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The illustrious onshore career of Alan West was preceded by a remarkable life at sea. During the Falklands War, as Commander of HMS Ardent, he was the last man to leave his stricken ship before it sank.
He was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his part in the action and led the Victory Parade through the City of London. He was a carrier battle group commander for two years and took the 22 ship group to the Far East for the Hong Kong withdrawal.
He held appointments in the Ministry of Defence in the Plans, Programmes and Policy areas plus three years as head of Naval Intelligence and three years as Chief of Defence Intelligence covering the Kosovo War. He was deputy chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee from 1997 to 2000. He was promoted to Admiral in November 2000 when he became Commander-in-Chief Fleet, NATO Commander-in-Chief East Atlantic and NATO Commander Allied Naval Forces North. He led the United Kingdom’s maritime response to 9/11 including the invasion of Afghanistan.
He became First Sea Lord in September 2002 and the First and Principal Aide-de-Camp to HM The Queen. He inspired and organized the Trafalgar Bicentennial Year and led the Navy during its crucial and successful role in the initial invasion of Iraq. He retired as First Sea Lord on 7 February 2006 becoming Chairman of the QinetiQ Defence Advisory Board. He advised both Conservatives and Labour on defence and foreign policy before, in July 2007, being asked by Gordon Brown to join the Government as one of the GOATs (Government of All The Talents) responsible for national security and counter-terrorism as well as cyber and Olympic security.
He produced the United Kingdom’s first ever National Security Strategy and Cyber Security strategy as well as formulating a series of other groundbreaking strategies: the counter-terrorist policy; cyber security; CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear); science and technology for countering international terrorism; guidance for local government in enhancing the security of crowded places. He put in place the basic construct for Olympic security for 2012 Olympics. He was Chairman of The National Security Forum.
Lord West left government in May 2010 and is currently chairman or strategic advisor to a number of companies, a motivational speaker, Knight President of the Knights of the Round Table, media programme maker, and philanthropist. He has completed twelve years as Chancellor of Southampton Solent University.
Lord West was made a Knight Commander of the Order of The Bath in 2000, Knight Grand Cross in 2004, Baron in 2007 and a Privy Counsellor in 2010.
Today Lord West of Spithead is expert on twenty-first century security issues including cyber-warfare, asymmetric conflict and drones, and the potential dangers of hypersonic weapons, as well as national and commercial risk. In 2021 and 2022 Admiral Lord West has spoken out on the risk of accidental escalations of conflicts such the stand-off on the borders of Ukraine.
He is also a very entertaining speaker!
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