Richard Dannatt: Wikis


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Sir Richard Dannatt
Born 23 December 1950 (1950-12-23) (age 59)
General Sir Francis Richard Dannatt, KCB, CBE, MC - York 2007-09-22 (RLH).jpg
General Sir Richard Dannatt GCB CBE MC
Place of birth Chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1971–2009
Rank General
Commands held Green Howards
4th Armoured Brigade
3rd (UK) Division
Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
Land Command
Battles/wars Kosovo
Iraq War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Military Cross
Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service

General Sir Francis Richard Dannatt, GCB, CBE, MC (born 23 December 1950) is a senior British Army officer. In 2006 he was appointed Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the army, and was succeeded by General Sir David Richards on 28 August 2009. On 1 August 2009 Dannatt was appointed to the ceremonial position of Constable of the Tower of London.


Early life

The son of an architect, he was born in Chelmsford in Essex on 23 December 1950. He was educated at Felsted School and St. Lawrence College, Ramsgate. He also attended Hatfield College, Durham University, where he was elected president of the Durham Union Society. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economic History.

Early army career

Dannatt was commissioned into The Green Howards regiment in 1971. He has served with the 1st Battalion in Northern Ireland (where he was awarded the Military Cross), Cyprus and Germany and commanded the Battalion in the Airmobile role from 1989 to 1991. From 1994 to 1996 he commanded 4th Armoured Brigade in Germany and Bosnia. He took command of the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division in January 1999, and also served in Kosovo that year as Commander British Forces.

In 2000 he returned to Bosnia as the Deputy Commander Operations of the Stabilisation Force (SFOR).[1] From 2001 to 2002 he was the Assistant Chief of the General Staff in the Ministry of Defence before taking command of NATO's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC). In March 2005 he took over as Commander-in-Chief, Land Command.

Career as Chief of the General Staff

He assumed the appointment of Chief of the General Staff in August 2006, replacing General Sir Mike Jackson. Dannatt handed over his appointment as Chief of the General Staff at midday on 28 August 2009 to General Sir David Richards. [2][3]


Daily Mail interview, October 2006

Comments on the British Army in Iraq

Based on an interview published 13 October 2006 in the Daily Mail,[4][5][6] some political activists have claimed that General Dannatt publicly called for the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq, stating that their presence "exacerbates the security problems" for the United Kingdom worldwide.

Following extensive publicity about the Daily Mail interview he gave an interview on BBC radio and stated that when he talked about pulling out of Iraq "sometime soon", he meant that "when the mission is substantially done we should leave".[6] He explained: "We don't want to be there another two, three, four, five years. We've got to think about this in terms of a reasonable length of time." He also qualified the "exacerbate" comment by saying that the problem was "not right across the country", but in only parts of it. 10 Downing Street's spokesman stated that General Dannatt was "actually saying what government policy is: we don't want to be there any longer than we have to, but ultimately that is a decision for the Iraqi government." The White House issued a similar statement. Kamran Karadahi, spokesman for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, called for the troops to stay: "They are still needed very much to help Iraq. The British troops in the south have done a very good job and are still doing so."[6]

In the Daily Mail interview General Dannatt also questioned the political aims of the Iraq mission: "I think history will show that the planning for what happened after the initial successful war fighting phase was poor, probably based more on optimism than sound planning." He added: "The original intention was that we put in place a liberal democracy that was an exemplar for the region, was pro West and might have a beneficial effect on the balance within the Middle East." He speculated: "That was the hope, whether that was a sensible or naïve hope history will judge. I don’t think we are going to do that. I think we should aim for a lower ambition."

"Christian values" and "the Islamist threat" in Britain

An evangelical[7] Anglican,[8] Gen. Dannatt called for a return to traditional Judeo-Christian values in order to counter "the Islamist threat" within British society.[9] In the same Daily Mail interview, he said: "When I see the Islamist threat in this country I hope it doesn't make undue progress because there is a moral and spiritual vacuum in this country." British society, he said, "has always been embedded in Christian values; once you have pulled the anchor up there is a danger that our society moves with the prevailing wind." In his view, "There is an element of the moral compass spinning. I think it is up to society to realise that is the situation we are in." He identified aspects of radical Islam as the heart of the matter: "We can't wish the Islamist challenge to our society away and I believe that the army both in Iraq and Afghanistan and probably wherever we go next, is fighting the foreign dimension of the challenge to our accepted way of life." It is important, he added, "to face up to the Islamist threat, to those who act in the name of Islam and in a perverted way try to impose Islam by force on societies that do not wish it." He concluded: "It is said that we live in a post Christian society. I think that is a great shame. The broader Judeo-Christian tradition has underpinned British society. It underpins the British Army."

Overall reaction

General Dannatt's comments have received a measure of support in the British Army and amongst retired generals, including former Chief of the Defence Staff, Field Marshal the Lord Bramall.[10] Others are less supportive. The former Home Secretary David Blunkett, for instance, has also criticised Gen. Dannatt for "interfering" in politics, saying it was a "constitutional" issue.[11] An ICM opinion poll for the 15 October 2006 edition of the Sunday Express showed that 71 per cent of the British people believed General Dannatt was right to say that the British presence in Iraq was exacerbating the security situation there. 74 per cent agreed that British soldiers should leave Iraq "some time soon", 57 per cent agreed with Gen. Dannatt's view that "Islamists" were exploiting a "moral vacuum" in British society, and 44 per cent also wanted to see the British Army play a greater role in fighting "Islamic extremism" in Britain.[12]

Prince Henry and Iraq

On 16 May 2007, Dannatt made the decision to restrict Prince Henry of Wales (commonly called Prince Harry) from being deployed to Iraq with the rest of his Blues and Royals squadron. He said that during his prior week's visit to Iraq he had experienced the types of threat that would occur in Iraq for the Prince, he decided to reassess whether or not to deploy him. He said 'there was too great a risk, not only to himself but the people with him'. He therefore came to the conclusion, subsequently, not to let the Prince go on the deployment tour to Iraq with his squadron. Conversely in 2008 the Prince was able to secretly take part in operations in Afghanistan.[13]

Comments on the Iraqi Resistance/Insurgency

In September 2007, during a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Dannatt made remarks that, once again, seemed to put him at odds with the Army's political leadership:

The militants (and I use the word deliberately because not all are insurgents, or terrorists, or criminals; they are a mixture of them all) are well armed – probably with outside help, and probably from Iran. By motivation, essentially, and with the exception of the Al Qaeda in Iraq element who have endeavoured to exploit the situation for their own ends, our opponents are Iraqi Nationalists, and are most concerned with their own needs – jobs, money, security – and the majority are not bad people.[14]

Later career

Block on promotion to head of British armed forces

In June 2008 the Sunday Times reported that Dannatt's expected routine promotion to Chief of the Defence Staff had been personally blocked by Prime Minister Gordon Brown "because of his repeated calls for better pay and conditions for servicemen".[15] The incumbent, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, was extended in post for another two years, breaking the expected pattern.[16]

However, it is traditional for the holder of the post of Chief of Defence Staff to be from a different service to his predecessor[17] (this has only been broken once, when General Guthrie succeeded Field Marshal Inge).

Constable of the Tower

On 3 February 2009, it was announced from 10 Downing Street that HM The Queen had appointed General Sir Richard as the next Constable of the Tower of London. He will be the 159th Constable of the Tower and assumed the post on 1 August 2009.[18][19]

Chairman, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies

The Council of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) elected General Sir Richard Dannatt as the Institute's new Chairman. General Dannatt took over on 1 September 2009 when he retired, after forty years in the Army, as Chief of the General Staff.[20]

Role as Conservative Defence adviser

On the 7 October 2009, the story broke that General Sir Richard is expected to take an advisory role in the Shadow Defence team for the Conservatives in the House of Lords. Sir Richard, when interviewed, said that he would consider a post as a junior Defence Minister in a future Conservative government. [21] David Cameron, the Conservative Leader also stated that he'd spoken with Sir Richard and that the public would "have to wait and see" whether General Sir Richard would be a Minister in his future government;[22] although it was announced that Sir Richard will be joining the Conservative opposition as a peer in the Lords'; which David Cameron announced in his Leader's Address on the last day of the Conservative Party Conference 2009.[23]

The announcement of Sir Richard as a Conservative Defence Adviser is far from a shock, as whilst in his post as the British Army's Chief of the General Staff he was highly critical of the Labour Government and its treatment of front-line soldiers in the respects of basic assault equipment and conditions in which they had to fight insurgency and attacks in both warzones. [21]

Honours and Awards

He was awarded the Military Cross in 1973. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1996. He was also awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in 1999.[24 ]

Already a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) (since 2005)[24 ] Dannatt was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[25]

Dannatt was made an honorary Doctor of Civil Law by the University of Kent at Medway in July 2009.[26]

Private life

Dannatt married in 1977 and has three sons and one daughter. His recreations are tennis, cricket, rugby football, skiing, fishing, shooting and reading.[27]

One of his sons served with The Grenadier Guards in Iraq and Afghanistan.[28 ]

He also serves as the vice-president of the Armed Forces Christian Union,[29] a Christian parachurch organisation. He is churchwarden of Keswick and Intwood, Norfolk.[30]


  1. ^ SFOR
  2. ^ "CGS praises Forces and huge public support". Ministry of Defence. 18 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-20.  
  3. ^ "General Sir David Richards becomes new Chief of the General Staff". Ministry of Defence. 28 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-02.  
  4. ^ Sands, Sarah. "Sir Richard Dannatt : A very honest General", Daily Mail, 12 October 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  5. ^ General seeks UK Iraq withdrawal", BBC News, 12 October 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  6. ^ a b c Army chief defends Iraq comments", BBC News, 13 October 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  7. ^ Moore, Charles. "Backward, Christian soldier – you're in the political crossfire", The Daily Telegraph, 14/10/2006. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  8. ^ Smith, Graham. "Remembrance Sunday Sermon - 12 November 2006", Norwich Cathedral, 14/10/2006. Retrieved 17 March 2007.
  9. ^ British army chief in spotlight, BBC News, 14 October 2006. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  10. ^ Harding, Thomas. "Honesty of 'a soldier's soldier' will lift morale, say Army officers", The Daily Telegraph, 14/10/2006. Retrieved 15 October 2006.
  11. ^ Blunkett raps 'interfering' army chief, ITV News, 15 October 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2006.
  12. ^ Buchanan, Kirsty. "You got it right General", Sunday Express, 15/10/06. Retrieved 15 October 2006.
  13. ^ Prince Harry secretly serving in Afghanistan
  14. ^ "Address to the International Institute for Strategic Studies". UK Ministry of Defence. 2007-09-21.  
  15. ^ Gordon Brown pulls rank to stop General Sir Richard Dannatt heading forces
  16. ^ "Army chief General Dannatt 'to go early after snub over promotion'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-10-09.  
  17. ^ Higher Command: Ministry of Defence and Admiralty Committees, National Archives
  18. ^ Dannatt to be next Constable of the Tower of London
  19. ^ London Gazette: no. 59144, p. 13209, 31 July 2009. Retrieved on 6 August 2009.
  20. ^ Sir Richard Dannatt appointed RUSI Chairman
  21. ^ a b "General Sir Richard Dannatt to be Conservative defence adviser". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-10-07.  
  22. ^ Ex-Military Chief joins Cameron's Team Sky News
  23. ^ Ex-Army chief 'offered Tory role' BBC News
  24. ^ a b "Chief of the General Staff". Retrieved 2009-06-20.  
  25. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58929, p. 2, 31 December 2008.
  26. ^ University of Kent to award honorary degrees at Rochester Cathedral University of Kent, 17 July 2009
  27. ^ The Times, 13 October 2006.
  28. ^ "Chief of the General Staff". Retrieved 2009-05-17.  
  29. ^ People of the Day. People of the Day Limited, 2007. Peter Bee. ISBN 0954811011. p.23.
  30. ^ People in the church of All Saints, Intwood. Diocese of Norwich.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Kevin O'Donoghue
Assistant Chief of the General Staff
2001 – 2002
Succeeded by
David Richards
Preceded by
Chris Drewry
Commander Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
2003 – 2005
Succeeded by
David Richards
Preceded by
Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman
Commander-in-Chief, Land Command
2005 – 2006
Succeeded by
Sir Redmond Watt
Preceded by
Sir Mike Jackson
Chief of the General Staff
2006 - 2009
Succeeded by
Sir David Richards
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Roger Wheeler
Constable of the Tower of London
2009 –
Other offices
Preceded by
Sir Paul Lever
Chairman of the Royal United Services Institute
2009 –


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