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Defence and Security Strategy

Sir Richards
Sir David Richards GCB CBE DSO ADC Gen...out-going CDS

General Richards inspecting a parade in his honour

General Sir Nicholas…Current CDS Houghton Picture: Harland Quarrington/MoD
General Sir Nicholas…Current CDS Houghton Picture: Harland Quarrington/MoD

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards handed over formally to his successor General Sir Nicholas Houghton last week at the end of three years in the post.


The handover was marked by a ceremony at Horse Guards Parade which was attended by personnel from all three services and MOD civilian staff, as well as members of the public and dignitaries from around the world including senior military commanders past and present.

General Richards has presided over a period of significant achievement for the Armed Forces including:

  • supporting the Libyan people in the overthrow Colonel Gaddafi and contributing to the future of a stable, open and democratic Libya - the UK flew more than 3000 sorties during the operation in 2011;
  • making a huge contribution to the success of the Olympics in 2012 - at the peak of the operation 18,200 personnel were deployed in various security and ceremonial roles including maintaining a high-profile presence at event venues;
  • enabling Afghanistan’s armed forces to take responsibility for the security of their country - the ISAF mission, to which the UK is the second-largest contributor, has now trained more than 350,000 Afghan soldiers and police and the Afghan forces assumed the security lead across the whole country earlier this year.

General Sir David Richards enthused: “I have enjoyed my service more than I could possibly have hoped. It has provided me with challenge, interest and the opportunity to make a positive difference to many people’s lives, from Northern Ireland to Afghanistan and lots of places in between. I retire now with a huge sense of the privilege I have had to serve this nation as a soldier for 42 years, to serve Her Majesty the Queen, and to serve my comrades whom, on occasion, I have had the joy to lead.”

The ceremony began with a General Salute by detachments of the Royal Navy, Army and RAF supported by the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas, with whom General Richards previously served as Colonel Commandant. General Richards was then invited to inspect the detachments alongside General Houghton.

The Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond MP hosted a dinner with all the Service chiefs last night to mark General Richards’ departure. Speaking during today’s ceremony, he paid tribute to General Richards’s leadership since taking up the role in October 2010.

Philip Hammond said: “General Richards served as Chief of the Defence Staff in a time of significant and varied challenges and his leadership has been vital in delivering success both at home and abroad. I look forward to working closely with General Houghton to build on the foundations laid by his predecessor.”

General Sir Nicholas Houghton remarked: “This is an occasion to recognise the responsibility for the leadership of our nation’s Armed Forces. Although today is not about individuals or our private thoughts, it should be no surprise that David and I both share the same sense of the enormous responsibility and privilege which our appointment bestows.”