Mark Carleton-Smith

General Sir Mark Alexander Popham Carleton-Smith, KCB, CBE, ADC Gen (born 9 February 1964) is a senior British Army officer. He became Chief of the General Staff in June 2018, succeeding General Sir Nick Carter. He has previously served as Director Special Forces and commanded 22 Special Air Service Regiment.

Sir Mark Carleton-Smith
Chief of the General Staff inspects the new Gurkhas (cropped).jpg
Carleton-Smith in 2018
Born (1964-02-09) 9 February 1964 (age 57)
Bielefeld, West Germany
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1982–present
Service number515762
UnitIrish Guards
Commands heldChief of the General Staff (2018–present)
Director Special Forces (2012–15)
Task Force Helmand (2008)
16 Air Assault Brigade (2007–08)
22 Special Air Service (2002–05)
Battles/warsThe Troubles
Gulf War
Kosovo War
Iraq War
War in Afghanistan
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service
Catherine Nadler
(m. 1991)

Early life and educationEdit

Carleton-Smith was born on 9 February 1964 in Bielefeld, West Germany, to Major General Sir Michael Carleton-Smith.[1] He began his education at Cheltenham College Junior School,[2] followed by Eton College, an all-boys public school.[3] In 1982, he went up to Hatfield College, Durham to undertake an army sponsored degree in Politics and Modern history.[1][4] He graduated from Durham University with a lower second class Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1985.[4]

Military careerEdit

Carleton-Smith was commissioned into the Irish Guards on 3 September 1982.[5] He then spent three years studying at university. He was promoted to lieutenant on 6 September 1985, with seniority from 9 April 1985,[6] to captain on 9 April 1989[7] and to major on 30 September 1995.[8] After operational service in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, he was deployed to the Gulf War in spring 1991[9] and then saw active service as an SAS squadron commander in Bosnia later in the 1990s.[10]

Carleton-Smith became Chief of Staff of 19 Mechanized Brigade in 1999 and served as Chief of Staff HQ Multi-National Brigade Centre during the Kosovo War later that year.[9] In recognition of his service in Kosovo, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2000 New Year Honours[11] and was awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service on 3 November 2000.[12]

Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 30 June 2001,[13] Carleton-Smith became Military Assistant to the Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces at that time.[9] He became Commanding Officer of 22 Special Air Service Regiment in 2002 and in that role saw service during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and also during operations in Afghanistan.[10] He was advanced to Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services during the 2003 invasion of Iraq on 23 April 2004.[14] Promoted to colonel on 30 June 2005,[15] he became Deputy Director Policy Planning at the Ministry of Defence at that time.[9]

Promoted to brigadier on 31 December 2006 with seniority from 30 June 2006,[16] Carleton-Smith became Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade that year and was deployed to Afghanistan as Commander of Task Force Helmand and Commander of British Forces there in April 2008.[17] In August 2008 he led Operation Eagle's Summit which involved a daring foray into Taliban territory.[18] He was advanced to Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services in Afghanistan on 6 March 2009.[19]

Carleton-Smith became Director of Army Plans and Resources at the Ministry of Defence in January 2009 and, following promotion to major-general on 20 February 2012,[20] he became Director Special Forces in February 2012[21] and Director of Strategy at the Army Headquarters in March 2015.[22] He became Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Military Strategy and Operations) with effect from 18 April 2016 and was promoted to lieutenant-general with effect from that same date.[23] On 11 June 2018 he was promoted to general and succeeded General Sir Nick Carter as Chief of the General Staff.[24][25] He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 2019 New Year Honours.[26]

Carleton-Smith also became Regimental Lieutenant Colonel of the Irish Guards on 18 March 2012[27] and Honorary Colonel of Oxford University Officers Training Corps on 18 February 2017.[28]

Personal lifeEdit

Carleton-Smith married Catherine Nalder in 1991. They have a son and a daughter.[1] He is a member of Pratt's, the Pilgrims Society and the Chelsea Arts Club.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Carleton-Smith, Lt Gen. Mark Alexander Popham. Who's Who 2018. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U256076. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  2. ^ Archives department at Cheltenham College
  3. ^ Anderson, Bruce (20 November 2006). "Bruce Anderson: You should never underestimate an Old Etonian". The Independent.
  4. ^ a b "Durham University gazette, 1984/85". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  5. ^ "No. 49156". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 November 1982. p. 14267.
  6. ^ "No. 50663". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 September 1986. p. 10233.
  7. ^ "No. 51732". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 May 1989. p. 5806.
  8. ^ "No. 54173". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 October 1995. p. 13317.
  9. ^ a b c d "New Chief of the General Staff appointed". British Army. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  10. ^ a b Kiley, Sam (2010). Desperate Glory. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1408801239.
  11. ^ "No. 55711". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1999. p. 42.
  12. ^ "No. 56017". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 November 2000. p. 12363.
  13. ^ "No. 56261". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 July 2001. p. 7808.
  14. ^ "No. 57269". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 April 2004. p. 5135.
  15. ^ "No. 57693". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 July 2005. p. 8689.
  16. ^ "No. 58206". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 January 2007. p. 18040.
  17. ^ "Bruce Anderson: We are literally adding insult to injury". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  18. ^ Judd, Terri (3 September 2008). "Operation Eagle's Summit: the inside story of a daring foray into Taliban territory". The Independent. Retrieved 4 September 2008.
  19. ^ "No. 58999". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 March 2009. p. 4081.
  20. ^ "No. 60065". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 February 2012. p. 3406.
  21. ^ "Army Commands" (PDF). 26 July 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016.
  22. ^ "The end of the Gurkhas? Britain's famous brigade faces Ministry of Defence axe". Daily Express. 15 March 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  23. ^ "No. 61557". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 April 2016. p. 9194.
  24. ^ "Lieutenant General Mark Carleton-Smith appointed new Chief of the General Staff". 5 May 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  25. ^ "No. 62336". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 June 2018. p. 11298.
  26. ^ "No. 62507". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2018. p. N2.
  27. ^ "No. 60099". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 March 2012. p. 6080.
  28. ^ "No. 61853". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 February 2017. p. 3751.
Military offices
Preceded by
Jacko Page
Director Special Forces
Succeeded by
James Chiswell
Preceded by
Gordon Messenger
Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Military Strategy and Operations)
Succeeded by
Douglas Chalmers
Preceded by
Sir Nick Carter
Chief of the General Staff