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Developing Comand and Control for EU-Operations

Commanding multinational military crisis management operations has been a perplexing question for many years. It is an issue which has accelerated in recent years as the EU has grown and sought more ability in dealing with global crises. At the root of recent advances has been the Headline Goal and the target which member States set themselves in Helsinki in December 1999. The vision of Nice and the subsequent Councils, stated the requirement for the EU to be able to conduct operations both with and without recourse to NATO assets and capabilities. Key to solving the EU’s command and control requirements while avoiding duplication with standing NATO structures is the commitment by Member States to underwrite the provision of a suitable EU HQ with a national HQ that may be adapted to command an EU-led military CMO. Such commitments thereby reduce the associated manpower and financial burden on the EU by aligning the national contributions with the structures in Brussels. Offers to the Helsinki Force Catalogue include five Operation HQs and four Force HQs which will be able to command up to corps sized operations at the military-strategic and operational levels respectively. The OHQs are situated in Paris, Rome, Potsdam, Larissa and the UK, and should provide the EU with the premises and infrastructure to be able to run an operation with a fully multinational staff supported, crucially, by the parent headquarters within which the OHQ is situated. The offered FHQs, still in development, will come from France, Germany, Italy and the UK. The creation of a new Force Catalogue is now underway as part of the Headline Goal 2010, with Member States asked to make bids of OHQs, FHQs and other capabilities by the end of March.

Operational Effectiveness and Efficiency

The UK contribution to the Force Catalogue is the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ), situated on the north west outskirts of London, which together with the staff of the other Member States’ headquarters has played a significant part in the relatively rapid development of EU command and control capability. While the offered HQs are broadly similar, each is individual and distinct and contains strengths which underpin the non-standing nature of the EU-HQ concept. It is worth looking at PJHQ to examine the credibility of that concept. The PJHQ is an adaptable and agile HQ created to enhance the operational effectiveness and efficiency of UK-led Joint, potentially Joint, and multinational operations. The PJHQ’s mission may be summarised as follows: - As part of the UK’s Defence Crisis Management Organisation, provide politically aware military advice to the Ministry of Defence to inform the strategic commitment of UK forces to overseas Joint and Combined operations.

- When directed by the Chief of Defence Staff, exercise operational command of UK forces to overseas Joint and Combined operations either led by the UK or by another nation.

- In conjunction with the Front Line Commands and Ministry of Defence, develop the UK’s Joint fighting capability.

PJHQ is organised by Divisions, numbered J1 through J9. Each Division is led by a senior officer or Civil Servant and is responsible for a particular area or capability. The credibility of PJHQ in commanding operations has been proved on numerous occasions since its establishment. It is currently commanding around sixteen thousand servicemen in operations ranging from larger theatres such as Iraq and Afghanistan to smaller more refined operations such as supporting the UN missions in Cyprus and Georgia. It is the first choice for the most promising military and civilian personnel and has around 600 staff drawn from the three Service arms and the Civil Service. In addition PJHQ has two deployable elements comprising a fully deployable Joint Force HQ and the Joint Force Logistic Component HQ. The JFHQ is maintained at very high readiness to deploy at short notice; some elements are at just four hours notice to deploy anywhere in the world. It comprises a joint mix of around 40 staff officers from all three services, supported by administration staff and a signals squadron to manage their communications support. The JFHQ has all the expertise necessary to exercise command of a UK joint operation at small scale, or alternatively, could form the core or framework of a HQ for larger operations. When not deployed they assist with planning and also provide the nucleus of reconnaissance teams deployed on the ground to assess the situation and inform the planning effort. The JFHQ is offered to the EU as the UK’s contribution to the Force Catalogue for a potential EU FHQ for EU-led military Crisis Management Operations. And it is the Joint HQ that would have formed the FHQ in the event of a UK EU BG operation the first part of 2005.

The JFLogC HQ, developed in 2005, will allow the UK to deploy a logistics component HQ, when and where needed for future operations and therefore overcome one of the critical enablers for any potential operation. The full PJHQ structure is depicted in the chart right.

When PJHQ formed in 1996 its role in NATO or WEU operations needed direction and with Chiefs of Staff endorsement, PJHQ was added to the list of forces declared answerable to the WEU. Then following the UK/French St Malo summit in 1998 which launched the idea of ESDP, Member States were asked in 1999 to contribute to a Catalogue of European forces available to the EU to undertake its range of missions - known as the Petersberg tasks. The UK then offered, more formally, PJHQ as an option to command EU-led operations and, together with the JFHQ, as the potential EU FHQ, it was added to the UK’s commitment to this new "Helsinki Headline Goal Catalogue". The Chief of Joint Operations was directed to provide a HQ at Northwood for UN, ad hoc coalition and possibly in the future, EU operations. As the EU developed into the more likely option, development became more focused on this particular option and an estimate was conducted to analyse how PJHQ would adapt itself to provide the necessary facilities for the potential OHQ.

In defining what was required, the guidance, taken from the embryonic generic OHQ Standard Operating Procedures, was that the headquarters should be able to be activated on a case by case basis, with political direction coming from the Political and Security Committee rather than the normal national crisis management mechanisms; it should be able to house a combined (multinational) and joint (drawn from across the navy, army and air force) staff; it should be able to respond quickly to a crisis and therefore be ready to start planning an operation within five days of activation; it should be able to command an operation for up to a year; and it should be an identifiable entity within the parent headquarters and have the necessary associated support.

From this guidance the conclusion was drawn that PJHQ would have to provide a separate multinational headquarters facility, configured and equipped for operations and maintained by a very small systems-focused permanent staff of only three people. By coincidence the Royal Navy, undergoing its own transformation, had decided to relocate the main part of its headquarters from the Northwood to Portsmouth, and this left vacant a large office building situated adjacent to PJHQ’s command group. This building was ideal for development into the EU Operation Headquarters.

The European Capabilities Action Plan

Northwood was, at this time, not the only potential EU HQ. NATO’s strategic headquarters, SHAPE, was also in the process of aligning itself to house an EU OHQ to command EU operations under the so-called "Berlin Plus" arrangements, and similar work was being conducted by the staffs of the other parent headquarters in Paris, Potsdam, Rome and Larissa. Collectively these HQs were liaising to produce not only the hard infrastructure required but also the principles and procedures that would be used to ensure that once activated, the HQ could provide the necessary command and control required for the effective execution of a military operation. The main forum for taking this work forward was the European Capabilities Action Plan of which the headquarters work was a single and distinct strand. ECAP was launched in December 2001 to address known shortfalls in military capabilities across the spectrum of capabilities ranging from procurement issues such as strategic lift, to interoperability issues such as air to air refuelling, and to qualitative issues such as headquarters, where with five OHQs, four FHQs and sixteen Component Commands, the shortfall was clearly not quantitative. EU members with a national interest or industrial lead in the relevant capability area took forward the work in panels and delivered that analysis in 2003. From the ECAP Panels, the ECAP Project Groups (PG) were formed to continue the work. With the development of the MNHQ progressing quickly the UK took the lead on headquarters issues. It should be noted that much of the work of ECAP has now migrated to the newly founded European Defence Agency although several of the groups including headquarters group remain in existence carrying the work forward. From the analysis of the ECAP Panel the PG took forward seventy-one recommended strands of work and across the HQ subject area this work needed to be divided in separate but distinct areas. Under a UK overall lead five sub groups were formed: - Sub Group 1 led by France was formed to address command and control, the Operational Planning Process, Lessons Learned and Procedures and Processes.

- Sub Group 2 led by Italy was formed to deal with command information systems although this group has now migrated to the EDA.

- Sub Group 3 led by UK was formed to address the intelligence requirements of the HQs.

- Sub Group 4 led by Germany was formed to address HQ establishment manning, augmentation, activation and host nation support.

- Sub Group 5 led by Greece was formed to address training and exercise issues together with validation and certification.

Since its formation the PG has met eleven times and considerable progress has been made in harmonising the differences between the parent HQs’ interpretation of the requirements of a HQ. With wide Member State participation, strong support from the EU Military Staff and other EU bodies, and determined leadership by the Chairmen of the Sub Groups, the PG has been able to deliver solutions to the many problems. Amongst the main achievements of the parent HQs and the PG has been the delivery of the robust manning and establishment process outlined below, tested during both CME 04 at the UK OHQ, and MILEX 05 at the French OHQ. Both of these exercises proved the respective HQs’ readiness for operations. Subsequent annual exercises will similarly validate the remaining potential OHQs with increasing incorporation of the FHQs. Further important work will be realized this year with the delivery of Standard Operating Procedures for both the FHQ and OHQ, and a Training Action Plan for HQ personnel has been produced and is being implemented. Having highlighted these particular advances, it should not be forgotten that the EU HQs are still in their formative years and there remains much work still to be done to develop the process further. The emergence and importance of new EU military initiative such as the EU Battlegroup Concept and changing nature of the future strategic landscape will also influence the HQs development over the coming years.

While the non-standing nature of the EU headquarters presents its own challenges the concept of having a parent headquarters goes quite some way to ameliorate the problems. The MNHQ situated within the Northwood site benefits from several important factors, underwritten by being placed in close proximity to the main hub of UK operations and therefore in an operationally focused environment. The OHQ, once activated by a decision from the PSC, will be ready with a sizeable core staff to commence planning for the operation within five days. The staff of the HQ will comprise a Key Nucleus of around forty-six staff drawn from across the breadth of the specialist areas within the parent HQ. This staff will all be at immediate notice and will form the skeleton of the command structure, very similar to that of PJHQ’s own structure, depicted at the left side.

Simultaneously, Primary Augmentees from a pre-identified multinational database administered by the EU Military Staff in Brussels, will be activated to augment the nominated headquarters, and will arrive to bolster the Key Nucleus staff within five days of activation. This method of augmentation from a pre-determined pool of suitably qualified and experienced staff from all members of the EU ensures that the integrity of the headquarters as a truly combined staff is established and maintained from the outset. A series of annual training and exercise events further enhances the readiness and credibility of this method of forming a staff rapidly and ensuring the representation of all EU member states. So within five days of the PSC decision to launch an operation this core staff of around 90 personnel will be entirely ready to continue the planning process in earnest and depending on the scale and nature of the operation will be in a position to set the mechanisms of further augmentation, if required, in motion. With the staff of PJHQ within sight of the OHQ they are on hand to fill any gaps in expertise or surge capacity that may be demanded by the fluctuating situation in the theatre of operations. Where the other expertise is required PJHQ has the knowledge of a network of links to the front line commands of the navy, army and air force on whom to call. Similarly, external planning support or on-site operational support is on-hand and issues such as force protection, communications provision, life support services, and other routine administration matters are all business as usual. And with an established contingent of foreign liaison officers and NATO’s Maritime Component Commander’s headquarters also situated on site, the multinational aspects of standing-up the EU-OHQ are easily overcome.


In summary, the work of the ECAP PG and the commitment of the HQs from member states, represent a vital and significant step forward in the desire of the EU to have the autonomy to conduct military or security operations. SHAPE, practised and experienced from the conduct of operations in Macedonia and Bosnia, sits at one end of the EU’s military command and control capabilities, while the Operations Centre will provide a real answer to the emerging need for professional management of the increasing number of ESDP missions which, bring together the EU’s range of civilian instruments with military assets or expertise, where a national HQ is not identified. But the existence of the five OHQs and four FHQs will drive the progress towards providing the EU with the autonomous capability to efficiently and effectively command EU-led military crisis management operations, both now, and in the future.

___________________________________ __________________________________ Author: Commander Rob Dunn is a submarine warfare specialist who has spent most of his time underwater. In addition he has commanded the patrol vessel HMS Smiter, and, following the submarine Commanding Officer’s Qualifying Course was the second-in-command of the nuclear submarine HMS Turbulent. He assumed command for his final five months onboard before taking up the appointment as MA to Admiral Sir Ian Garnett the Chief of Staff, SHAPE. Selected for promotion to Commander in 2003 he completed Advanced Command and Staff Course, gaining a MA in Defence Studies from Kings College London before taking up his current appointment in PJHQ. His desk in J5 Plans has responsibility for the Balkans and developing military capability for the EU by overseeing the potential EU-Operation HQ in Northwood. He also chairs the European Capabilities Action Plan Project Group on HQs and the EU HQ Coordination Group.

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