Julian Thompson joined the Royal Marines a month after his 18th birthday and served for 34 years, in the Near, Middle and Far East, and the Southern and Northern Regions of Europe during which time he commanded on operations at all levels from platoon to brigade. He commanded 40 Commando Royal Marines for two and a half years, and the 3rd Commando Brigade for two years. The latter period of command included the Falklands War of 1982, in which he planned the initial landings carried out by his Brigade, and fought the majority of the land battles. His Brigade in the Falklands war was about 5,500 strong and consisted of three Royal Marine Commandos and two Parachute Battalions, Artillery, Engineers and Helicopters. He retired as a Major General at the end of 1986, and spent three years at the Department of War Studies, King's College London on a Leverhulme grant researching Logistics and Armed Conflict. He is now a visiting Professor in War Studies at King's College London, Chairman of SES Strategies Ltd, a Director of MDA Publishing, and is a consultant with a company that specialises in support operations in remote areas, especially in the field of oil and mineral exploration, and in mine clearing.
He has published twelve books of military history, and contributed to eight others. He broadcasts and writes on defence matters. During the Gulf War of 1991 and Iraq War of 2003, he contributed a column every Sunday in The Observer, as well as writing for other papers.
In 1994 and 1995, he presented and co-scripted some 23 short documentaries for the BBC to mark some key Second World War fiftieth anniversaries. Nine of these documentaries formed part of the BBC's TV coverage of the VE and VJ commemorations, for which the BBC received a BAFTA.
In 2004 he took part in the BBC's commemorative programme for the 60th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. In 2006 he presented the History Channel two part programme on Verdun and the Somme.
As Brigadier commanded the 3rd Commando Brigade consisting of Royal Marines and Army Commandos and the two Parachute Battalions. The Brigade landed at St Carlos on 21st May, and entered port Stanley on 14th June, 1982, having fought several battles on the way.