A former director of Britain’s special forces will be named as the new head of the army today, The Times understands.

Lieutenant-General Mark Carleton-Smith, 54, will take over from General Sir Nick Carter as chief of the general staff next month when the latter is promoted to head of the armed forces. The appointment was made after interviews with Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, this month.

The shortlist also included Lieutenant-General Patrick Sanders, commander field army, and General Sir James Everard, Britain’s top officer at Nato.

“Carleton-Smith has the job,” a military source said. A second source described Lieutenant-General Carleton-Smith as “incredibly intelligent, urbane and polished. He’s also a career long special forces officer and war fighter.”