Defence Intelligence: roles

Find out about the roles of the DGC; the Defence HUMINT Organisation; JAGO; the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre and JSSO.

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Defence Intelligence (DI) is an integral part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and is the main provider of strategic defence intelligence to the department and the armed forces. This includes timely intelligence products, assessments and advice to guide decisions on policy, to inform defence research and equipment programmes and to support military operations.

DI is also an essential element of the UK’s central intelligence machinery (this includes the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Security Service) contributing staff and resources to the Cabinet Office in support of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) the UK’s national intelligence committee and also to the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC).

DI supports other government departments with advice and intelligence assessments. Its assessments also support intelligence analysis and operations undertaken by NATO and the EU.


Defence intelligence can trace its ancestry back to 1946, when the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) was established under the direction of General Kenneth Strong, General Eisenhower’s wartime Chief of Intelligence. Following the creation of a unified MOD in 1964, the JIB was amalgamated with the three single- Service intelligence organisations to form the present organisation.

In the past the DI was preoccupied with Cold War topics. Today its focus has shifted towards providing intelligence support to operations overseas, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and supporting the global war on terrorism.

Today, DI has approximately 4,500 staff, which includes both service and civilian personnel. About 700 are located in the headquarters in Whitehall, with the remainder working at other locations across the UK and overseas. Serving members of the armed forces make up approximately 60% of the organisation.

Chief of Defence Intelligence

The Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), a serving three-star military officer, is responsible for the overall coordination of defence intelligence throughout the armed forces and single Service commands. He reports to the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Permanent Secretary of the MOD and is supported by two deputies, one civilian and military.

The Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence (DCDI), a two star civilian equivalent, is responsible for the Defence Intelligence analysis and production, the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Intelligence Capabilities) (ACDS(IC), a serving two star military officer is responsible for intelligence collection, mapping and training.

Intelligence analysis and production

DCDI is responsible for intelligence analysis and production, providing global defence intelligence assessments and strategic warning on a wide range of issues including, intelligence support for operations; proliferation and arms control; conventional military capabilities; strategic warning and technical evaluations of weapons systems.

These intelligence assessments draw upon classified information provided by GCHQ, SIS the Security Service. Allied intelligence services and military collection assets, in addition to diplomatic reporting and a wide range of publicly available or ‘open source’ information such as media reporting and the internet.

Intelligence collection

ACDS(IC) is responsible for the provision of the joint intelligence collection in support of the defence and wider government requirements, joint and single service intelligence training and future intelligence collection strategy and policy. ACDS(IC) also has a broader responsibility for drawing together defence related Intelligence, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) equipment requirements, in support of the MOD policy, commitments and equipment capabilities areas.

Responsibilities are shared among three areas. Intelligence collection, strategy and policy, based in London; the Intelligence Collection Group, based at various locations including Brampton and Feltham and the Defence and Security Centre based at Chicksands in Bedfordshire.

Joint Forces Intelligence Group

Joint Forces Intelligence Group’s (JFIG) mission is to deliver intelligence, information, services and force elements to defence, including deployed forces, and to other government departments and international partners underpinning strategic to tactical level decision-making and action in order to support the achievement of defence objectives.

JFIG, formally the Intelligence Collection Group (ICG), stood up on 1 Apr 2012 and currently comprises a headquarters, located at Feltham, which houses some of the 5 separate organisations which make up the group:

  • the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC)
  • the Defence HUMINT Organisation (DHO)
  • the Joint Aeronautical and Geospatial Organisation (JAGO)
  • the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre (DGIFC) (formally JARIC (Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre))
  • the Joint Service Signals Organisation (JSSO)

This structure is due to change on the 1 Feb 2013 to represent a new unified operating model under the Joint Force Command. More details will be made available soon.

Headquarters Joint Forces Intelligence Group

The Headquarters JFIG’s mission is to support Commander JFIG in discharging his responsibilities and help set conditions for the success of his subordinate commanders in achieving their missions and tasks.

The 66 people within the HQ are a mix of military and civilian staff and they manage the strategic aspects of the organisation’s work. This enables JFIG strategies to develop into policy, plans and actions and provide effective governance and control.

The HQ comprises of a number of different branches, each with a unique function. This includes the Business Partnership role, Support to Operations, Corporate Communications, Strategic Planning, current and future requirements, Business Management and Finance. The JFIG Operations Branch (Ops) also sits within the HQ. Ops provides the focal point for the conduct of operations. It is responsible for the production and issue of directives and orders and the co-ordination of liaison and operational training.

Contact us

Watson Building
Elmwood Ave
TW13 7AH

Defence Geographic Centre

Defence Geographic Centre (DGC) is based at Feltham in Middlesex. Its mission is to deliver geographical information (GEOINF), geographical intelligence (GEOINT), services and liaison to support the achievement of Defence objectives. Its primary role is to provide land maps, aeronautical charts, positional information, geo-referenced imagery and digital data in raster, matrix, and vector formats for UK defence planning, operations and training. This can be satisfied by material collected on a global basis or produced in house.

Demand for conventional paper maps and charts continues alongside a significant growth in the demand for digital data to support weapons platforms, systems, navigation and C4I (Command, Control, Communication, Computation & Information). DGC data now forms a key component of most modern weapon systems and is a key enabler for their efficient use.

DGC is a largely civilian organisation headed by a Director from the Civil Service. Of the 400 personnel, 14 are military, providing the ‘intelligent customer’ interface with Defence requirements and a 24/7 map supply service.

DGC comprises:

  • the MOD Geospatial Library of Maps and Digital Data
  • the MOD Map and Air Chart Depot
  • a Production and Reproduction facility

The MOD Geospatial Library holds a global collection of over 700,000 different maps, air charts, atlases, digital geospatial products and other geographic sources which are readily available to defence customers. Small quantities of hard and soft copy of any library holding can be provided on a 24/7 basis. DGC also provides expert advice to defence on international boundaries, geographic names and geodetic/geophysical matters.

The MOD Map and Air Chart Depot holds planning stock to support UK contingency planning requirements and bulk map stocks to meet current operational requirements. A digital catalogue of stocks is available for defence customers. The depot provides a 24/7 capability and stocks are dispatched using the defence logistic chain or, if required, using couriers anywhere in the world.

DGC produces a wide range of maps, charts and digital data. Production also provides a crisis response capability in the form of rapid revisions, image maps, digital products and bulk map printing. Contact Ops and Plans staff for further details.

Defence HUMINT Organisation

Defence HUMINT Organisation (DHO) is based at Feltham, Middlesex. Its mission is to deliver human intelligence and information, services and force elements in order to support the achievement of defence objectives.

The DHO is a Tri-Service MOD organisation that provides specialist support to military operations. The DHO manages strategic aspects of defence human intelligence and is under command of a Colonel. The DHO consists of 350 staff who are drawn from across the three services.

Contact us

Elmwood Avenue,
TW13 7AH

Telephone: 020 8818 2160 Fax: 020 8818 2246 email: icg-dhohqripacoord

Joint Aeronautical and Geospatial Organisation

The Joint Aeronautical and Geographic Organisation (JAGO) comprises a headquarters and two units: 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic) and No.1 Aeronautical Information and Documentation Unit (AIDU). JAGO role is to provide deployed geographic support, both in overseas theatres of operation and within the UK.

Geographic support

Geographic support covers a wide range of areas, these are:

  • provision of geographic advice
  • acquisition and creation of data
  • management of geographic data
  • terrain analysis
  • geographic information presentation
  • geographic information production
  • geographic information dissemination
  • geographic system support

Whilst it is the officers and soldiers that actually deploy, there is an important role for the civilian staff. Their support is equally wide ranging: some provide continuity and longer term technical expertise. Others provide administrative support, teaching skills and a range of vital activities including driving, storekeeping and catering support to name but a few. Some of the civilian staff are civil servants whilst others are employed by contractors; irrespective of employer, each contributes to the running of JAGO.

The delivery of field geographic support is, therefore, very much a team effort in which everybody has a part to play. Each brings his or her own specific skills that combine together to form an important capability for UK defence that ensures that both the knowledge of the ground and of how it impacts on operations is well understood. In turn, this supports better decision making and, ultimately, maximises operational success.

Royal School of Military Survey

The Royal School of Military Survey (RSMS) is co-located with JAGO at Hermitage. RSMS continues to operate effectively under the command structure of Defence Intelligence Security Centre (DISC). In January 2008 RSMS reorganised into three Training Delivery Wings (TDWs) to meet the new training commitment: Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) at Chicksands in Bedfordshire, and in Hermitage the Geospatial Exploitation (GE) and Geospatial Information Management (GIM) Wings. The TDWs are well supported by the Training Policy and Management Departments and the Student Management Departments at their respective locations.

Training delivery to Military Engineer (ME) (Geo) soldiers is based on the key functions of the collection, processing, management, exploitation and dissemination of geospatial information in support of defence. TDWs also deliver training to a variety of All Arms courses in subjects that include the Map Reading Instructor (MAPRIC), Global Positioning System (GPS) Instructor and Defence Geographic Information System (GIS) courses. Training continues to evolve in line with emerging operational requirements delivered on an ad-hoc basis or through specialist qualifications which are currently in the design stages.

Geospatial Exploitation Wing

The Geospatial Exploitation (GE) Wing soldiers are taught the how to collect geospatial data using the latest digital capture methods including handheld Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), Imagery Exploitation and 3D feature extraction, in-depth analytical techniques using powerful GIS software, 3D Visualisation, and terrain analysis. Together, these subjects are key elements in increasing the knowledge and understanding of military Commanders during their planning process.

Geospatial Information Management Wing

The Geospatial Information Management (GIM) Wing is responsible for the provision of the fundamental principles of map science and cartography, key elements in ensuring the quality of products is of the highest standard. Information management in the modern day is fast becoming a growth area, and in line with defence’s initiatives to work within a network-enabled architecture, system and database management are becoming important skills. Of course, the work of ME (Geo) soldiers is highly regarded and to ensure that the ‘customer’ has the most up-to-date information, efficient and timely dissemination is vital; soldiers are therefore taught digital dissemination techniques using web services, including Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) and JavaScript coding.

Academic Levels

The Royal School of Military Survey (RSMS) provides training and education that meets a variety of accredited academic levels. At masters level a Master of Science (MSc) in Defence Geographic Information accredited by Cranfield University is delivered through the Army Survey Course (ASC). Royal Engineer (Geographic) soldiers receive training that meets ME (Geo) Class 1 and Class 2 qualification requirements. Additionally the training is designed to meet the academic requirements for the award of a Science Foundation Degree (FDSc) in Applied Computing (Defence Geographic Information). This has been developed in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University who continue to accredit the training.

Hermitage Station

JAGO is situated in Hermitage, Berkshire. The collective name for the service community is Hermitage Station.

JAGO is very much a military unit and is organised and operates as such, it is also very much a community which itself sits within the wider local civilian community.

It is important that single soldiers as well as married soldiers and their families have ready access to information and advice across a wide range of topics. This information will be useful not only for those who are already members of our community, but also for new arrivals prior to taking up post.

Headquarters Joint Aeronautical and Geospatial Organisation

HQ JAGO is based at Thatcham, Berkshire and focuses on the development of GEOINT, geospatial and aeronautical in-service capabilities. It provides career and technical management support to relevant service staffs across defence.

There are currently 12 military personnel and 14 civilian staff working in HQ JAGO, which is made up of 5 departments/branches.

Doctrine and plans

Military doctrine articulates the fundamental principles that guide how our military forces conduct their activities; it also serves to underpin our training and preparation. It is authoritative but requires judgement in its application. It is about how operations should be directed, mounted, commanded, conducted, sustained and recovered. It concerns today and the immediate future. It is dynamic and is constantly tested against our wide experience on operations, and against evidence from major exercises.

Doctrine and Plans is part of HQ JAGO and has the responsibility for analysing the future strategic context; assessing the framework within which future capabilities and force structures will develop; providing concepts, doctrine and plans to guide the development of future capability and Joint doctrine to guide RE (Geo) in the conduct of operations.

Training Branch

Training Branch ensure the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of training of all RE (Geo) officers and soldiers on behalf of the Commander JAGO through the application of the Defence Systems Approach to Training (DSAT) and within the framework of Army Training policy, under the following functional areas:

  • job analysis and job specification
  • external validation of courses conducted by RSMS
  • training needs analysis
  • training quality assurance
  • define entry standards for all RE (Geo) Technicians
  • develop and maintain Continuous Professional Development (CPD) mechanisms, including accreditation of courses with external organisations, such as Cranfield University, Sheffield

Hallam University and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors:

  • provide first line training support, advice and consultancy on all aspects of geographic training in the Regular Army, on behalf of Commander JAGO
  • maintain working links with mainstream RE staff to ensure appropriate RE (Geo) input into wider Corps training policy matters, through committees such as the RE Training and Employments Committee and the Training Issues Working Group
  • support MOD requirements for the prioritisation and justification of the use of training resources within the Royal School of Military Survey through the Customer Executive Board (Geographic Training)
  • develop and maintain a recruiting plan for RE (Geo) soldiers, and management of a JAGO recruiting team
  • undertake aptitude testing of all potential RE (Geo) Technicians
  • provide resettlement services for all military personnel at Hermitage Station

Establishment and manning

JAGO currently has a total of approximately 430 personnel, both military and civilian. The Establishment and Manning office (Estab & Man) is responsible for the career management of not only personnel at JAGO, but is also responsible for all RE (Geo) officers and soldiers at over 120 established posts in 45 different locations worldwide.

The SO2 and Regt Career Management Officer, in liaison with the Army Personnel Centre Combat Support RE deliver the key role of Estab & Man, the provision of career advice for all RE (Geo) officers and soldiers and the soldiers of other cap badges while serving with JAGO less the AGC (SPS). This includes postings, career course loading and ensuring reports are submitted for selection and promotion boards in liaison with unit management.

The RO2 is the ‘establishment adviser’ for all ICG single service establishments and overviews all establishments to which there are Geo personnel attached. The RO2 is also the ‘equipment sponsor’ for all JAGO equipment tables.

In addition, the department oversees civilian training, recruitment, investors in people, performance management procedures and the Human Resources Management System (HRMS).

Business management

No matter what job a person, service or civilian may be filling within JAGO that person is expected to have an awareness of the financial process since it influences virtually every decision that is made.

MOD has an annual cash budget of some £35 billion of which JAGO receives approximately £24 million. The £24 million is for all JAGO organisations, JAGO HQ, 42 Engr Regt (GEO) and AIDU, and covers items such as salaries and allowances, accommodation and messing, stores, running of the estate, travel and subsistence and miscellaneous items. Each of these items is controlled by budget managers who ensure that the funds are spent correctly. The budget managers report directly to Commander JAGO through the business management department that is responsible for the detailed accounting arrangements. They are also responsible for the longer term financial planning and the management of the in year funds allocated. They ensure that over the planning period (4 years) JAGO have the right amount of finance required and that JAGO remain within allocation when the in year funding is given.

Capabilities development

The JAGO Capability Development (CapDev) team is primarily responsible to the Commander for the provision and maintenance of operational geospatial exploitation capability. It is also responsible for the development of military geospatial capability to meet endorsed doctrine and vision. This is usually accomplished by the exploitation of Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) hardware and software for use within secure networks in the deployed space. The aim is to collect, process, store, manage, exploit, and disseminate geospatial information and intelligence to UK defence, other government departments, and allied military forces on operations.

Contact us

Headquarters Joint Aeronautical and Geospatial Organisation
Denison Barracks
RG18 9TP

Telephone: 01635 204 288

No1 Aeronautical Information Documents Unit

No 1 Aeronautical Information Documents Unit (No 1 AIDU) has a mission to deliver all aeronautical information products and services to UK defence through production, partnering or acquisition to support the achievement of defence objectives.

Quality assurance

No 1 AIDU works to very strict guidelines covering all aspects of our product from the gathering of aeronautical information, the compilation and production of that information, to the procurement of materials and dissemination of the final product.

Since 1999 the unit has continually held a certificate of excellence from the British Standards Institute for compliance with EN ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, currently the 2008 standard. In addition, No 1 AIDU has ED76 accreditation; the European Directive governing all electronically gathered and produced aeronautical data.

Publications and charts

Find out about our publications and charts in the AIDU products and services catalogue.

Web services: MilFLIP

MilFLIP provides authorised customers with secure internet access to the AIDU product catalogue and web services. Find out more and how to access it in our MilFLIP information and service request user guide.

Contact us

No1 Aeronautical Information Documents Unit
Royal Air Force Northolt
West End Road
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44(0)20 8833 8209/8587


Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre

DGIFC Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre (formerly JARIC (Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre)) is based at RAF Brampton in Cambridgeshire. Role part of the Joint Forces Intelligence Group (JFIG) within the Defence Intelligence. DGIFC’s primary role is to support Defence Planning, current operations and the intelligence assessment process.

DGIFC’s role is to provide specialist, advanced imagery intelligence to the armed forces and other intelligence partners through the exploitation of satellite imaging systems in addition to airborne and ground-based collection systems.

The team at DGIFC use these sources together with advanced technologies to provide regional intelligence assessments and contribute to national strategic projections.

JARIC is a joint service and civilian organisation under the command of an RAF Group Captain (Currently Gp Capt Steven Thornber MA BSc (Hons)). Based at RAF Brampton, the unit is currently established for over 500 posts of which half are civilian.

DGIFC is the UK’s prime provider of imagery intelligence and the UK’s only Satellite Imagery Exploitation Unit. Although initially established to provide strategic intelligence for the needs of the British Government, its role has evolved from the more traditional photographic analysis to encompass more technical intelligence disciplines such as:

IMINT (IMagery INTelligence). IMINT is an intelligence gathering discipline which collects information via satellite and aerial photography. DGIFC is involved in all aspects of imagery analysis from basic activity reporting to advanced scientific-based MASINT analysis MASINT (Measurement And Signature INTelligence). MASINT is scientific and technical intelligence derived from the analysis of data obtained from sensing instruments for the purpose of identifying any distinctive features associated with the source, emitter or sender, to facilitate the latter’s measurement and identification.

DGIFC is the UK’s only provider of ‘imagery derived MASINT’ otherwise known as AGI or Advanced Geospatial Intelligence GEOINT (GEOspatial INTelligence). GEOINT is an intelligence discipline comprising the exploitation and analysis of geographically determined information. GEOINT sources include imagery and mapping data, whether collected by commercial or military satellites, or by other capabilities such as UAV (Unmanned Airborne Vehicle) or reconnaissance aircraft


Following a series of successful covert air reconnaissance operations run by the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) prior to World War II, the Photographic Development Unit (PDU) was established on 19th January 1940 (Codenamed MI4) and later renamed Photographic Interpretation Unit (PIU) on 11th July 1940.

Through a series of War Ministry reorganisations the PIU was renamed the Central Interpretation Unit (CIU) on 7th January 1941 and changed again to the Joint Air Photographic Intelligence centre (UK) JAPIC[UK] in August 1947.

On 17th December 1953 the unit was given the name of Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre [UK] - JARIC[UK].

The JARIC Photographic Wing moved to Brampton near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire from locations at Medmenham, Wyton and Wembley in 1956 where they were joined by the Joint School of Photographic Interpretation (JSPI) in December.

In 1980 the (UK) was dropped from the name to reflect the closing of the Cyprus based JARIC(NE) in April 1975.

On 19th April 1996 the unit ceased to fall under operational control of the Royal Air Force and became an agency under the operational control of the Director General Intelligence and Geographic Requirements (now Director General Intelligence Collection), taking a more centralised government role within the Ministry of Defence.

On 1st April 2000 the unit stopped functioning as an independent agency and merged with Military Survey into the Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency (DGIA).

On the 10th October 2005 the JARIC name ceased to be an acronym to reflect the fact that its sources of imagery had shifted away from those provided by UK Air Reconnaissance platforms to be predominantly satellite imagery based.

The descriptor ‘The National Imagery Exploitation Centre’ was added to the JARIC title to better explain JARIC’s role, not just within the Ministry of Defence but within the wider UK intelligence community.

On 10th June 2006, DGI (as it became after agency status was removed) was renamed the Intelligence Collection Group (ICG) and, after moving under the Joint Forces Command (JFC) on 1st April 2012, was renamed to Joint Forces Intelligence Group (JFIG) which comprised of the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC) based at Feltham, Middlesex, the Joint Signals Support Organisation (JSSO), based at RAF Digby, the Joint Aeronautical and Geographic Organisation (JAGO) at Hermitage and RAF Northolt and JARIC-The National Imagery Exploitation Centre based at RAF Brampton.

On 13 July 2012, after the formal retiring of the title JARIC, the unit was renamed the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre (DGIFC).

Joint Service Signals Organisation

Joint Service Signals Organisation (JSSO) is located at RAF Digby in Lincolnshire. Its mission is to deliver support to military operations

The JSSO is a tri-service MOD organisation that provides specialist support to military operations. As part of its role the JSSO conducts research into new communications systems and techniques in order to provide operational support to static and deployed MOD units.

The JSSO is under the command of a Group Captain of the RAF Operations Support Branch and has 1,600 staff which are drawn from all three services.

Career opportunities with JFIG

JFIG is a diverse organisation, with 5 distinct branches throughout the UK. We are regularly on the lookout for well rounded self starters with initiative, flexibility and the interpersonal skills to succeed both as an individual and a team player, talented men and women who relish challenge.

In return, you can look forward to a career that offers enormous scope for personal and professional development across a broad spectrum of disciplines, from administrative and business management roles, right through to specialist roles such as Geospatial Analysts and Imagery Analysts. Every vacancy offers a platform for a future with a world renowned organisation.

We are keen to attract the best people for the job, and make the best use of all our staff by ensuring that they are well motivated and given every opportunity to develop and progress.

As part of the MOD, JFIG is an equal opportunities employer. The success of the organisation depends on the calibre, commitment and behaviour of the people whom it employs.

Information on current vacancies across JFIG can be found via the Civil Service Jobs website, after selecting ‘Job Search’ select and then by either selecting ‘Defence Intelligence’ or by typing in the requisition number in the ‘Search Text’ box.

Advertisements are also placed in the national, specialist, professional and local press.

Defence Geographic Centre’s (DGC) Defence Intelligence (DI) Ministry of Defence (MOD) Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence (DCDI) Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) Joint Service Signals Organisation (JSSO) Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Intelligence Capabilities) (ACDS(IC)

Flight Information Publications (FLIPs)

Updates to this page

Published 12 December 2012

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