Richards is new Chief of Defence Staff

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The Independent Online

The head of the Army, General Sir David Richards, has been appointed the next Chief of the Defence Staff.

He will succeed Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, who is taking early retirement in October following a defence review.

The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the armed forces and the principal military adviser to the Government. Confirming the new appointment, the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, paid tribute to Sir Jock's "excellent leadership".

The appointment of Sir David as his successor will be viewed as a sign of the priority the Government attaches to the war in Afghanistan. Sir David previously served as head of the international coalition force in the country, making him the first British general since the Second World War to command US troops.

He said the experience affected him deeply, and that Afghanistan and its people had "entered my bloodstream". His promotion is likely to be well received among his colleagues in the Army, which has long argued that the head of the armed forces should be a professional soldier.

His predecessor, Sir Jock, was criticised for failing to ensure that British troops in Afghanistan were properly equipped and protected from the threat of improvised explosive devices.