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Ian Rigden OBE MA FRGS

Regional Advisor

United Kingdom

The son of a Royal Marine Officer, Ian joined the British Army as a soldier in 1980. He was selected for the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1981 and was commissioned into the 2 nd Gurkha Rifles in August 1982. Thereafter he spent most of his early career in the Regiment. He commanded the 2nd Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles (2RGR) between November 2003 and April 2006 in Brunei and Afghanistan.

He has served in a variety of key staff appointments during his career. These include: on the
operations staff of Headquarters Land Forces and the JHQ, the training staff of 1st UK
Armoured Division, on the Army Staff in the UK Ministry of Defence, and as the Chief of
Campaign Plans in the US-led Multinational Force Headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq 2008-2009.
He also held the appointment of Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, the professional head of all
Gurkha soldiers in British Army service.
Additionally, he was a member of the teaching staff at the Joint Services Command and Staff
College (specialising in Campaign Planning and Counter-insurgency), and spent 2 tours (as a
Colonel and Brigadier) in the UK Ministry Defence’s think tank, the Developments, Concepts
and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) at Shrivenham. In these latter appointments he was the lead
author of the UK Joint Doctrine and Concepts on Understanding, Intelligence Support to
Joint Operations, Partnering Indigenous forces, and the Defence Joint Operating Concept
(2014), as well as overseeing the work on Security Transitions and Campaign Assessment,
co-founding the NATO Urbanisation project/working group and leading the secretariat for
the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategy Forum. His last appointment before retirement
was as the Chief Mentor of the Afghan National Army Officer Academy at Qargha, Kabul. He
spent 15 months in this role leading a multinational team of UK, Danish, Australian and New
Zealand personnel.
He was the Regional Security Sector Advisor for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Asia
Regional Office and Myanmar Team from 10 July 2017 to 1st April 2022. He is now the
Regional Advisor for HD Asia, coordinating specific activities between the two HD Regional
Offices in Asia (Beijing and Singapore). He specifically supports HD’s work on the Myanmar
Peace Process but also supports HD’s efforts in South East Asia, including Thailand,
Bangladesh and the Philippines, as well as providing security sector advice to HD’s team
globally as required.
He is a graduate of the Army Staff College, Camberley, the US Army War College in Carlisle,
Pennsylvania, and the UK Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS). He holds Masters
Degrees in Defence Studies from King’s College, London (1995), and Strategic Studies from
the US Army War College (2008). He has specialised in Defence Policy, strategy formulation,
counter-insurgency, security transition, security sector reform, negotiation and mediation
and humanitarian operations over the last 15 years. He is a member, facilitator and mentor
for the Centre of Competence for Humanitarian Negotiation (CCHN), which is based in
He has served on operations on the Hong Kong-Sino Border (12 tours), The Falkland Islands
(post-conflict in 1986), Northern Ireland, Belize, Bosnia (twice), Afghanistan (2 years
altogether), and Iraq. He has spent half of his life to date overseas, with 25 years in the Far
East and 6 years elsewhere. He has spent a lot of time in Nepal over the last 40 years and is
a fluent Nepali speaker. He is married with 2 teenage sons and is a keen scuba diver. He is a
Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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