Modernising admiral Sir Tony Radakin appointed head of British armed forces

Sailor with experience in the Middle East is seen as an advocate of Boris Johnson's Global Britain vision

A modernising admiral who helped to launch Britain’s major aircraft carrier project has been named as the next head of the armed forces.

The appointment of Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, 55, as Chief of the Defence Staff was a personal choice by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It is understood the prime minister was impressed by the admiral's ability to reform the Royal Navy and put it on an international footing that jibes with Mr Johnson’s Global Britain vision.

The sailor was also responsible for significant changes to the navy after his appointment as First Sea Lord in 2019 by developing carrier strike operations with HMS Queen Elizabeth. With an emphasis on a greater naval global presence he oversaw the 66,000 tonne carrier's first deployment, which will include sailing into the South China Sea while equipped with advanced F35 jets as well as striking ISIS terrorists in Syria.

He also put his weight behind the Royal Marines agreeing to the Future Commando Force concept, which will lead to greater deployment of the effective troops around the world.

Another asset understood to have been admired by Mr Johnson, is Adm Radakin's personnel reforms that led to admirals and navy headquarters staff reduced by 40 per cent.

Adm Radakin has experience in the Middle East, commanding the US and UK Combined Task Force Iraqi Maritime in 2006 and 2010 as well as visiting numerous Gulf states.

The officer, on an annual salary of £270,000 ($367,940), will replace Gen Sir Nick Carter, who was notable for his contacts with Pakistan and Afghanistan although, like many, he was taken by surprise at the speed of the Taliban victory in August.

Gen Sir Patrick Sanders, the other main contender for the CDS post, especially with his experience on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, could now potentially become head of the army.

He would replace Gen Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, who is an Old Etonian and a friend of Mr Johnson's, yet was overlooked for the CDS role despite extensive special forces experience.

“Admiral Radakin has proven himself an outstanding military leader and I have every confidence he will be an exceptional Chief of the Defence Staff,” Mr Johnson said. “Under his command we have more Royal Navy sailors on the front line, more warships at sea and we are leading a shipbuilding renaissance which is creating jobs and protecting lives around the UK.”

Britain’s naval power will potentially be seen as a priority for the military, especially in tackling the growing strength of China.

Adm Radakin's appointment to CDS, the first naval officer in the post since 2001, will also potentially help the new Aukus defence pact supplying nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

Updated: October 7th 2021, 4:01 PM
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