John Reith (British Army officer)

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Sir John Reith
John Reith Turkish Cpt.JPG
Sir John Reith (left) and German Gen. Ranier Shuwirth receive an operations brief from Turkish Naval Captain at Allied Air Command, 2007
Born (1948-11-17) 17 November 1948 (age 68)
Northumberland, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1969–2008
Rank General
Commands held Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Chief of Joint Operations
Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (Land)
1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment
Battles/wars Gulf War
Kosovo War
Iraq War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Mentioned in Despatches
Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service

General Sir John George Reith, KCB, CBE (born 17 November 1948) is a retired senior British Army officer who was the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) from October 2004 to October 2007.

Early life[edit]

Reith was born on 17 November 1948 in Northumberland, and attended Eliots Green Grammar School (merged with Vincent Secondary Modern School to become Northolt High School in 1974) on Eastcote Lane in Northolt.

Military career[edit]

Reith was commissioned into the Parachute Regiment on 19 December 1969.[1] He was promoted to lieutenant on 19 June 1971 and to captain on 19 December 1975.[2][3] He was further promoted to major on 30 September 1980, lieutenant colonel on 30 June 1985 and to colonel on 30 June 1989.[4][5][6] Early appointments included 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment as a company commander, tours of Northern Ireland (for which he was mentioned in despatches on 11 November 1986 and appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 31 October 1989),[7][8] a tour of Yugoslavia (for which he was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service on 22 November 1994),[9] command of 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment, and Chief of Staff of the 20th Armoured Brigade in Detmold, West Germany. He was advanced to Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1991 Birthday Honours,[10] and promoted to brigadier on 31 December the same year (with seniority from 30 June).[11]

On 1 July 1997 he assumed the appointment of Commander Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (Land), with the rank of major general; during this tour he commanded AFOR, the NATO-led multinational deployment to Albania to help resolve the Kosovo refugee crisis.[12] He also negotiated the undertaking by the KLA to disarm during the closing stages of the crisis. Appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 2000 New Year Honours,[13] Reith assumed the post of Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Policy) in the Ministry of Defence central staff in January.[14]

In August 2001 he was appointed Chief of Joint Operations at the Permanent Joint Headquarters, Northwood, and was promoted to lieutenant general on 6 August.[15] During this three year appointment, he was the joint commander for all world wide UK overseas operations including Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and Sierra Leone. He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 31 October 2003 for services during the invasion of Iraq.[16] Reith gave evidence to the Iraq Inquiry on 15 January 2010 regarding this role.[17]

Promoted to the acting rank of general in 2003, Reith assumed the appointment of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe and was promoted to the substantive rank of general from 1 October 2004.[18] He retired from this post in October 2007,[19] and retired from the army the following 4 March.[20]


Reith is the chairman of the board of governors of Millfield School in Somerset.[21]


  1. ^ "No. 45037". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 February 1970. p. 1661. 
  2. ^ "No. 45404". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 June 1971. p. 6643. 
  3. ^ "No. 46769". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 December 1975. p. 16298. 
  4. ^ "No. 48360". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 November 1980. p. 15273. 
  5. ^ "No. 50204". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 July 1985. p. 10107. 
  6. ^ "No. 51805". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 July 1989. p. 8085. 
  7. ^ "No. 50711". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 November 1986. p. 14520. 
  8. ^ "No. 51920". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 October 1989. p. 12517. 
  9. ^ "No. 53855". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 November 1994. p. 16324. 
  10. ^ "No. 52588". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 June 1991. p. 24. 
  11. ^ "No. 52850". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 March 1992. p. 3791. 
  12. ^ "No. 54820". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 July 1997. p. 7550. 
  13. ^ "No. 55711". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1999. p. 41. 
  14. ^ "No. 55735". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 January 2000. p. 463. 
  15. ^ "No. 56295". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 August 2001. p. 9327. 
  16. ^ "No. 57100". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 October 2003. p. 9. 
  17. ^ "Iraq inquiry hears evidence behind closed doors". BBC News. BBC. 15 January 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2010. 
  18. ^ "No. 57441". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 October 2004. p. 13157. 
  19. ^ Senior Officer Appointments Archived 10 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "No. 58629". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 March 2008. p. 3350. 
  21. ^ General (Ret’d) Sir John Reith, KCB, CB Archived 18 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Admiral Sir Ian Garnett
Chief of Joint Operations
Succeeded by
Air Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy
Preceded by
Admiral Rainer Feist
Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Succeeded by
General Sir John McColl