Rear Admiral John Gower, CB OBE, served, until his retirement in Dec 2014, as Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Nuclear & Chemical, Biological) in the UK MoD. Previously, he had spent nearly half his 36-yr military career at sea in ships and submarines culminating in the sequential command of two globally deployed submarines, the first being the most advanced and last diesel submarine in the Royal Navy (HMS UNICORN) and the second a Trafalgar class SSN (HMS TRAFALGAR). He then spent 17 years ashore, mostly in the MoD in London, increasingly specialising in UK nuclear weapon and counter-CBRN policy but also with time in Washington DC as the Assistant Naval Attaché and twice on the staff of the UK Defence Academy. He had a key leadership role in the UK contribution to the international activity between 2011 and 2014 to counter the threat of Syria’s CW programme, culminating in the successful removal and destruction of Assad's UN-declared stocks. With very close ties to his US and French counterparts, he represented the UK in senior relevant NATO committees for the last 6 years of his career.
While committed, through experience and analysis, to the currently necessary existence of strategic nuclear deterrence, he advocates broadly for continued actions from the nuclear weapons states to reduce their reliance on these weapons for their broader national security and to seek pragmatic yet innovative ways to make progress on all fronts in pursuit of their obligations under the NPT. To those ends he has been a speaker and contributor in related events across the world most recently in Europe, South and South-East Asia and the US. He has also spoken on nuclear cruise missiles at the United Nations on the invitation of the Swedish and Swiss governments. He writes on these specialist issues and participates in strategic dialogues wherever he feels he can add value. He is a Consulting Member of the IISS with recent related work in India and Pakistan. A compendium of his related activity since his retirement from Royal Navy is available here on this website.
He was invited in February 2019 to join the Council on Strategic Risks as a senior adviser.
RAdm Gower is also involved in transatlantic efforts to reduce the rising risks of nuclear conflict through parallel threads of promoting and improving strategic stability including concrete risk reduction, reinvigorating arms control - especially after the loss of the INF Treaty, and through the Nuclear Cruise Control initiative to constrain, remove and ultimately ban nuclear armed cruise missiles as a first step along a long road.
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