Chief of the General Staff

Lieutenant General Mark Carleton-Smith

Lieutenant General  Mark Carleton-Smith



General Mark Carleton-Smith was commissioned into 1st Battalion Irish Guards from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1986 and served at regimental duty in London, Germany, Canada and South Armagh, prior to service in The Gulf and The Balkans.

A graduate of the final Army Command and Staff Course at Camberley, he was appointed Chief of Staff 19 Mechanized Brigade (1999-01) and served two tours in Kosovo as Chief of Staff HQ Multi-National Brigade Centre. On promotion to Lieutenant Colonel he was appointed Military Assistant to the Commander-in-Chief Land Forces (2001-02) and later assumed command of 22 Special Air Service Regiment (2002-05), serving principally in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Promoted to Colonel in 2005 he became Deputy Director Policy Planning in the MOD before assuming command of 16 Air Assault Brigade (2006-08) during which time he served in Afghanistan as Commander Helmand Task Force and Commander British Forces Afghanistan. He served in the MOD as Director Army Resources and Plans (2009-11) prior to promotion to Major General as Director Special Forces (2012-15).

He was subsequently Director Strategy at Army Headquarters (2015-16) and latterly assumed the appointment of Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Military Strategy and Operations) in April 2016. He took up the appointment of Chief of the General Staff in June 2018.

Chief of the General Staff

The Chief of the General Staff (CGS) is the professional head of the Army, with responsibility for developing and generating military capability from an integrated Army (Regular and Reserve) and for maintaining the fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the Service.

The CGS reports to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and, as a Service COS, has a right of direct access to the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister. The CGS is a member of the Defence Council and the Army Board, the Armed Forces Committee, the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Senior Appointments Committee.


The Chief of the General Staff:

  • maintains the institutional health of the Army by exercising Full Command responsibility for all Army personnel
  • ensures the efficient and effective governance of the service
  • chairs the Executive Committee of the Army Board and the Army Command Group
  • contributes to the conduct of defence higher level business, with a particular responsibility for providing specialist advice on Army matters
  • develops future Army capability within the context of Defence strategic direction and resource allocation
  • leads the senior management team of the British Army