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Newsletter 10-12
December 2009

The Deployable Joint Staff Element and Joint Warfare Centre

By Col Charles Attwood, CAN AF

Reprinted with permission from The Three Swords Magazine

The Deployable Joint Staff Element (DJSE) is a concept borne from the realities of providing Command and Control (C2) of operations in today's security environment. The Level of Ambition outlined in Ministerial Guidance '06 requires the NATO Command Structure (NCS) to provide appropriate C2 for a number of concurrent operations, including Major Joint Operations (MJO) and Smaller Joint Operations (SJO). In order to achieve the Level of Ambition, each Joint Force Command may necessarily be tasked to conduct concurrent operations. For success in such an ambitious endeavour, the assigned Commander will require a robust and flexible C2 capability. With an increased focus on deployable, expeditionary capabilities coming at the same time as the NATO Command Structure Peacetime Establishment Review, it was necessary to develop a concept that could realistically provide C2 at the operational level, which was both feasible for the future and effective for current operations. The structural review endorsed the creation of the DJSE to enhance the deployability and usability of operational level command and control in the NATO Command Structure, with a view to replacing existing models.

Graphic showing NATO response force logo

The DJSE concept, reflecting an innovative and pragmatic approach to dealing with today's security environment, is clearly expeditionary in nature, and aims to provide a small agile Forward Command Element to establish the commander's presence quickly, while minimizing the in theatre footprint. DJSEs are an appropriate means of enabling a mission focused C2 capability consistent with the general principle that execution should be stronger at Forward; and assessment/analysis stronger at Main HQ.

The DJSEs will be on a very short notice to move and, on a rotational basis, will be designated to support the NATO Response Force (NRF). Depending on the operational/strategic environment, the flexibility inherent in the model will enable the DJSE to remain in situ for the duration of the operation or be replaced on operations by a follow on DJSE.

Being a compact package, the DJSE is to be supported and enabled by the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency for capability packages and contractual logistics support; deployed CIS units from the NATO Communication and Information Systems Services Agency; and other mission enabling units as required. Collaborative tools and function al services will also be key to success for the DJSE.

Basic preparations to develop the concept began in mid 2008, following the release of the Military Committee guidance. Allied Land Component Command (ALCC) Heidelberg, who will provide the first DJSE for certification, began fully fledged training in the Autumn of the same year. JC Lisbon, with full support from the JC Headquarters and ALCCs Heidelberg and Madrid, has had the lead in the development, testing and implementation of the new structure. A great deal has been accomplished in a very short time frame, and more lies ahead in anticipation of the certification of the first DJSE, provided by Heidelberg as part of NRF?13, during Exercise STEAD FAST JUNCTURE 09 Phase III.

Graphic showing Lieutenant General Korte hosting JWC DJSE Seminar

Above: Lieutenant General Korte hosted JWC DJSE Seminar "DJSE Concept and Training Implications", 27 and 28 November 2008

NATO's Component Commands have long had an affiliation with the Joint Headquarters (JHQs). However, the DJS Es provided by the NATO Force Structure have for the most part been land operations oriented. To enhance their abilities to function at the joint level, the DJSEs will profit from a robust set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). All three Joint Headquarters have been heavily involved in advancing the DJSE concept in general, with a particular investment in the cooperative development of SOPs. While the SOPs will provide a solid baseline of expectations, there will necessarily be exceptions to account for structural differences between the Joint Commands.

The Model

The DJSE model consists of a deployed staff of approximately 210 personnel in three functional areas: a Forward Element, a Joint Logistics Support Group (JLSG) Core Staff Element, and a Forward Support Element. The DJSE is not a subordinate or intermediate level of command; it is complementary to the Main HQ. The intent is to ensure a single cohesive operational level staff, supported by synchronized structures and common processes and procedures. The DJSE is designed to perform those operational functions that must be con ducted in theatre. The main responsibility to set up the joint logistics posture rests with the operational level commander. The JLSG HQ element core staff will support the JFCs in developing the concepts and procedures necessary to ensure the correct theatre level logistics support. On order, the JLSG will be augmented to a tailored size. The Forward Support Element will be responsible for ensuring Real Life Support, CIS, and force protection.

Implications For JWC

What does the DJSE concept mean for JWC? Clearly, our most comprehensive exposure to the concept will occur within the bounds of the STEADFAST series of exercises, the first occasion having been the crisis response planning phase of STEADFAST JUNCTURE in February of this year. However, work has been progressing apace at JWC outside of the exercise environment in preparation for our support to ACO's training responsibilities, on behalf of Allied Command Transformation. For example, a Bi SC Implementation Working Group has been established in recognition that a coordinated and coherent approach to implementing this new Command and Control concept would be best realized by incorporating the perspectives of both of the strategic commands. JWC has had ongoing representation at the Working Group.

Graphic showing deployable joint staff elements 210

Secondly, in consideration of the potential challenges ahead, COM JWC hosted a seminar of interested parties in late November of 2008, with the aim of better informing key JWC personnel on the status of DJSE developments, and its implications for JWC. Joining the JWC personnel were representatives from SHAPE, Joint Force Training Centre, Joint Command Lisbon, Allied Land Component Command Heidelberg, and the Operational Preparation Directorate (OPD). The seminar provided a great opportunity over a two day period to discuss issues such as the origins of the concept; the degree and nature of the cooperative work between the three joint commands; the implementation and employment of the DJSEs; perspectives from the provider of the DJSEs; DJSE processes and structures; certification of the DJSE; and some round table discussions on the training of these new operational elements.

Thirdly, we followed up with an internal training day in March, just prior to Exercise STEADFAST JOIST Phase III, to ensure a common level of understanding of the concept as it currently stands, across JWC.

Outside of the above mentioned events, our ongoing focus has been on studying the content of the SOPs. One must understand that much of the practical "proving" work on this new concept has already been undertaken via methods such as the Battle Staff Training. So, while the DJSE will be new to us at the Joint Training Level, it will be more familiar to those working at the coalface. Until we from JWC get a chance to actually see the templated structure play out, we will have been working in the domain of the theoretical. However, even at that, we are aware that challenges lie ahead of us and have been taking measures to address them.

JWC's Capability Development Division clearly will have the lead in our contributions to the doctrinal development related to the DJSE, while the Joint Training Development Division (JTDD) will continue with its traditional role of providing Observer/Trainers to the various training audiences. JTDD is composed primarily of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) whose experiences lie within the traditional J code structures. Even a cursory examination of the new DJSE concept reveals a considerable change in the traditional organization of a Joint HQ. For example, what we clearly understood as an ops organization (J3, J5, J3/5) is replaced by an organization now known as the Operations Directorate in JHQ Main, including a Plans Branch; an Effects Management Branch; an Assessment Branch; a Synchronization and Execution Branch; and a Situation Centre. With the increasing importance of the Effects Based Approach to Operations, and PMESII analysis, disciplines such as CIMIC and Info Ops may increase in prominence in the new construct. For JWC, one of our first priorities will be a close examination of the structure of our training teams to ensure that we are putting the right expertise in the right location to meet the training demands of the DJSE structure. That work is currently underway. While we can be confident that we have the capacity to address the associated needs, what we will be looking to accomplish during STEADFAST JOIST is how best to organize our resources against the challenge. The training and readiness of the DJSE is the responsibility of the commanders of the NATO Force Commands and the NATO JFCs. The envisioned training follows a building block approach comprising Individual Training, Functional Area Training, Integrated Training, preparatory exercises and major joint exercises, like STEADFAST JUNCTURE. JWC's involvement really commences with the joint level exercise process, as detailed in the MTEP. Phase II of STEADFAST JUNCTURE, with JC Lisbon and its NRF components, gave JWC Observer/Trainers their first real look at the concept at work, albeit in the planning mode. The necessity for frequent close liaison and interaction between the JHQ, its components and DJSE elements was very apparent, particularly when using an Effects Based Approach. The execution phase of STEADFAST JOIST, with the JFC functioning under deployed "operational" conditions, will permit JWC to make further observations pertinent to its role in supporting this important change to the way NATO goes about its operational business.

Focus Areas

Internal considerations as to whet her JWC needs to make significant changes to our support to joint level training has led us to the conclusion that within the STEADFAST series of exercises, currently planned out for a further five years, there exists sufficient flexibility in scenarios, settings, etc., to provide commanders wide opportunity to exercise the concept, according to their specific needs. Based on observations from previous exercises, close examination of the SOPs and discussions with involved parties across NATO, we have identified key aspects of the DJSE concept on which to focus our training effort. Those items include:

  • the command and control working relationships within the JFC and with external units and HQs;
  • the development of the Commander's situational awareness, including fusion and maintenance of varied operational inputs;
  • the use of boards and their links to the Commander;
  • the handling of reports and returns from higher, adjacent and subordinate units and agencies;
  • the assessment process. JWC is also committed to providing the maximum possible support to the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre with the view to contributing to the refinement of the concept. There is no question that the DJSE concept poses many challenges as we proceed to implementation. JWC is very excited about being involved with such an important aspect of NATO's transformational effort and looks forward to contributing towards its successful conclusion.


Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012

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