Major General David McDowall joined the Royal Signals as a private soldier and served for 6 years in the ranks, becoming a Class 1 Radio Telegraphist. Since being commissioned, he has served at all levels of command in the land environment, from Battalion; armoured-mechanised-infantry brigades; armoured and infantry divisions; national and multinational corps and army group. He commanded a squadron in Northern Ireland, a regiment in the Balkans, and the UK 1st Signal Brigade where he played a leading role in the UK achieving certification of HQ ARRC as NATO’s first High Readiness Force (Land) HQ.
He completed the journey from Signaller to Signal Officer in Chief (Army) when he became Head of Arm for the Royal Signals in 2002. During his tenure as Signal Officer in Chief (Army) he restructured the Corps as part of the Future Army Structures, oversaw the introduction into service of major new CIS equipment at the tactical and operational levels, and moved training onto a joint basis. He was then the Director of Command and Battlespace Management (Army) from late 2004, providing the Army lead on the modernisation and exploitation of the CIS that will better link sensor-decision maker-shooter, enable more effective command and control, and enhance Networked Enabled Capability in the Land Environment. He assumed command of the UK 2nd Division, the Army in Scotland and the North of England in early 2007 at which time he also assumed the appointment of Governor of Edinburgh Castle.