Nick Parker

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General Sir Nick Parker
Sir Nick Parker cropped.jpg
General Sir Nick Parker
Born13 October 1954
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1973–2013
Commands held2nd Battalion Royal Green Jackets
20th Armoured Brigade
2nd Division
HQ Northern Ireland
Regional Forces
UK Contingent Commander, Afghanistan
International Security Assistance Force
Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces
Battles/warsSierra Leone Civil War
Iraq War
Operation Banner
War in Afghanistan
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Mentioned in Despatches
Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States)
Meritorious Service Medal (United States)

General Sir Nicholas Ralph "Nick" Parker KCB, CBE (born 13 October 1954)[1] is a former British Army officer who served as Commander Land Forces (formerly Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces) until December 2012.

As a general officer, Parker served in Northern Ireland as well as in Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan and in staff roles including governor of Edinburgh Castle, commandant of the Joint Services Command and Staff College and Commander of Regional Forces, a role that also gave him the duties of inspector-general of the Territorial Army. Between 2005 and 2006, Parker served as deputy commanding general of Multi-National Force – Iraq, before appointment to General Officer Commanding, Northern Ireland, in which role he had the responsibility of overseeing the withdrawal of troops from the streets of Northern Ireland for the first time in over thirty years.

While on holiday in 2009, Parker and his wife received news that their son, Harry, a captain with The Rifles, had been seriously wounded in Afghanistan. Harry eventually lost both legs as a result of a roadside bomb attack while leading his patrol. Parker later gave interviews about the ordeal the family went through with Harry's injuries, calling the experience "foul". Later the same year, Parker himself deployed to Afghanistan on a twelve-month tour, becoming the commander of the British forces in the country and deputy commander of the International Security Assistance Force, second in command to American General Stanley A. McChrystal. In June 2010, McChrystal was relieved of his command of ISAF by President Barack Obama, leaving Parker as acting commander of ISAF for just over a week until General David Petraeus was confirmed as the new commander.

Early and personal life[edit]

Born the son of Captain Herbert Blake Parker and Diana Katherine Barnwell, Parker was educated at the independent Sherborne School[2] and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.[2] Parker has listed Coronation Street and fishing among his interests.[3][4]

Early career[edit]

Parker was commissioned into the Royal Green Jackets as a second lieutenant in January 1974.[5][6] He was promoted to full lieutenant in November 1975,[7] was Mentioned in Despatches in January 1980 for service in Northern Ireland the previous year,[8] and promoted captain in May 1980.[9] He attended the Army Staff Course in 1986[4] prior to promotion to major in October the same year.[10]

Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1991,[11] he was subsequently appointed commanding officer of the Second Battalion the Royal Green Jackets from 1994 to 1995[4] before promotion to colonel in 1996,[12] having attended the Higher Command and Staff Course at the Staff College, Camberley.[4] Parker was promoted to brigadier in December 1997, with seniority from 30 June 1997[13] and given command of 20th Armoured Brigade,[2] which deployed to Bosnia in 1999.[14]

High command[edit]

Parker served as commander of the British task force in Sierra Leone and advisor to the country's president in 2001,[4] and went on to become General Officer Commanding, 2nd Division in November 2002,[6] being promoted to major-general on the same date.[15] As General Officer Commanding 2nd Division, he was also Governor of Edinburgh Castle.[16]

In 2004 he served as commandant of the Joint Services Command and Staff College,[17] before taking over as deputy commanding general of the Multi-National Corps – Iraq, holding the position from August 2005 to February 2006.[4]

Parker was appointed General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland and promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general on 18 July 2006.[18] In Northern Ireland he was responsible for reducing the UK's troop commitment in the Province and is quoted as saying "that the military had made a significant contribution to security in Northern Ireland that has allowed other people to make the difference through politics, social programmes and economics".[19] Parker oversaw the closure of the base at Bessbrook, County Armagh, which, he said, "signifies a time when the army stops being part of the security forces and moves into being part of the community."[20]

Parker was awarded the American Legion of Merit "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services during coalition operations in Afghanistan" in 2007.[21] In October 2007, he became Commander of Regional Forces at Land Command,[22] a dual-hatted role as Inspector-General of the Territorial Army in which role he advocated for the TA and the regular Army to be regarded as a single organisation, pointing out that both face identical risks on deployment and saying "the TA soldier brings maturity and a wider understanding of the world – the end result, more so now than ever before, is the one Army and everyone should feel part of the same team".[23] As Commander, Regional Forces, Parker was responsible for overseeing the £3 billion overhaul of the Army's Royal Engineers' Royal School of Military Engineering in a public-private partnership in September 2008[24] as well as accepting the Freedom of the City of Bath on behalf of the Rifles in October 2008,[25] and campaigning for the creation of an Armed Forces Day for the UK, a proposal that was implemented in July 2009.[26]


Parker attending a shura in April 2010 with Afghan National Army Brigadier General Akram Sameh
General David Petraeus presents Parker with the NATO Medal.

In September 2009, it was announced that Parker would succeed Royal Marine Lieutenant General Sir Jim Dutton as deputy commander of ISAF in Afghanistan.[27] During his tenure as deputy commander, Parker denied claims that British personnel in Afghanistan were suffering from a lack of equipment and helicopters, saying in an interview "rather than asking for more helicopters – which may be a requirement – we've got to develop tactics that get you out and amongst the people and re-establish ourselves as a force for good in the community" and that he was "absolutely convinced that what Harry [Parker's son] was given was right for what he was doing. However, nothing was ever going to stop his leg getting blown off".[28] Parker was serving in Afghanistan on Christmas Day 2009 and undertook a tour of British bases in the area to visit troops.[29]

On 23 June 2010, Parker assumed temporary command of all 140,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, following the departure of American General Stanley McChrystal.[3][30] British Prime Minister David Cameron told U.S. President Barack Obama that Parker had assured him that the operation would "not miss a beat" during the transition period.[31] He held the role until 3 July, when General David Petraeus was confirmed as McChrystal's replacement.[32]


On 29 July 2010 Parker was named as the next Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces in succession to General Sir Peter Wall.[33]

Parker took over as Commander-in-Chief Land Forces on 1 October 2010 and was granted the substantive rank of general.[34] For his service in Afghanistan, General Parker was presented with his NATO ribbon by the overall allied commander in Afghanistan, US General David Petraeus, in addition to this Petraeus also presented General Parker with a US Meritorious Service Medal; furthermore Parker also received the Afghan President's Award from its Minister of Defence.[35]

Under a major army command reorganisation effective 1 November 2011 Parker's role was re-designated Commander Land Forces.[36]

Parker's post as Commander Land Forces was assumed by Lieutenant General Adrian Bradshaw in January 2013.[37]

As of 2010, Parker was Honorary Colonel of the Manchester and Salford Universities Officers' Training Corps[38] and served as Colonel Commandant of 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets.[39] When the Royal Green Jackets were merged with others in 2007 to form The Rifles, he became Colonel Commandant of the new regiment until replaced in 2013 by Lt-General Nick Carter.[40][41]

From 2008 Parker was the President of the Peninsular War 200, the official UK organisation for the commemoration of the Peninsular War (1808-1814).[42]


In 1979 he married Rebecca Clare Wellings:[2] they have two sons, one of whom, Harry, was seriously injured in July 2009 while serving as a captain with 4th Battalion The Rifles in Afghanistan.[43] Harry lost both legs after the patrol he was commanding ran over a roadside bomb.[3] Parker later spoke about the aftermath of the incident, saying "it was pretty bad at that stage, they didn't know if Harry would survive or not. It helped being a soldier because all your training is about remaining as calm and calculating as you can in very difficult circumstances. But it was foul."[3] Harry was injured shortly before Parker was due to take up the position of deputy commander of the International Security Assistance Force. Parker did assume the post on schedule, later saying "Harry would be horrified if I didn't go. He'd think I was a wimp".[28][44]

Awards and appointments[edit]

Parker was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2001 in the rank of brigadier[45] and appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2009 Birthday Honours in the rank of lieutenant general.[46]

Order of the Bath UK ribbon.png

Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png General Service Medal 1962 BAR MID.png UNFICYP.gif NATO Medal ribbon (Non-Article 5).svg

OSM for Sierra Leone BAR.svg Iraq Medal BAR.svg Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png

Accumulated Campaign Service Medal BAR.svg Us legion of merit officer rib.png Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Noribbon.svg

Order of the Bath UK ribbon.png Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) 2009[46]
Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) 2001[45]
General Service Medal 1962 BAR MID.png General Service Medal With one clasp and palm for Mentioned in Despatches
UNFICYP.gif United Nations Medal with UNFICYP ribbon For United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
NATO Medal ribbon (Non-Article 5).svg NATO Medal with ISAF ribbon 1 October 2010[35]
OSM for Sierra Leone BAR.svg Operational Service Medal for Sierra Leone
Iraq Medal BAR.svg Iraq Medal
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal 2002
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal 2012
Accumulated Campaign Service Medal BAR.svg Accumulated Campaign Service Medal
Us legion of merit officer rib.png Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States)
Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal (United States) 1 October 2010 [35]
Noribbon.svg President's Award (Afghanistan) 1 October 2010[35][dead link]


  1. ^ Witherow, John, ed. (13 October 2018). "Birthdays today". The Times (72665). p. 29. ISSN 0140-0460.
  2. ^ a b c d Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4081-1414-8
  3. ^ a b c d Watt, Chris (24 June 2010). "British general takes charge in Afghanistan". Herald Scotland. Newsquest. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
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  14. ^ 20th Armoured Brigade list of commanders
  15. ^ "No. 56784". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 December 2002. p. 15275.
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  22. ^ "No. 58444". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 September 2007. p. 13136.
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  26. ^ Sean Rayment, Ben Leach and Jasper Copping (16 March 2008). "Widespread support for an Armed Forces Day". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  27. ^ "Amputations for over 50 soldiers". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. 2 August 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  28. ^ a b Drury, Ian (16 November 2009). "Top army chief speaks of agony after his son blasted in Taliban booby-trap". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  29. ^ Gardham, Duncan (25 December 2009). "British forces bringing back children's laughter at Christmas — Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  30. ^ "As it happened: Gen McChrystal controversy". BBC News. BBC. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  31. ^ "UK 'committed' to Afghan role despite McChrystal exit". BBC News. BBC. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  32. ^ "US Gen Petraeus urges unity to tackle Afghanistan war". BBC News. BBC. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  33. ^ General Sir Peter Wall named British army's new head
  34. ^ "No. 59565". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 October 2010. p. 19215.
  35. ^ a b c d Lt Gen Sir Nick Parker ends his year as ISAF deputy, MoD News, September 2010
  36. ^ "Army Command reorganization". Defence Marketing Intelligence. 10 November 2011. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  37. ^ Defence Viewpoints; Up and Out: Promotions, leavers, new jobs; May 2012
  38. ^ "No. 58081". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 August 2006. p. 11755.
  39. ^ "No. 57775". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 October 2005. p. 12769.
  40. ^ "No. 58238". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 February 2007. p. 1640.
  41. ^ "NEW COLONEL COMMANDANT FOR THE RIFLES". The Regimental Association of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  42. ^ "Peninsular War 200". Retrieved 29 October 2015.
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  44. ^ McNamara, Paul (15 November 2009). ""Helicopters and extra kit will not win this war" says Army chief Lieutenant General Sir Nick Parker". News of the World. News Group Newspapers. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  45. ^ a b "No. 56541". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 April 2002. p. 4812.
  46. ^ a b "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 2.
Military offices
Preceded by
Robert Gordon
General Officer Commanding the 2nd Division
Succeeded by
Euan Loudon
Preceded by
John McColl
Commandant of the Joint Services Command and Staff College
Succeeded by
Nigel Maddox
Preceded by
Mark Mans
Deputy Commanding General Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Succeeded by
Peter Everson
Preceded by
Sir Redmond Watt
General Officer Commanding the British Army in Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Chris Brown
Preceded by
Sir John McColl
Commander Regional Forces
Succeeded by
Mark Mans
Preceded by
Sir James Dutton
Deputy Commander, ISAF
Succeeded by
James Bucknall
Preceded by
Sir Peter Wall
Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces
Succeeded by
Post restructured
Preceded by
Post created
Commander Land Forces
Succeeded by
Adrian Bradshaw