Armed Forces - m06 - Management of Defence - Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ)




The UK MoD established a Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) at Northwood in Middlesex for joint military operations on 1 April 1996. This headquarters brought together, on a permanent basis, intelligence, planning, operational and logistics staffs. It contains elements of a rapidly deployable in-theatre Joint Force Headquarters that has the capability of commanding rapid deployment front line forces.

The establishment of PJHQ was an attempt to provide a truly joint force headquarters that would remedy the problems of disruption, duplication and the somewhat 'ad hoc' way in which previous operations had been organised.

PJHQ is commanded by the Chief of Joint Operations (CJO), (from March 2009 Air Marshal S W Peach CBE BA MPhil DTech FRAeS RAF) who occupies existing accommodation above and below ground at Northwood in Middlesex. PJHQ is responsible for planning all UK-led joint, potentially joint, combined and multinational operations and works in close partnership with MoD Head Office in the planning of operations and policy formulation, thus ensuring PJHQ is well placed to implement policy. Having planned the operation, and contributed advice to Ministers, PJHQ will then conduct such operations. Amongst its many tasks PJHQ is currently (early 2009) engaged in planning and conducting UK military involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

When another nation is in the lead, PJHQ exercises operational command of UK forces deployed on the operation. Being a Permanent Joint Headquarters, PJHQ provides continuity of experience from the planning phase to the execution of the operation, and on to post-operation evaluation and learning of lessons.

Principal additional tasks include

  • Monitoring designated areas of operational interest

  • Preparing contingency plans

  • Contributions to the UK MoD's decision making process

  • Exercise of operational control of overseas commands (Falklands, Cyprus and Gibraltar)

  • Managing its own budget

  • Formulation of joint warfare doctrine at operational and tactical levels

  • Conducting joint force exercises

  • Focus for Joint Rapid Reaction Force planning and exercising




From 1 Aug 1996, PJHQ assumed responsibility for military operations worldwide. Non-core functions, such as the day-to-day management of the Overseas Commands in Cyprus, Falkland Islands, and Gibraltar, are also delegated by MoD Head Office to the PJHQ. This allows MoD Head Office to concentrate in particular on policy formulation and strategic direction. As of early 2009 PJHQ has been involved with UK commitments in the following areas:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Bosnia, Burundi, East Timor, Eritrea, Honduras, Iraq, Kosovo, Montenegro, Montserrat, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, East Zaire, West Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Operations for which PJHQ is not responsible include: UK Strategic Nuclear Deterrent; Defence of the UK Home Base; Defence of UK Territorial Waters and Airspace; Support to the Civil Power in Northern Ireland; Counter-terrorism in the UK and Operations in support of NATO (Article V General War).


Lieutenant General J N R Houghton CBE (CJO)

Lieutenant General Nick Houghton was born in 1954 in Otley, West Yorkshire. He was educated at Woodhouse Grove School in Bradford, RMA Sandhurst and St Peter’s College, Oxford, where he completed an in-service degree in Modern History.

Commissioned into the Green Howards in 1974, he had a variety of Regimental and Staff appointments before attending the Army Command and Staff Course at both Shrivenham and Camberley. Thereafter he was Military Assistant to the Chief of Staff British Army of the Rhine and a member of the Directing Staff at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham. At Regimental Duty he was both a Company Commander in, and Commanding Officer of, 1st Battalion The Green Howards in the Mechanised and Airmobile roles, and in Northern Ireland.

More recently Lieutenant General Houghton was Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G3 (Operations & Deployment) in HQ Land Command 1994 - 1997 and attended the Higher Command and Staff Course in 1997. He commanded 39 Infantry Brigade in Northern Ireland from 1997 to 1999 and was the Director of Military Operations in the Ministry of Defence from December 1999 to July 2002. He was Chief of Staff of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps from July 2002 to April 2004 before becoming the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations) from May 2004 to October 2005. He was the Senior British Military Representative Iraq and Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Force-Iraq from October 2005 until assuming his current appointment as Chief of Joint Operations at PJHQ (UK) in March 2006.


The PJHQ Headquarters at Northwood brings together about 600 civilian, specialist and tri-service military staff from across the MoD. The headquarters structure resembles the normal Divisional organisation, but staff operate within multidisciplinary groups which are drawn from across the headquarters.

The headquarters must have the capability of supporting a number of operations simultaneously on behalf of the UK MoD.

(1) CJO Chief of Joint Operations
(2) *** Denotes the rank of the incumbent
(3) DCJO – Deputy Chief of Joint Operations; DCJO (Ops Sp) Deputy Chief of Joint Operations (Operational Support)
(4) ACOS - Assistant Chief of Staff

CJO has a civilian Command Secretary who provides a wide range of policy, legal, presentational, financial and civilian human resources advice.

PJHQ Departments

J1 Personnel and Admin
J2 Intelligence
J3 Operations (Sea-Air-Land)
J4 Logistics/Medical
J5 Policy and Crisis Planning
J6 Communication and Information Systems
J7 Joint Training
J8 Finance and Human Resources
J9 Legal
JFHQ High Readiness Deployable Commander
JFLog CHQ Standing Deployable Logistic Component Commander


The annual PJHQ budget is in the region of £475 million (2007/08 – Capital + Resource DEL). The annual running costs of the Headquarters is estimated at approximately £50 million.

Included in the overall PJHQ budget are the costs of the UK forces in the Falkland Islands, Cyprus and Gibraltar. Major operations such as the ongoing
operational commitment in Afghanistan and the ongoing commitment in Iraq are funded separately by way of a supplementary budget, and in almost all cases this requires government- level approval. Small operations and the cost of reconnaissance parties are funded from the standard PJHQ budget.


Note: The Defence and Overseas Policy Committee (DOPC) is responsible for the strategic direction of the UK Government’s defence and overseas policy.

The DOPC is chaired by the Prime Minister and members include the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Deputy Chair); Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State; Chancellor of the Exchequer; Secretary of State for Defence; Secretary of State for the Home Department; Secretary of State for International Development; Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

If necessary, other ministers, the Heads of the Intelligence Agencies and the Chief of Defence Staff may be invited to attend.