General The Lord Richards of Herstmonceux GCB CBE DSO ADC Gen joined the IISS after serving as Chief of the Defence Staff of the British Armed Forces from October 2010 to July 2013.
During a long and prestigious military career, General Richards has seen service across the globe, including commanding roles in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, East Timor and Germany. Before becoming Chief of the Defence Staff, he served as Commander-in-Chief of UK Land Forces from 2008-09; previously he was Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from 2006-07, a period that included significant ISAF/NATO expansion across the south and east of the country.
David Richards was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1971 prior to studying International Relations at University College Cardiff. Graduating in 1974, he spent the next nine years at regimental duty in the Far East, Germany and the UK and on the staff of 11th Armoured Brigade in Germany. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, he spent the next three years as an instructor at the Staff College, Camberley, before being appointed to command 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. In 1994 he was promoted and appointed Colonel Army Plans in the MoD, responsible for the shape and size of the army. Promoted to Brigadier in 1996, he became Commander 4th Armoured Brigade in Germany.
In 1998 he was posted to the Permanent Joint Headquarters as Chief Joint Force Operations. In this role, he was involved in several operations, including commanding the UK Contingent in East Timor in 1999, and twice commanding a UK Joint Task Force in Sierra Leone in 2000. Promoted to Major General, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) in 2001 before becoming Assistant Chief of the General Staff in 2002. Appointed to command the ARRC in 2005, he then became ISAF commander in Afghanistan.
His operational awards include a Mention in Despatches, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, the Distinguished Service Order and Knight Commander of the Bath. This latter award was the first time an officer had received an operational knighthood since the Second World War. He subsequently was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.