New army chief in private war for more troops

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  1. From The Sunday Times
    August 30, 2009
    New army chief in private war for more troops

    General Sir David Richards, Comander in Chief of Land Forces visits troops in Musa Qala in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.
    Michael Smith
    THE new head of the army is to direct all its efforts towards winning the war in Afghanistan. General Sir David Richards is expected to push hard in Whitehall for more British troops, both on the ground in Helmand and to train the Afghan forces — though he will do so in private.

    He is determined the British Army will not suffer a repeat of the damage caused to its reputation by its withdrawal in southern Iraq.

    Richards, who is 57 and married with two daughters, took over as chief of general staff on Friday when General Sir Richard Dannatt retired. His style will initially be more restrained than that of Dannatt, who was willing to challenge the government publicly about equipment and manpower shortages.

    Asked recently whether, like Dannatt, he had a “shopping list” of equipment his men needed, Richards replied emphatically “No”, signalling he wants to defuse recent tensions between the government and the army.