Admiral Sir Tony Radakin has been chosen as Britain’s top military official, a sign of the Royal Navy’s growing importance to the Prime Minister as he seeks to project British influence around the world.
Radakin, a former lawyer who was involved in setting up the new UK / US / Australia trilateral security partnership known as Aukus, is the first Navy officer to be appointed Chief of Defense Staff for almost 20 years.
Boris Johnson appointed Radakin to the post, replacing General Sir Nick Carter, despite rearguard action by some members of the defense establishment who see Radakin as a radical spendthrift.
However, Johnson respected how Radakin cut costs for the Navy, including wiping out a third of his admirals, and focused on putting warships to sea.
The 55-year-old was also involved in the early stages of negotiations between Canberra, London and Washington on the Aukus Pact, which gives Australia access to nuclear submarines and has been denounced by China for have intensified the arms race in the region.
The Prime Minister, in his speech at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester on Wednesday, suggested that Radakin, who will become his senior uniformed adviser on military matters, share his worldview.
“Aukus is simply a recognition of the reality that the world is tilting on its economic axis and that our trade and our relations with the Indo-Pacific region are becoming more and more vital than ever,” he said.
“This is why we sent the incredible aircraft carrier strike group to the Far East,” he said, referring to the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
Radakin is highly publicized for a military officer and was pictured last month alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig, whom he named honorary commander of the Royal Navy.
Sir Stephen Lovegrove, national security adviser and former permanent secretary in the defense ministry, reportedly had reservations about Radakin’s appointment, as did senior military officials.
“The First Sea Lord is a brilliant man and extremely disruptive, but he spends too much out of habit and the Defense Ministry cannot afford it at the moment,” a defense official said last week. “Lovegrove was marked by Radakin’s serial overspending while he was permanent secretary.”
But Johnson said of Radakin: “Under his command we have more Royal Navy sailors on the front lines, more warships at sea – including our two world class aircraft carriers – and we are leading a renaissance of shipbuilding that creates jobs and protects lives around the UK. “
Radakin suggested that he believed the armed forces could work within existing budgets: “The government has given us clarity and additional resources to counter the threats we face as a nation,” he said. -he declares. “Now is the time to jump in and deliver. “
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace took a neutral stance on the appointment and said: “We are modernizing to meet the challenges of an increasingly unstable world and I know he will lead the armed forces with distinction in his new job. “