Lieutenant General John Cooper’s whole career was focused on operations. He was awarded the DSO for battalion command in Crossmaglen in South Armagh in 1994 (one of only nine awarded throughout the whole 38 years of the Northern Ireland campaign) and commanded 12 Mechanized Brigade in Bosnia in 1999. He went on to command the 1st (UK) Armoured Division in Germany and Multi-national Division (South East) in Iraq in 2005-06. He was Deputy Coalition Commander in Afghanistan in 2004 and Iraq in 2008-09.
Commissioned into the King’s Own Scottish Borderers he served multiple tours in Northern Ireland including as a brigade chief of staff, where he coordinated operations across one third of the Province.
His experience in multi-national, multi-agency planning and operations is extensive. In Iraq and Afghanistan he worked hand-in-glove with allies, host nation governments at ministerial level, UN Special Representatives and non-governmental organisations.His insight into UK and US strategic planning and operations is unrivalled and he has direct experience of handling the UK-US relationship when things went well and when they did not. His views may not chime with those espoused by UK politicians and his commentary on the quality of UK strategic thinking can be trenchant.
Cooper can speak authoritatively on leadership in challenging environments, dealing with stress and uncertainty and multi-agency planning and command.