Category Archives: Reservists

Exercise Snow Eagle


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Me straddling Austria and Germany after ski touring up to 1844 metres above sea level 

My name is Paul Doodson and I am currently a LAC Logs (MTD), Reserve with 501 Squadron RAuxAF.  I recently attended Ex SNOW EAGLE adventurous training exercise in Bavaria, Germany.

This year was my first experience of the Eagle scheme and it was an absolutely brilliant time that was had by all.  I and 6 other members of my Squadron joined 60+ Regular members of the RAF, all of us at different skill levels, so all getting something different from the experience.

On Ex SNOW EAGLE there are 3 different basic levels of training – Ski Foundation (SF) 1, 2 and 3:

  1. This level is for people who have never skied before. By the end of the week each person will be at a level where they can confidently stop, turn, control speed and ultimately tackle basic blue runs, more challenging red runs, and occasionally a black run.

 

  1. Once you have completed SF1 or have skied before and have a good competent level of ability, this group hone their skills on the slopes, advance to black runs ‘as a standard’ and prepare to advance to the next group.

 

  1. For the advanced skier, this group spends a lot of time skiing off piste, ski touring, undertaking avalanche training and rescue. This group gets prepared to go onto the next course which is a whole new package of training which is Ski Leadership 1, 2 and 3.

Every person I spoke to in each of these groups thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the week and all got a massive sense of achievement from their week’s work. This week was very enjoyable but don’t be fooled into thinking it is a free ski trip. Personally I was in the SF3 group and this was very physically demanding, from skiing off piste, digging in deep snow for avalanche search and rescue and most demanding was ski touring. This involves putting skins onto the bottom of the skis, detaching the heel part of your ski binding and then basically walking up the mountain. The payoff for this though is amazing views not available from the top of a ski lift and then, of course, the off piste trip back down creating fresh tracks of your own!

SNOW EAGLE is one of many different schemes that are run as adventure training; there is also mountain biking, canoeing and mountaineering. It is well worth looking on the MOSS website to find out more.

https://www.raf.mod.uk/recruitment/lifestyle-benefits/life-as-a-reserve/

501 Sqn – RAF Brize Norton certificate presentation


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501 (City of Gloucester) Logistics Support Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force

‘FEAR NOTHING’

One of the oldest and most distinguished Squadrons in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, was formed in June 1929 as a special Reserve Unit.  On the outbreak of World War 11 the Squadron flew defensive patrols until the German attack on France in May 1940.  At the end of the War in 1946 501 was reformed as an Auxiliary Air Force Fighter Squadron, finally disbanding in 1957.  In 2001 the Squadron was reformed in a Force Protection (RAF Regiment) role and in 2013 its personnel were deployed in Iraq under Operation Telic.  April saw the Squadron again taking on a new role as it became a Logistics Support unit, with a wide range of trades on offer within the RAF.  The Squadron support both the Logistics Supply, Storage and Distribution Specialists and Driver Specialists trades.

501 Squadron’s task is to provide Reserve personnel who are fully trained logistics specialists to support the Regular Forces on Military Operations and Exercises or Humanitarian Operations, world-wide.

The Squadron also takes part in adventurous training, such as skiing, hill walking, sailing and all the sports facilities available on the base are open to use.  Ceremonial events also play a role, including the recent Remembrance Day parade in which 501 played a leading role where members took part in the Royal British Legion Remembrance events in Gloucester and Cheltenham.  The day marked the first formal parade since the Squadron reformed in 2014.

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Head of Establishment at RAF Brize Norton Group Captain Tozer, presented certificates to members of 501 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force.  Officer Commanding 501, Squadron Leader Andy Marshall, said, “We are very pleased to announce the first 3 personnel, who have been training as Logistic Drivers have achieved and gained their Level 2 Certificates, awarded by the Defence Awarding Organisation (DAO) at Shrivenham”, and are believed to be the first ever such qualifications awarded to RAF Reservists.

Pic 33 – Squadron leader Marshall added, “These qualifications are an important recruiting tool for us, and we are keen to ensure the civilian employers are aware that their employees can gain civilian qualifications whilst undertaking Reserve Training.”

He continued, “Anyone looking at looking at joining the Reserves in the future may see the qualifications as a benefit as they are recognised civilian accredited courses, and might encourage to employers to see the training benefits that can be gained, at no cost to their own company – presenting a great opportunity for them.”

The Reservists had to achieve a level of competency, covering:

Work safety in a Motor Transport environment

Vehicle checks, Cab and Controls

Position and Secure Loads

Transport Dangerous Goods by Road

Defence Transport Documentation

Accident and Breakdown Procedures

Drive vehicles on and off roads

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SAC Steve Yapp is a Military Transport Logistics Driver with 501 Squadron based at RAF Brize Norton.  Steve has been in the RAF Reserves for 5 years and in civilian life is a Police Constable with the West Mercia Police Force, working as a Response and Taser Officer, responding to 999 calls within his area.

Steve was keen to show that his trade within the Squadron also adds value to his role in the Police.  He has recently been awarded with his Chief Constable’s Commendation for the saving the life of a victim in a fire.  Steve said, “During the incident which we were called to, I was able to give emergency CPR to the victim, and as soon as the emergency ambulance crews arrived my driver training came use as I was qualified to drive the ambulance whilst the crew continued to help save the victim, so my driving skills paid dividends.”

In his RAF Reserve role SAC Yapp is hoping to deploy to the Falklands next year.

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Group Captain Tozer is Head of Establishment at RAF Brize Norton.

He presented awards to the members of 501, when he visited the Squadron during a training weekend,  and explained to the Reservists how they are ‘Part of the Whole Force’.

Addressing members of the Squadron he said, “It is about what you do and your ability to be trained to step in as a credible Force.”

“RAF Brize Norton is the largest RAF Station in the Country, and one of the most diverse, we pride ourselves on being a ‘Whole Force Station’ – Regular and Reserve.”

There are 5 RAF Reserve Squadrons on the base employing ex Regulars, and civilians alike, opening up scope for a whole range of Reserve Service.

Group Captain Tozer said, “The skill sets that Reservists bring to the party are amazing, volunteering and serving their Country.”  He added, “I honestly cannot tell a Reservist from a Regular, and today has been a small celebration of what they have achieved.”

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LAC Mark Bissett has just been promoted quite an achievement, as he has only been with 501 Squadron for just over a year.

Mark who lives in Swindon works as a training manager for Anglian Home Improvements, and specialises in sales, management and product training, for the Company.

Mark was inspired to join the Forces by his Grandfather who raised him as a child, he said, “My Grandfather was serving with the RAF during the 2nd World War – James Bissett – who inspired with stories and experiences.” He added, “Joining the RAF Reserves has been the best ever decision I have made, I am really proud of being a member of the Squadron.”

Mark also plays the Pipes and is the Squadron Piper and has played at many high profile events, such as the Battle Proms Concert and  has raised over £62,000 for charity by playing the Pipes.  He added, “It was whilst I was playing at a charity concert that I was introduced to someone who suggested that I join the Reserves.”  Mark raises money for Combat Stress and hopes to reach a target of £100,000 before the end of 2020.

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SAC Karen Mellows who lives in Poole travels to RAF Brize Norton at the weekends to train as one of the Squadron’s MT Logistics Drivers.  She is a qualified Category C, and Category C&E driver, able to drive vehicles over 7and half ton which means she can drive articulated trucks, and buses. In her civilian job, Karen works at a factory making moulds for cosmetics and has been with the Squadron for 18 months.

She had always thought about joining the Forces, and when she saw an advert for the Reserves, she knew that was what she wanted to do.

Karen said, “I love it, the whole bit, the training, the friendship, having to cope with different scenarios which stretch you, teaching you to cope outside of your comfort zone.”  She added, “It took a life changing event to give me the courage to join and I have not regretted the decision.”

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Ex-Army full time Royal Engineer, Roger Marston, transferred to join the RAF Reserves in March 2014.  A veteran of Iraq serving with the Royal Engineers in 2005, Roger transferred to the RAF when he left the Regular Army.  He is now responsible for delivering the Military Driver Training for the Squadron.  Roger trains members of the Squadron to drive HGV, Coaches, Land Rovers, and other vehicles in the ‘white fleet’.  This includes vehicles used throughout the RAF Base at Brize including trucks used to move aircraft and clear runways, and move supplies.

Corporal Marston said, “The Reservists need a full clean UK driving licence when they join, and then we train them to drive a whole range of heavy vehicles.” He added, “Needless to say, all the driving qualifications we train for are extremely valuable within the civilian logistics sector.”

https://www.raf.mod.uk/recruitment/lifestyle-benefits/life-as-a-reserve/

128 Field Company VRSM Medal and Clasps Awards Ceremony


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Staff Sergeant John O’Callaghan, 44, has been an army reservist for eleven years and is based with 128 Field Company in Hilsea, Portsmouth, part of 103 Battalion REME.   He was awarded his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal for ten years of committed service at a special ceremony presided over by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller.    David is a Tech storeman by trade and deployed to Iraq on OP TELIC in 2010 and on OP OLYMPIC in 2012.  David works full time at the Army Reserve Centre as the Tech Quartermaster

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WO2 Albert Johnson, 55, has been an Army Reservist for 37 years and lives in Clanfield.  He serves in Portsmouth with 128 Field Company part of 103 Battalion REME, and is a Class 1 Vehicle Mechanic by trade.  Albert works for Pall Life Sciences as a manufacturing engineer for bioreactors and chromatography machines for making medicines and juggles this with his reserve commitment.  Albert was awarded the 3rd Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, acknowledging his incredible service and commitment.  He said “Having joined at a very young age, the service has shaped my life both as a soldier and as a civilian.  The benefits are that I’ve always had something to look forward to in my calendar year.  My confidence grew quickly as a reservist and it has given me ambition to better myself in my civilian career, as well as giving me experiences that I would never have had”.

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Sergeant Alan Greatbatch, 52, has been a member of the Army Reserve for 25 years.  He serves in Portsmouth with 128 Field Company part of 103 Battalion REME and is a Class 1 Metalsmith by trade.  Alan was awarded the 2nd Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, acknowledging his incredible service and commitment.  Alan works at the Ministry of Defence in Abbey Wood in Bristol n the Armoured Vehicle Programmes Office as a Logistics specialist.  He said “The Army Reserve has made good use of my skills and knowledge gained as an apprentice and has given me many opportunities.  It has helped me develop my man-management skills, to become a better problem solver and to become more delivery focused”.

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Sergeant John Baverstock, 46, has been a member of the Army Reserve for 19 years and was presented with the 1st Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, acknowledging his service and commitment.  John, who also works full time for the Army Reserve, is a Class 1 Vehicle Mechanic by trade and has spent the past three years, both in the Portsmouth Careers Office and now in the Army Reserve Centre, dealing with new recruits.  Prior to that John deployed to Iraq on OP TELIC in 2004.  He said “Being a Reservist has helped with my fitness.  I’ve gained confidence and have a great social life and life-long friends”.

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Staff Sergeant Ian Parker, 46, has been an Army Reservist since 1995.  Originally a regular army infantry soldier having served in both Northern Ireland and Cyprus, Ian joined the Army Reserve’s Royal Logistics Corps as a petroleum operative and transferred to the REME as a Tech Support Specialist and now fulfils the role of Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS) at the Peronne Road Army Reserve Centre.  A self-employed electrician, Ian was awarded the 2nd Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, for his 21 years of service to the Army Reserve.

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Sergeant Andrew Baxter, 52, has served with the Army Reserve for 29 years. In his civilian life he is an HGV Driver with MTS Cleansing Services.  Andrew who is a recovery mechanic by trade has deployed to Iraq on OP TELIC in 2003/04 and serves with 150 Recovery Company who are now based in Croydon.  Andrew was awarded the 3rd Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, for his long and committed service to the Army Reserve.

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Lance Corporal David Madgwick, 47, is a recovery mechanic by trade and serves with 150 Recovery Company in Croydon.  He has been a member of the Army Reserve for 15 years.  David is an HGV Driver and Crane Operator in his civilan life and deployed on two operational tours to Afghanistan in both 2008/9 and 2011/12.  He said “My experience as a Reservist has given me a more confident outlook as an individual and has given me more understanding of the world, plus more varied employment options.  I got my HGV licence and crane operator certificate through the Reserves.”  David was awarded the Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, to honour his commitment and service to the Army Reserve.

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WO2 Howard Watson, 45, has been a member of the Army Reserve for twenty years.  He joined initially to learn the trade of vehicle mechanic because he was tired of garages telling him his vehicles needed extensive work and didn’t know what they were talking about.  He has since become a Class 1 Vehicle Mechanic and serves with 128 Field Company, part of 103 Battalion REME as the Company Sergeant Major.  In his civilian life, Howard is the National Sales Manager for the UK’s leading provider of occupational health software, Warwick International Computing Systems Ltd.  He said “My company is very supportive of my Reserve Service and I do not think that I would have gained the job I have with them today if it had not been for my army training and discipline.  They pay me for my annual camp commitment, and have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant.”  Howard has deployed to Iraq on OP TELIC 2 where he ended up running the Light Aid Detachment at the “stadium” in Al Amarah.   In my time with 128 Field Company I have travelled the world and have learnt many life skills”.  He added “I am so much more confident now and am far more time efficient and with the Reserves you are part of a group of diverse individuals with a wide variety of skills”.  Howard was awarded the 2nd Clasp to his Volunteer Reserve Service Medal by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Mr David Fuller, to honour his service and commitment to the Army Reserve.

http://www.serfca.org/Reserves/Army-Reserve/REME/128-Field-Company-REME

 

Alastair Allison MSc, CISM, SIRM, Chief Risk Officer from Zurich Insurance Plc (UKGI) talks about his career in the military and skills that can transfer into risk


Background

  • Former Chair of the Institute of Risk Management’s Cyber Special Interest Group
  • Project manager and co-author of the IRM publication Cyber risk for risk practitioners
  • Guest lecturer at University of Portsmouth on the IRM Risk Culture publication.

I left the Royal Air Force in 2002 after 16 years’ service in the fighter control specialisation – air defence of the UK specialising in electronic warfare. Despite struggling to find what I wanted to do, I got a job working for Amey Vectra as a risk consultant for a short while before taking a post as enterprise risk manager for Paradigm Secure Communications on the £3.2bn satellite communication programme for the UK Military; the SKYNET 5 project, which was a real success for me on a personal and professional level. I was at Paradigm for nearly 6 years and I joined a risk consulting division within a software company as head of Risk Services working with global companies such as Rolls Royce, Rio Tinto and Saudi Aramco. I was then asked to join Zurich Insurance to head up the Information Governance transformation programme. Since joining Zurich I have progressed to Head of Risk and most lately to the Chief Risk Officer for UK General Insurance

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Transition to Civvy Life

I personally found the transition to be difficult as I did not have a plan but I was lucky to have some support from other ex RAF people who helped me find that all important first job. Since then I have taken matters into my own hands; I have gained an MSc in Corporate Risk and Security Management, gained other qualifications and experience within my chosen area of expertise and created opportunities as a result. I prefer to operate in specialist areas than general roles but the military background enabled me to succeed in both by blending my new skills with the leadership and management skills from the RAF. By seeking new challenges and stepping out of my comfort zone, I have shown I am adaptable and open-minded to change and I think this is a great asset to all employers.

The business landscape constantly shifts and the competition needs to be responded to. As a consequence, being open to change and dealing with it in a positive frame of mind has helped me to see through many moments of change that would faze others. Yes it has been unsettling but facing up to the uncertainty and dealing with ambiguity are key skills service personnel have and they have served me well.

 

 

Skills transferred from RAF days

Enterprise risk management: This is a key skill of most military staff even if it is called other things. Any leadership role will help develop such skills but the basic skills required to “know your enemy” and how you can develop tactics to counter the enemy is basic risk management. Broaden that across the organisation and you have the “Enterprise” element.

Risk management: Practitioner in project, programme and corporate risk management including the use of quantitative models to support effective decision making and distribution of funding.

Information governance: Establishing Information Governance frameworks and practices within a UK subsidiary of Zurich and providing expertise to Global initiatives. The basic security rules in the Joint Services Manual stood the test of time. Military staff understand classification and security of data so these skills transferred very easily. This is a key risk to be managed in most businesses these days

Programme/project risk: Quantitative analysis of capital projects and programmes to determine confidence of delivery to time and cost prior to contract signature and to ensure ongoing confidence in delivery schedules post-contract. I learnt the basic skills in the RAF and continued to develop them further.

Training: Training needs analysis. course design and delivery of awareness and staff training regimes to affect cultural change of behaviours to protecting customer data or in support of implementing risk management methodologies and tools. I think anyone in the military will recognise these skills.

Alastair talks about the value of being involved with the Institute of Risk Management:

“I have heavily invested in training within my team fully aligned to the IRM to complete both the Certificate in Risk Management and the Diploma.  We have changed the   requirements of the risk roles to strengthen risk professionalism and to provide credibility in the business based on best practices.  This has involved over 14 staff across the business taking these qualifications in the last 12 months and we have completed over 12 other short courses to specifically learn new skills and get fresh insight into current risk practices.  These have included Risk Reporting, Developing KPIs, Risk Workshop facilitation, Fundamentals of Risk Management and several others – staying competent is a key factor in this role”.

http://www.serfca.org/Links/Jobs/Jobs4Reservists

Employer Engagement event on board HMS Victory Part.2


Councillor Frank Jonas the Armed Forces Champion accepted the MOD Silver Employer award on behalf of Portsmouth City Council.

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Denise addressed the Silver Award winners which included her own Hospital NHS Trust. She said, “I am so proud to represent the Royal Naval Reserve.”

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Royal Navy Reservist Denise Wright, who works as a Nurse t the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is a member of HMS King Alfred based on Whale Island in Portsmouth 

Mr Heppenstall addressed the Silver Award recipients and said, “Three years ago QinetiQ accepted the same award, I congratulate you all, continue to do what you have signed up for, and remember the challenge – Silver is good but there is much more to do, Gold is the next step!”

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Mr Joe Heppenstall, Resourcing Lead at QinetiQ and the company’s Reserves Champion 

Captain Matt Loughrey, Commander of Brompton Academy Combined Cadet Force said, “We have been set up now for around 18 months and our contingent Army section is up to 40 – 50 strong.”

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Matt Loughrey accepted the Silver Award on behalf of Brompton Academy, a forward thinking and vibrant Academy based in Gillingham Kent. One of the first state schools to establish and develop a thriving Combined Cadet Force. 

More photos can be seen here http://www.serfca.org/Links/Media/Gallery/ID/16/HMS-Victory-Silver-Awards

3PWRR Andover Freedom Parade


Residents of Andover in the Borough of Test Valley came out in force yesterday to enjoy a Freedom Parade by the three military regiments who have been granted the Freedom of the Borough; 22 Engineer Regiment representing the Corps of Royal Engineers, the 3rd Battalion of The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the Army Air Corps.

Service personnel from the three regiments, led by the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regimental Band marched through the town centre in a show of ceremony and colour with bayonets fixed.  The parade concluded with a flypast of an Apache Helicopter by the Army Air Corps and a memorial service to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme took place in the Garden of Remembrance.

The civic party was led by the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson Esquire and The Worshipful the Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Karen Hamilton.

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Colour Sergeant Billy Menzies, 34 is from Andover.  A Regular Army Soldier with the 2nd Battalion, Billy has been posted with the 3rd Battalion PWRR in a training capacity.  His role has been to provide training weekends focusing on developing their medical capability.  He said “Working with the Reserves has been absolutely amazing which, to be honest, was completely unexpected.  They are 100% professional as is their commitment because they have to juggle their careers and their families as well.” He added “I am really proud to march through my home town today and it’s nice to come back as I don’t get here very often.  Hopefully I’ll see some old friends in the crowds”.

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Private Chris Jones, 22, has been a member of the Army Reserve for almost four years, serving with 3 PWRR based at HQ Company in Canterbury. Chris worked in Customer Care for the National Trust but after deploying on Operation TOSCA in Cyprus and on Operation TORAL in Afghanistan with 1st Battalion Royal Anglian, he has now decided to pursue a military career.  He said “I’m just back from an operational tour in Afghanistan and I’ve decided that I’m going to transfer full time to the Royal Navy in January next year.  I’d like to become either Aircrew or a diver.”

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Corporal Russell Butler, 32, is an Army Reservist with A Company in Farnham and works for a logistics company.  He said “I’ve been a member of the Army Reserve for four and a half years.  I left the Regular Army in 2005 after serving more than six years with the 1st Battalion PWRR and toyed with getting back in.  Being a reservist is better than I thought and they are more experienced and more current than I thought they’d be.  There’s always something different to do whether it’s ceremonial, community based or green training”.  Russell is originally from Basingstoke and said “I feel quite proud to be on parade today especially as my wife and kids are here too”.

http://www.serfca.org/Reserves/Army-Reserve/Infantry/HQ-The-Buffs-Company-3PWRR

US/UK Exchange – 151 Transport Rgt/124 Transport Sqn


Written by Corporal Michael Marshall 

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My name is Cpl Marshall of 151 transport regiment, 124 transport squadron Maidstone and I currently serve as a class 1 chef in the Royal logistic core, I have been in the reserves for 15 years.

Recently I have have had the opportunity to take part in the annual us/uk exchange, and was selected to represent the regiment in California at FORT HUNTER LIGGETT. And serve alongside the 786th QM Company, Provo, UTAH, on their annual two week exercise.

There role is to provide fuel to all other units taking part in the exercise, they deployed a week before the main force arrived so that they were able to build the bulk fuel distribution point. So as the units arrived they were able to refuel straight away without any delay in the process of moving forward to their locations.

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It was while I was here and was assisting in numerous tasks they were surprised to find that my main trade was as a chef and not a fueller, so I was given the privilege of a tour around the battalion field kitchen, which is capable of feeding 800 troops a day, most of the food is bulk mres which are heated up and then served to the troops. Not fresh but it was there to provide a service and ensure that the troops had two hot meals a day the other would be ration pack or mre as they are called.

It then appeared that one day in the early days of the exercise that due to complications the main field kitchen was unable to feed the unit I was with, so I offered my services to use their own kitchen get it set up and then teach their own cook how to prepare a fresh meal for the troops in the field, as this is not how they feed in the field.

Supplies were found at the local Wal-Mart over two hours away mind you, and then came up with a menu. I had many volunteers to assist some had to be turned away as they had never been served a fresh cooked meal in the field kitchen.

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The unit then asked if they could invite their sister unit that had just arrived to enjoy a fresh meal which was no issue, with the help of the volunteers in two hours we had a menu to serve 85 troops which consisted of chicken chowmein, kebabs on bed of rice , brattis in rolls with a chilli sauce.

So 85 soldiers very happy even having seconds and I do believe thirds.

With the senior ranks being astounded at what was truly capable a request was put in for another meal to be cooked two days later as a visit from a one star general with his entourage was arriving so I decide to do a traditional English cooked breakfast, some ingredients were hard to get but we got there in the end.

So some extremely happy officers and troops being fed proper food that was tasty and hot.

For more information please go to http://www.serfca.org/Reserves/Army-Reserve/Royal-Logistic-Corps/124-Transport-Squadron-RLC