Officer on the personal staff of a general, admiral, or other high-ranking commander who acts as a confidential secretary. Today they are usually of junior rank, and their duties are largely social. The term also denotes a high-ranking military officer who acts as an aide to a chief of state.
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In some countries, aide-de-camp is considered to be a title of honor (which confers the post-nominal letters ADC), 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 with a uniform on the left (or sometimes right) shoulder.
In British Colonies and modern-day British Overseas Territories, the aide-de-camp is appointed to serve the Governor.
In the last big hurrah of empire, 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.
Aides-de-camp in Canada are appointed to the monarch, governor general, lieutenant governors, and to certain other appointments. In addition to the military officers appointed as full-time aides-de-camp to the governor general, several other senior officers are appointed ex officio as honorary aides-de-camp to the governor general including:
Aides-de-camp to the governor general wear a gold aiguillette when acting in their official capacity and also wear the governor general's badge on their shoulders. Aides-de-camp to the lieutenant governors are appointed from officers of the Canadian Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Depending on the province, aides may also be appointed from other uniformed organizations and in certain cases, even civilians. Civilians do not wear the aiguillette, but all may wear their lieutenant governor's badge (the arms of the province surmounted by the royal crown) as a symbol of their appointment and use the post-nominal ADC. Aides-de-camp to royal and vice-regal principals wear the aiguillette on the right shoulder.
Flag officers and general officers of the Canadian Forces and diplomatic appointments also have aides-de-camp or flag lieutenants appointed to them. These aides wear a gold aiguillette on the left shoulder.
Australian Defence Force Officers serve as Aides-de-Camp to specific senior appointments such as the Governor-General, State Governors, Defence Force Chiefs 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 postnominal ADC during their appointment.
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 Field Marshal Edward, Duke of Kent, Admiral Charles, Prince of Wales, Captain Mark Phillips, 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, Captain Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Royal Navy, and Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence.
Within the United States Army, aides-de-camps are specifically appointed to general-grade officers only (NATO Code OF-6 through OF-10), rank and amount 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 cetera. For the majority officers, the maximum tour of duty for aides is generally two years. The following is a listing of the accepted number of aides allotted a general officer:
Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels commanding units (battalions and brigades, respectively) do not have aides, but it is generally accepted that the unit's adjutant—called the S-1—also serves the commanding officer as an aide.
In some circles of the U.S. military, an Aide-de-Camp is known as a dog-robber, because the aide is expected to rob anyone including the family dog, to get his general what he wants.
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 the Spanish translation for aide-de-camp. A controversy was raised in 2006, when president Néstor Kirchner decided to promote his Army aide-de-camp, Lt. Col. Graham to colonel, one year ahead of his class.
Upon taking office, current 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 their right shoulder by aide-de-camps and ajutants 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).