General John Nicholas Reynolds Houghton, Baron Houghton of Richmond, GCB, CBE, DL (born 18 October 1954) is a retired senior British Army officer and former Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) of the British Armed Forces. He was appointed CDS in July 2013, following the retirement of General Sir David Richards. He served as Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, the Green Howards in Northern Ireland during The Troubles and later became Commander of the 39th Infantry Brigade in Northern Ireland. He deployed as Senior British Military Representative and Deputy Commanding General, Multi-National Force – Iraq during the Iraq War. Later, he became Chief of Joint Operations at Permanent Joint Headquarters and served as Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff until assuming the position of CDS. Houghton retired from the British Army in July 2016, and was succeeded as CDS by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach.
The Lord Houghton of Richmond
General Sir Nicholas Houghton in 2013
|Born||18 October 1954|
Otley, West Yorkshire, England
|Years of service||1974–2016|
|Commands held||Chief of the Defence Staff (2013–16)|
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (2009–13)
Chief of Joint Operations (2006–09)
39th Infantry Brigade (1997–99)
1st Battalion, the Green Howards (1991–94)
|Awards||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath|
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States)
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of Military Service (Malaysia)
Margaret Glover (m. 1982)
|Other work||Constable of the Tower (2016–present)|
|Member of the House of Lords|
|Assumed office |
20 November 2017
|Political party||None (crossbencher)|
Houghton was born on 18 October 1954 in Otley near Leeds and is the son of Frank and Margaret Houghton. He was educated at Woodhouse Grove School, an independent school near Bradford. In 1977, he graduated from St Peter's College, Oxford, having taken an in-Service Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern History.
After attending Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Houghton was commissioned into the Green Howards as a second lieutenant on 9 March 1974. He was promoted to lieutenant on 9 March 1976, to captain on 9 September 1980 and to major on 30 September 1986. He was appointed Military Assistant to the Chief of Staff British Army of the Rhine and subsequently became a member of the Directing Staff at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham. Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 30 June 1991, he became Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion The Green Howards in 1991 and was deployed to Northern Ireland in 1993.
Houghton was made Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff at HQ Land Command in 1994 and he attended the Higher Command and Staff Course in 1997. Promoted to brigadier on 31 December 1997 with seniority from 30 June 1997, he became Commander of 39 Infantry Brigade in Northern Ireland in 1997 and was Director of Military Operations at the Ministry of Defence from December 1999 to July 2002. He was promoted to major general on 26 July 2002 and was made Chief of Staff of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps that year before becoming Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations) in 2004.
Promoted to lieutenant general on 14 October 2005, Houghton was deployed as Senior British Military Representative and Deputy Commanding General, Multi-National Force – Iraq in October 2005. He became Chief of Joint Operations at Permanent Joint Headquarters (UK) in 2006 and, after being relieved of that post on 13 March 2009, he was promoted to general and appointed Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff on 5 May 2009.
Houghton took over as Chief of the Defence Staff on 18 July 2013. He has stated that one of his key objectives is to re-shape the Armed forces in the post-Afghanistan era. Houghton has also raised concerns about the Armed Forces' abilities with the personnel and budget cuts. As of 2015, Houghton was paid a salary of between £255,000 and £259,999 by the department, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.
In January 2016, the government announced that Houghton would be replaced by Sir Stuart Peach as Chief of the Defence Staff in the summer of 2016. Houghton handed over to Peach on 14 July 2016.
In 2016, he was appointed Constable of the Tower of London, as the monarch’s representative for five years, replacing Richard Dannatt, Baron Dannatt. This is primarily a ceremonial post but the Constable is also a trustee of Historic Royal Palaces and the Royal Armouries.
On 12 October 1993, Houghton was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) "in recognition of distinguished service in Northern Ireland". He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) on 14 April 2000 "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Northern Ireland during the period 1 April 1999 to 30 September 1999". In 2006, he was made an Officer of the Legion of Merit "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services during coalition operations in Iraq. He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2008 Birthday Honours and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in the 2011 Birthday Honours.
Houghton was Colonel of the Regiment of 158 (Royal Anglian) Transport Regiment (Volunteers) from 1 November 2003 to 1 September 2008 and honorary Colonel Commandant of the King's Division from 10 December 2005 to 10 December 2008 as well as Colonel of the Regiment of The Yorkshire Regiment from 6 June 2006 to 6 June 2011. He was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Intelligence Corps on 19 July 2008 and Aide-de-Camp General (ADC Gen) to The Queen on 1 October 2009.
In October 2017, it was announced that a life peerage would be conferred on Houghton. On 20 November, he was created Baron Houghton of Richmond, of Richmond in the County of North Yorkshire.
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB)||2011|
|Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB)||2008|
|Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)||2000|
|Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)||1993|
|General Service Medal (1962)|
|Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal||2002|
|Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal||2012|
|Accumulated Campaign Service Medal|
|Officer of the Legion of Merit||2006 (United States)|
|Knight Grand Commander of the Order of Military Service||2015 (Malaysia)|
| Senior British Military Representative
and Deputy Commanding General, Multinational Force, Iraq
Sir Glenn Torpy
| Chief of Joint Operations
Sir Stuart Peach
Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman
| Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff|
Sir David Richards
| Chief of the Defence Staff|
|New title|| Colonel of the Yorkshire Regiment
The Lord Dannatt
| Constable of the Tower of London
|Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom|
The Lord Hogan-Howe
Baron Houghton of Richmond
The Lord Tyrie
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