With Spring well and truly arrived and the potential of a less restrictive Summer ahead, there are new beginnings everywhere in Training Wing with new personalities and new ideas in Regiment Training Squadrons (RTS). Here we take a look at the latest batch of Regiment Officers and Further Training (FT) 1 Students in RTS(A), and for Training Support Squadron (TSS) we take a look at RAF Regiment Recruitment and Selection Flight (RRRSF) where many careers begin with a particular focus upon Exercise FIRST LOOK.
TRAINING SUPPORT SQUADRON
One of the many outputs of TSS is the delivery of both the Potential Gunner Selection Course (PGSC) and Potential Regiment Officer Course (PROC). Delivered by RRRSF inspire these courses select future RAF Regiment Gunners and Officers. With input from Career Managers, Training Pipeline Management and even Occupational Psychologists, RRRSF were given the task of producing an exercise that gives a realistic job preview. The aim being to increase candidates’ chances of success in training by letting them know what to expect, enabling them to make an informed decision and giving them a clear goal to work towards. The result, Exercise FIRST LOOK now provides candidates with early exposure to military training, the Complex Air Ground Environment (CAGE) and the equipment they will use during training. At this stage many candidates will have had no previous military experience.
Exercise FIRST LOOK is only one element of the PGSC and PROC. Candidates who commence the Exercise phase have already completed the RAF Regiment Recruitment Fitness Assessments and swim test. Kitted out with PCS jackets and bergens containing a sleeping bag, roll mat, mess-tins and cold/wet weather kit, candidates commence the Exercise with an introduction to patrolling (Old and bold fear not, green coveralls and numbered vests still make regular appearances throughout the Course). To get acquainted with patrolling, candidates move tactically from Training Wing to the CAGE training area equipped with a dummy L85A2 rifle. A full day’s activity follows with candidates receiving lessons on military field craft, watching demonstrations of FP operations in the CAGE and then conducting a battle lesson covering tactical movement which culminates in a team competition to build esprit de corps. In the evening, candidates get their first introduction to weapons and specialist equipment that they will become very familiar with when they return to Honington. Evening meal is an introduction to cooking and eating the 24 hour ration pack and the exercise concludes with a patrol action in the CAGE before night routine is adopted.
Those that are successful on Exercise FIRST LOOK and the course, are awarded a single RAF Regiment Shoulder Flash, the ‘Mudguard’, to keep with them through training as an incentive to earn the matching one! For many, this experience has provided them with the first opportunity to immerse themselves in a military environment and gives an insight into the role of the RAF Regiment and the demands of training. Feedback has been very positive, candidates are better informed, have an earlier sense of purpose and pride, with the aspiration that this will increase success through their training and careers beyond.
Regiment Training Squadron Basic- RTS(B) Bastion Squadron
New beginnings for Bastion Squadron as it said goodbye to the Deputy Squadron Commander, Flt Lt Richard O’Rourke and Officer Commanding, Sqn Ldr Chris Garton. Flt Lt O’Rourke has moved into a Staff Appointment in 2Gp HQ Team and Sqn Ldr Garton retired from the RAF after 22 years impeccable service. Covid-19 restrictions meant that large scale top tables weren’t possible, so a much smaller, more intimate (but still socially distanced) farewell among the Sqn Execs was the order of the day.
Juno Flight has continued to receive new intakes of students, fresh from RAF Halton and ready to start the Trainee Gunner (TG) course. Ever mindful of the complexities of Covid restrictions and the need to keep newly arrived students engaged, Cpl Fleming has displayed his technical skills, designing a bespoke online learning package for TGs to conduct distance learning even if a period of precautionary isolation is required. He diligently produced several user-friendly web pages for self-study consisting of RAF Regiment History, an online TG Handbook and useful lessons which TGs can continue to refer to in their own time to refresh their knowledge and skills.
With new leadership (building on the hard work of the old), the sun beginning to shine and the promise easing of Covid-19 measures, a wave of positivity is flowing through the Squadron. Continual Technological Innovation, continuous improvement, and planning for a social event when possible, are all in the pipeline for the coming months.
Regiment Training Squadron Advanced- RTS(A) Al-Waki Sqn
RTS(A) continues to work hard to deliver its many varied courses through Covid mitigation measures to ensure a high standard of training and provide capable and combat ready Gunners back to the Force Protection Force.
You may recall that when the Spring edition of the Honington Herald went to print the Further Training Team (FTT) were still putting future Sgts through their paces on a snow covered Stanford Training Area (STANTA). Twenty-five of them finally graduated, a fantastic achievement from what is a thoroughly challenging course even for experienced NCOs. They return to their units with the skills and qualifications to be selected for promotion to Sgt. Almost without a pause in between, the FTT went straight into running an FT1 and by the end of March, 30 SACs had met the standard required to be a LCpl and Section 2 i/c. Having passed the FT1, the students were then handed over to the Specialist Courses Team who put them training to enable them to safely supervise live firing marksmanship training and plan and conduct battle exercises.
Specialist Courses also held a 2-week RAF Regiment Reserves course in the CAGE Training Facility for Auxiliary Gunners, NCOs, and SNCOs to gain the necessary skills to progress in their Reservist careers. From reserves to parachutists Specialist Courses (ably assisted by Training Support Squadron’s Formal PEd Flight under the watchful eye of WO Luxon) put 32 candidates through the gruelling 3-week Pre-parachutist selection course. After 3 weeks 15 remained who can now go on to earn their wings and serve on Airborne units.
It’s been over 6 months since the Officers of Junior Regiment Officer Course 125 arrived at Training Wing and on 8th April, the 9 successful graduates were wearing their mudguards with immense pride. The course spent over 11 weeks in the field and went through every stage of tactical and command training from individual skills to commanding an entire flight. Covid restrictions meant that their graduation was an unusual one, but a visit by Commandant of RAF College Cranwell Air Commodore Suraya Marshall, along with video messages from families and former Chief of the Air Staff, Honorary Air Commodore of the RAF Regiment Sir Stephen Dalton still made it a special day.
As we head towards a the promise of a Summer with fewer Covid restrictions Training Wing will undoubtedly continue to do what it has done throughout the pandemic without pause: innovate, adapt and work hard to equip gunners and officers with the skills required by the Force Protection Force. The Summer will see new leadership, shiny new bits of Technology Enhanced Learning kit and hopefully a return to graduation parades with families in attendance.