• Supporting Reserve Forces and Cadets in the South East

    Reserves & Cadets
  1. Taking on the British Weather - from Radiant Sunshine to Gale Force Winds

    Taking on the British Weather - from Radiant Sunshine to Gale Force Winds

    Members of the Waterloo Band & Bugles of The Rifles put down their instruments this autumn for two weekends of their Adventure Trai...

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    Taking on the British Weather - from Radiant Sunshine to Gale Force Winds

    Taking on the British Weather - from Radiant Sunshine to Gale Force Winds

    Taking on the British Weather - from Radiant Sunshine to Gale Force Winds

    Members of the Waterloo Band & Bugles of The Rifles put down their instruments this autumn for two weekends of their Adventure Training. Their choice of weapon – a 34ft yacht chartered from the Joint Services Adventure Sail Training Centre (JSASTC).

    The two expeditions were organised by Musician Steph Hicks who recently completed her Day Skipper qualification at JSASTC. She bravely offered to take out two groups of novices with a sense of blissful optimism about teaching them to sail in the space of two days. What could go wrong?!

    With their beady eyes on the weather forecast, the crew arrived for each expedition awaiting the verdict on whether we would be able to sail. In true British fashion, the weather chose to throw at us the two situations in which sailing is most difficult – the blissful calm of a heat wave and the howling gales of a storm warning.  The conditions couldn’t have been more of a contrast!

     In September the crew arrived in shorts, clutching their speedos and fishing gear. Despite dubious looks from the Skipper, the weather was in fact calm enough for a dip in the Solent and some mackerel fishing off the back of the boat. The crew can take full credit for trying their best to blow some wind into the sails, but to no avail.

    In October the crew arrived in their fleeces and waterproofs, desperately trying to stay upright as the wind was blowing them sideways off the pontoon. After motoring out into the Solent to get a taste of the conditions we settled on sailing in the relative shelter of Portsmouth harbour with a storm sail equivalent to a large handkerchief. As we picked up the pace with our storm sail the crew began to understand why the Skipper had vetoed anything larger.

    So what went wrong? Well, nothing really! The aim of Adventure Training is to push people out of their comfort zone and build up their team-working skills – the crew certainly achieved that. Thankfully they also remembered to pack their sense of humour, no-one was left flailing in the waves of the Solent and we successfully navigated our way around the busiest waterway in Europe. Not only did both crews come on leaps and bounds in their sailing skills within boundaries of contrasting weather conditions, but they took on the challenge with enthusiasm and a spirit of adventure.

    Musician Steph Hicks, Waterloo Band & Bugles of The Rifles

  2. RAF BRIZE NORTON reservists train for coronavirus testing

    RAF BRIZE NORTON reservists train for coronavirus testing

    Royal Air Force Reservists from...

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    RAF BRIZE NORTON reservists train for coronavirus testing

    RAF BRIZE NORTON reservists train for coronavirus testing

    RAF BRIZE NORTON reservists train for coronavirus testing

    Royal Air Force Reservists from 501 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton have been working with the Irish Guards to support testing for the Coronavirus.

     

    The 21 personnel from 501 Squadron, have joined with two other RAuxAF Sqns to form teams of 12 personnel, and have learnt how to set up a mobile testing unit and safely test members of the public for the Coronavirus. This is a significant change for 501 Squadron, whose primary role is the recruitment, training and deployment of RAF drivers, suppliers and chefs.

     

    The training involved both practical and theoretical elements including learning how to filter traffic, the correct use of personal protective equipment and communicating with members of the public. Training culminated in a complete run-through of how a mobile testing unit is set up and run.

     

    Sqn Ldr Andy Marshall is Officer Commanding 501 Squadron. He said: “This is a unique opportunity for reservist personnel. They have demonstrated an amazing willingness to volunteer and assist keyworkers with this essential task and I am incredibly proud of them.”

     

    501 Squadron is one of the four Reserve squadrons within the RAF's A4 Force Elements. The others are 4624 (County of Oxford) Squadron based at RAF Brize Norton, 504 (County of Nottingham) Squadron based at RAF Wittering and 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron based at RAF Cosford.

     

    Commanding Officer of the A4 Force Elements, and Station Commander RAF Wittering,

    Group Captain Jo Lincoln said: “I am so proud of our Reservists. Running a mobile testing unit safely requires discipline, thoughtfulness, and an ability to reassure and relate to the people who are being tested. I know they will do a great job.”

  3. 151 Regiment RLC - Promotion

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    151 Regiment RLC - Promotion

    151 Regiment RLC - Promotion

    151 Regiment RLC is pleased to announce the promotion of Reservist Simon Matthews. Simon 42, who is an Advertising Director in his civilian life, joined the Army Reserve in November 2011. Trained as an RLC Driver and then later completing Command Leadership Management Training, he has been serving as a Section Commander, before recently being selected for promotion to Sergeant.

    When presented with his new rank slide by the Commanding Officer, Simon said: “The Army Reserves has given me the confidence to do things I never thought possible. The opportunities are endless and the leadership skills I have learnt have helped me in my civilian job”.

     

    Simon now takes up the appointment of Troop Sgt at 124 Transport Squadron and feels excited to embrace the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

  4. Brompton Academy CCF – Experience

    Brompton Academy CCF – Experience

     

    ...
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    Brompton Academy CCF – Experience

    Brompton Academy CCF – Experience

    Brompton Academy CCF – Experience

     

    I signed up to the Brompton Academy CCF in mid-2014; I was only 13 at the time. I joined seeking new experiences, challenges, discipline and also to have some fun with my mates. Starting cadets was obviously a bit intimidating at the start, being surrounded by senior cadets and soldiers (Full time, Reserve & ex-forces).

    However, over the 5 ½ years as a cadet, being surrounded by these people i.e Capt. Knight, Capt Loughrey and many other fantastic instructors on the training team, I have been able to grow into the person I am today. They allowed me to build my confidence through promotion; allowing me to teach other new cadets and stand up in front of a class and give a lesson or presentation; whereas when I first started I was a stuttering mess. I also took part on many field exercises and annual camps, providing me with brilliant leadership skills, field craft/survival skills, weapon handling; and many others that I am still grateful for learning to this day.

    So what am I doing now? Well currently I am a Phase 2 Trainee soldier at the 11th (Royal School of Signals) Signals Regiment in Blandford; working my way to becoming a Communications Systems Engineer as a Lance Corporal in the Field Army. Every skill I have learned throughout cadets has helped me reach this point in my career and certainly helped me have an advantage over other recruits in basic training who hadn’t learnt this skills before.

    - Keane Smirthwaite

  5. Senior Aircraftwoman Geetha Ramesh supports the UK Military’s Response to COVID-19

    Senior Aircraftwoman Geetha Ramesh supports the UK Military’s Response to COVID-19

     

    UNPRECEDENTED times call for unpreceden...

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    Senior Aircraftwoman Geetha Ramesh supports the UK Military’s Response to COVID-19

    Senior Aircraftwoman Geetha Ramesh supports the UK Military’s Response to COVID-19

    Senior Aircraftwoman Geetha Ramesh supports the UK Military’s Response to COVID-19

     

    UNPRECEDENTED times call for unprecedented measures and none more so than the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.  From a UK perspective, where the NHS usually supports the Armed Forces in times of crisis, currently it is the Armed Forces providing essential support to key workers on the front line.  Operation RESCRIPT is the UK military’s response to the pandemic and includes the mobilisation of Royal Air Force Reservist personnel.

    Based at RAF Brize Norton, No. 4624 (County of Oxford) Squadron is the only Movements squadron within the Reserves and normally employs its specialist personnel to handle and move freight and passengers worldwide.  A busy squadron providing ongoing support to enduring operations worldwide, it has stepped outside of its usual role to mobilise 22 Reservists for Operation RESCRIPT within a very short timescale.  Initially held on 48 hours stand-by as part of the high-readiness contingency force, an element of the wider RAF contribution to MOD support to the NHS, 20 personnel have recently assumed responsibility for mobile testing in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire working alongside personnel from 606 Sqn, RAF Benson.

    Senior Aircraftwoman Geetha Ramesh, who works for Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs as an Intelligence Development Officer, volunteered to be mobilised and is currently deployed as part of one of the numerous Mobile Testing teams working on a daily basis around the three counties.  She joined the RAF Reserves in 2017 and Operation RESCRIPT is her first mobilisation. Geetha said: “As soon as I heard from the Squadron that they were seeking volunteers for COVID-19 operations, I consulted my managers in HMRC, who were very supportive with my intention to assist during the difficult pandemic times. I also cancelled my pre-booked holiday and organised domestic matters swiftly as I did not want to miss the opportunity to render my services to the nation.  I feel satisfied and proud that I am a little drop in the mighty ocean of selfless people helping the country to overcome this disaster”.

  6. New Deputy Commander 11 Infantry Brigade

    SERFCA sends a warm welcome to the new Deputy Commander for 11 Infantry Brigade and HQ South East. Colonel John Baynham was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion the Queen’s Regiment in Canterbury 1991. Colonel Baynham has also spent a large part of his Army career in the 3rd Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment!

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    New Deputy Commander 11 Infantry Brigade

    New Deputy Commander 11 Infantry Brigade

    SERFCA sends a warm welcome to the new Deputy Commander for 11 Infantry Brigade and HQ South East. Colonel John Baynham was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion the Queen’s Regiment in Canterbury 1991. Colonel Baynham has also spent a large part of his Army career in the 3rd Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment!

     

    Colonel John Baynham was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion the Queen's Regiment in Canterbury in 1991. As a platoon commander, he completed two tours of Northern Ireland, a humanitarian mission to Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide, a Falklands tour and during which time the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (PWRR) was formed. In 1995 he passed P-Company, parachute training and the All Arms Commando Course in preparation for a two-year exchange post with 40 Commando Royal Marines. Whilst attached to 40 Commando in Taunton, he returned to Northern Ireland as a Company Operations Officer and undertook a seven-month amphibious deployment to the Far East, passing the Jungle Warfare Instructors Course with distinction. He then ran a company jungle warfare school in Brunei and exercised in Malaysia and South Africa.

     

    In 1998 he was posted to 3 PWRR and returned to Canterbury as Adjutant. He then moved to Cyprus as SO3 J2/J3 Operations in the Headquarters of the Western Sovereign Base Area. On promotion to Major, he returned to 2 PWRR as Officer Commanding A Company, deploying to Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Canada and his first tour of Iraq including employment across Southern Iraq and Baghdad. Following company command, he moved to Germany as SO2 Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Surveillance (ISTAR) within Headquarters 20th Armoured Brigade. He deployed to Poland for three months and returned to Iraq as the Brigade Intelligence Officer. After a one-year tour running the Iraq pre-deployment training at the Operational Training and Advisory Group, he returned to Paderborn as Second-in-Command of 1 PWRR. Due to the dispersal of the Battalion across Iraq and Afghanistan, his third tour of Iraq saw him return to the 20th Armoured Brigade Headquarters as the Intelligence and Targeting officer. On return from Iraq, the Battalion deployed to BATUS in Canada.

     

    As SO2 Infantry with the Combined Arms Tactical Trainer in Sennelager, he was employed as part of the 1 (UK) Armoured Division core writing team delivering Afghanistan pre-deployment training for HQ 3 Commando Brigade and HQ 20th Armoured Brigade. On promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, he attended the Advanced Command and Staff Course at Shrivenham and completed a Masters degree in Defence Studies before assuming command of 3rd Battalion PWRR. During his command the Battalion deployed troops on operations to Afghanistan and with the UN in Cyprus and exercised in Spain, Kenya and Cyprus. As SO1 Stabilisation in Warfare Branch, he was the author of Army Field Manual Tactics for Stability Operations. He assumed the role of Chief of Staff Collective Training Group in May 2017. On promotion to Colonel, he was selected to become Commander British Forces Somalia and the Commander of Operation TANGHAM. He is currently the Deputy Commander of 11 Infantry Brigade.

     

    Colonel Baynham is married to Dawn, they have two children, Jessie (17) and Tommy (15).

  7. A Personal Account of Hurricane Dorian By Pte Eastlake.

    A Personal Account of Hurricane Dorian By Pte Eastlake.

     

    My name is Private Eastlake. I am a reserve Royal Logistics Corps Mariner Class 3 from 165 Port & Maritime Regiment, 266 Port Squadron. At the time of writing this I am deployed with our regular sister regiment, 17 Port & Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps, aboard RFA Mounts Bay as part of Atlantic Patrol Task (North). Our role here is to provide Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief to the islands of the Caribbean during hurricane season. It is a six month deployment and my role is part of the Mexeflote crew. Mexeflote is the name given to a series of linked pontoons which in its standard configuration forms an 18 cell raft. Mexeflotes are responsible for transporting stores, personnel and equipment from ship to ship, ship to shore or shore to ship. With two Thrustmaster 5.9L straight 6 turbo diesel engines, it has a max peacetime payload of 110 Tons. The Mexeflote is controlled and navigated with h...

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    A Personal Account of Hurricane Dorian By Pte Eastlake.

    A Personal Account of Hurricane Dorian By Pte Eastlake.

    A Personal Account of Hurricane Dorian By Pte Eastlake.

     

    My name is Private Eastlake. I am a reserve Royal Logistics Corps Mariner Class 3 from 165 Port & Maritime Regiment, 266 Port Squadron. At the time of writing this I am deployed with our regular sister regiment, 17 Port & Maritime Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps, aboard RFA Mounts Bay as part of Atlantic Patrol Task (North). Our role here is to provide Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief to the islands of the Caribbean during hurricane season. It is a six month deployment and my role is part of the Mexeflote crew. Mexeflote is the name given to a series of linked pontoons which in its standard configuration forms an 18 cell raft. Mexeflotes are responsible for transporting stores, personnel and equipment from ship to ship, ship to shore or shore to ship. With two Thrustmaster 5.9L straight 6 turbo diesel engines, it has a max peacetime payload of 110 Tons. The Mexeflote is controlled and navigated with hand signals given to the engineers who work the two engines (top right, at the helm of the Mexe alongside the coxswain who has a hand held GPS).

    When Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands, it caused massive devastation. Hurricane Dorian was the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the North Atlantic, and it was very slow moving, so it took a very long time to pass over the islands resulting in catastrophic damage. (Left, taken from the ships helicopter, the damage caused to Great Abaco. Barely a building left standing as far as the eye can see). Within hours of the hurricane moving away form the islands, and back out to sea this was the first area we were able to respond to.

     

    Arriving at Marsh Harbour, (left), it was immediately clear just how much damage had been caused by Hurricane Dorian. Damage, destruction and death on a level I and many of our crew had never witnessed before. It immediately became clear just how desperate the survivors were for the aid we were able to offer. There was little of no fresh water available, limited medical supplies and little shelter available, so our first run ashore consisted mainly of these items. For many of my Mexe crew and I this was the first time we had ever used the Mexe outside of a training environment, and initially it seemed exciting, as though we were embarking on an adventure into unfamiliar waters. Within minutes of landing in this first area however it dawned on all of us just how serious a situation we were faced with. These people who remained on the islands had lost everything, and to a certain degree their survival now depended on us and the aid we could deliver. The general feeling changed immediately from one of excitement and adventure, to one of an extreme need to help these survivors in whatever way we could.

     

    Our next priority was to land ashore HADR Troop (Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief, comprising of Commando Engineers from the Royal Engineers and Royal Marines), so they could begin clearing roads with their heavy plant and other equipment, allowing the local emergency services to start to work, and to restore power by use of mobile generators to essential buildings i.e. the local medical centre and local morgue. A suitable beach, Treasure Cay, was chosen for the landing, but as there was no hard slipway to land them we deployed with our Port Operators

     and their track way so they could make a temporary slipway on the beach (left and below).

     

    Shortly after returning to the ship, reports started to arrive of an island, Little Abaco, that had been cut off from the main island as the bridge was down due to the hurricane. These people were in desperate need of help, having gone several days now with no fresh water at all, and limited medical supplies. Once again we swung into action. We had a limited supply of bottled water on board the ship, however the ship is capable of producing its own fresh water and the pipe (message over the ships tannoy) was made. The Captain explaining how desperate these people were, and their now critical need for fresh water. The Captain asked for volunteers to start to fill the soft plastic water containers from any available fresh water outlet aboard the ship, and what happened next was amazing…… for the entire night, it seemed as though every member of the ships crew, regardless of rank and service, was by a water outlet, be it on the flight deck, in the galley, in the bar, anywhere there was a tap, filling containers of water until every container was full. As soon as all containers were full the task of loading the Mexe began again with many of us having had little or no sleep. Usually the job of loading the

    Mexe would be down to our Port Operators, but with so much to be hand balled on, and with us all being aware of just how critical these supplies were, the whole ships company came together once again, regardless of rank and service, and human chains were formed to load whatever couldn’t be loaded using forklifts.

     

    As soon as the Mexe was once again fully loaded we set off for Little Abaco, many of us having been able to grab only a couple of hours sleep if any.

     

    Arriving at Coopers Town, Little Abaco, the destruction caused by the hurricane was once again abundantly clear. As was the need for the supplies of fresh water, medical supplies, temporary shelters and food rations that we had aboard. We had to make a slow and careful approach to the slipway, as the depth of water was inconsistent and there were several underwater obstructions that had to be avoided. Luckily we had a very experienced coxswain in Corporal Keogh who throughout this deployment, always managed to get us where we needed, often in very challenging conditions. Once we were secure to the slip way the task of unloading began.

                                                                          

    Once we had again unloaded the Mexe, which took until dusk, we cast off and headed back for the ship arriving several hours later. While we had been at Little Abaco, another area on the main island had been identified as having a good solid slip way, secure storage area and even a warehouse that had stood up well to the hurricane. The decision was made that we would concentrate on landing the remainder of the ships disaster relief stores here as it would make an ideal distribution hub. HADR Troop was also working their way towards it clearing main roads as they went making it accessible to the islands own emergency services. So once again upon our return to the ship the process of loading continued well into the night with little or no rest for any of us.

     

    Once we were again fully loaded, we departed for what would now be the forth time, leaving the dock of the ship in the very early hours of the morning and heading off into the night. We arrived at our fourth destination an hour or two later, having had a little difficulty in the final approach due to a lateral marker buoy having been ripped from it’s anchorage by the hurricane and being blown up onto the land some distance from it’s original place adding to the challenge of navigating at night on the sea. Having secured to the slipway the task of unloading the Mexe began once again.

     

    The task of unloading carried on through the remainder of the night, past dawn and into the early hours of the morning. (Left, Port Op’s unloading pallets of aid from the Mexe to be deposited in the secure compound). At this point we were under the impression that once unloaded, HADR Troop would have arrived having cleared the way from the location we dropped them at several days earlier, and that we would load them up and return to the ship for a well earned rest. However this was not to be the case. As is often the case in operations on this scale things can change at the last minute, so we were tasked to head back to the ship and reload the Mexe with the last of the relief aid onboard, literally emptying the ship of every last pallet and box of aid and return once more to unload and recover HADR Troop and their equipment.

     

    Having arrived back at the ship and with the very last of the ships relief aid stores loaded we set of for what would be the last trip. To drop of the last of the aid and to recover HADR Troop, along with their equipment back to RFA Mounts Bay.

     

     

    Sailing this time in daylight made the journey considerably easier to navigate, and arriving safely we secured to the slipway and unloaded the remainder of the stores. HADR Troop having now arrived had managed to gain access to the warehouse which had amazingly very little damage. The remainder of the stores were unloaded into the warehouse and the stores dropped the previous night were also moved from the compound to the warehouse for added security. With this task complete all that remained was to load HADR Troop’s plant equipment and vehicles along with our own and set course back to the ship.

    After arriving back at the ship all that remained was to unload the Mexe for the final time and wait for the ship to dock up so the Mexe could be secured and the stern door closed. Although for many of us we had worked almost constantly for the best part of a week with very little sleep, grabbing only an hour here and there as and when we could, getting by on strong coffee and hastily eaten meals, there wasn’t a single one of us who would have complained if we had been asked to go straight back out. Such was the need of the people of the islands we were there to help. I believe we all felt very proud, I know I did, to have been part of such a massive humanitarian aid effort.

  8. COVENANT SIGNING WELCOMES IN ARMED FORCES WEEK

    COVENANT SIGNING WELCOMES IN ARMED FORCES WEEK

     

    HMS Sultan welcomed a visit from the newly elected Mayor of Gosport Councillor Zoe Huggins recently in order to record a special message and sign the Armed Forces Covenant...

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    COVENANT SIGNING WELCOMES IN ARMED FORCES WEEK

    COVENANT SIGNING WELCOMES IN ARMED FORCES WEEK

    COVENANT SIGNING WELCOMES IN ARMED FORCES WEEK

     

    HMS Sultan welcomed a visit from the newly elected Mayor of Gosport Councillor Zoe Huggins recently in order to record a special message and sign the Armed Forces Covenant at the beginning of Armed Forces Week.

     

    Joined by Captain John Voyce OBE the Commanding Officer of HMS Sultan, who also spoke on behalf of the Institute of Naval Medicine, the two representatives from the Royal Navy and Gosport Borough Council Spoke of the significance of the Armed Forces Covenant and importance of the Armed Forces Community.

     

    Capt Voyce said: “As the Commanding Officer of HMS Sultan and on behalf of Surgeon Captain Beth Crowson, the Commanding Officer of the Institute of Naval Medicine, I am honoured to represent the Royal Navy in Gosport on this national occasion, Armed Forces Week 2020.

     

    Both of our establishments, which train officers and ratings in medical and engineering techniques that support the Royal Navy and help protect the UK both here and abroad, are woven into the fabric of Gosport and we are very proud of our close relationships.  We continue to forge that relationship with the local community, with many people who worked in both our establishments, such as Ron Cross MBE our 100-year-old D-Day veteran and through our charity and local engagement projects.

     

    Our links with Gosport were first formally recognised in 1970 when INM was bestowed the Freedom of the Borough and 1974 when HMS Sultan were awarded the same privilege, and so we are delighted that we can continue that close working relationship. I am, therefore, very pleased for this opportunity to sign the Armed Forces Covenant with Gosport Borough Council.

     

    Councillor Zoe Higgins said: “Gosport’s more than 800 years of military history and association brings with it not only a local but a national sense of pride. It is therefore, especially poignant that we have been made welcome here at one of our MOD facilities across the Borough HMS Sultan for this special occasion.

     

    This signing today reaffirms the Council’s commitment to upholding the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant,  noting  the specific pledges as a forces friendly employer in the Defence Employers Recognition Scheme, as a forces friendly employer and service provider, and as a key partner working across the sectors to ensure members of our  armed forces community experience no disadvantage by their connection to the Armed Forces.

     

    In coming together today we, commit to honour the Armed Forces Covenant and support the Armed Forces Community. We recognise the value Serving Personnel, both Regular, Veterans and Reservists and military families that contribute to our business and our country.

     

    To all our members of the Armed Forces Community, we thank you for all that you have done and continue to do and we look forward to working more closely with you.”

     

    The event also saw the Armed Forces Day Flag raised to mark the commencement of Armed Forces week.

  9. ONE ARMY IN ACTION: RESERVISTS FROM 7 RIFLES KEEP THE PEACE ON CYPRUS

    ONE ARMY IN ACTION: RESERVISTS FROM 7 RIFLES KEEP THE PEACE ON CYPRUS

     

    RESERVISTS FROM 7 RIFLES will be marking this year’s Reserves Day by continuing with the job they have been doing for the past three...

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    ONE ARMY IN ACTION: RESERVISTS FROM 7 RIFLES KEEP THE PEACE ON CYPRUS

    ONE ARMY IN ACTION: RESERVISTS FROM 7 RIFLES KEEP THE PEACE ON CYPRUS

    ONE ARMY IN ACTION: RESERVISTS FROM 7 RIFLES KEEP THE PEACE ON CYPRUS

     

    RESERVISTS FROM 7 RIFLES will be marking this year’s Reserves Day by continuing with the job they have been doing for the past three months: keeping the peace on the island of Cyprus as part of the British Army’s largest recent deployment of the Reserves in a single formed unit under its own command.

    The 7 RIFLES Battlegroup deployed to Cyprus in April and will be based in the island’s Buffer Zone, which divides the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, until October.  The troops are tasked with monitoring the activity of both sides to de-escalate tension and to prevent the outbreak of fresh hostilities.  The British Army has maintained a peacekeeping presence on Cyprus since 1964 and took over responsibility for what the United Nations calls ‘Sector Two,’ the area of the island in and around Nicosia, in 1993.  What the British Army calls Op TOSCA sees about 250 personnel police the Buffer Zone for a full operational tour of six months.

    Unlike most past deployments, the current British peacekeeping force is over 90% Reservist.  Around 120 Reservists from 7 RIFLES are deployed, joined by a similarly-sized contingent from 5 FUSILIERS, another Reserve infantry battalion.  The Army Reservists come from all walks of life – from builders, to accountants, to policemen and students – but have chosen to become full-time, Regular soldiers for what will amount to over half the year in the service of their country and the cause of peace.

    ‘This deployment shows that the Army Reserve can take on a full operational tour under its own steam,’ said Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) James Gayner, Commanding Officer of the battlegroup, ‘thereby fulfilling the philosophy of One Army, Regular and Reserve.  TOSCA is an intricate tour.  It demands excellent understanding of what is a complex conflict, diligence, and diplomacy: the kind of nuanced, human skills that are particularly found in the Army Reserve.’

    ‘We deployed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I am particularly proud of the way in which my Riflemen have dealt with the additional challenges of keeping the peace whilst taking all measures necessary to combat coronavirus.’

    Lance Corporal (LCpl) Kevin Eames, a builder from Oxfordshire, said, ‘getting the chance to deploy overseas on an operational tour is one of the reasons I joined the Army Reserve.  Generally, we train for war on weekends and have a two-week exercise every year.  TOSCA sees us keep the peace on the behalf of the international community whilst upholding the British Army’s reputation for total professionalism in the eyes of the world.  Cyprus is a fascinating place, and we will also have some time to explore the island alongside enjoying a week of adventure training.’

    The battlegroup will keep the peace on Cyprus until the autumn, when they will hand-over to another battlegroup formed largely from the Army Reserve led by 6 RIFLES.

  10. Not your average day for an Army Air Corps Reservist

    Not your average day for an Army Air Corps Reservist

     

    Standing on the scorching runway at Gila Bend Air Force Base in the Arizona Desert is a far cry from a 6 Regiment Army Air Corps Lance Corporal’s day job.  Lance Corpora...

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    Not your average day for an Army Air Corps Reservist

    Not your average day for an Army Air Corps Reservist

    Not your average day for an Army Air Corps Reservist

     

    Standing on the scorching runway at Gila Bend Air Force Base in the Arizona Desert is a far cry from a 6 Regiment Army Air Corps Lance Corporal’s day job.  Lance Corporal Natasha Jones works in hospital foundation trusts as the Dietetic Service Lead, where she supervises and manages junior members of her team. A job which has plenty of cross over with her role in the Army Reserves as an Apache Landing point commander where she commands a landing point for attack helicopters to land, refuel and re-arm.

     

    Lance Corporal Jones is currently on a 2-month deployment with the Attack Helicopter Force on Exercise Crimson Eagle in Arizona conducting environmental training and live firing. She is working with her Regular counterparts as part of a 6-man team to ensure the helicopters land, refuel and stocked up with ammunition, before heading back out onto the live fire ranges. She is working in temperatures up to 35 Degrees Celsius to keep the turn-around of aircraft running smoothly in an environmentally challenging area. Gila Bend is located in the Arizona and surrounded by miles and miles of open desert on the border with Mexico. The camp is just outside the immense ranges where there is enough space to allow the apache helicopters to release Hellfire missiles up to 10km away from their target.

     

    She says of her deployment: “I was apprehensive at first about how a reservist would be viewed by the regular soldiers, but I quickly became one of the team and the arming team worked really well, some of the pilots even complimented how efficient we have been.”

     

    “The whole experience has given me a new insight into an overseas exercise. Working with live ammunition including Hellfire missiles and CRV7 Rockets. It has helped build my confidence in the role and will be a valuable experience to take back to my home unit for future training and exercises.”

     

    A keen sportswoman, Lance Corporal Jones likes a challenge. After completing the London Marathon in 2015, she was also part of the winning all-female Best British military team at the prestigious Nijmegen March a year later. In her own time she has also cycled 300 miles in 3 days, competed the Jurassic coast Ultra and a stand up paddleboard challenge covering 100km in 2 days. As a break from her busy schedule on Crimson Eagle she has had the opportunity to explore the stunning scenery of nearby Sedona and Grand Canyon National Park, as well as take in some local ice-hockey matches.

     

    She adds, “Even though my civilian and military jobs may seem to be completely different on the surface they share a common thread of teamwork, leadership and doing something worthwhile. I have really enjoyed my time in America and I hope that as I progress in my military career I can continue to learn and gain experience from these challenges.”

     

  11. LORD LIEUTENANT OF HAMPSHIRE VISITS COUNTY RESERVISTS DELIVERING TESTING

    Approximately 120 reserve soldiers from 4th Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Reg...

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    LORD LIEUTENANT OF HAMPSHIRE VISITS COUNTY RESERVISTS DELIVERING TESTING

    LORD LIEUTENANT OF HAMPSHIRE VISITS COUNTY RESERVISTS DELIVERING TESTING

    Approximately 120 reserve soldiers from 4th Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment ‘The Tigers’ have been mobilised as a COVID Support Force.  4 PWRR are delivering COVID-19 support to testing, operating Mobile Testing Units in Hampshire and the South East and have so far enabled over 10,000 tests. 

     

    On 15 Jun, The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Mr Nigel Atkinson, who is also the 4 PWRR Honorary Colonel, went along to see how they were supporting their local community in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

     

    After being shown how to wear the various PPE soldiers require to carry out the task, he spoke with soldiers and observed how the task was being delivered, to understand how soldiers were supporting the local authorities and the community with testing.

     

    After observing the team, the Lord Lieutenant said. “I was hugely impressed with the soldiers of 4PWRR carrying out this important task.  They had clearly been well trained and handled the public wanting tests with great professionalism”. 

  12. Army Reservists from 7 RIFLES deploy on two operations simultaneously: operating COVID-19 Mobile Testing units in the Thames Valley; and UN peace-keeping in Cyprus.

    7th Battalion The Rifles are supporting the NHS by providing nearly 100 Army Reservists for COVID-19 Mobile Testing Units in the Thames Valley as p...

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    Army Reservists from 7 RIFLES deploy on two operations simultaneously: operating COVID-19 Mobile Testing units in the Thames Valley; and UN peace-keeping in Cyprus.

    Army Reservists from 7 RIFLES deploy on two operations simultaneously: operating COVID-19 Mobile Testing units in the Thames Valley; and UN peace-keeping in Cyprus.

    7th Battalion The Rifles are supporting the NHS by providing nearly 100 Army Reservists for COVID-19 Mobile Testing Units in the Thames Valley as part of OPERATION RESCRIPT.

     

    The Mobile Testing Units allow people who suspect that they have COVID-19 to self-administer a swab test, which is then processed at a Regional Testing Centre in Oxford. 7 RIFLES personnel underwent training from 4PWRR in operating the units, reassuring the public, and correct use of PPE at Edward Brooks Barracks near Oxford. This will ensure that the process is safe and efficient for 7 RIFLES personnel, and for those being tested. The Units will be at a different location in the Thames Valley each day, including Bracknell, Reading, Aylesbury, Bicester, Amersham, Slough and Windsor.

     

    Major Connor Maxwell, Officer Commanding of Alma Company, 7 RIFLES said, “We have nearly 100 Reservists who put their hand up and volunteered for this task. What makes this all the more impressive is that we have nearly 200 Reservists currently deployed in Cyprus, supporting UN peace-keeping operations there."

     

    Rifleman Paul Capon, 27, from London, said, “I jumped at the opportunity to mobilise for this task. This matters to me, and the rest of the Riflemen, because it is a nationwide issue, and we want to do what we can to help resolve it.”