Bosnia veteran takes over as Army chief

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The Army is in the care of a "safe pair of hands" today following the appointment of General Sir Roger Wheeler as the new Chief of the General Staff. His predecessor, General Sir Charles Guthrie, a former member of the SAS, moves up to head all the armed forces as Chief of Defence Staff in April.

When General Wheeler's appointment was announced in October, he was seen as a less exciting candidate than some others, for example, General Sir Michael Rose, of Bosnia fame. But General Wheeler's background may prove surprisingly relevant.

Commissioned from Oxford into the Royal Ulster Rifles in 1964, he served in Borneo and attended the Australian staff college before doing an important staff job in the Brigade sent to Cyprus during the 1974 emergency. With Greece and Turkey again rattling sabres over the embattled island, General Wheeler's experience as a young officer could prove very useful now he is head of the Army and advising the British government on any action it may need to take.

General Wheeler has also served extensively in Ireland. But unlike General Rose and General Guthrie, both SAS men, he has no glamorous Middle Eastern or cloak-and-dagger connections. He lists his recreations as fly- fishing, shooting, cricket and long walks across Salisbury Plain.

Chris Bellamy