Joining the dots in the British military

An Army Air Corps Apache aboard the Royal Navy's HMS Ark Royal. © UK Defence Image Database

By Brigadier Ben Barry, Senior Fellow for Land Warfare

‘The glue that helps bind together’ the UK army, navy and air force; that was how Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach described the new Joint Forces Command (JFC) that formed under his leadership this week. Peach’s new 30,000-strong joint command is designed to better support current operations and help prepare the UK military for future wars through greater levels of integration, including ensuring that lessons learned on operations are applied quickly.

By the end of the Second World War UK forces led the world in joint operations. But afterwards this lead was not sustained. For example, despite the lessons of the 1982 Falklands War, by the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, British standards of air–land integration had fallen behind those of the US. The Iraq and Afghan wars were urgent wake-up calls. During these and NATO operations in Libya, there have been ever-increasing amounts of joint integration and cooperation between all three UK forces.

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