Gordon Messenger

Sir Gordon Messenger

Then Lieutenant General Gordon Messenger, January 2014
Born (1962-04-15) 15 April 1962
Dundee, Scotland
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Marines
Years of service 1983 – present
Rank General
Commands held Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (2016–)
Task Force Helmand (2008–09)
3 Commando Brigade (2008–09)
40 Commando (2002–04)
Battles/wars War in Afghanistan
Iraq War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Officer of the Order of the British Empire

General Sir Gordon Kenneth Messenger, KCB, DSO & Bar, OBE, ADC (born 15 April 1962) is a senior Royal Marines officer and Vice Chief of the Defence Staff with effect from May 2016, in succession to Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach. As a colonel he commanded 40 Commando during the Iraq War, and led the Commando in the assault on the Al-Faw Peninsula. He served as British Commander of Task Force Helmand, during the 3 Commando Brigade deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan on Operation Herrick IX from 2008 to 2009.

Military career

Messenger was appointed an acting lieutenant on a short career graduate commission on 15 September 1983 (with seniority from 1 September 1982),[1] transferring to a full career commission on 21 May 1986 with seniority from 1 September 1984.[2] At this time he also qualified as a Mountain Leader.[3] In 1995 he graduated from the Canadian Forces Command and Staff Course No 21.[4] He was promoted substantive major on 30 June 1997, having previously held the rank locally.[5]

Messenger served with British forces in the former Yugoslavia in 2000 (Kosovo), for which he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).[6] He was promoted substantive colonel on 30 June 2002, having previously held the rank on an acting basis.[7][8] For his leadership of 40 Commando (and attached army units) in Iraq, including the initial assault on Al Faw peninsular, and an action against Iraqi armour at Abu Al Khasib, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on 31 October 2003.[9][10] After a sabbatical in Geneva, he joined the Joint Force Headquarters as Chief of Staff in July 2004, a job that saw him on various operations worldwide, including Operation Garron, the 2004 tsunami relief effort, Operation Highbrow, the Lebanon evacuation operation, and a six-month tour in command of the Operation Herrick preliminary operation in Afghanistan.[3][11] He graduated from the UK Higher Command and Staff Course in 2007 and was promoted brigadier on 24 April 2007.[12] On 1 April 2008 he was appointed an aide-de-camp to the Queen.[13]

Messenger served as the British Commander of Task Force Helmand,[14] during the 3 Commando Brigade deployment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan on Operation Herrick IX in 2008–2009. For his leadership during this operation he was awarded a Bar to his DSO on 11 September 2009,[15] the first member of the Naval Service to receive the DSO and Bar for over 50 years.[16] He was promoted major general in late 2009, and appointed lead spokesman on British operations in Afghanistan.[16] He went on to be Chief of Staff (Operations) at Permanent Joint Headquarters, Northwood in 2011[17] and became Director Force Reintegration HQ International Security Assistance Force in October 2012.[18] He served as Deputy Commander of NATO Allied Land Command (LANDCOM)-Izmir from January 2013[19] until June 2014 when he was assigned to the post of Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations) in the Ministry of Defence.[20] He was promoted to lieutenant general on 14 January 2013.[21]

On 1 December 2015, Messenger appeared in front of the Defence Select Committee of the House of Commons in relation to the military situation in Syria.[22] On 15 March 2016, Messenger was in South Korea to observe British troops participating in Operation Key Resolve.[23] Messenger was appointed as Vice Chief of the Defence Staff in spring 2016, in succession to Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach. Messenger was formally promoted to full general on 16 May 2016.[24] He is the first four-star Royal Marine general since 1977.[25][26] Messenger handed over his role of Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations) to Lieutenant General Mark Carleton-Smith on 18 April 2016.[27]

Messenger was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 2015 Birthday Honours[28] and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2016 Birthday Honours.[29] He is patron of the Defence Medical Welfare Service[30] and honorary Colonel of 131 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers.[31]


He is married to Sarah and they have three children. He enjoys running, rugby, rock climbing and real ale.[3]


  1. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 49517. p. 13992. 24 October 1983. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  2. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50589. p. 9020. 7 July 1986. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 Royal Marines Website retrieved 2 March 2009.
  4. CFC Graduates as Operational Commanders. Retrieved 20 May 2008
  5. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54820. pp. 7549–7550. 30 June 1997. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  6. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56373. p. 12747. 30 October 2001. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  7. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56626. pp. 8183–8184. 9 July 2002. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  8. The Navy List 2006 retrieved 19 May 2008. Archived 14 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57100. p. 4. 30 October 2003. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  10. Operational Awards for Op TELIC retrieved 19 May 2008.
  11. UK Colonel Outlines Afghan Vision retrieved 19 May 2008.
  12. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58309. p. 5869. 24 April 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  13. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58660. p. 5327. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  14. "3 Commando Brigade take over in Helmand". MoD. 8 October 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  15. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59182. p. 15640. 11 September 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  16. 1 2 General seeks support for troops, The Daily Express, 18 December 2009. Retrieved on 10 February 2010
  17. Up and out : Promotions, leavers, new jobs May 2012 Defence Viewpoints
  18. Ups and outs ; Promotions, retirements in HM Forces June 2012 Defence Viewpoints
  19. NATO Land Command Tightens Links with the JFTC NATO
  20. Allied Land Command news NATO
  21. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60398. p. 1159. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  22. Watt, Nicholas; MacAskill, Ewen; Mason, Rowena. "David Cameron has failed to justify Syria airstrikes, MPs' committee says". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  23. "British General in S. Korea to observe Key Resolve". Yonhap News Agency. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  24. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61649. p. 15568. 19 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  25. "Marine general chosen as top brass No 2". The Times. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  26. "The Secretary of State announces new Senior Appointments in the Armed Services". Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  27. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61557. p. 9194. 18 April 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  28. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61256. p. B3. 13 June 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  29. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61608. p. B2. 11 June 2016.
  30. "Patrons". Defence Medical Welfare Service. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  31. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59720. p. 4237. 8 March 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
Military offices
Preceded by
Lieutenant General James Everard
Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations)
Succeeded by
Lieutenant General Mark Carleton-Smith
Preceded by
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff
2016 –
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