David Richards (Lord Richards) was appointed Head of the British Army in October 2010, and became Chief of the Defence Staff, the professional head of Britain’s armed forces and their strategic commander as well as the Prime Minister’s principal military adviser.
Earlier in his career, he commanded British operations in East Timor in 1999 and Sierra Leone in 2000. His mission in Sierra Leone – during which he persuaded then Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook to allow him to run a bigger intervention in order to finish off the job successfully – saw him awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his leadership and “moral courage”. He also became a CBE for the operation he commanded in East Timor.
In 2006, he was appointed to command NATO’s successful expansion throughout Afghanistan. This was the first time a British general had commanded American troops at this level since 1945. His tour of duty earned him an operational KCB – a knighthood – the first since WW2.
During his time as the Chief of the Defence Staff he had the vision and leadership skills required to navigate the UK political waters. He has a grasp of grand-strategy that is rarely found on either side of the Atlantic. He ensured the successful implementation of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, he guaranteed the defence of the Falklands, played a leading role in the Libyan operation as well as other minor operations, and was a strong believer in maintaining Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Under his leadership he helped raise the UK’s international profile and influence, and ensured that the MoD took back its rightful place as the UK’s military strategic headquarters.
Lord Richards now gives advice to leading corporations and governments all over the world. His presentations draws on the strategic and leadership decisions he had to make throughout his career as well as at the very top of the UK armed forces and of government.
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