FOREWORD - DEFENCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, Issue 29
Air Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy KCB CBE DSO BSc (Eng) FRAeS RAF, Chief of Joint Operations
Even in the nine years that the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) has been running the UK’s overseas operations, we have seen a significant shift in the strategic environment. The political and operational landscape has become more complex, ambiguous and unpredictable; technology continues to deliver tantalising new capabilities; and the drive for greater efficiency and effectiveness – in order to maximise the output from finite resources – remains unstoppable. These factors have increased the need for greater agility and adaptability across our force structure, organisations, processes and people. It has also increased the importance of working together, whether between single Service components, coalition partners, the military and Other Government Departments (OGDs), or the military and industry. The UK’s approach to ‘Joint’ warfare has convincingly demonstrated the value – in operational, capability and resource terms – of closer co-operation. The next challenge is to develop a truly ‘integrated’ approach to business that exploits the strengths of the individual contributors, be they civil or military.
From a PJHQ perspective, the need for flexibility and innovation in planning and conducting UK military operations remains paramount. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the logistics area, which is both a vital underpinning capability and an immense consumer of resources. It is not, therefore, surprising that the Defence Logistics Organisation is undergoing a major transformation programme in order to meet the challenges of the future operational environment. It goes without saying that, if our aim is to deliver an effective joint, expeditionary, agile and responsive force structure, then these same principles must underpin our logistic capability.
Recent operations have highlighted the immense leverage that shared situational awareness delivers to the battlespace, but invariably these capabilities are associated with the sharp end of our business. In reality, shared logistic awareness is just as important as being able to closely synchronise component activity on the battlefield. Greater visibility of materiel and equipment – in transit and within the deployed area of operations – improves agility, brings scarce resources to bear more effectively, and reduces the totality of the logistic requirement. Surge demands are also met more effectively, either by redirecting available resources or harnessing industrial capacity. Reliable and maintainable equipment is another key factor for operational commanders – both in terms of delivering effect and minimising the support burden – and is an area where industry, once again, has a vital role to play. Likewise, the introduction of Contractors on Deployed Operations (CONDO) has demonstrated where industry can help to deliver a more effective support solution for operations.
I mentioned earlier the seemingly inexorable march of technology. With operations now the norm for UK Forces, there is a growing need to be able to harness emerging technology as swiftly as possible in order to provide our Forces with the combat edge they require for success. Experimentation will be a vital part of this process, but an agile acquisition system is the key – just as it is in the logistic area.
The UK Armed Forces have an enviable reputation for delivering success, and are well placed to confront the challenges of the future. But as I said at the start, the future is unpredictable and complex. A balanced, agile and flexible force structure, manned by innovative and adaptable personnel, with well developed relationships with other key organisations – including industry and OGDs – will, therefore, be vital to our continued success.