Graham Binns was educated at Hymers College in Hull.
Binns was commissioned on 11 December 1976, into the General list. He was transferred to The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire on 2 July 1977. He was promoted to lieutenant on 11 December 1978. He was further promoted to captain on 11 June 1983. With this regiment he saw service in Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom.
Between 1986 and 1988, he served in the Ministry of Defence. He then attended the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College in Toronto in 1988, after which he was posted again to Northern Ireland, where he became Chief of Staff of 39th Infantry Brigade. He was promoted to major on 30 September 1989.
He returned to The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire in 1992 to command an armoured infantry company, mounted in Warrior tracked armoured vehicles, with which he served a tour in Bosnia and participated in Operation Grapple. In 1994, he spent some time as an exchange officer at the United States Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Binns was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 30 June 1995, and returned to Britain to join the Directing Staff at the Staff College, Camberley.
In January 1997, he returned once again to The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire and participated in exercises in Kenya, Belize and Canada. It was during this time with the battalion that he once more saw service in Northern Ireland. In April 1999, Binns became Chief of Crisis Plans Branch, Headquarters Allied Forces Southern Europe and led the team responsible for NATO operational planning in the Balkans. He was promoted to colonel on 30 June 1999, with seniority from that date. He served as Chief of Staff at HQ KFOR, a NATO-led force under a United Nations mandate that operated the military mission in Kosovo.
He was promoted to brigadier on 31 December 2000, with seniority from 30 June that year. In January 2001, he assumed command of 7th Armoured Brigade and was involved in operations in the Balkans and the Middle East.
He served as Assistant Chief of Staff Commitments at Land Command until December 2005. Between this post and his next command, he attended the Royal College of Defence Studies. He was appointed to the honorary position of Deputy Colonel of the Regiment of The Yorkshire Regiment on 6 June 2006. He was appointed General Officer Commanding 1st (UK) Armoured Division on 1 October 2006 and promoted to major general on the same day.
Binns, having joined elements of 1st (UK) Armoured Division in Iraq where it formed HQ Multi-National Division (South East), Iraq, signed a memorandum of understanding that returned the responsibility for running the province of Basra to local Iraqi leaders. He signed the document, along with General Mohan al-Furaiji and Governor Muhammad Wa'ili, in a disused departure lounge of Basra airport.
After returning to the UK in February 2008, Binns was given the honorary appointment of Colonel-Commandant of The King’s Division on 10 December 2008. In 2009 he took over command of the Joint Services Command and Staff College. He gave evidence to The Iraq Inquiry about his role in the handing over of control on 15 January 2010.
In June 2010, Binns became chief executive of Aegis Defence Services, a private military and security company.
In 2011 he was appointed to the honorary position of Colonel of the Regiment of The Yorkshire Regiment.
In June 2016 he remarked in a BBC report on the aftermath his campaign of in Iraq that "I don't think we had a coherent plan in the longer term. The coalition hadn't thought through how we were going to operate in the aftermath of the war fighting..."
On 12 May 1992, the then Major Binns was appointed a Member of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The citation read:
in recognition of Meritorious service in Northern Ireland.
On 26 April 1994, the then Major Binns was awarded the Military Cross for service in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The citation read:
in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the former Republic of Yugoslavia during the period April 1993 to November 1993
On 19 April 2002, the then Brigadier Binns was appointed a Commander of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The citation read:
in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the former Yugoslavia during the period 1 April 2001 to 30 September 2001
On 31 October 2003, the then Brigadier Binns was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order for service in Iraq. The citation read:
in recognition of gallant and distinguished services whilst on operations in Iraq during the period 19 March to 19 April 2003
Binns is married to Jennie. They have four children: Sophie (born September 1985), Thomas (born May 1988), Rosemary (born March 1990) and Matilda (born June 1992).
He enjoys many sports including golf, sailing and orienteering.