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Defence in the 21st century – the need for change (Defence Lecture)

General Sir Nick Parker KCB CBE, former Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces

Date/Time: 3rd November 2015

The battlefield was a place where civilians were herded out of the way, a second priority to defeating the enemy. Today it is complex, ill-defined, and transnational. 

Our approach has evolved but even Counter-Insurgency doctrine is looking dated. There is a need for a fundamental change where carefully planned international, cross-sector collaboration with individual states strengthens social, economic and security frameworks. We must now see our Defence in the wider context of Human Security.

Speaker biography

General (Retd) Sir Nick Parker left the UK Army in May 2013 after a 40 year career. Since leaving he has conducted a review into the senior structure of the Police Service in England and Wales. He has mentored senior executives in the extraction, transport, human resources, elite sport and legal sectors. He has led seminars in the Changing Character of War programme at Pembroke College Oxford, and is working with McKinsey and the Blavatnik School of Government on an initiative to improve Global Human Development. He has collaborated with an international human rights lawyer to study the recent Israeli operation in Gaza. He is a Director of The Military Mutual.

In the charitable sector he has been appointed as the Chair of the Prince of Wales’ Step Up To Serve Campaign which will double the number of young people who are involved in voluntary and community work by 2020. He was on the Board of Directors of the Invictus Games which took place in London in 2014. He is a Board Member of Team Rubicon Global, a new initiative that mobilises veterans in response to international disasters.

His last appointment in the Army, in the rank of full General, was as Commander in Chief Land Forces. This followed a number of appointments over the preceding 10 years which included two years as the Commander of the Army’s territorial and home base. At this time he initiated a major restructuring programme and had responsibility for UK Resilience and military support to the civil authorities.

He has planned and directed a large number of crisis response operations including:

  • participating in the MoD’s homeland security response following the September 2001 attack
  • the reaction to natural crisis including flooding and industrial action by fire fighters and fuel tanker drivers
  • leading the highly effective military reaction to the venue security crisis at the London 2012 Olympics

His senior operational military experience includes service in the Balkans, commanding the UK Task Force in Sierra Leone in 2001, Deputy Commanding General (UK) Multi-National Corps Iraq based in Baghdad in 2005, the last active duty Army commander in Northern Ireland in 2006 and the commander of UK forces in Afghanistan and Deputy Commander (to both Generals McChrystal and Petreaus) of ISAF based in Kabul in 2010.

He was a graduate of the UK Higher Command and Staff Course (HCSC) and a member of the Royal College of Defence Studies.  He has been both the Director of the HCSC and the Commandant of the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College.  He is a Senior Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute.