Page 95 - The Chapka 2016
P. 95

 CGS’s Outer Office
I have had a great deal of fun and
learnt much being a ‘Military Assis-
tant 2’ for the past year. Highlights
include explaining how an Indian
hotel has managed to lose the bags
containing the service dress and
medals (they were found under the
stairs), a discussion on which char-
acter you would be in Peppa Pig
(don’t ask) and spilling marmalade
(>300g) in the staff car. More seri-
ously, being there for events such as
Brexit, or the US elections and be-
ing involved in facilitating some big
decisions, such as Army 2020 Refine
has been a real privilege. I like to
think that I have learnt much. It
has sometimes felt a long way from
my last happy days at Regimental
Duty in 2014. So, settling into my
second year, with sub-unit com-
mand in my sights, you can imag-
ine my surprise when Lieutenant
Colonel Mudd arrived as ‘Military
Assistant 1’. Having last worked for
him on Op HERRICK 12, he hasn’t
forgotten my inane chatter and ter-
rible sense of humour. I am pleased
to note that he has now reduced his
caffeine intake to within recommended medical guidelines.
As any reader with experience at working within an outer office will tell you, the role of the MA is as a facilitator. At its most simple, commanders make decisions, the staff inform the deci- sion-makers and the MAs facilitate the process between the two. The most precious commodity that any senior officer has is time, so the MA must ensure that it is used as productively as pos- sible. Making these decisions at a pace faster than those of your enemies or adversaries generates tempo, tempo generates the ability to manoeuvre which, as any student of armoured warfare will tell you, gives you a greater chance of success. This might seem straightforward but in practice it is not. It can take time to understand the complexity of a particular issue and often the
principal and the staff approach this issue from different perspectives. Anticipating when these situations will arise is a good first step! Hon- esty, frankness, objectivity and dis- cretion are all traits which ease this process. Nevertheless, the breadth and depth of issues confronting De- fence and the Army is remarkable – keeping up is a challenge.
To give you a flavour, there has been the planning and coordination of the Enhanced Forward Presence alongside that given to the smaller deployments of 40,000 soldiers to some 41 countries alone last year. We have new equipment being in- troduced; Ajax yes, but also Chal- lenger 2 Life Extension Project, Warrior Capability Sustainment, an enhanced attack helicopter in AH- 64E, Multi Role Vehicle (Protected) and the Mechanized Infantry Vehi- cle. There is Army 2020 Refine, the Better Defence Estates Strategy and for many of the readers, a resultant move to Warminster in 2021 and the delivery of a new, highly capable ve-
 Generating tempo...
hicle. We will soon have women serving in the Regiment... the list goes on but trust me, all of it goes via Army HQ and CGS’s office inbox!
So, I conclude by saying that we, like much of the Army, are busy. But we have been well prepared by our shared experiences in the Regiment where the pride, professionalism, determina- tion and maturity of the officers and soldiers has allowed us to make a small, but important, contribution to the decision mak- ing within Army Headquarters. I am not sure exactly how much we have put back in, but irrespective, we have much to be grate- ful to The Royal Lancers for.
 thematic issues including counter-Daesh, counter-Russia and migration activity. But with an increased Defence Engagement footprint in less-permissive land environments, PJHQ increas- ingly supports DE activity with operational oversight particu- larly in providing force protection advice in countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria.
The old adage ‘time in recce is never wasted’ could not be more true. Our support to operations and planning activity is ena- bled by operational theatre and country visits, which for the two Royal Lancers this year has included Cyprus, UAE, Jordan, Ku- wait, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Naples, Bermuda, Florida and North Yorkshire! But equally critical is engagement with the single Services and, in support of the MOD, partners across government and international partners. Whilst this is certainly the more enjoyable part of the job, it is also fundamental to our
campaign assessment work and to assure our plans are properly informed and integrated.
The predominant focus for current operations over the past year has been support to Op SHADER and counter-migration activ- ity in the Mediterranean. But with Defence’s development of a counter-Russia strategy in 2017 and the deployment of the enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia we will almost certainly see a shift in this balance through 2017 and 2018. But with the political imperative to be seen to be doing something coupled with increased global instability, there is a real sense that our commitments will not reduce anytime soon and uncertainty is certainly the new ‘norm’.

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