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We need more generals like Sir Richard

21 November, 2007

I am uncomfortably aware that I can bore for Europe on the subject of Defence, but every time Mike Jackson takes to the air, I grind my teeth.

I confess that I was always underwhelmed by him, although my husband advised me to keep my opinion fairly quiet when we moved to Colchester (home of 16 Air Assault Brigade, where all berets are red, and Gen Jackson was a bit of a legend) in 2004, but, I am glad to say that, within a year, my view prevailed. I don’t know a soldier who doesn’t feel let down by Jackson’s tenure as Chief of the General Staff.

What irks everyone is that he kept his powder dry while in office, unwilling to criticise his political masters openly, only to do so as soon as he left (and had a book to publicise…)

All the hot air in the world about ‘using the proper channels’ won’t satisfy an army that feels undervalued and overstretched.  What soldiers want is to know that someone, somewhere, is fighting their corner where it counts, which is why General Sir Richard Dannat is now a bally hero in the field army.

Forget the pompous musings of armchair critics and retired Colonel Buffington Trumpingtons about keeping things ‘within the Chain of Command’, Richard Dannat has inspired those who matter: serving soldiers.

I’ve been around soldiers for 15 years now and never known junior soldiers to be aware of ‘CGS’ as the Chief of the General Staff is known: their most awe inspiring figure is that of the RSM; if CGS visits their regiment or battalion, they will be told to mind their manners, or the RSM will have them later.

But not now: now all the junior soldiers I speak to know the name of General Dannat, for he has spoken up publicly in their defence; he has done what a senior commander should do, and put their welfare before his career or public embarrassment for the government.

Surely his leadership serves as a paradigm for any officer in HM Armed Forces.

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