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Afghanistan lecture

Posted on 11/05/2011
General Lorimer

Major Gen John Lorimer with King's staff

Major General John Lorimer, head of strategic communication at the Ministry of Defence, gave a lecture last night at King’s on UK military operations in Afghanistan. The lecture was chaired by Dr John Gearson, Director of the Centre of Defence Studies. 

In a talk entitled: Afghanistan: Why are we there? What are we doing? Can we succeed?, Major General Lorimer gave an overview of operations on the ground, focussing on the relationship between military, political and stabilisation activity, and an examination of the strategic rationale for our engagement in Afghanistan.

He gave an appraisal of the progress so far, and also addressed some of the challenges encountered, both for military operations and in communicating developments to the general public.

Major General Lorimer said he had seen signs of real progress despite the complexities of the task in Afghanistan and expressed optimism, while striking a note of caution, about both the resources needed and the timescales the coalition was operating under.

A number of the questions from the audience concerned the sustainability of this progress after the eventual departure of coalition forces, and the level of public support for British troops continued commitment to the mission.  In his responses, Major General Lorimer acknowledged the need for wider UK expertise in assisting Afghanistan and for more effective communications to improve public understanding of why we are there and what we aim to achieve.

Dr Gearson noted: ‘The Department was delighted to host the Chief of Defence Staff's official spokesman at this critical time for Britain's armed forces. As a former commander of British forces in Helmand, General Lorimer was able to speak with operational insight about a wide range of policy challenges facing the coalition. The stimulating question and answer session that followed his talk reflected the high level of interest and expertise amongst the War Studies audience and General Lorimer's willingness to engage with the academic community.’

Notes to editors

Major General John Lorimer was born in 1962 and was educated at Marlborough College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read Arabic and Islamic Studies.  He joined the Army in 1981 and was commissioned into the Parachute Regiment.  Early service included commanding at platoon, company and battalion levels, including in Belize, Norway, Northern Ireland and Iraq.  On the staff side, he served in the Ministry of Defence from 1998-2000 and completed two tours at the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters at Northwood. He commanded 12 Mechanized Brigade from June 2005 – November 2007, completing operational tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  He was promoted to Major General in November 2010 and has been selected to command three (United Kingdom) Division from June this year.

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For further information and images please contact Jayne Peak, Events and Publicity Officer, Department of War Studies, King’s College London, on 020 7848 2796 or email

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