Armed Forces Day 2018
News article - 30 June 2018
Steve is a senior military officer working at GCHQ
It's week three for me in my new role at GCHQ but Year 30 for my time in the RAF! Joining any new organisation can be a bit intimidating but I've been made to feel really welcome in this vibrant working environment and have been struck by the incredible diversity of people who work here at GCHQ. Everyone is valued for what they contribute and there is a genuine sense of doing a worthwhile job at the heart our nation's security.
Saturday 30th June marks Armed Forces Day, with many events around the UK. As well as raising awareness, it provides an opportunity for the nation to show appreciation to the military for the selfless duty and sacrifice in protecting our nation and interests.
I count myself very lucky to have spent much of that in a fast-jet fulfilling what, for me and I suspect many others, was a childhood dream. There have, of course been moments of tension, critical decision-making under pressure, elation at a difficult task fulfilled and occasional sadness at the loss of colleagues. There has also been an awareness of the strain on families. But throughout it all there has been an overwhelming sense of teamwork and absolute faith in the knowledge of doing an important duty that is critical to our nation's interests. The same ethos and values holds true for GCHQ.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the RAF and the flypast in London on 10th July will be quite an amazing celebration for anyone able to be in the capital that day. Next year also marks the 100th anniversary of GCHQ. The links between the military and GCHQ are richly woven into our history and form an important part of our role here today. Thinking back to my time in cockpit, including over 250 operational missions in many different countries, I probably did not appreciate at the time the level of dependency between the two organisations. Intelligence, cryptography, navigational systems, guidance systems and increasingly cyber capabilities to name a few are critical to the military's ability to act on behalf of the nation. I would not have been able to communicate securely, complete reconnaissance missions, track and - when necessary - engage authorised targets without the work of GCHQ and the broader intelligence community. Technology has changed significantly in my time, not least around the fidelity of our reconnaissance capabilities and the pin-point precision of our strike capabilities. Yet the rate of that change is increasing exponentially.
I'm really looking forward to being a part of this dynamic organisation where the brilliance of our people and application of world-class technology can - and does - make a real difference. The opportunities are endless, limited only by our imagination and creativity in pursuit of our common goal - to keep our nation safe.