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30th March, 1999

MODERNISING DEFENCE - IMPLEMENTING STRATEGIC DEFENCE REVIEW



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MODERN DEFENCE DEMANDS CALL FOR RAPID REACTION FORCE

Rapidly changing world scenarios will place new demands on Britain''s Armed Forces in future, Defence Secretary George Robertson said today.

A new Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF), announced today, will mean a more integrated way of working for Naval, Army, and Air Force units. It builds on the Joint Rapid Deployment Force concept to provide a pool of highly capable, high readiness units across a broad spectrum of military capability. The JRRF will have the necessary self-protection, tactical mobility, and firepower needed for more intensive combat operations, and will be able to deploy at short notice. The larger, much improved and more balanced capability will be fully in place by October 2001. Forces needed to meet the JRRF requirement will achieve initial operational capability on 1 April 1999.

Mr Robertson said:

"This is all part of modernising the way our Armed Forces are trained and deployed, and is part of our contribution to the Modernising Government initiative.

"The Strategic Defence Review recommended a number of changes to modernise the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces to face the challenges of the new millennium.

"The initiatives I have set out today are all part of that modernisation programme."

Other elements announced by Mr Robertson today include:

* Expanding the Joint Force Headquarters, located at Northwood, with its own dedicated Signals Squadron to enable it to command simultaneous operations;

* Extending the authority of the Chief of Joint Operations, and creating a new Two Star post to assist him - the new Chief of Joint Force Operational Readiness and Training (from 1 April 1999);

* Forming a new Joint Rapier Training Unit based at RAF Honington from 1 April 1999;

* Establishing a Joint Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) Regiment at RAF Honington from 1 April 1999.

* Establishing a Defence NBC Headquarters at Winterbourne Gunner on 1 April 1999 to control both the Joint NBC Regiment and the Defence NBC Centre; and

* Setting up a Joint Doctrine and Concepts Centre to be located at Shrivenham.

Mr Robertson set out the full package of measures in response to a Parliamentary Question from Beverley Hughes MP (Stretford and Urnston). He said:

"The Joint Rapid Reaction Forces (JRRF) concept builds on the Joint Rapid Deployment Force to provide a pool of highly capable force elements, maintained at high and very high readiness and trained to undertake short notice force projection operations of all kinds. We plan to have this larger, much improved and more balanced capability in place by October 2001. The forces that are needed to meet the JRRF requirement have already been identified and an initial operational capability will be achieved on 1 April 1999.

"The Joint Force Headquarters, which is co-located at Northwood with the Permanent Joint Headquarters in peacetime, will be expanded to enable it to command two simultaneous operations. It will be provided with a dedicated signals squadron drawn from 30 Signal Regiment based at Bramcote in Warwickshire.

"The authority of the Chief of Joint Operations, based at Northwood, will be increased and he will assume greater responsibility for Joint training, standards and exercises. To assist him in this task, a new 2 Star post, that of Chief of Joint Force Operational Readiness and Training (CJFORT) will be created from 1 April 1999.

"To meet the need for increased deployability and flexibility in ground based air defence, a Joint Rapier Training Unit will be formed at RAF Honington on 1 April 1999.

"Recognising that the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons programmes presents a continuing threat to our deployable forces, a Joint NBC Regiment will be established from 1 April 1999, initially at RAF Honington for at least four years. The Regiment will consist of Army personnel mainly from 1st Royal Tank Regiment and RAF personnel from the RAF Regiment. It will also include elements of the Territorial Army and Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

"A Defence NBC HQ will be established at Winterbourne Gunner on 1 April 1999. It will control both the Joint NBC Regiment and the Defence NBC Centre, command responsibilities for which will transfer from the Army Training and Recruiting Agency to RAF Strike Command on 1 April 1999.

"A Joint Doctrine and concepts Centre will be formed, located at Shrivenham. An Implementation Team will form at the beginning of April in London and will establish an Initial Capability at Shrivenham from September this year. It is planned to achieve a full capability from April 2000."

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The conclusions of the Strategic Defence Review were announced in July 1998.

2. The Chief of Joint Operations at Northwood is a 3 Star, Admiral Sir Ian Garnett. From 1 April 1999 he will be supported by Major General Cedric Delves in a new 2 Star post, that of Chief of Joint Force Operational Readiness and Training.

3. Major General Tony Milton, a Royal Marines officer who was today promoted to his new post from Brigadier, will head the Joint Doctrine and Concepts Centre, located at Shrivenham.

4. Alternatively you may contact the MOD Press Office by e-mail at press@dgics.mod.uk.

5. This release and details of recommendations in the SDR can be found on the Internet at " http://www.mod.uk ".

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