There has been coverage in many papers over the weekend of the departures from the Ministry of Defence of the current Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, and Permanent Under Secretary Sir Bill Jeffrey.
Yesterday, Monday 14 June 2010, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup made the following statement:
I wanted to set out the plans that have now been agreed for the CDS succession.
As a number of people are aware, it has for some time been my wish to retire at the conclusion of the Strategic Defence and Security Review; it is an obvious point at which to make the transition.
I discussed the issue with the Secretary of State a few weeks ago, and he agreed that this timing would be appropriate.
Since the appointment is made by the Prime Minister, however, I have held off making any formal announcement until he had been consulted.
This has now been done, and I can therefore confirm that I shall be handing over as CDS at the end of October, by which time the review will be complete. The Prime Minister will make a decision on my successor in due course.
Meanwhile, we have a difficult summer ahead in Afghanistan, and much to do to get our programme into balance with national aspirations and available resources.
I look forward to working with you on these crucial challenges over the next few months.
The Permanent Secretary Sir Bill Jeffrey sent a message to all Defence staff last Friday, 11 June 2010, before the media reported the story, in which he said:
I wanted staff to know that I am planning to retire in the autumn, after the Strategic Defence and Security Review [SDSR], by which time I will have completed almost five years as Permanent Secretary.
My original intention had been to finish last autumn, but I was asked to stay on until after the election and the Secretary of State has now said that he would like me to see through the Defence interest in the SDSR. I am very glad to do so, because, like others, I see the review as a real opportunity to set Defence on a good course for the future.
There will be an announcement in due course about the process for identifying my successor.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron said:
They have both been and they both are extremely strong and dedicated public servants and everyone in this country owes them that thank you.
Sir Jock actually extended his time as Chief of the Defence Staff before the last election because he wanted to see continuity; he wanted to see that service continue.
He has for some time had in mind actually standing down in the autumn at the end of the Strategic Defence Review at the end of October and that is indeed what he is going to do … and that will give the new Government time to put in place a proper transition for a new Chief of the Defence Staff to take on the vital work that Sir Jock has done.