New British army chief Sir David Richards takes charge

The new professional head of the Army Sir David Richards took charge today, pledging to focus on the military effort in Afghanistan.



General Richards, the Chief of the General Staff, will also face battles closer to home in order to ensure that his troops have the equipment and support they need.

His outspoken predecessor General Sir Richard Dannatt was frequently at odds with ministers over the issue, and Gen Richards acknowledged he would be a "hard act to follow".

Gen Richards has first-hand experience of the challenge in Afghanistan as a former head of the International Security and Assistance Force.

He said: "As part of the Defence team, I will continue to focus on what is needed to meet the Government's aims in Afghanistan and the region, and ensuring the Army achieves the tasks laid upon it."

Gen Richards added: "The Army's most valuable assets are its people: it is essential that we continue to look after our soldiers and their families, especially those injured or affected adversely through conflict."

One of the main challenges he will face in Whitehall is the upcoming strategic defence review (SDR) as all three services seek to protect their share of the military budget.

All main parties have committed to holding a root and branch review after the next election.

Gen Richards said: "Looking to the longer term, I will be focusing on making sure that the Army is geared up for future conflict as it evolves in this highly interdependent and globalised era."

In his last public speech before standing down, Gen Dannatt pleaded for the SDR to focus on the current campaign in Afghanistan.

He said: "We must have what we absolutely need for the short-term and limit our ambitions for the medium and the long-term to what we can afford."

Gen Dannatt was unrepentant about his high-profile campaign to secure more equipment for his troops amid allegations that he had been "politicised".

He has admitted "waging some kind of campaign within the Ministry of Defence and within Government" to make sure commanders on the front line have got the right level of troops and kit.

But Gen Richards, asked earlier this month if he would be presenting a "shopping list" for military equipment on his first day in office, answered: "I will not."

Gen Dannatt's departure from the Army is unlikely to mean that ministers have heard the last from him.

He now takes up the post of chairman of the Royal United Services Institute think-tank - a perfect platform from which to expound his views, unfettered by any last constraints of office.

He also becomes the 159th Constable of the Tower of London, a ceremonial role dating back to the 11th century.

In a farewell message to his troops, Gen Dannatt said: "It has been a tremendous honour and privilege and a deeply humbling experience to lead you all for the past few years - you are truly outstanding people.

"As I march into the military sunset I do so confident that the Army's determination, professionalism and reputation remains where it should be: second to none."

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey said: "General Richards has a formidable reputation.

"But he faces massive challenges over equipment shortages, failing welfare policy and the need for a clear strategy in Afghanistan.

"His predecessor, General Dannatt, was right to champion the needs of our troops.

"Gordon Brown must use General Richards' appointment as an opportunity to get a grip on Britain's defence policy and give our troops the backing they deserve."

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again