General Sir Gordon Messenger KCB DSO* OBE

Distinguished Fellow


General Sir Gordon Messenger served as a Royal Marine from 1983 to 2019, in a career that spanned operational command, capability development, public communications and the strategic leadership of Defence. His career was notable for two reasons: he was the first Royal Marine to be promoted to four-star rank for 50 years, and the first member of the naval service since the Korean War to receive a Bar to the Distinguished Service Order. His operational tours include Kosovo, Iraq, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, culminating in command of 3 Commando Brigade in Helmand from 2008 to 2009. He was appointed Vice Chief of Defence Staff in May 2016, acting as the Chief of Defence Staff’s principal deputy for operational matters and leading on the management and oversight of military capability, including nuclear and cyber issues. 

Since retiring in October 2019, he has established a portfolio career. Among other things, he is a Non-Executive Director of QinetiQ plc, an international advisor to the Defence Minister of Ukraine, a Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset, a Board member of UK Health Security Agency, a member of the Covid Commemoration Commission and a Patron of several military charities. He supported the Department of Health and Social Care on the Community Testing and Managed Quarantine programmes as part of the pandemic response.

In October 2021, he was commissioned by the Government to lead a Review into leadership and management in the Health and Social Care sectors, which reported successfully in June 2022. General Messenger was installed as His Majesty’s Constable of the Tower of London in October 2022, a role which includes trusteeships of Royal Historic Palaces and the Royal Armouries.

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