitated the NZSAS’ participation in the US-led combat operations in Afghanistan that were launched shortly after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States. He was the Commanding Officer of CRIB 6, a 100-strong contingent deployed to support international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan from July to December 2005, and served as the Chief of Army from February 2011 to November 2012.

Major General Keating will succeed Lieutenant General Rhys Jones as the Chief of Defence Force. Lieutenant General Jones was 50 when he became CDF in January 2011, making him the youngest man to lead the Defence Force. He was deployed on operational duty in the Middle East with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation and was the Operations Officer with the Observer Group in Lebanon. He became the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand on promotion to Major General in October 2007 and was appointed the Chief of Army on 1 May 2009. Lieutenant General Jones, who is retiring after a distinguished 35-year career, authored the NZDF’s Future 35 Strategy, which envisions an agile and integrated armed forces that can mount a medium-scale amphibious operation in New Zealand or the Southwest Pacific by 2035. During his tenure as CDF, Lieutenant General Jones presided over the drawdown of New Zealand’s commitments in Afghanistan, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, and the deployment of NZDF personnel on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Christchurch, the South Pacific and the Philippines.

For more information about the change of command ceremony, please contact NZDF Media Manager Luz Baguioro on 021 487 980 or


This page was last reviewed on 7 February 2014.