biography, Royal Welch Fusiliers

Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley CB DSO PhD MA FRHistS

Official Authorised Biography


Lieutenant-General Jonathon RileyLieutenant-General Jonathon Riley's distinguished Military career spans over 40 years...

Drawing upon his experience and knowledge gained, he has become an accomplished author, speaker and historian, having written a total of 17 books to date (not including contributions and 'Forewords').

His contribution in "British Generals in Blair's Wars", comes from his testimonials as a senior ranking Military Officer and gives a real insight into insurgency and counterinsurgency and the challenging yet changing operations during his time in command in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

More recently, has seen the launch of his latest book, "OFT IN DANGER" The Life and Campaigns of General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley.


Raised in Yorkshire, he was educated at the University College London, where he gained an MA in Geomorphology and a Master's Degree in History at Leeds University, later a gaining a PhD in Modern History, at Cranfield University.

Having joined the army in 1973, he was commissioned into the Queen's Regiment a year later and after progressing through the ranks, joined the 1st Royal Welch Fusiliers. Operations in Bosnia, during which time he completed five tours from 1992-1999) included Goražde as Commanding Officer of 1st Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1995.

lieutenant-generalBosnia tours of operation included the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1998-1999, which provided a flexible military presence focusing on critical areas, together with training and restructure of the Armed Forces, within the General Framework Agreement for Peace, which included a routine number of weapons storage site inspections, training and movement activities monitoring and mine lifting operations.

With Campaign medals in every rank in recognition of his role within the Army, Lieutenant-General Riley was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for bravery and distinguished conduct in the Balkans in 1995.

He was one of only a few British Officers, who commanded a Tri-service Joint Task Force on operations in Sierra Leone 2000-2001.

Riley also commanded 1 Mechanized Brigade in Bosnia, was Chief of Staff of an armoured brigade and an armoured division and Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Division in Iraq. From 2003 to 2004, and was Deputy Commanding General, Coalition Military Advisory and Training Team.

Taking up the extremely privileged position as Senior British Military Adviser to US Central Command 2005 and Deputy Commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan in 2007, Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley was able to draw upon much of his experience in Africa whilst commanding forces in Afghanistan.

He was also Deputy Commanding General of ISAF (Afghanistan), from September 2007 to December 2008.

Sierra LeoneHe was made an Officer of the Legion of Merit of the United States of America in 2004; made a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in the New Year’s Honours, 2008 and received the NATO Meritorious Service Medal from the Secretary-General in 2009.

From teaching at Sandhurst, Riley went on to complete a tour at the Staff College Camberley. where he later taught as Deputy Commandant, responsible for the Higher Command and Senior Staff Course.

In his years of service, Lieutenant-General Riley completed six tours of Northern Ireland, five tours in the Balkans, two operations in Iraq, one in Afghanistan and one in Sierra Leone. Other peacetime tours of duty over that period of time, included Cyprus, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Kenya and the USA.

Retiring from the armed forces in 2009, Lieutenant General Riley continues his work as Military Technical Advisor, external examiner at Cranfield University and as a visiting lecturer on Military History and Campaign Studies and visiting professor to King’s College London, War Studies.

In addition, he is Chairman of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum and a Trustee of RUSI, (the Royal United Services Institute).

Today, Jonathon Riley is on the UK Register of Expert Witnesses, and has become a patron, with BBC's Huw Edwards, of LINKS 6.

He was also invited to join the WW1 Commemoration advisory group, under Sir Deian Hopkin, advising the Welsh government on the centenaries and is also to Chair the British Army's group supporting these events in Wales.

He has also become a Patron for The Motivational Preparation College for Training (MPCT). The MPCT has a huge impact on recruiting with over 500 enlistments to the Royal Welsh and 1750 enlistments to the Army. MPCT also continues to employ exclusively from the Military where over 100 members of staff are Ex-Servicemen and Women.

A Trustee of a new Trust looking after the Medieval Abbey of Strata Florida, more recently, Lt-Gen Riley was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS)