General Sir Richard Barrons KCB CBE (Co-Chairman)
Richard served as Commander Joint Forces Command until April 2016, one of the six ‘Chiefs of Staff” leading the UK Armed Forces, where he was responsible for 23,000 people worldwide and a budget of £4.3Bn, delivering intelligence, Special Forces, operational command and control, surveillance, reconnaissance and information systems and communications, operational logistics, medical support, and advanced education and training across the Armed Forces.
His military career included the last decade of the Cold War and leadership from Captain to General on military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan – often as part of US-led coalitions and in NATO. He was responsible for Military Strategy and Operations in the MoD as a Lieutenant General 2011-13 and President and Colonel Commandant of the Honourable Artillery Company 2013-2019.
He is a Distinguished Fellow at RUSI, and a Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE IDEAS. He read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at The Queen’s College, Oxford en route to becoming an artillery officer.
Currently he is Managing Partner of Wychwood Partners and advises and lectures regularly on defence transformation, security policy, digital risk, and senior leadership to City, academic, parliamentary, military and commercial audiences.
Peter L R Hewitt JP, FCSI, FRSA (Co-Chairman)
Peter has been Chairman or Director of 13 UK Public Companies over the last 25 years and was a founding director of 8 of these. He is currently Chairman of Vordere PLC and Blackfinch Spring VCT PLC; a non-executive director of Puma 10 VCT PLC, and a senior Adviser at Brennan and Partners. In 2018 he stepped down after a 6 year term as an Alderman in the City of London where he sat on numerous committees including City’s Finance, Investment and Property Committees (£6bn under management) and was the inaugural Chairman of the City's £20m Social Investment Fund. Peter is an Honorary Group Captain in 601 (County of London ) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
Peter is a member of the Governments Taskforce on Retail Social Investment and is a former member of the Associate Parliamentary Group on Wholesale Financial Markets; a UKTI Catalyst member and advisor to the Financial Services Organisation of the UKTI, writing a number of papers on overseas investment opportunities.
He is very involved in charitable and pro bono work being on the Finance Committee of ABF the Soldiers Charity; an Appeal Patron of the Sea Change Sailing Trust; and the founder of Raleigh 400. He is a past Master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen and immediate past Master of the Guild of Entrepreneurs.
Vice Admiral (Ret'd) Duncan L Potts CB (Director Designate*)
Maritime, Joint, Service Training and Education
Duncan served as Director General Joint Force Development until 2018, responsible for ensuring the single Services can integrate on operations both with other Government Departments and internationally. This included articulating trends out to 30 years and providing individual through-career education and collective training to meet contemporary challenges. Previously he led capability development for the Royal Navy and has commanded at 1 & 2* level for NATO, EU and US led coalition operations.
Duncan served as a Royal Navy officer for 39 years. Originally a surface warfare anti-submarine officer, he commanded 3 major warships on operations, principally in the Middle East. He commanded the US led Coalition Task Group in the Northern Gulf as a Commodore and as a Rear Admiral led NATO’s High Readiness Force (Maritime) and commanded the European Union’s counter-piracy operation in the Indian Ocean at the height of the scourge of piracy. On his watch piracy was defeated. Also, as a Rear Admiral he was head of capability for the Royal Navy, Chief of Staff overseeing HQ reorganization, was an executive director on the Navy Board and was head of the surface ship fighting arm. More widely he has worked in the Ministry of Defence in resource programming and capability planning and as Military Assistant to the Vice Chief of Defence Staff. He has a strong background in Joint operations, notably as the 1* head of planning at the UK’s National Joint Operational HQ (PJHQ) and on the Joint Forces Command Board as Director General Joint Force Development and Director General of the Defence Academy of the UK. He is a graduate of The City University (Systems and Management), a fellow of The Windsor Leadership Trust and a Younger Brother of Trinity House.
Will Jessett CBE (Director Designate*)
MoD, Policy and Strategy, Civil Service and Acquisition
Will retired from the MOD in Jan 2019. His last role was as the department’s strategy director, in which he led work on the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review and the 2017/18 National Security Capabilities Review and Modernising Defence Programme. He worked in a variety of policy, strategy and operational roles during his 33 years in public service, specialising in strategic planning. He spent more than a third of his career living and working overseas (Namibia, Poland, Cyprus, USA).
*Director Designate, pending ACOBA approval.
Senior Leadership Team
Commodore Adrian Aplin MBE MA FCILT FIoD CDir RN (Ret'd)
Maritime Support and Infrastructure
Adrian retired from the MOD in 2019, after 32 years as a Royal Navy Logistics and Supply Chain specialist, working primarily in the joint arena in the support to operations, strategy and policy areas. He served in the UK MoD Head Office in Whitehall, Navy Command Headquarters, and the Defence Equipment & Support organisation in addition to operational roles ranging from a survey ship to aircraft carriers.
He was also second in command of Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton and Directing Staff and Divisional Executive Officer at the Advanced Command & Staff Course. As a Commodore, he was Head of the RN’s Infrastructure portfolio, senior Logistics professional responsible for all Logistics and Supply Chain activity across the Naval Service and Deputy Chief Naval Logistics Officer.
Latterly he was Head of Defence Logistics Strategy across all 3 Services driving the Defence Support Network Transformation and a new generation of evergreen digital cloud based cyber-secure logistics services as Programme Director of the £1.4Bn Logistics IS Programme.
Air Commodore (Ret'd) Nicholas Bray CBE MSc MA
Defence Technology & Innovation
Nick is Chief Operating Officer of a cyber security company, Non-Executive Director of a drone company and leads Business Development for an aerospace technology company. He retired from the Regular RAF in April 2017 but continues to serve as a Reservist on the RAF’s innovation unit, 601 Squadron RAuxAF.
Prior to this, he headed UK MOD’s international strategy and operations staff covering Asia Pacific and Latin America and had significant involvement with the highest levels of several foreign governments. He was Commandant General RAF Regiment and Air Officer RAF Police and Security with global responsibility for the Force Protection of 36, 000 personnel and some of the Nation’s most advanced technologies and aircraft. Nick led the UK’s specialist Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear units and has significant Ground Based Air Defence, Air / Land Integration and Aviation Security experience.
Lieutenant General (Ret'd) Professor Martin CM Bricknell CB OStJ PhD DM FFPH FIHM MFOM MRCGP
Defence Medical and Healthcare
Martin served 34 years in the UK Defence Medical Services, finishing his service as the Surgeon General of the UK Armed Forces. He undertook operational tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans with multiple additional overseas assignments. In 2010 and 2006, he held senior Medical Adviser appointments in the NATO ISAF mission.
He commanded 22 Field Hospital in 1999-2002. He has trained as a general practitioner and is an accredited specialist in both Public Health and Occupational Medicine. He holds two doctorates and 3 masters degrees. He has published over 100 academic papers across military medical subjects. He is especially interested in how organisations learn, care pathways in military healthcare, and the political economy of health in conflict. He was awarded the Companion of the Order of Bath, the Order of St John and the US Bronze Star during his military service. He took up an appointment at King’s College London in April 2019.
Rear Admiral (Ret'd) Steven B Brunton CBE MSc MCGI CEng FCMI FIET
Steve trained as a submarine weapons engineer, leaving the Royal Navy after a 36-year career with acquisition roles in every rank from Lieutenant to Rear Admiral. His last MOD role was Director Ship Acquisition responsible for the MOD’s warship building portfolio of over £1Bn per annum, including the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and the Type 26 Global Combat Ship.
Since 2014 he has been operating as an independent advisor on complex portfolios and programmes. During 2015 and 2016 he was Interim Estates Director for the Valuation Office Agency where he established new Governance and a programme to reduce the 70 UK based offices to 30. Since 2016 he has been Independent Advisor to the Canadian Government on its c$80Bn National Shipbuilding Strategy. During 2017 he was a member of the Expert Advisor Panel to Australian Department of Defence in the evaluation of the $35Bn Australian Future Frigate programme competition. In 2018 he led a US/UK team review of the Dreadnought Submarine build programme. Steve is currently Independent Advisor to the Senior Officer responsible for the Metropolitan Police CONNECT project, a major information system and business change programme. Since May 2019 he has been part of a team putting in place Portfolio management across the 5,500 worldwide properties managed by the Foreign Office.
Major General (Ret'd) Keith H Cima CB
Keith’s 32-year career in the Army included regimental duty, project management, teaching international studies, logistic support, infrastructure engineering, strategic manpower planning, career management, operating in a Department of State, corporate strategy and planning at board level.
After retiring from the Army in [20XX], he spent 4 years as Resident Governor of the Tower of London, running a £35M heritage business in a Royal Palace as part of a larger charity. For the next 4.5 years Keith was a full-time, salaried coxswain for the RNLI in London at a busy, manned 24/7 station. He now has a portfolio of other activities: some business interests; Chairman of SSAFA France; Protection Civile (a volunteer civil security organisation in France).
Brig (Ret’d) Alister T Davis MBE FCILT
Alister’s 29 years in the British Army were predominantly spent in enabling logistics for operational deployments. He has global experience in port & maritime operations as well as air movements and the activation of remote deployment bases.
He has been MD of a FTSE 100 business unit and in his subsequent career has focussed on commercial and humanitarian demining, protective stockpile and storage management of ammunition and environmental remediation including IED clearance operations. He has led successful M&A projects and led in business strategy to get SMEs to IPO. He has a thorough understanding of the Win, Deliver and Governance aspects of business and the synergy required between them. A keen boater/sailor in his spare time and a Wiltshire ambassador for Alabaré, a veterans’ and homeless charity.
Air Marshal (Ret’d) Stuart Evans CBE MDefStud
Stuart retired from the Royal Air Force after 37 years service in February 2020. He spent the latter part of his career serving at the Air Warfare Centre and in strategy or operations posts at headquarters in the US and in NATO. His last appointment was as Deputy Commander, NATO Air Command, with responsibilities including operational oversight of NATO Air Policing and Ballistic Missile Defence.
Stuart completed a number of operational tours as a Tornado pilot, including command of a front line Squadron. Subsequent experience serving in the Strategic Studies Group for the Commander US Air Force in the Pentagon and as Commandant of the Air Warfare Centre provided broad experience in Air, Space and Cyber operations, including operational test and evaluation. He also gained joint experience serving in the MOD Directorate of Operational Capability, as the Head of Air and Space at the Joint Doctrine and Concepts Centre, and at US Central Command as the Senior British Military Advisor. Additional qualifications include a Masters Degree in Defence Studies from the University of Canberra gained during attendance at Australian Staff College, and he has completed the US and the NATO PINNACLE courses for senior leaders, and the US Joint Force Component Commanders course.
Richard Farrington CBE MRIN AssocIIMS
Richard Farrington has been at sea all his life. Growing up by the water, he started out in lobster boats from the age of four and started sailing seriously aged ten, joining the Royal Navy in 1980 as a Seaman Officer. Armed with an Honours degree from Durham University he went on to serve in minehunters, fishery protection vessels, fast patrol boats, frigates, destroyers, amphibious ships and aircraft carriers around the globe.
Specialising in communications and electronic warfare, he was appointed OBE in 2000 for work in counter narcotics and promoted CBE in 2010 for work in counter-piracy - he was instrumental in setting up the EU's Operation Atalanta, the Internationally Recognised Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden, the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction Group in the Gulf, The Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa, and the Mercury international communications system.
He undertook several Command appointments, ran the Navy's tactical development school, served in the Ministry of Defence in London, Northwood and Portsmouth and his last job in the Navy was as the Commander, Devonport Flotilla, with over twenty ships and submarines and 4000 men and women under his command.
He left the Royal Navy in 2015 as a Commodore after 36 years’ service.
Air Commodore Peter J Grinsted OBE MA MBA CEng RPP FRAeS MAPM RAF (Ret'd)
Peter retired from the Royal Air Force after 37 years’ service in April 2016. Originally an aircraft engineer he enjoyed a wide variety of appointments supporting mostly fast-jet aircraft before his career focused on programme management. His last tour was as the Head of UAS Team within Defence Equipment & Support where he was responsible for equipping and sustaining UAS operations for all UK Armed Forces whilst maximising synergies and efficiencies across the programmes.
He also had additional pan-government responsibility for developing the UK government policy and strategy for the UK UAS enterprise. Prior to this, he was on loan service to the US Department of Defense in the multi-national F-35 Joint Program Office where, as Deputy Director Logistics and Sustainment, he was instrumental in developing the global support solution for F-35.
He now manages his own business consultancy helping clients with strategy development and optimizing marketing opportunities.
Martin Howard CB FRSA
Cyber, NATO Policy and Strategy
Martin retired from public service in . His last two postings in government were as Director for Cyber Policy and International Relations at GCHQ, focusing on strategic development and communication of cyber-security policies, and on cyber and intelligence co-operation with international partners; and Chief of the Assessments Staff in the Cabinet Office Joint Intelligence Organisation, analysing conventional and novel threats to national security and critical infrastructure.
He previously served as Assistant Secretary General for Operations in NATO, dealing with the alliance’s missions in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Libya, Iraq and on counter-piracy; as Director General Operational Policy in the Ministry of Defence; and as Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence. Most of Martin’s earlier service was in the Ministry of Defence, working primarily on security policy, operations, intelligence and corporate communications. He also worked in the Northern Ireland Office acting as Private Secretary to the Secretary of State and as part of the UK team that helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement. Martin was appointed Companion of the Bath (CB) in 2007.
Alan J T Nicholl FIExpE, MCIPS, MAPM, MCILT, MIoD, RCNC
Acquisition, Programme Management and Commercial
Alan’s last role in the MoD was as Director Weapons, where he led the creation and sustainment of sovereign industrial capability at sector level, whilst delivering a range of high value complex equipment systems and capabilities. Before that, he held a range of senior level appointments in the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation.
After a spell of consultancy, involving, amongst other things, organisational design and transformation, in 2015 he moved to the Department of Defence in Canberra, to lead the largest recapitalisation of the Royal Australian Navy’s surface fleet since 1945. He returned to the UK in 2019.
Major General (Ret'd) Michael L Riddell-Webster CBE DSO
Defence Training, Education and Procurement
Mike served as the Director of the College of Management Technology, where he was responsible for the education of senior leadership, management, technical, commercial and language skills and nuclear propulsion, project management and acquisition training for Defence. Responsible for a budget of some £30M, he led the Defence partnerships with Cranfield University and Welbeck Sixth Form College.
An infantry officer, Mike has been on operations in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. As the Battalion Commander of an armoured Infantry battalion, he led his Battalion on operations in Kosovo, shortly after the initial break in, and in Iraq, during the initial invasion in 2003. As a Brigade Commander, he was responsible for bringing the 37-year operation in Northern Ireland to a conclusion.
Mike has spent nearly ten years working in the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, where latterly he was responsible for setting equipment investment priorities and requirements for much of the Army’s equipment and balancing a budget of some £17Bn over a ten-year timeframe. He also had a tour as the Military Assistant to the Chief of Defence Staff, which covered the period of the invasion of Kosovo and gave him real exposure to the political and diplomatic aspects of military operations.
Having retired from the Regular Army in 2014, Mike has just finished a 4-year tour as the Governor of Edinburgh Castle, representing senior Army interests in Scotland.
Brig (Ret’d) Steve Shirley MBE MA
Steve has operational experience in Kurdistan, Iraq and Kosovo. Trg and Staff experience in Sierra Leone, Southern Africa, Central and South America, US, Norway. Op Telic 5 in Iraq as CO. Commander Logistic Support 1st (UK) Armoured Division including Commanding Joint Support for the UK Force in Basra, helping close Basra Palace and open up new basing in Kuwait to facilitate UK drawdown. He has worked on the staff at Headquarters Army, the Permanent Joint Headquarters and the MoD, in CENTCOM and EUCOM.
As a Brigadier, he completed a tour within the French Rapid Reaction Corps in Lille, a NATO assigned Corps HQ, as ACOS CSS, after which he was selected to attend the Royal College of Defence Studies London.
Latterly, as Commandant of the Defence Training College of Logistics, Policing and Administration (DCLPA) he re-located the college from 7 sites to 2, changed the operating model and had oversight of the £340m new build infrastructure.
Skills include Joint and Combined operational and strategic logistic planning, Defence Review work at MOD, training - design, auditing and transformation. Infrastructure and infrastructure planning, programme management and leadership. French speaker.
Major General (Ret’d) Robert Talbot-Rice
Robert Talbot Rice was commissioned into the Welsh Guards in 1983 and commanded the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards from 2002-4. His operational service included four tours in Northern Ireland, command of the British Battlegroup in Bosnia; and tours on the staff in Kosovo (authoring the Campaign Plan) and Iraq (as the chief liaison officer to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence).
As a staff officer Robert specialised for 20 years in the procurement and support of Defence equipment, principally for land forces. As a Colonel he managed the Army’s Equipment Plan. As a Brigadier he was Director Equipment in Army Headquarters, managing more than 44,000 vehicles and other major systems used by all three services and dealing with complex issues in support of operational deployments. In his final two postings he worked in the Ministry of Defence’s procurement organisation as Head Armoured Vehicles and latterly Director Land Equipment, responsible for negotiating and managing the contracts for the majority of the Army’s biggest equipment programmes and an annual budget of over £1.2Bn.
Having retired in 2018, he now holds a variety of part time responsibilities. He is a non-executive director for SC Group Ltd, chairs conferences, hears service complaints for the Army, and helps several charitable organisations including Homes for Veterans Cymru.
Robert is a Chartered Director and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. A graduate of the Cabinet Office and Said Business School Major Projects Leadership Academy, he also has significant experience in conducting reviews of high-risk projects and programmes.
Rear Admiral (Ret'd) Robert Tarrant MA CB
Maritime Strategy and Operations
Bob has significant experience in the maritime operations, from the nuclear deterrent to humanitarian assistance. He has commanded at every rank from Lieutenant Commander to Rear Admiral. In his last role as Commander Operations he exercised command over all fleet units and was responsible for the delivery of Royal Navy’s operational risks and outputs.
He has worked in a variety of regions, from the North Atlantic and Africa to Antarctica and from the US to the Middle East. He has held a number of strategy positions in the Royal Navy and the MOD. These included the Director of the Naval Staff, in which as the de facto strategy director for the Navy Board, he prepared its policy and approach to the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010. He has operated in NATO, the EU and worked in US led coalitions.
Major General (Ret’d) Rob Weighill CBE MA
After a full career in the Army, Rob retired in 2016, initially adopting a portfolio of consultancy roles spanning defence and security, resilience, strategic risk and education. In late 2018 he started full time employment with Transport for London, leading the modernisation portfolio of programmes for London Underground, responsible for designing and delivering a reliable, safe, customer orientated and financially sustainable network. In November 2019 he assumed the role of New Trains Programme integration and control lead for Greater Anglia Rail, which is transforming its current service by replacing the entire stock with new trains.
Rob’s military career started in the Cold War, serving with artillery regiments in Germany and the UK, included a tour of Northern Ireland and a spell at Sandhurst as an instructor. In the 90s he was employed in a variety of operational, command and staff duty appointments. This included another tour in Northern Ireland and in 1999 deployment to the Balkans with the ARRC as Chief G3, directing NATO’s multi-brigade operations in Macedonia and subsequently in Kosovo. Rob completed a year with the Multinational Security Transition Command in Baghdad in 2007, transforming the Ministry of Interior during the height of the Iraq insurgency. His final tour in the military was with NATO, serving in Joint Force Command Naples both as the Joint Plans Branch Head and Deputy Chief of Staff Plans. In 2011 he led the joint operational level planning for NATO’s intervention into Libya to protect the civilian population and subsequently directed Combined Joint Task Force operations until its conclusion later that year.
Rob has written a book on NATO’s intervention in Libya titled “The Cauldron – NATO’s Campaign in Libya”, released in Sep 2018 by Hurst Publishers in the UK and Oxford University Press in the US. In 2017 he was appointed Chairman of the National Governing Body for British Biathlon.
Brigadier (Ret'd) Gerhard Wheeler CBE
Reserves and National Service
Gerhard has developed a deep understanding of resilience and risk in a series of key defence appointments. He completed his service in the British Army as the Head of Reserves in the Ministry of Defence. Prior to this role, he commanded British Forces in Afghanistan, built and led a multi-national force in Kabul, commanded a UK region, acted as deputy commander of Task Force Helmand and led a British Battle Group in Iraq.
Rear Admiral (Ret'd) Simon Williams CB CVO CCMI
Simon has a wide ranging operational, planning and policy background from the Royal Navy, Royal Household and central UK MOD posts. He has a wealth of senior experience in MOD and Navy personnel and training policy and delivery, ranging from setting Tri-Service Personnel and Training Policy as an Assistant Chief of Defence Staff in the MOD including the talent management of senior officers in the joint environment.
He also worked for HM The Queen as her Defence Services Secretary in the Royal Household, managing the link between the Armed Forces and the Royal Family. In his final post as Naval Secretary and Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Personnel) he assumed most of the people-specific responsibilities for the Royal Navy previously held by the Second Sea Lord, manning new aircraft carriers and the F35 while reducing HQ staff. As Flag Officer Reserves he successfully grew numbers and integrated Royal Navy and Royal Marines reservists with regular service as part of a refreshed whole force approach.
Commodore David Wolfe FCMI RN (Ret'd)
David Wolfe is a Chief Executive level leader with global experience as a senior officer in the Royal Navy, including major warship command. Former NATO lead on relations with Africa Union and British Defence Attaché to Spain. Managed teams of several hundred, operating budgets of £25m and assets worth £120m. Bilingual English and Spanish.