Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A RESERVIST ADVENTURE TRAINING WEEKEND - BY LCPL HOSKINS (243 SQUADRON)



On the weekend of 7- 9 March, 243 (Coventry) HQ Sqn set off on an adventure to the Island of Angelsey.  A convoy of three vehicles packed with passengers and adventure training equipment made their way  to the Joint Service Mountain Training Centre to begin a weekend packed of excitement, adrenaline fuelled and challenging fun, all for a cost of just £15.00.  As each vehicle ‘De-bussed’ the troops were met my SSgt Khan (the Regular Permanent Staff Instructor) who gave each individual the good news that there was free Wi- Fi in the rooms - luxury in Army terms!  After receiving the arrival brief, with beds made and kit packed away, we got some sleep before the weekend began on Saturday.

  A sunny Saturday morning greeted us as we rose from our beds with rolling hills and sheep grazing, which is presumably the same as what they had done the day before, and the day before that and the day before that.  After a bit of breakfast and plenty of flask filling we made our way to the Nuffield Training Centre in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll- llantysiliogogogochuchaf on the banks of the Menai Straits on the island of Anglesey in North Wales.  No, I did not type loads of words, this is the name of the local area. I dare you to try and pronounce it.  For those interested it means ‘St. Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool of Llantysilio of the red cave’.  


We were split into two groups and were each given an instructor who took us through a series of stands which included low wire activities, high wire activities, zip wiring and a trapeze jump.  The low wire was quite exciting, it really tested your balance and co-ordination skills but as we progressed on to the high wire at a soaring 65 feet it definitely was enough to make the knees wobble and lip wibble!  On each of the wires we had to make a steady climb up the side of a tree as it swayed from side to side in the wind and then believe that we could let go and walk across a plank whilst being supported only by a wire that was being held down by your mate on the ground.  We were tasked with completing a full 360 degree turn and then a star jump before stepping off the platform to be lowered to the ground, some of us faster than others.

 Next we moved onto the zip wire.  We were to clip ourselves onto the rope and then stand at the edge before our instructor kindly pushed us off.  The only way we were going to stop was to either have our mates at the other end of the wire hold a wooden wedge down using a rope, or crash into the fast approaching tree. The method worked well with the wooden wedge until Cpl Wright had jumped off unexpectedly with those of us who were supposed to stop him just carried on watching as he flew towards us.  Luckily, LCpl Scrimshaw and myself picked up the supporting rope just in time or he’d of carried out a really good impression of George in the Jungle.



 Moving on through the activities we got to the Trapeze Jump.  As with the other activities we had to steadily climb up the side of a tree until we reached the summit where a horizontal bar presented itself to us.  At 65 feet in the air with a tree swishing from side to side it takes a lot of nerve to have trust in yourself and your mate who is stopping you from falling to the ground, beneath you, to jump reaching out for the bar… And missing!  All of a sudden you feel like you are falling to certain death, the adrenaline rushes up to your head, heart beating faster and then you realize you’re not going anywhere at which point your legs turn to jelly. For SSgt Coley (237 Squadron) this was particularly challenging.  It took what seemed like an eternity for him to jump, but up there, I bet it felt like a lifetime for him.  After some strong words of encouragement he made the leap of faith and flew to the bottom.  A big well done to you. 







After this, we needed a break so we walked over the grass back to the training centre; something that none of us felt entirely comfy with as it goes against everything you’ve been disciplined in.  Our last activity for Saturday was a race between the two teams to build a raft and work our way through a course designed by our instructors.  After a tie between both teams and an allegation of cheating there was a forfeit. The first team with all members to jump into the lagoon won.  As soon as were informed of this, with a few exceptions, all of us ran and got wet as our rafts naturally never sank.  Getting wet however was not great when you didn’t have spare change of clothes… Ahem.  At this point I should also point out that both instructors were incredibly knowledgeable and it was a pleasure to be with them both.  Saturday concluded with a night out where all of us got together and made friends with the locals.


 Sunday was the end to a great weekend.  The sun was shining again as we packed up our lives back into our bags and made our way to the Indoor Rock Climbing School, Indy.  It’s Anglesey’s best rock climbing centre which is just outside of camp. It has beginner walls right through to the more advanced walls for real life spidermen.  We spent two hours here and split into two groups ‘those that have’ and ‘those that haven’t’ which soon transpired into ‘those that can’ and ‘those that can’t’. By the end of the two hours I think it was fair to say that we all ended up into the category of ‘those that can’. 


The whole weekend was a steal, at £15 per person for travel, accommodation, food and equipment hire you can’t complain and it was good to see the squadron do things together as friends, things that are fun and things that we will talk about for a while.  Of course the added bonus was that those that attended we getting paid to do these things too, something that others can only dream about.  I’d certainly recommend Adventure Training to anyone.  It’s something all the squadron should do together, after all, it’s not all work and no play is it?  On behalf of all the Soldiers that attended, I’d also like to thank SSgt Khan for working extremely hard in organising this whole weekend.  As a witness to endless work on the way down I can say that his phone did not stop ringing.  Well done to all those that attended too, I think we smashed it and I believe the next AT weekend will be just as good, if not better. 



Saturday, 22 March 2014

EXERCISE SKI RLC 2014 - THE RLC ANNUAL SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS - BY LCPL CONAGHAN (237 SQUADRON)



At 0500 on the morning of the 15th February we departed to make our way to Rhupolding in Bavaria Germany.   After a long drive we got to Munich and spent the night in a hotel, the next morning we continued on to Rhupolding were we met our landlady for the fortnight Frau Schmidt, she greeted us and told us the rules of the house.  As we arrived on the Sunday we used the day to settle into our accommodation and prepare the equipment for the competition ahead.  Monday and Tuesday were both training days for the first seeding race on Wednesday so we went out both on Monday and Tuesday to get used to the snow and finding our ski legs again.


Wednesday was the first competitive day using the Grand Slalom course as a way to set the seeding for the competition this is when you get given your starting bib number at the beginning of the competition. You then aim to lower that bib number as the competition progresses. The first race was the GS (short for Grand Slalom), a course marked with flags that you must pass through to complete the race, any gates missed resulted in disqualification from the competition, the 159 Regt team did well in this discipline and completed with no serious injuries.

After two  days of the Grand Slalom all teams were given the weekend to use as they see fit, most teams rested. 159 Regt Ski team made the most of their time and travelled to Huetel on the Saturday to train and on the Sunday we went to Saalbach ski resort in Austria, a breathtaking but challenging resort with picturesque mountains and towns. On Friday night the alpine teams had a fancy dress in which 159 Regt team dressed as doctors and nurses.

 
On Monday the competition continued, first race of the week being the Super G, a course designed so you can pick up speed with long turns.  The conditions were very slippery and conditions worsened throughout the day.  The Super G ran for two days followed then by the Slalom, which was a technical course full of turns and the conditions resulted in a lot of falls from even the most experience skiers. These conditions resulted in two members of the 159 Regt team being hospitalised for dislocations and a broken arm.

The final night in Ruhpolding was spent at the prize giving ceremony which LCpl Thompson received best Novice for the Nordic skiing. The 159 Regt team internally awarded prizes to Major Dave Paget for the fastest time down the hill in a blood wagon and Corporal Green for taking enough tranquilisers to knock out a grand national winner before his helicopter flight to the Krankenhouse.



The next morning we travelled back to England and on the way our sat nav took us on a detour through Brussels city centre in rush hour on a Friday. We eventually made it back after 18 long hours  to England late on Friday the 28th.  An epic journey, preceded by an amazing few weeks - roll on next year!


LCpl Conaghan

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

RESERVE OFFICER COMMISSIONING PROCESS



Introduction

 The commissioning process for the Army Reserve is a challenging and rewarding process that requires the upmost dedication and determination from potential Reserve Officers.  Below the Reserve commissioning system is explained in greater depth and detail.


The Old College Adjutant at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) Soverign's Parade.



Qualifying Criteria – To become a Reserve Officer you must:

  • Be aged between 17 yrs 9 months and 30 yrs.
  • Meet the Army nationality requirements
  • Pass a full Army medical
  • Have at least 5 GCSE’s (A-C) including Maths and English.















In order to commission the following modules must be completed:

  • Mod 1 – TSC (Trained Soldier Course) A & B
  • AOSB – Briefing and Main Board
  • Mod 2 – Leadership, skills and tactics (10 x Weekends)
  • Mod 3 – Platoon tactics (9 day battlefield camp)
  • Mod 4 – Reserve Commissioning Course at RMAS (3 Weeks)
  • Mod 5 – Post commissioning junior officer development





This process takes approximately 18 months.  Mods 2 & 3 are conducted by the local University Officer Training Corps (UOTC) unit, for 159 Supply Regiment this is Birmingham University .  The Potential Officer will then be moved across to the UOTC for the duration of this training and sponsored by their Reserve Regiment.





Alternative Training

Alternative intensive training can also be conducted during the summer to speed up the commissioning process.  The following alternative course is available:

  • RMAS Reserve Commissioning Course +   This entails completing Mods 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 over 8 weeks during the summer, perfectly fitting into a summer break from education.

If you are interested in obtaining more detail and enquiring further then do not hesitate to contact us:

Training Major – Major Andy Masters RLC - 02476854908
Adjutant – Captain Neil Statham RLC - 02476 854903 
243 Squadron Troop Commander – Lieutenant John Kinahan RLC - 02476 854941 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

REGULAR RESERVE INTEGRATION PILOT STUDY BY LIEUTENANT JOHN KINAHAN RLC



Many of us will be familiar with the process of sending Junior Reserve Officers, namely Troop and Platoon Commanders, to Regular Regiments, usually prior to an operational tour.  In 102 Logistic Brigade, however, something very different is happening. 

159 Supply Regiments Regular RLC Troop Commander Lit John Kinahan briefing Reserve RLC soldiers on exercise.Lieutenant Jonathan Kinahan, a subaltern in the RLC, is currently partaking in a pilot scheme within 102 Logistic Brigade, undertaking a six month attachment from 6 Theatre Logistic Regiment RLC in Germany to 159 Supply Regiment RLC, a Reserve Regiment in the West Midlands.  Dropped in at the deep end, Lieutenant Kinahan was immediately exposed to the Reservist way of life; instructing on a ‘Soldier First’ weekend at the end of his first week was the best possible introduction to the cultural shift epitomised by service with the Army Reserve. 

Whilst Operation FORTIFY is energising the Reserve proposition there remains a dearth of suitably qualified subalterns or interest from potential officers.  The attachment, therefore, allows him an excellent opportunity for exposure to the Army Reserve, in advance of a future career that is likely to involve far greater integration.  He is required to undertake a traditional Troop Commander’s role and, inter alia, lead on the training and selection for the Reserve Operation HERRICK 20b component that will support 6 Regiment’s deployment later this year.  This will include all related assurance and Collective Training activities and should also optimise operational efficiency through closer interaction. 

Having served as a Troop Commander and the Regimental Training Officer in Germany, Lieutenant Kinahan is based in the Headquarters’ Operations’ Room during the week, assisting the Regimental Technical Officer and at weekends and ‘drill nights’ he performs the duties of a Reservist Troop Commander with 243 Headquarters Squadron in Coventry.  These roles allow Lieutenant Kinahan to add his training experience and leadership qualities at both Squadron and Regimental level.  In the first month of his attachment he has been working closely with the Training Major, Adjutant and Regimental Operations Support Officer; his main focus has been on beginning to understand how a Reserve Regiment works and also what motivates ‘the Reservist’.  Lieutenant Kinahan has begun in earnest, fervently getting to grips with his portfolio which includes Reserve Potential Officer recruiting and retention, support to Operation FORTIFY, Squadron level training and assisting in the planning of the Regiment’s Annual Deployment Exercise in May to Sennelager.  The last serial is especially important as the Regiment will select its final cohort to deploy to Afghanistan.  After providing a troop of Reservists for the last four iterations, this last opportunity for Reservists to deploy has a special importance to Lieutenant Kinahan, as the Reservists which he assist in training, mentoring and selecting, will deploy with his parent unit, 6 Regiment.

159 Supply Regiment's Lt John Kinahan RLC briefing soldiers on exercise
The pilot is also vital to improving relations between Regular and Reserve units, a key aspect of A2020, which sees units paired across the Army in order to support and improve integration.  The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Colin Francis, said “…in order for integration to work successfully, the Regular Army needs to gain a greater understanding of the Reserves.  This pilot, which we hope to expand further after this initial trial, will give Junior Officers the ability to improve their understanding of the Reserves and take that knowledge away with them for use throughout the remainder of their careers”.  The long-term benefits to the individual and the Army Reserve are clear, greater understanding and ultimately greater operational capability being key amongst these. 

There are already tangible benefits for 159 Regiment with Lieutenant Kinahan’s experience and leadership being put to great effect.  Like many Reserve Regiments, 159 Regiment currently have no Reservist Subalterns so are missing a key layer of leadership.  This lack of subalterns is also creating a capability gap downstream when sub-unit commanders will be required to deliver greater effect as part of the Army 2020 construct.   As such rectifying this is the focus of much of the Regiment’s recruiting effort; Lieutenant Kinahan is already intimately involved in this process.  He has already built upon the strong links with both Coventry University and Birmingham University Officer Training Corps, attending recruiting events and exploring opportunities which can incorporate the Officer Cadets, Reservists and Regulars from our paired Regiments.  These joint events, from training through to Dinner Nights, provide the perfect tool for understanding and integrating different branches of Defence capability form both a regional and operational perspective.

159 Supply Regiment's Pilot Study Troop Commander Lt John Kinahan RLC briefing a Reserve soldier on exercise
When asked what he thinks he’ll get out of the scheme Lt Kinahan responded “Reserve integration is a hot topic at the moment and the Regular and Reserves will be working closer together in the future.  I’m already gaining lots of knowledge about the Reserves and how they operate and I’m continuing to learn more each day.  Working with the Reserves has its challenges and it can be a completely different environment at times.  Working evenings and some weekends is a cultural change for me from life in Germany, but it is probably the same for all Regulars who come and work in the Reserve environment”.

Lieutenant Kinahan will complete his pilot attachment at the end of this summer and produce a report which will detail the benefits of the pilot and allow other units and cap-badges to consider whether it is something which may be of benefit for them.  For now though, his focus remains on improving his understanding of the Reserves and identifying areas in which he can continue to be of benefit to 159 Supply Regiment and its soldiers.

If anyone would like to know more about the study please contact the unit through the comments' box below.