AOC 1 Group Intent


Success on operations – wherever they may be – is my highest priority. I expect everyone to live up to the No 1 Group Mission Statement, ‘understand, control and exploit the battlespace in order to deliver decisive Combat Air Power’. It is unlikely that the tempo of operations is going reduce; the Government sees and likes what we do, and we must be ready to respond to new and unexpected crises and threats. We must sustain every DLOD of this ‘Main Effort’ and we cannot afford to become complacent as current operations endure. Despite our formal readiness cycles, we must inculcate a flexible and ‘always ready’ attitude across the Group. Our preparation needs to be fit for purpose; we must create valuable thinking time and be agile in mind and body if we are to meet the task.

The skills, training, dedication, ingenuity and enthusiasm of our people allow us to regularly taste success on operations. Without our people, or the goodwill and support of their families, friends and communities, we would not have the reputation that we enjoy today. Therefore, my next highest priority is that we should do everything in our power to recruit, train and retain the right people. We must fight their corner, support the development of the SLT’s people initiatives, work closely with Manning, communicate our messages accurately, ceaselessly and effectively, and offer our people more meaningful opportunities for leadership, development and recognition. That said, everyone within the Group should expect to earn respect, position and reward - they are not free goods. I will not tolerate ‘crew room unions’, laziness, indiscipline (in the air or on the ground), foolishness or dishonesty. I want everyone in the Group to be transparent, constructive, honest and collegiate, safe in the knowledge that we all share and uphold a just culture. I accept that there may be a degree of failure, in some places but we must embrace, respect and learn from our mistakes.

I will not tolerate bullying or harassment. This is an inclusive and diverse Group, and I want us to celebrate and promote that reality both inside and outside ‘the wire’. If such issues or complaints do arise, they are to be dealt with quickly and effectively.

I believe in Mission Command and expect us all to set the correct boundaries and conditions for our people and our/their projects to flourish. Avoid doing the job you did before this one, use the ‘brains trust’ that exists within (and without) the Group and encourage leaders at every rank to relish responsibility and fulfil their potential.

I also want everyone in the Group to have some fun and to get their well-deserved rest. The opportunities for enjoyment, adventure, and recuperation are there for the taking and we must ensure that our people take them. We must set the moral compass and provide the example that enables our people to work and play hard throughout their tours.

I also believe in making the Whole Force Approach a reality. Anachronistic ‘them and us’ mind-sets or ‘weekend warrior’ tags will not wash with me. We are all in this together and, as my next priority, I expect all leaders within our Group to create relationships, plans and practices that take the Whole Force Approach forward at every opportunity. We should, however, be sensitive to, and supportive of, the needs of those within the Whole Force who are not experiencing a period of organisational growth. As for our Reserves, you can expect me to drive the kind of behaviours and levels of cooperation that increase integration, capability and capacity.

All of our work should reflect and use as a bedrock the 3 National Security Objectives from SDSR15: Protect our People; Project our Global Influence; and Promote our Prosperity. The decisions that shaped Joint Force 2025 were arrived at after long and intense periods of negotiation. The Prime Minister and the National Security Council set us some clear goals, and we will be expected to meet them on time (or earlier!) and within budget. We must avoid incorrect interpretations of strategic intent.

I am delighted that we have been given the opportunity to facilitate growth in both scale and capability across large parts of the Group. There are a number of strategic items that must have tangible outcomes within the term of this Parliament, most notably for us: a credible F35/CEPP IOC; the further enlargement and development of the Typhoon Force; the sustainment and development of the ISTAR Force; and the introduction of an MMA (NOT just an MPA!). We cannot become constrained by IYDP horizons, and I am encouraged by some of the longer-term planning that is already going on. Therefore, my next priority is that we should work proactively and collaboratively within the Group, HQ Air and wider Defence to create options (don’t self-sensor), identify capability gaps and devise plans for SDSR15 implementation. The work will bring challenges and we must remain positive, receptive, encouraging and visionary. I do not want us to be tempted by cynicism, division, short-termism or learned helplessness. The Group is looking to us to lead, excite and inspire, so we will not let our people down.

Our predecessors have established a safety culture to be proud of. Our people now identify and manage risks and hazards in a mature and constructive manner, and we have moved beyond using the word ‘safety’ as an excuse for indecision and the avoidance of risk. I want our just and Total Safety culture to be strengthened across the Whole Force, and I look to everyone within the Group to make that happen.

I am an outward-facing and pragmatic realist but I am also a strong advocate of our history, tradition and ethos. We have much to celebrate and commemorate in the coming years, from sqn anniversaries and Force drawdowns to Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th Birthday and RAF100. I want us to actively and positively participate in these engagement events from stn to national level, and I want us to do them with style, discipline and pride.

We are lucky to have so many opportunities to inspire and encourage the next generation. It is a responsibility that I take seriously and I will support our youth organisations, particularly the Air Cadets and the University Air Sqns, throughout my time in command of the Group. I want our people, our equipment and, importantly, our example to be visible in local, regional and national youth events.

I want us to build even stronger relationships with our sister Services. With a focus on long-term deliverables, we must overcome any parochialism or historic prejudice and work together to manage expectations and reach the best outcomes for the United Kingdom. We must also continue to work with close allies and partners in the interests of collective defence, security and prosperity. Defence Engagement is more than an occasional airshow appearance and/or exercise. It is about developing persistent, deep and constructive relationships with individuals and organisations that bear fruit over long periods of time. We all have a part to play in a coordinated Defence Engagement strategy and we must work hard to avoid duplication and ineffective or inappropriate messaging.

We are lucky enough to be in a Group that is experiencing growth, has great people, world-class equipment and a superb reputation. Many of our forces are on, preparing for, or recovering from operations and we have a finite capacity to deal with some of the challenges that lie ahead. That is why we must make the most effective use of the time, opportunities and lessons that are presented to us. As senior leaders, our battle rhythm and Command, Management and Safety Boards cannot just be for ‘show and tell’. All of our gatherings must be productive, outcome-focussed, challenging and collaborative. Therefore, I expect Force Cdrs, HQ Staff, Stn and Unit Cdrs to work closely together – within and across forces – in the interests of developing priorities, best practice, innovation and efficiency. This Group will Think to Win.

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