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How do we train for the modern threats we face?

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Integration, Multi Domain Integration, Training

We face a vast, interconnected web of threats. And if we are to remain competitive with our constantly strengthening 21st century adversaries, an integrated response is the only way forward.

Strategic Command is responsible for implementing Multi-Domain Integration (find out what this means here). But how do we go about doing that?

One crucial way is to train and rehearse in a unified and collaborative way.

The carrier strike group sailing on the ocean
The Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment regularly integrated with our international partners.

In May 2021, HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of the UK’s aircraft carriers, led a group of ten ships on a 50,000 mile seven-and-a-half-month round trip to the Pacific Ocean.

The deployment was a valuable opportunity to test sophisticated integration with the space and cyberspace domains, and ensure all the digital networks work seamlessly together.

Technical integration was also exercised with over 40 international partners. This included operating our partner nations’ aircraft on and off HMS Queen Elizabeth, refuelling and restocking from allied ships and ports, and testing our communications systems to ensure they work well with those of our partners.

F-35 jet on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Advanced F-35 jet on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.

This training was achieved through many exercises during the deployment, both those led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, and those supported by her.

Exercise Khanjar Oman was a UK-Oman land-based exercise that was supported by F-35 fighter aircraft from the carrier. Joint manoeuvres with the Omani Army took place in the desert, and attack and reconnaissance aviation were integrated into the exercise, along with autonomous systems and drones.

The exercise also rehearsed information operations, where UK experts worked with local forces to influence the region. Crucially, everything was connected through the space domain.

A solider kneels on dusty terrain whilst a helicopter is silhouetted in the background
Exercise Khanjar Oman tested sophisticated integration between multiple warfighting domains.

Exercises like Khanjar Oman help Strategic Command learn about where we are already well integrated, and where we can continue to develop.

The British Army’s 1st Division Exercise Rhino Charge took this a step further and featured deliberate interventions to prompt cross-government collaboration.

A silhouette of a soldier against a sunset sky
Exercise Rhino Charge rehearsed how the UK could respond to sub-threshold threats.

Exercise Rhino Charge simulated a sub-threshold, or ‘grey zone’, scenario in Africa (you can read more about the grey zone here).

This forced the 1st Division staff officers to decide how they would deal with rapidly changing situations, manage relationships with local partners and forces, collaborate with other government departments, and rehearse influence and information operations.

Despite being an Army-led exercise, Rhino Charge incorporated experts from Air Command and Space Command, as well as civilian expertise from our government partners.

A diagram which displays the three overlapping areas of integration: Integrated across government, Integreted across domains, and Integrated with allies.
We are strongest when we are integrated within defence, with our government partners, and our allies.

If we are to effectively respond to current and future threats, we need to keep exercising with other parts of Defence, our Government partners, and our allies.

Personnel from across Strategic Command are working resolutely to improve integration across defence.

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