Sir Patrick Sanders
|Born||6 April 1966|
Tidworth, Wiltshire, England
|Years of service||1984–present|
|Commands held||Chief of the General Staff|
3rd (United Kingdom) Division
Task Force Helmand
20th Armoured Brigade
4th Battalion, The Rifles
2nd Battalion, The Royal Green Jackets
War in Afghanistan
|Awards||Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath|
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
|Alma mater||Royal Military Academy Sandhurst|
Born on 6 April 1966 at Tidworth, Wiltshire, he is the son of Lieutenant Colonel John Sanders. He was educated at Worth School, then an all-boys private boarding school attached to the eponymous Benedictine Abbey. He then went up to the University of Exeter, later pursuing further studies at Cranfield University.
Sanders was commissioned into the Royal Green Jackets on 23 September 1984. He served as a subaltern in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and then undertook tours in Kosovo in 1999 and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2001. He became Chief of Staff of 1st Mechanised Brigade in 2002 and then Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion the Royal Green Jackets in 2005. In the latter role he managed the transition of his battalion to become 4th Battalion The Rifles, then seeing action at the siege of UK bases in Basra in 2007 during the Iraq War. On 25 July 2008, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Iraq during the period 1st October 2007 to 31st March 2008".
Sanders became Commander of 20th Armoured Brigade in August 2009, deployed under Task Force Helmand to Afghanistan in October 2011. On 28 September 2012, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Afghanistan during the period 1 October 2011 to 31 March 2012". He served as Chief of the Defence Staff's Liaison Officer to the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2012 and Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations) in March 2013. In 2014, he attended the Prime Minister's COBRA meetings on the floods crisis.
Sanders took command of the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division in April 2015. Then in December 2016, he was appointed Commander Field Army and promoted lieutenant general. Sanders was promoted general on 6 May 2019 and appointed as Commander Joint Forces Command; Joint Forces Command was renamed as Strategic Command on 9 December 2019.
Sanders was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2020 New Year Honours. He was the preferred candidate of the Ministry of Defence to succeed General Sir Nick Carter as Chief of the Defence Staff in 2021, due to his expertise in cyber capability, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson picked Admiral Sir Tony Radakin instead. Announced in February 2022, Sanders became Chief of the General Staff in June 2022.
On 7 June 2022, Sanders took the decision to cancel an overseas deployment by the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment after a number of incidents which demonstrated a poor standard of discipline in the unit. Armed Forces Minister, James Heappey, was said to be "sorry and embarrassed" by the "disgraceful" behaviour.
On 16 June 2022, Sanders told British soldiers they are the generation that must prepare "to fight in Europe once again" as the conflict in Ukraine escalated, stating "There is now a burning imperative to forge an Army capable of fighting alongside our allies and defeating Russia in battle."
The Guardian reported, in June 2023, that, following concerns in the Ministry of Defence that Sanders might resign over spending cuts in the Army, interviews had already taken place to find Sanders' successor.
Colonel Commandant of The Rifles (2019–2023), Sanders was then appointed Colonel Commandant and President of the Honourable Artillery Company on 31 January 2019, succeeding General Sir Richard Barrons.
JFC is also being renamed Strategic Command to better reflect the contribution it makes to defence.