Rhys Jones (soldier)

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Richard Rhys Jones
New Zealand Army Major General Richard Rhys Jones USACGSC 2010.jpg
Major General Rhys Jones in 2010
Born (1960-05-02) 2 May 1960 (age 58)
Timaru, New Zealand
Allegiance New Zealand
Service/branch New Zealand Army
Years of service 1978–2014
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held Chief of the Defence Force
Chief of Army
Joint Forces New Zealand
Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles
3 Land Force Group
Awards Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Lieutenant General Richard Rhys Jones, CNZM (born 2 May 1960) is a retired senior New Zealand Army officer, who was the Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force from 2011 to 2014. He was succeeded by Lieutenant General Tim Keating.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Jones was born in Timaru and is the son of Methodist minister Alan Jones. Jones is the youngest in a family of nine,[3] six in his immediate family plus three half-brothers including writer Owen Marshall Jones.[4] He is a former pupil of Wanganui Boys' College.[5]

Military career[edit]

Jones enlisted in the New Zealand Army in December 1978, and attended the Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra from 1979 to 1982, graduating as a Bachelor of Arts, having majored in politics.[4] In December 1982, he entered the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps as a lieutenant. He then spent nine years at Waiouru Army Camp followed by ten years intermittently in Australia. He was posted to the Middle East as an observer with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, and with the Observer Group Lebanon as an operations officer.

Jones is a 1992 graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, and was inducted into the USACGSC International Hall of Fame in October 2010.[6] He attended the higher defence college at the Australian Defence College, completed a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies at La Trobe University, and has a Diploma in Qualitative Futures.

In 2000, he had "some disagreements with the chief of army at that time" over armoured vehicles, was sent away to Australia and told he would receive no further promotions, but was later brought back.[4] By 2005 he was a colonel at Burnham Military Camp.[7] Jones was promoted from brigadier to major general in October 2007 and appointed Commander Joint Forces New Zealand after serving as the Land Component Commander.[8] On 1 May 2009, he succeeded Major General Lou Gardiner as the Chief of Army.[9]

Prime Minister John Key announced on 6 December 2010 that Jones would be the next Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force, appointing him for a three-year term rather than the usual five to monitor progress in a major review of defence force spending.[1] The appointment commenced on 24 January 2011.[10]

In September 2013, the government announced that Jones' term would not be extended by two years to a five-year term, as was done with previous heads of defence, and he would be stood down in January 2014.[11] He was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the State in the 2014 New Year Honours, just prior to his retirement.[12]

As of May 2017, he was appointed Chief executive of Fire and Emergency New Zealand,[13] and commenced in this role with the organisation's establishment on 1 July 2017.


  1. ^ a b "New boss for Defence Force". Television New Zealand. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "New Chief of Defence Force announced". TVNZ. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Masters, Catherine (11 December 2010). "From toy soldiers to the real deal". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 December 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "From Timaru boy to top brass". The Timaru Herald. 16 November 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Defence top job goes to 'local boy'". The Timaru Herald. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "International Hall of Fame Ceremony". Command and General Staff College. 15 October 2010. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  7. ^ Devereux, Monique (18 October 2007). "Army reviews driver training". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "Top rank for former Timaru man". The Timaru Herald. 18 October 2007. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Timaru boy marches into army's top spot". The Timaru Herald. 2 May 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  10. ^ New Chief of Defence Force welcomes his appointment – New Zealand Defence Force
  11. ^ "Defence Force head stood down". The New Zealand Herald. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2016. 
  12. ^ "New Year honours list 2014". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2018. 
  13. ^ Key appointments made for new Fire & Emergency organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae
Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force
Succeeded by
Lieutenant General Tim Keating
Preceded by
Major General Lou Gardiner
Chief of Army
Succeeded by
Major General Tim Keating
Preceded by
Rear Admiral Jack Steer
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand
Succeeded by
Air Vice Marshal Peter Stockwell