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UK PJHQ moves towards Multi-Domain Integration

Operational commanders are reorganising how the UK Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) conducts overseas missions in the era of great-power competition.

Speaking at the DSEI exhibition in London on 15 September, UK Chief of Joint Operations (CJO) Vice Admiral Ben Key said overseas operational commanders would have more delegated authority to react quicker in fast-moving crises.

Vice Adm Key controls UK overseas operations from PJHQ at Northwood in West London and said the new Multi-Domain Integration (MDI) concept was driving other changes in how his operation does business. Under MDI, the UK armed forces plan to better combine air, land, maritime, cyber, and space capabilities to generate improved military effect.

The admiral cited the example of the recent transit of the UK's Carrier Strike Group 21 through the South China Sea earlier this summer, with work being carried out by PJHQ staff to calibrate its posture in the face of Chinese responses. “We asked ‘How do we generate cognitive effect but not in the traditional way of showing we have more ships that can go faster than theirs?'” he said.

Senior British Army and Royal Air Force (RAF) officers, responsible for generating forces to operate under PJHQ, told an audience at DSEI that new ways are being found to sustain forces overseas for prolonged campaigns.

Each of the UK armed services has designated a component command element to co-ordinate forces that are assigned to operate under PJHQ. Major General Colin Weir, chief of staff to the commander of the UK Field Army, said this allowed the British Army to create campaign plans for deployed land forces. “This creates space for CJO to unshackle himself from the tactical and allow him to shape strategic conversations into the MoD [Ministry of Defence],” he said.

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