News story: Sir Simon Gass appointed Commandant Royal College of Defence Studies

#1
Sir Simon Gass has been appointed as the next Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS). He joins the Ministry of Defence following a long and successful career as a British diplomat who has lead the development of national policy and strategy to address some of the most pressing international security challenges.

As the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Political Director, from 2012 to 2015, Sir Simon was responsible for policy on the Middle East, Russia, Africa, South and Central Asia, the United Nations and other international institutions. He led the UK team at the prolonged E3+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) negotiations which resulted in the successful Iran Nuclear Agreement in July 2015.

Before that Sir Simon held a range of policy and senior management posts within the FCO in London, and has extensive experience of diplomatic postings and secondments abroad. The most notable include NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan (2011 to 2012) and British Ambassador to Iran (2009 to 2011) and Greece (2004 to 2009). He was the Foreign Office’s Finance Director (2001 to 2004) and a member of its Management Board for seven years. Sir Simon left the Foreign Office in 2016.

Sir Simon is a Senior Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute.

Air Marshal Stringer said:


I am delighted to announce Sir Simon Gass’s appointment as the next Commandant Royal College of Defence Studies. Sir Simon brings a wealth of experience in an area that is core to RCDS research and teaching: evaluating international policy challenges, and then devising workable strategies, alongside allies, to deliver policy goals.

I would also like to thank profusely Sir Tom Phillips, who retires as Commandant after nearly four years in post in which the college has made great advances under his outstanding leadership - Sir Tom will be greatly missed and we wish him well in all his future endeavours.

Sir Simon Gass said:


I’m delighted to join defence at a time when understanding international security issues and strategy has never been more important. I join an excellent team and look forward to working with them.

In his role as Commandant RCDS, Sir Simon will be responsible for the running of the college; a world-renowned institution committed to developing strategic thinkers and leaders.

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#3
Given what RCDS does it makes little difference whether the Commandant is ex-military or ex-civil/diplomatic service. The key attribute is access to a very senior network of decision makers - think head of State/Government level on the political front, and the most senior diplomats, civil servants and military personnel among officials.

I think the last Commandant (Tom Phillips) and this guy, both ex-FCO, are very strong on that count. Off the top of my head I can't think of many former military people who are available, have a comparable network, and would be willing to do it for the money it pays - it's not a telephone number salary. Simon Gass is a good selection.
 
#4
Please, please, please if one is issuing press releases on behalf of the MOD, get the thing proof-read before hitting the button.

The past tense of the verb 'to lead' is 'led'. This is the second time in about three weeks this error has been let loose into the wild. 'Lead' pronounced 'led' is a heavy metal.
 
#5
"Sir Simon was responsible for policy on the Middle East, Russia, Africa, South and Central Asia, the United Nations and other international institutions."

Hardly a glowing reference.
 
#6
"Sir Simon was responsible for policy on the Middle East, Russia, Africa, South and Central Asia, the United Nations and other international institutions."

Hardly a glowing reference.
If a situation has all the characteristics of dog poo and little prospect of change, then the best you can ask of a national policy is that it doesn't make the situation any worse and, if possible, opens the door to future improvement. Such is the the Middle East and one or two of the other issues cited. 'Silk purse' and 'sow's ear' spring to mind.
 

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