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An MOD and General Staff is one combined multipurpose organisation (MOD). First it is part of the state administrative structure with the task of creating and delivering Government defence and security policy within a given budget and co-ordination this with other law enforcement and civilian agencies. Second it is an operational organisation with the task of organising and leading the use of Force on behalf of the State either in a crisis or as a political act. Joint Operational Command (JOC) to be created under MOD to plan and run joint operations, including peacekeeping activities abroad. Increasingly it is now also the key national point of contact for international organisations and allies for delivering sophisticated defence and security co-operation and the effective delivery of multinational force.


The role of an MOD

An MOD and General Staff is one combined multipurpose organisation (MOD). First it is part of the state administrative structure with the task of creating and delivering Government defence and security policy within a given budget and co-ordination this with other law enforcement and civilian agencies. Second it is an operational organisation with the task of organising and leading the use of Force on behalf of the State either in a crisis or as a political act. Joint Operational Command (JOC) to be created under MOD to plan and run joint operations, including peacekeeping activities abroad.  Increasingly it is now also the key national point of contact for international organisations and allies for delivering sophisticated defence and security co-operation and the effective delivery of multinational force.

This spectrum of tasks and requirements creates a duality of requirement where on one hand the MOD staff must be involved in policy making, detailed financial staff work, and long term analysis and on the other may be called upon in a crisis to deliver life or death decision making in very short timeframes.  These tasks are at either end of the work activity spectrum and this sensibly calls upon the MOD to be split into two parts so that each part can concentrate properly upon their own key task without reducing the capability of their own or other functions. This should be MOD main building and JOC. MOD directly supports Services (Army, Navy and Air Force).


An MOD has a huge number of detailed tasks in many areas.  But these can basically all be reduced to seven policy based core functions. These are:

Creating a long term (10-20 years) political vision for defence and security for government and turning that vision into a usable military system.

Liaison, co-operation and relationships to shape policy

Planning for the generation, sustainment and recovery of military operations

Changing  things in the defence system that do not work (this could be international cooperation policy with a key ally, security of units, out of date policies, solving growing infrastructure costs from aging buildings or identifying what to do with an outdated weapon system.)

Following technological change and identifying cost effective solutions.

Routine support of the Services for Capabilities Development in Force Generation

Improving the financial and business processes of the MOD and general defence system to deliver more capability and resources for less money.



The real tasks of MOD are best organised by the PUS and CHOD into annual objectives and end states signed by both and covering the following 12 months and longer. The MOD Critical Success Factors (given to PUS separately) give a good framework on which to hang individual objectives. By giving a set of objectives to the whole of MOD then everyone can see the totality of the work, the priorities, and which department or person leads. The objectives should be collected from Directorates over a 6 month period for the following year and put together by the policy directorate. The senior leadership team can then view and assess the totality of the MOD objectives and add their own personal values and ideas to this.



            The MOD also has a Force Generation function. This role is delegated to the Service commanders (Army, Navy, Air Force) who prepare capabilities for operations. For the single service operations this work is best done within each of the Service headquarters by delegating them maximum authorities and resources so that they can better deliver capabilities of their forces. Joint capabilities to be generated and delivered by JOC from troops dispatched by Services. JOC should probably also have its own coordinating mechanism and Chief of Staff to make sure that Joint efficiencies really take place. This post could in the short term be the senior of the service commanders. In effect you then have one policy HQ (MOD), one operational HQ (JOC) and three Force Delivery HQs (Army, Navy and Air Force). The chain of command should be from CHOD through the COS MOD to the other two HQs, although all commanders should retain their constitutional right to lobby the CHOD if they feel they need to.



The Ministers represent the Government of the day. They have the task of creating and delivering a political vision that matches the available resources. Their task is to balance the needs of the day with the requirements of tomorrow. They are also the political linkage into NATO and allies.



The Chief of Defence is the key military adviser for the Minister. He has a dual political/military role. His key task is to help the political leadership get the best military capabilities to fit their vision and current tasks. He has the MOD military staff and Services staffs to help him do this. He is also the Commander of the defence forces and as such sets out his own personal vision and guidance on how the development of the forces should be conducted. He supervises ongoing operations via JOC.


The PUS is the business manager of the MOD and defence organisation and the senior Civil Servant. He has the key responsibilities of running the MOD efficiently and legally as an organisation. It is his task to help the political team use all defence resources to best effect and also to balance the military advice of CHOD with practical, legal and financial considerations. He has a legal and moral responsibility as the lead civil servant in the MOD not only to the government of the day but also to the public in general to ensure that public money is always properly spent. He is the leader of all civil servants and civilians in the whole defence system and manages their careers.

Policy Director

The Policy Director is the policy (but not political) adviser to the Minister and the arbiter of policy within MOD.  He provides policy continuity through successive governments and ministers. It is his task to ensure that all policy made within the MOD and Services staff is coherent with the government defence and security vision; with international organisations, and with MOD best business practices. As such he is the policy link between the senior political team and military commanders, and also with his policy peers in the world outside MOD. He is the senior amongst Directors and sets the outline agenda for all MOD policy work. He answers directly to the Minister on the making of policy but has the clear responsibility to ensure that policy is coherent with the wishes of CHOD, PUS and the Chief of Staff.

Chief of Operations

The Chief of Operations is the key operational and crisis adviser for the Minister and CHOD and he leads Operations Department (J3). He and his staff must always be ready to deploy military forces in a crisis or on international operations. His key task is to create a defence system that never allows the country to be caught militarily unawares or unable to respond. He will suggest the required levels of readiness throughout the defence system and provide the information requirements for the intelligence system.

Chief of Staff (new post)

The Chief of Staff has the task of coordinating all staff work in support of the defence vision and defence activity. He is the human link between the political team, policy, operations and implementation and as such has the task of turning the political vision and operational requirements into reality. He must make sure on behalf of PUS that the day to day work of the directorates and agencies and the MOD output is coherent and coordinated. He is responsible on behalf of CHOD for tasking the Service Commanders to deliver capabilities and for directing the JOC to run operations. He is to ensure that in practical terms, the overall defence system works efficiently and effectively. Where it does not he must change and repair it. He answers both to the CHOD and PUS equally. This post could be military or civilian but the selected person should have at least MOD experience of budgets, policy making and international operations.

Outer Office Staff

Each key member of the leadership team should have a military officer (or middle rank civil servant) in their outer office. The person need not be a future commander but should be selected for their ability to: understand and help develop policy, work hard, administer with a fine attention to detail and most importantly act as an information bridge into the system. This means being personable, having both a strong and determined character and also a diplomatic manner. Any person who by his manner closes doors and reduces contact is of no use at all. Good English is vital and other languages also help as the person will have to deal internationally almost daily.  In some circumstances where the leader is of a softer and more introvert nature, a more aggressive person may be chosen to open up better communication links. The person could be rank ranged between senior major and junior colonel.

The MOD leadership team

The leadership team is made up collectively of the politicians, advised and supported by the CHOD and PUS, and all supported by a Chief of Staff. It is the relationship between the CHOD and PUS that in many ways holds the keys to success to any MOD. They have to work closely and effectively together to create a strong defence programme and ensure that their advice to ministers is sound and well staffed.  At the same time both must understand that their roles are quite likely to bring them into disagreement in areas like resources and policy.  It is the mature ability to solve those disagreements quickly and reasonably without bothering the politicians – or worse government – that marks the quality of these two post holders. This means that their relationship, and that of their immediate staff must be close and professional based upon the mutual understanding that if they both get things wrong or waste precious time, people may die. It is the skill of a Chief of Staff to identify where these disagreements may occur in advance and to ensure that the supporting staffwork delivers the best possible set of “options” for both to see, and to use.  


To deliver the tasks and functions of an MOD there needs to be a clear split into functional/work areas to control and to deliver the required policies and needs. An MOD is a complex body and needs a clear and simple structure to ensure it works. The functional areas should not be too many and they need to have some clear overriding purpose to enable ordinary desk staff to understand how they individually fit into the bigger picture. This clarity helps them understand how they can work best to make it all function. MOD Ukraine needs this clarity badly and very quickly.

We would suggest that in the near future, MOD Ukraine is split in to 5 functional areas under one leader in each case. We would also suggest that this structure is called a “trial” to support the Force Structure Reforms (FSR) and it can be redefined and fixed by Law once working. We suggest only staff currently within MOD should be used and the people just reallocated to support the main functions.

Coordination and implementation – Chief of Staff. Currently this task is largely absent from the MOD. In the recent past the MOD has been a top down direction organisation. Virtually no proper staffwork (of upward problems and challenges) has been done. There has been no need to coordinate anything so the function and post is not there. Now there is a huge and vital need for pulling all the strings together of the FSR and Working Groups and there needs to be a person (and supporting team) appointed to do it. A Chief of Staff MOD is needed urgently. CCMR would recommend that in the short term one of the Deputy CHODs is chosen. He needs to be supported by a small coordination Directorate of good officers and civil servants taken from across the whole MOD. He should also have the Administrative and IT Branches and the efficiency unit currently under his control so he has the tools to start immediate modernisation of the MOD function on behalf of PUS. Once established and working his office would gradually take on the Programme Manager role for the implementation of the FSR (supported by CCMR).

Policy work– run by the Policy Director. This Function should control all aspects of gaining defence and security knowledge and information, liaison and relationships and the business of deciding how and why to spend defence money. As well as policy and international relations, this function should include the intelligence and security functions, defence attaches and all staff within NATO. Policy should lead the rest of the MOD.

Joint military capability development – run by the Director Military Capability (current chief J5) this Function should run (on behalf of CHOD) all the MOD military staff branches to develop the best capabilities and force structures for now and the future in order to deliver Joint deployability as a concept. As a short term task they should write the new Joint Doctrine and ensure that the new military force being delivered will fit that

Resources – Run by Director Resources. This Function should create the resource structures, systems and processes that enable the delivery of everything needed to support the output of the policy and military capability directorates, operational support, and the day to day work of the Services. It should be clear that this function is to make policy and create better systems and that the actual implementation of delivering resources should be done by an external organisation.

Crisis Management and Operations – Chief of Operations (J3). His organisation leads the Joint Operations Command and must be available to run a crisis on behalf of MOD 24/7.  As such the Chief of the Joint Operations Command and his staff should also act as an MOD directorate and provide CHOD and the MOD in general with staff support on all potential crisis and operational matters. This means that the Chief the Joint Operations Command all allocated Forces on behalf of CHOD.

A diagram of a proposal for MOD is at Annex A below.


The civil military balance – what do both sides contribute to success?

An MOD is usually made up of a balanced mix of civilian generalists, civilian technical staff, military generalists and military technical staff. The fundamental difference though between civilian and military is that civilians, who report to the PUS, are mainly concerned with efficiency of defence spending. The military, who report to the CHOD, are concerned solely with using their experience of the military to gain maximum operational effectiveness, whatever the cost. This civilian/military split is vital for creating the best balance and overall result from a limited defence budget. The tension between the two opposing sides and ideas should create strong arguments, and force the requirement for good financial, political and military judgement and sensible compromise. The result is usually the best balance between cost effectiveness and military capability for any given task. But this requirement also reinforces the need for a good balance in numbers between civilian and military posts. An unbalanced MOD in this respect will create unbalanced judgements and a poor long term answer. A key task always for CHOD and PUS is to ensure that their staff do not “go native” and try to second guess judgements of their opposite numbers before the full weight of both “efficiency and effectiveness” arguments have been heard. A simple guide for balance is that where a military officer runs an organisation, his deputy should be civilian, and the reverse.

Impact of 2014 Crimea lessons on future MOD

Some of the following Crimea lessons and recommendations must be taken in consideration during ongoing MOD changt and FRS:

  • Ideology of “fellowship” and bureaucratic thinking of Ukrainian miltary created inability to think or act. Ukrainian military promotion system has been based on the ability to “follow rules” principle rather than promoting strong leaders, risk takers and independent thinkers. Education and training systems must be converted to teache people to be open-minded and make their own decision based upon democratic values and situation of the time, not indoctrination, rules and dogma.
  • Centralized C2 negatively affected decision-making, losing time waiting for orders instead of delivering a prompt response. Delegation of authority must be granted to junior commanders. The followings recommendations to be implemented: start training ability to act independently, change in Human Resourcing (HR), education systems and policies, and introduce new mentality, operational design methodology, brain storming tools.  
  • Overchecking and overcontrol in managing of Defense and Security systems didn’t work and had damage effect on the morale and ability of commanders to act. Excessive paperwork and hours worked for no reason create an unhealthy and unproductive environment; officers had no energy to change gear for war. As a solution: simplify verification system, delegate authority down to chain of command, and educate responsibility. Respective documents (Laws) must reflect common sense, support and not to stop a process, and may be changed.
  • Lack of trusted and reliable social policy (particularly in housing) for Ukrainian military also affected their decision to stay within Crimea rather than to move to continental Ukraine (up to 80% of Ukrainian miltary in Crimea didn’t stay loyal to Ukraine). Social policy for military to be totally reviewed: individual approach, maximum monetization of benefits (instead of material) and affordable loans for housing.


MOD can only function effectively and efficiently if there is extensive delegation of authority to it’s directorates and, more important in case of Ukraine, – to all levels of military structure, particularly in logistics and training. While the primary role of MOD as seting policies, authorisation for making decisions to imlement routine practices, including accounting, contracting and payments by each unit (battalion size and above) to be legally granted.

In Ukraine this will need to be done regularly by CHOD and PUS and reinforced by serious sanctions for those who do not follow this direction. This means that not only must Directors push work and authority downwards but also desk officers must act as followers but lead as the acknowledged and recognised MOD leader (Centre of Excellence) in their subject. To do this well they have a clear duty to understand and follow the overall vision and then to push their “desk” and “subject” as hard as possible to achieve results. They may operate within given resource limits but should also fight for more resources if they believe their task is of real importance. This work must be without needing further authority. Of course a staff officer or civil servant also has the duty to actively consult, coordinate, liaise and negotiate with others both inside and outside of MOD to ensure that their work “fits”, but they must not need to be told to do this more than once. The current Ukrainian lack of delegation and overchecking and overcontrol have created dysfunctional staffing system, an unhealthy and unproductive environment, and is the cause of much of the current need for reform. The Force Structure Review must be accompanied by ruthless delegation in future – or the problems will not be solved and even become worse.



Below are set out how the key players within branches and directorates normally function.

The Director – The role of the directorate or branch director is to help create and deliver the vision in his area of responsibility. He must be able to pass this knowledge in easily digestible form to CHOD, PUS, the Chief of Staff and his peers. His focus should mainly be in the 5-20 year time frame. Much of his work will be in coordination and consultation inside and outside of MOD, in gaining knowledge of improvements and best business practice world-wide, and in ensuring that he gets the best advice and thinking about how to create and deliver the vision from his staff.  He will report to the Chief of Staff.


The Deputy Director – The deputy is the senior staff officer in any directorate or branch. His role should be to undertake the most complex policy and change staff work – in short, that which needs 6 months to a year or more of detailed research, policy and academic thinking to complete. He should be the master of delivering complex business cases, and submissions for changes in long term funding. He should not be tasked with day to day work as this will ruin his focus

The Directorate Chief of Staff. At Lieutenant Colonel or equivalent level this officer is concerned with turning the directorate vision into reality. His task is to ensure that all the directorate staff is singing from the same song sheet. He is the operational deputy for the director and stands in for him on meetings in his absence. He should be the key point of contact for all serious staff discussions.

The Directorate co-ordinating officer. This should be the newest officer or a young civil servant. The task of the co-ord officer, although the most junior is, peversely, to run the day to day work of the directorate. The co-ord officer will manage the calendar, arrange meetings, ensure the staffwork meets deadlines, be the branch administrator and do all basic staff replies. He will stand in for other desk officers in their absence and is the deputy to the Directorate Chief of Staff, and even the Director if needed. The fundamental reason why this post is required is to train future senior staff and to give officers confidence and vital policy making and administrative skills. An understanding of MOD work gained at this stage in a career translates into senior people who need little political or military guidance and can see and develop the bigger picture. This training in how the MOD functions is vital for future NATO and international appointees, for policy making, and for multinational understanding.  Any organisation that fails to train people early in this way in time becomes dysfunctional.

Desk Officers – The MOD and senior leadership is only ever as good as the imagination and performance of the desk officers below them. They form the MOD engine room. Rank ranged from Captain to Colonel and their civilian equivalents, desk officers must be the backbone of the MOD system. They should be well trained staff officers, well connected outside of MOD within the military system, confident policy makers, and capable directors of real change. They should be selected for their vision and intellect and especially moral courage. They are highly dangerous to the nation without this. The key task of all desk officers is to always be the military centre of excellence for their subject and to make sure that they drive the desk hard to create operational effectiveness for the forces they support. Any less than this is criminal as delay and poor work costs lives. 



General work

Because speed in military and operational affairs is vital for life, the fastest method of creating the right result of staffwork “on the ground” should normally be used. It is vitally important for Ukraine – clumsiness and delays caused failures in Crimea, and had damage effect on the troops during anti-terrorism opearation at the East. What is important is that if a law, rule, regulation, process, or system creates staff delay, then getting that problem changed must become a high staff priority within MOD until something better is created.  There are a myriad of verbal and written tools for staff officers available to pass information and to get decisions. It is important to remember that where possible options should be presented with costs and that “recommendations” should always be made which the desk officer believes to be the best course. In general the desk officer should choose the best method of staffing for the task to help the overall process remembering the need for speed, accuracy and general communicating the message to others who may need to know or be involved in the process. A key skill is not deliver work with only the right people involved and not wasting the valuable time of others. It is also important that staff do not constantly seek authority for acting and doing work when they already have a clear objective.


It is also important that the MOD and other HQs always run an open door policy. This helps with vital communication and ensures the building of trust and cooperation between staff. Doors should only be closed for meetings or when writing emergency staff briefs for the leadership team.

Two main types of peacetime staffwork are normal for an MOD. These are:

  1. Routine and administrative staffwork of email, phone, memorandums and face to face contact.
  2. Project and change development type work:

Meetings – “calling notices and papers” and “minutes of meetings”

Written briefings for Ministers, CHOD and PUS

Written briefings for Directors and peers

Verbal briefings

                        Formal detailed briefings and presentations


Studies, official papers and analysis pieces


                        Cost benefit analysis

Operational analysis and plans

Formal declaration of “non-operational” capability.

Command Directives for operations and major changes in unit roles or tasks

Administrative orders for the allocation of funds

All the above tools are different and have a vital place in the development of policy and the allocation of funds. These tools all have a unique place and are needed to ensure that the MOD works smoothly

MOD Staff Training

Most staff officers and civil servants need training in how to work positively within an MOD. They also need to know how to use the above tools of peacetime staffwork – even email should have its own protocols. CCMR can assist with this as part of the overall FSR process.  All staff need direction in how to understand the different levels of work that should take place in the formulation of policy and what to do to make those levels work.


Glen Grant (Masters Programme, York St John University, UK)