International, high-intensity conflicts between states, having built the basis behind the Alliance's "Collective Defence", have become less likely since the end of the Cold War. The security environment has changed since then and, at the beginning of the 21st century, that process has even increased in speed.
Today conflicts take rather place within states than between states, with their main actors being non-state organisations or groups. In comparison to the Cold War period, the current type of conflict can be characterised as much lower in intensity, more likely to incinerate on shorter term notice and higher in overall number.
In response to the changing security environment, the Alliance member states agreed in 2006 to a re-defined "Level of Ambition". Next to Article 5 Operations ("Collective Defence"), NATO should be able to concurrently conduct up to two Major Joint Operations and six Smaller Joint Operations.
This decision should impact the size and shape of the NATO Command Structure (NCS). The Allied Command Operations at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), near Mons, Belgium will remain responsible for all Alliance operations ranging from the Straits of Gibraltar to Afghanistan. SHAPE is on the first tier (of command) within NATO. The three headquarters below SHAPE on the second tier or operational level (i.e. the standing Allied Joint Force Commands in Brunssum, Naples and Lisbon) will then be tasked to actually conduct one or more operations. Given this, those "Operational Level" Headquarters (HQ) have also to be enabled to adequately exercise "Command and Control" (C2) for their operations. The third tier or component/tactical level consists of component commands, which would provide service-specific - land, maritime or air - headquarters to the operational level.
To match the corresponding operational C2 requirements for multiple operations, NATO developed the modular "Deployable Joint Staff Element" (DJSE) concept:
For a given Operation, NATO would step-up one of the aforementioned Allied Joint Force Commands as operation-specific "Joint Headquarters" (JHQ). The JHQ would consist of a main (MAIN), situated at the static location of the tasked Allied Joint Force Command in Europe, and a Forward Element (FE) part, deployed to the area of the respective Operation. Both parts will virtually form the aforementioned single "JHQ", separated in location, but not in organisation.
The DJSE was specifically designed to meet the C2 requirements the Operation's Commander would ask for the in-theatre deployed FE of his JHQ. Since more than one DJSE will be required to meet the Alliance's Level of Ambition, the composition of a DJSE was standardised.
Each DJSE consists of the following three elements: The Joint Headquarters Forward Element (JHQ FE) itself, a Joint Logistics Support Group (JLSG) Core Staff Element and a Forward Support Element (FSE). It will be led by a Chief of Staff as the senior staff officer deployed.
Tasks of the DJSE elements
The Joint HQ Forward Element (JHQ FE)
It will act as the in-theatre part of a JHQ, as explained in its context above. The JHQ FE will therefore contribute to the well-defined business workflow of the JHQ with the in-theatre perspectives, provide the in-theatre lead for Liaison & Reconnaissance Teams and carry out in-theatre engagement with key stakeholders of the local
government, the United Nations, governmental and non-governmental organizations.
If the Operational Commander deploys from JHQ MAIN to JHQ FE, the DJSE will also be able to provide the Commander with a forward command post which will work as a coherent whole with the JHQ MAIN.
Forward Support Element (FSE)
The FSE within a deployed DJSE is responsible for the planning, direction and provision of Life Support, Communications and Information Systems and Force Protection for itself and the other two elements, i.e. the "Forward Command Element" and the "JLSG Core Staff Element", of a deployed DJSE. In order to facilitate those tasks, a co-location with the two others elements of the deployed DJSE is intended.
Joint Logistics Support Group (JLSG) - Core Staff Element
The Joint Logistics Support Group Core Staff Element will form the nucleus of a theatre-level logistics Component Command. Once stood-up, that JLSG HQ is to be regarded a critical enabler for NATO expeditionary operations. For that, it will be augmented mission-specifically by subject matter experts in the fields of logistics, medical as well as movement and transportation plans, policies and procedures at theatre level in order to provide efficient logistics support to designated forces.
Implementation within the NATO Command Structure
This DJSE concept aimed at improving NATO's mobility and flexibility in addressing the requirements posed by the new Level of Ambition of NATO. It has brought a fundamental change to NATO's Land Component Command Headquarters in both Heidelberg and Madrid. On Mar 1, 2010, they were transformed into Allied Force Commands with the task to provide two trained and ready-to-deploy "Deployable Joint Staff Elements" to the Allied Joint Force Commands (JFC) in Brunssum, Naples and Lisbon respectively.