Page 94 - The Chapka 2016
P. 94

 When I tell people that I work at the
headquarters of Maritime Command,
three questions seem to follow: why is a
‘Pongo’ working for the Navy? Why on
earth is there a Maritime Headquarters
near Watford? And, do I work in the secret...can’t-write-it-here...bunker?
All good questions because unless you
have worked in Northwood recently
it can be confusing. The base, histori-
cally known as HMS Warrior, is still
home to a number of Royal Navy ele-
ments including the Maritime Opera-
tions Centre. There is also a growing
joint community under Joint Forces
Command which PJHQ now sits with-
in. Indeed, Northwood’s fecundity for
producing starred commands is akin
to California’s tech start-up commu-
nity, it seems. Northwood is also home
to the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR),
which deals with counter-piracy and
people-trafficking operations, which is
often confused with the 3-star HQ that
I work for: NATO’s Maritime Com-
ponent Command - yes, half of it used
to be in Naples! For completeness
here, the equivalent NATO land organisation is ‘LANDCOM’ in Izmir, Turkey, which I have to visit from time to time; and NATO’s two-winged master race has the Air Component Com- mand at its base in Ramstein, Germany.
My ‘Land Adviser’ role is new and legacy of a joint exercise in 2015 where MARCOM struggled to inter-operate in a land- heavy scenario. The solution was to post a soldier in urgently. Nevertheless, on arrival, I found myself at a loss for meaningful employment. The biggest challenge was persuading sailors, fixed by ‘the deep blue’, that awareness of what is going on beyond the harbour gates is ever-more relevant. I quickly generated a port- folio of jobs. The intelligence section’s horizon now stretches to matters beyond the littoral. Consequently, a large portion of
my time is spent studying and report- ing on the nefarious activities across North Africa and the Levant. Need an angle on Libya, the Suez Canal, or why Al Qaeda is a bigger threat than ISIL, and I’m your man! The ‘bloke in camouflage’ who, to a sailor, looks a bit like a marine at a thirty paces, is also employed within N3 Operations to beef up the Amphibious Section. Fortunately, my introduction to this was not at Lympstone but ten October- days on a Sardinian beach with a radio and a pair of binos liaising with Boot- necks aboard HMS BULWARK and Italian marines aboard ITS GARA- BALDI. I can recommend strongly the ranges at Capo Teulada over those at Castlemartin! The land portfolio also reaches into the N5 plans shop, pro- viding perspective on land operations and ensuring that the maritime and land HQs cooperate towards the joint campaign. This ‘unique’ land perspec- tive also gains me access to briefing the Commander.
I can strongly recommend inter-service postings as the scope for confounding the chain of command with quirkiness and regi- mental ritual provides much ‘freedom of manoeuvre’, which has included justifying many weeks of sailing as ‘maritime train- ing’! But it is also a great education in inter-service culture. A visit to Algiers last year, to meet one of NATO’s four standing maritime groups making a port visit, was such an insight: how a self-sufficient group of ships arrived in port, laid on a party for military and civic dignitaries, flew the NATO flag demon- strating its reach and military reassurance, without provocation, before slipping lines to sail to the next port. Compare that to the effort and message of deploying a battlegroup of ‘boots on the ground’, albeit that too has its place.
Component Command
  The Permanent Joint Headquarters
With over twenty six current operations and perpetual plan- ning for over eighteen contingencies globally, life con- tinues apace in the PJHQ. But for its demands, interest factor, exposure to Jointry and location in North West London, staff at PJHQ has been a truly rewarding exposure outside the Land environment. It is recommended to any Royal Lancer especially the captains contemplating the initial staff dread. Encouraging for all, though, quality officers are not essential as currently evi- denced by Major Duncan Bam on the Europe and Asia team and Major Christopher Kierstead on the broader Middle East team.
As part of the Defence Crisis Management Organisation, the plans team in PJHQ are tasked with providing policy-aware military advice to the MOD to inform the strategic commitment of UK forces to overseas Joint and Combined operations. In re- ality this means the management and review of campaigns, con-
tingency and crisis planning and managing routine operations and engagement. But following the publication of the Chilcott Inquiry Report in July last year, campaign management has had a renewed focus especially for the larger Operation SHADER in the Middle East and TORAL in Afghanistan. The plans team are routinely charged with reviewing and leading contingency planning for Defence including support to non-combatant evacuation operations and humanitarian and disaster relief. We are assisted here by the 1* Joint Force Headquarters, effectively CJO’s recce platoon, who deploy regularly to countries of inter- est providing defence consultation to the Foreign Office and De- partment for International Development for both crisis manage- ment and humanitarian assistance operations. But the breadth of planning activity is far broader including for UK contingents in the UN and counter-terrorism operations in DRC, Somalia and South Sudan amongst others, and for cross-cutting global

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