This is the first issue of the Barbarian Blog, which I intend to produce on a regular basis. Its purpose is to keep you all informed of what is going on in and around the Regiment, reflecting on what has happened in the past, and looking forward over the next few months. I hope you find it informative, and see it as a useful addition to our efforts to improve communication throughout the Regiment. I hope to be able to have this blog available for you to view and comment on online, and will get my techno Jedi (Carl) to work on that for me. In the meantime if there is anything you feel you would like to see included, feel free to let me know.
So how good was the ADE? We had an excellent 2 weeks in Germany, with over 170 of you attending, an excellent turnout. For those of you that went, many of you will have been aware of the visits that we had from various VIPs, all of whom commented on your enthusiasm and professionalism. My thanks to you all for attending and more importantly gaining as much out of it that you very obviously did. In particular I would like to extend my thanks to all of the enablers, from our permanent staff team to all of the training delivery and life support elements. Without their efforts, the ADE would not have been the success it was. For those of you fortunate enough to attend the Adventure Training packages, I hope you felt suitably challenged, and physically tested. Congratulations to those selected for Op HERRICK 19, another strong cohort, and the Regiment’s best wishes go with you for the duration of the deployment. For the PNCOs amongst you, well done! There is an excellent article in the June 13 edition of Sixth Sense focussing on our ADE, which is doing the rounds. I commend it to you. Have a read!!
So what have we been up to in the last four weeks, since our return from Germany? Well we have successfully mobilised the Op HERRICK 19 cohort, who also completed the RTMC final selection phase intact; very well done to them all, and we wish them well on their forthcoming tour. More about them in future issues. The Op HERRICK 18 cohort has passed the half way point of their tour – where does the time go? – and I am receiving rave reviews about their contribution. The operational pedigree of the Regiment continues to grow and with it our standing across the British Army. We have also just held the first weekend of the Op HERRICK 20 deployment, the numbers are encouraging but we have capacity for more to join so speak to your PSIs.
Many of us have been focussed (and some consumed) by dealing with the initial frictions encountered with the new recruiting process. With the Recruiting Partnership Project (RPP) now 3 months old it is clear that there is some distance to go before it is as smooth as we would like. I believe that these issues are specifically due to the IT restrictions currently faced by our Partner, CAPITA, and with the 50,000 legacy applications that exist on the recruiting programme we handed over to them. I am reassured that these are being addressed, and additional staff have been recruited and drafted in to ‘fight through’ the backlog. These problems will in time therefore be overcome, in the meantime, our challenge is not only to attract new recruits, but more importantly to ensure that we provide mentoring and support to those in the system waiting to complete Phase 1 training. You all have a role to play in this, and I would ask you all to ensure that you actively engage with potential recruits that attend training in your TACs, giving them as much advice, support and encouragement that you can muster.
From a Regimental perspective, we have launched a new initiative, BARBARIAN SURGE, where we are directing resources to target specific areas. At the moment this is focussed upon 237 Sqn in West Bromwich. The early signs are encouraging and the initial successes have proved its worth. We mustn’t rest on our laurels as we still have some way to go to meet our own challenging self imposed recruiting targets but also the aspiration to get a lot closer to the 100% manning prescribed in the A2020 proposal.
The Regtl 2IC, Training Major, OC 381 and myself have all been engaged in Force Development activity. This is important work, as it is helping to shape our future role and concept of employment within the Adaptable Force structures. As one of 2 Reservist Supply Regiments in the Army’s Order of Battle, we will have a key role, training, and force generating collective Supply Force Elements for attachment to Regular Units in support of National Defence interests.
On the training front, we have been involved in Ex MUSHROOM HORIZON, a pilot Regular/Reserve integration exercise, where a small Supply section was attached to 4 LSR, exercising on Salisbury Plain, helping to prepare them for their deployment to BATUS. Whilst on this occasion we will not be sending anybody over to BATUS with 4LSR, there is likely to be opportunity in the future.
A cohort from 243 Sqn, deployed on a short 3 day exercise, Ex TRITON, a UK operations resilience exercise that took place in the West Midlands. During the course of the exercise 143 (WM) Bde tested their ability to force generate troops through a Forward Mounting Base, before releasing them to support specific tasks, under the direction of lead civilian agencies. On this occasion, the scenario was severe flash flooding, and our troops were tasked to support the Environmental Agency, by constructing flood defences around a vulnerable site, and then later were directed to support the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Services in search tasks. Those who took part enjoyed the experience and felt it a worthwhile exercise and something they would do again. Once again, this sort of activity is likely to increase as nationally we look more towards defence activities on the UK mainland.
My round robin trip to each of your locations to explain the FR20 implications to you as individuals and the Regiment as a whole is now in the closing stages. The Implementation Order will follow in early September. You will all be aware that we have been affected by the announcement, with both 216 and 381 Sqn’s being re-subordinated to other Regiments and 125 Sqn being removed from the Order of Battle. My priority will be ensuring that our people are properly and sensitively managed, particularly where we are losing people, and making certain that they are looked after. During all of the restructuring that will take place, we must not forget that we continue to have a commitment to Op HERRICK up until the end of 2014, and you will all continue to have a part to play in force generating and training volunteers drawn from across the existing regimental structure during that time. More on this will follow in later editions.
A lengthy first edition which I promise I won’t repeat in future iterations. I would welcome your feedback, and as stated at the beginning, I intend to have this posted online, so that it is accessible to you at home. Please do offer suggestions on what you might like me to blog about in future.
Lt Col CJ Francis MBECommanding Officer