Britain's new Joint Rapid Deployment Force becomes operational

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Britain's new Joint Rapid Deployment Force, comprising elite Commandos and paratroops and other quick-reaction forces from the Navy, Marines, Army and Air Force, became operational yesterday under the direction of the new Permanent Joint Headquarters at Northwood, Middlesex, which was opened on 3 April.

Defence sources said the "Joint" force would enable Britain to respond more quickly to crises, either as part of a multinational operation or a purely British operation and was a reflection of the move from a "continental" to an "expeditionary" strategy. Michael Portillo, the Secretary of State for Defence, said: "From today we will be able to respond to crises worldwide more quickly. We shall be able to put together and deploy a joint force ... specially tailored to meet the demands of each crisis. "The first Chief of JRDF Operations is Brigadier Jonathan Thomson. Christopher Bellamy