Born in Grazzano Monferrato (later Grazzano Badoglio). After studying at the in military academy in Turin he served with the Italian Army from 1892, at first as a Lieutenant in the artillery, taking part in the campaigns in Eritrea (1896) and Libya (1912), where he distinguished himself at the Battle of Zanzur. At the beginning of Italian participation in World War I he was a Lieutenant Colonel, he rose to the rank of General following his handling of the capture of Monte Sabotino in May 1916 and by 1918 was the senior aide to the Commander-in-Chief despite being partially responsible in the disaster at Caporetto (October 24, 1917).
Post-war he was elected as a senator, but also remained in the army with special assignments to Romania and the USA in 1920 and 1921. At first he opposed Benito Mussolini and after 1922 was side-lined as ambassador to Brazil. A change of political heart soon returned him to Italy and a senior role in the army as Chief of Staff from May 4, 1924. He was governor of Libya from 1929 to 1933. While Emilio de Bono began the invasion invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 he was replaced by Badoglio in 1936. He approved the use of poisonous gas and finally captured Addis Ababa and won the conflict, he was made Duke of Addis Ababa. He was not in favour of the Pact of Steel and was pessimistic about the chances of Italian success in any war. He resigned in December 1940 following the Italian army's poor display in the invasion of Greece.
Following the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, there was a meeting of the Fascist Grand Council on July 24 and the following day in a technical coup d'etat Victor Emmanuel III of Italy dismissed Mussolini and appointed Badoglio to head the government. Martial law was declared, Mussolini was arrested and negotiations were opened with the Allies. When the German army responded the new Italian government was forced to flee to Pescara and Brindisi and accept Allied protection.
Badoglio signed the Italian unconditional surrender on September 23 in Malta and his government declared war on Germany on October 13. Badoglio did not head the government for long, following the rescue of Mussolini, the liberation of Rome and increasingly strong opposition he was replaced by Invanoe Bonomi and other committed anti-Fascists.