Sir Richard Shirreff was born in Kenya in 1955 where he spent his early years. Educated in England at Oundle and Exeter College, Oxford (Modern History), he was commissioned from Sandhurst into the 14th/20th King's Hussars in 1978. His regimental service was spent in Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, the Gulf and, while attached to 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles for a year, Hong Kong and Brunei. He commanded The King's Royal Hussars 1994-96.
He attended the Army Staff Course at Camberley in 1987, the Higher Command and Staff Course in 1999 and the Foundation Term of the Royal College of Defence Studies in 2003. Staff posts have included: Chief of Staff, Headquarters 33 Armoured Brigade; Military Assistant to the last Commander in Chief, British Army of the Rhine and Commander Northern Army Group; Colonel Army Plans in the MOD; Principal Staff Officer to the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Staff HQ LAND Command.
He commanded 7th Armoured Brigade 1999-2000, amongst other things forming the core of a multinational brigade in Kosovo and 3rd (UK) Division from 2005-7. During this time the divisional HQ deployed as HQ Multinational Division South East in Iraq between July 2006 and January 2007. He has commanded on operations at every level from platoon to division. This has included combat in the Gulf War of 1991 as a tank squadron leader, counter-insurgency operations in the infantry role in Northern Ireland (three tours), together with Iraq and Kosovo. He qualified as a military parachutist in 2005. Assuming command of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in December 2007, apart from preparing the Corps for deployment in support of ISAF, he also oversaw the relocation of the Corps from Germany to the United Kingdom. He became the 27th DSACEUR on 4 March 2011, and therefore was also appointed as Operation ALTHEA
Operation Commander under Berlin Plus arrangements
He is married to Sarah-Jane and they have two adult children. Honorary appointments include: Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry and Honorary Colonel of the Oxford University OTC. He is an honorary member of the Salters' Company and an honorary freeman of the City of London. He has a lasting fascination for history, particularly military history, would like to read more widely and loves travel. Sporting interests include skiing (downhill and touring), game shooting and cycling. He is President of the Combined Services Adaptive Sports Association and President of RAC Skiing.