Vice Chief of the Defence Staff

General Sir Gordon Messenger KCB DSO* OBE ADC

General Sir Gordon  Messenger  KCB DSO* OBE ADC



General Sir Messenger joined the Royal Marines in 1983. After a range of junior officer appointments, predominantly in regimental service and including a 1 year Mountain Leader course, he attended the Canadian Staff College in 1994. Two staff jobs followed, in the UK MOD and HQ Royal Marines, before he was appointed as Chief of Staff to 3 Commando Brigade in 1999; a tour that included an operational deployment to Kosovo. He commanded 40 Commando from 2001 to 2003, which included operational deployments to Afghanistan and Op Telic 1, the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

After a sabbatical in Geneva, he joined Joint Force Headquarters as Chief of Staff in 2004; a job that saw him on various operations worldwide, including the tsunami relief effort, the civilian evacuation from Lebanon and command of the Op Herrick Prelim Ops deployment in Southern Afghanistan in 2005. After attending Higher Command and Staff Course, he briefly acted as Director Force Development in Main Building before being appointed to the position of Director Joint Commitments (Military) in September 2007, coordinating military policy for all overseas operations. After selection for Brigade command, he then commanded 3 Commando Brigade for their tour to Helmand in September 2008, followed by promotion and a tour as Chief of Defence Staff’s Strategic Communication Officer, focusing primarily on improving public awareness of the Afghanistan campaign.

From 2010 to 2012 he served as Chief of Staff (Operations) at the Permanent Joint Headquarters, responsible for the conduct and capability of UK overseas operations. On promotion to 3* in January 2013, he assumed the position of Deputy Commander of NATO’s Allied Land Command in Izmir, Turkey. In July 2014, he became the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Military Strategy and Operations) in the MOD.

Vice Chief of the Defence Staff

The Vice Chief of the Defence Staff deputises for the Chief of the Defence Staff and has responsibility for running the armed forces aspects of defence business, principally through the central staff.


VCDS is responsible for:

  • deputising for CDS (in particular as Military Strategic Commander)
  • co-ordinating delivery of top-level decisions-making, implementation and monitoring progress
  • leading senior military judgement for the future development of the armed forces including the definition and delivery for military capability requirements; and being capability sponsor for capital projects and programmes
  • Defence Board lead for military personnel and training (including Reserves)
  • leading the preparation of the armed forces input to SDSRs
  • (with CDS) conduct of the military strategic dialogue