Strategic Command (United Kingdom)

The United Kingdom's Strategic Command, previously known as Joint Forces Command (JFC), manages allocated joint capabilities from the three armed services.

Strategic Command
ActiveApril 2012 – December 2019 (as Joint Forces Command)
December 2019 – present (as Strategic Command)
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Navy
 British Army
 Royal Air Force
TypeJoint Command
Part ofMinistry of Defence
HeadquartersNorthwood Headquarters, Hertfordshire
General Patrick Sanders CBE ADC Gen



In August 2010 the then Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, asked Lord Levene, a former Chief of Defence Procurement, to chair the Defence Reform Steering Group. The group's remit was to independently review defence and the structure and management of the Ministry of Defence. The group reported in June 2011, with a key recommendation being that a Joint Forces Command (JFC) should be created to manage and deliver specific joint capabilities and to take the lead on joint warfare development, learning from lessons and experimentation to advise on how the military should conduct joint operations in the future. The Defence Reform report also made the following recommendations:[1]

  • Joint Forces Command should be led by a military four-star ranking officer who would have responsibility for commanding and generating the joint capabilities allocated to the command and setting the framework for joint enablers that sit in the single services.
  • A number of military organisations currently managed centrally within the MOD should pass to Joint Forces Command, including the Directorate Special Forces, the Defence Academy and the Development Concepts and Doctrine Centre.
  • The Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) should sit within the Joint Forces Command, but report for operational purposes direct to the Chief of the Defence Staff.
  • In implementing Joint Forces Command, the MOD should review in detail joint or potentially joint capabilities and functions across the armed services (Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force), to determine which could be rationalised, the benefit of further joint organisations, which organisations should transfer to Joint Forces Command and which should transfer to a lead service.

Establishment as Joint Forces Command

The creation of Joint Forces Command was overseen by the then Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, and the Defence Reform Unit, alongside the wider implementation of the new defence operating model identified by the report on Defence Reform. ACM Peach was appointed as the first commander of Joint Forces Command on 15 September 2011, taking up the post on 1 December 2011.[2]

Initial Operating Capability was achieved in April 2012 and Full Operating Capability reached in April 2013, giving JFC a total of some 30,000 military and civil personnel.[3]

Change to Strategic Command

The Secretary of State for Defence, Penny Mordaunt, announced in July 2019 that Joint Forces Command would be renamed as 'Strategic Command', dealing with the Ministry of Defence's transformation programme and taking responsibility for a range of strategic and defence-wide capabilities.[4] Strategic Command will integrate fighting across Air, Land, Sea, Cyber and Space and ensure the armed services operate at the forefront of the information environment.[5]

On 9 December 2019, it was announced that Joint Forces Command was renamed as Strategic Command.[6]

Organisations and components

Strategic Command comprises the following organisations and components.[7][8]

The Commander, Strategic Command, based at Northwood Headquarters, brings coherence to the delivery of joint effect by managing, delivering and championing joint capabilities to support success of military operations.[9] He will be supported by a deputy commander.[10][11]

Chief of Staff Strategic Command

The Chief of Staff of the Strategic Command provides command, direction and assurance to the UK’s overseas Permanent Joint Operating Bases (PJOBs), on behalf of Commander Joint Forces Command.[12]

Permanent Joint Operating Bases

The Permanent Joint Operating Bases provide a defensive and security role to British Overseas Territories and allows the UK to project military power overseas. The JFC Chief of Staff provides command oversight to the PJOBs.[12] However, there also is a civilian Director Overseas Bases, appointed in 2018.[13]

Defence Intelligence

The Chief of Defence Intelligence (DI) is the principal adviser on strategic military intelligence issues. DI primarily provides intelligence and advice to inform policy, deployment and research decisions, working alongside other government departments, agencies, allies, the EU and NATO.[14] The following groups are main components of DI.

Joint Forces Cyber Group

Originally named the Defence Cyber Operations Group, the Joint Forces Cyber Group (JFCyG) was created in May 2013 and plans and co-ordinates UK cyber warfare operations. It commands Joint Cyber Units located at GCHQ Cheltenham and MOD Corsham, the Joint Cyber Unit (Reserve) and Information Assurance Units.[15]

The Joint Cyber Unit (Reserve) was established in response to a growing cyber warfare threat and to allow the military to benefit from the expertise of civilian IT specialists. The following units contribute personnel to the cyber reserve.[16][17][18]

The Joint Forces Intelligence Group

The Joint Forces Intelligence Group (JFIG) coordinates and analyses intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance from military and public sources. JFIG is based at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire, which is also home to the Defence Intelligence Fusion Centre.[19]

In 2012 the group comprised:[20]

  • the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC)
  • the Defence HUMINT Organisation (DHO)
  • the Joint Aeronautical and Geospatial Organisation (JAGO)
  • the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre (DGIFC) (formerly the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC))
  • the Joint Service Signals Organisation (JSSO)

Joint Intelligence Training Group

The Joint Intelligence Training Group (JITG) is based at Chicksands in Bedfordshire and provides the British military with intelligence, security, languages and photography training.

Defence Medical Services

The military and civilian medical and dental personnel from all three British military services, are together known as the Defence Medical Services (DMS). The service is commanded by the Surgeon General from headquarters at DMS Whittington in Staffordshire.[21]

Directorate of Joint Capability

The Director of Capability is responsible for delivering a joint capability strategy, including in areas such as special forces; military counter-terrorism, explosive ordnance disposal, CBRN and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR).[8]

Directorate of Joint Warfare

The role of the Director of Joint Warfare is to enable joint forces to operate effectively by defining, measuring and validating the joint force capabilities and formations required to meet current, unexpected and emerging threats. The directorate is responsible for the development and maintenance of air & land and air & maritime integration and support to associated initiatives.[8]

Based at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire, the Joint Information Activities Group (JIAG) is a deployable team of information, media, technical communications and intelligence specialists.[22]

Directorate of Resources and Policy

The Director of Resources and Policy provides top level budget functionality, acts as Senior Finance Officer, Senior Policy Advisor and Senior civilian workforce advisor for Joint Forces Command and is personally responsible for the specific delegations from Director General Finance.[8]

Directorate of Special Forces

The Director Special Forces (DSF) commands the UK Special Forces (UKSF), which are capable of conducting short-notice high-risk operations in challenging environments around the world. The UK's special forces comprise 22 Special Air Service Regiment, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, 18 Signal Regiment, the Special Boat Service, the Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing and the Special Forces Support Group.

Information Systems and Services

The MOD's Information Systems and Services (ISS) organisation is led by the Chief Digital and Information Officer (CDIO), who is responsible for information strategy and policy across the MOD and also the delivery of information technology systems across both the MOD's corporate and military elements.[8] ISS employs in excess of 2,500 people and has a budget of more than £1.5 billion a year, with projects under development in excess of £10 billion in 2015.[23]

ISS activity is focused at MOD Corsham in Wiltshire however the organisation has a presence at other sites throughout the UK including -

Joint Arms Control Implementation Group

The Joint Arms Control Implementation Group (JACIG) is the UK’s arms control verification agency which is based at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire. JACIG work is focussed on implementing three main treaties - The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, the Vienna Document and the Open Skies Treaty.[25]

Joint Counter-Terrorism Training and Advisory Team

The Joint Counter-Terrorism Training and Advisory Team (JCTTAT) is based at Risborough Barracks in Kent.[26]

Defence Academy of the United Kingdom

Based at MOD Shrivenham in Oxfordshire, the Defence Academy provides higher education for personnel in the British Armed Forces, Civil Service, other government departments and service personnel from other nations.

The Defence Centre of Training Support, headquartered at RAF Halton, forms part of the Defence Academy and is responsible for training military instructors & managers and other aspects of defence training.

Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre

The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) is the MOD’s think tank and is responsible for research work in support of joint concepts and doctrine, as well as and those relating to the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and British Army.

Joint Operations

The Chief of Joint Operations (CJO) provides operational command of UK forces assigned to overseas joint and combined operations and provides politically aware military advice to the MOD in order to achieve UK's strategic objectives on operations.[8] CJO includes the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) based at Northwood Headquarters in Hertfordshire.

Logistics Operations

The Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Logistic Operations) provides logistics advice and direction in support of MOD plans and operations alongside developing defence logistics policy.

Standing Joint Force Headquarters

The Standing Joint Force Headquarters (SJFHQ) is a rapidly deployable component. When deployed, SJFHQ is responsible to Chief of Joint Operations through the Chief of Staff (Operations), otherwise the component reports to the Director of Joint Force Development. The Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) and Joint Force Logistics Component Headquarters (JCLogC) both come under the command of the SJFHQ Commander and are based at Northwood Headquarters.[27][28]


A list of those who have served as Commander Joint Forces Command (retitled Commander of Strategic Command on 9 December 2019):[29]

No. CommanderTook officeLeft officeTime in officeDefence branchRef
Peach, StuartAir Chief Marshal
Sir Stuart Peach
(born 1956)
December 2011April 20131 year, 4 months Royal Air Force[30]
Barrons, RichardGeneral
Sir Richard Barrons
(born 1959)
April 2013April 20163 years British Army[31]
Deverell, ChristopherGeneral
Sir Christopher Deverell
April 2016May 20193 years, 1 month British Army[32]
Sanders, PatrickGeneral
Patrick Sanders
May 2019Incumbent7 months British Army[33]


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  2. "First Commander of Joint Forces Command takes up post". GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
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  10. @ComdJFC_UK (19 November 2019). "Ahead of his start as Deputy Commander JFC, Major General Rob Magowan presented the 'Team of the Year' accolade at this year's Defence Intelligence Awards. Congratulations to all of the award winners. #OneJFC" (Tweet) via Twitter.
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  17. "Cyberspace Communication Specialist (formerly ICT Technician)". Royal Air Force Recruitment. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  18. "CRHQ (Royal Signals)". The British Army. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  19. "Joint Forces Intelligence Group Achieves Full Operating Capability". Royal Air Force. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  20. "[Withdrawn] Defence Intelligence: roles". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  21. "Defence Medical Services". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  22. "Joint Information Activities Group (JIAG)". GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  23. "Ministry of Defence - Information Systems and Services (ISS) - Head of Corporate and Management Information". GOV.UK. Civil Service Resourcing. September 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  24. "Joint Force Command - ISS - Engineering Operations" (PDF). RAF Henlow. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  25. "The Joint Arms Control Implementation Group" (PDF). RAF Henlow. Royal Air Force. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  26. Peach, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart (2012). "Defence and Intelligence" (PDF). Geospatial World Forum. Joint Forces Command. p. 3. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  27. JFCHQ Secretariat Team (17 August 2015). "Freedom of Information request FOI2015/06830" (PDF). GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. p. 2.
  28. "Joint Forces Command - Overview for Initial Operating Capability" (PDF). GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. p. 1. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  29. Commander of Strategic Command, UK Government
  30. RAF Air Rank Appointments List 07/11 retrieved 1 December 2011
  31. "New senior military officers appointed". Inside Government. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  32. "The Secretary of State announces new Senior Appointments in the Armed Services". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  33. "No. 62635". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 May 2019. p. 8120.
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