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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Profile: General Sir Richard Dannatt
General Sir Richard Dannatt
Sir Richard has served in the armed forces for more than 30 years
The new head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, has sparked a row by saying UK troops are exacerbating security problems in Iraq and should withdraw soon.

It is not the first time he has spoken out - just two weeks into his job in September, he warned British forces were stretched.

He said troops were doing "more than their share" in Afghanistan.

Sir Richard told the Guardian newspaper: "We are running hot, certainly running hot. Can we cope? I pause. I say 'Just'."

The 55-year-old soldier, who took over from General Sir Mike Jackson as chief of the general staff in August, has a reputation as someone willing to speak plainly.

According to former Royal Irish Regiment commander Colonel Tim Collins, Sir Richard's latest comments represented a "refreshing and very honest insight to what the army generally feel".

Commentators said the general appeared unfazed as he stood in his uniform outside the Ministry of Defence building in London and addressed the media.

Military cross

Sir Richard is described as a veteran commander with service experience in Bosnia and Northern Ireland, in a career which has lasted for more than 30 years.

A graduate from the University of Durham, he joined the Green Howards in 1971 after passing out from Sandhurst.

He served with the 1st Battalion in Northern Ireland - where he received the Military Cross, aged 22 - Cyprus and Germany.

He then commanded the battalion from 1989 to 1991.

From 1994 to 1996 he was the commander of the 4th Armoured Brigade in Germany and Bosnia. In 1999 he took command of the 3rd (United Kingdom) Division and served during peacekeeping missions in Kosovo.

Before taking command of Nato's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) he was the assistant chief of the general staff in the Ministry of Defence from 2001 to 2002.

In March 2005, he took over as Commander-in-Chief Land Command.

Born in 1950, he was educated at Felsted School, Essex, and St Lawrence College, Kent. He lives in Norfolk and married his wife Philippa in 1977. The couple have three sons and a daughter.

One of Sir Richard's sons serves in the Grenadier Guards.

A devout Christian, Sir Richard is the vice-president of the Officers' Christian Union and president of the Soldiers' and Airmen's Scripture Readers Association.

He is said to enjoy all sports, particularly cricket, rugby, tennis, skiing, shooting and fishing.

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