Francis Richard Dannatt is a retired senior British Army officer and member of the House of Lords. He was Chief of the General Staff (head of the Army) from 2006 to 2009.
Dannatt was commissioned into the Green Howards in 1971, and his first tour of duty was in Belfast as a platoon commander. During his second tour of duty, also in Northern Ireland, Dannatt was awarded the Military Cross. Following a major stroke in 1977, Dannatt considered leaving the Army, but was encouraged by his commanding officer (CO) to stay. After Staff College, he became a company commander and eventually took command of the Green Howards in 1989. He attended and then commanded the Higher Command and Staff Course, after which he was promoted to brigadier. Dannatt was given command of 4th Armoured Brigade in 1994 and commanded the British component of the Implementation Force (IFOR) the following year.
Dannatt took command of 3rd Mechanised Division in 1999 and simultaneously commanded British forces in Kosovo. After a brief tour in Bosnia, he was appointed Assistant Chief of the General Staff (ACGS). Following the attacks of 11 September 2001, he became involved in planning for subsequent operations in the Middle East. As Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), a role he assumed in 2003, Dannatt led the ARRC headquarters in planning for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The ARRC served in Afghanistan in 2005, but by this time Dannatt was Commander-in-Chief, Land Command—the day-to-day commander of the British Army. He was responsible for implementing a controversial reorganisation of the infantry which eventually resulted in his regiment, the Green Howards, being amalgamated into the Yorkshire Regiment.
Dannatt was appointed Chief of the General Staff (CGS) in August 2006, succeeding General Sir Mike Jackson. Dannatt faced controversy over his outspokenness, in particular his calls for improved pay and conditions for soldiers and for a drawdown of operations in Iraq in order to better man those in Afghanistan. He also set about trying to increase his public profile, worried that he was not recognisable enough at a time when he had to defend the Army's reputation against alleged prisoner abuse in Iraq. He later assisted with the formation of Help for Heroes to fund a swimming pool at Headley Court and, later in his tenure, brokered an agreement with the British press that allowed Prince Harry to serve in Afghanistan. He was succeeded as CGS by Sir David Richards and retired in 2009, taking up the largely honorary post of Constable of the Tower of London, which he held until July 2016.
Between November 2009 and the British general election in May 2010, Dannatt served as a defence adviser to Conservative Party leader David Cameron. Dannatt resigned when Cameron's party formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats after the election produced a hung parliament, arguing that the Prime Minister should rely primarily on the advice of the incumbent service chiefs. Dannatt published an autobiography in 2010 and continues to be involved with a number of charities and organisations related to the armed forces. He is married with four children, one of whom served as an officer in the Grenadier Guards.