7 FP Wg HQ RETURN FROM OP HERRICK
After an extremely busy period on Op HERRICK, 7 Force Protection Wing Headquarters have returned home. The last 7 months have seen the Wg HQ provide the command and control element overseeing Air Force Protection operations at Camp Bastion.
Under the ‘umbrella’ of Force Protection, the HQ oversaw and co-ordinated numerous units all working tirelessly in order to maintain continued air operations from Camp Bastion, as well as ensuring the safety of all personnel and assets at the Main Operating Base.
15 Sqn RAF Regiment and elements of 1 Sqn RAF Regiment, 2 Tactical Police Sqn, A Sqn The Queen’s Royal Lancers and manpower from both 16 Regt Royal Artillery and the Tongan Defence Services provided the manpower that formed 7 FP Wg. The diverse range of tasks undertaken by these various units was extremely important in ensuring that the task at hand in Afghanistan was completed successfully and Force Protection is certainly a key enabler to ensuring this.
On reflection the tour has been arduous, challenging and complex in equal measure. The only constant has been the pace and volume of change. To their credit the airman, soldiers and Tongans serving under 7 FP Wg undoubtedly stepped up to the plate, meeting the challenge head on, but always with a smile (or grimace).
Having handed control of Air FP operations over to 3 FP Wg, all personnel left Bastion for the well-earned 24 hours of decompression at Camp Bloodhound in Cyprus. Decompression is a vital component of Post Operational procedure and ensures that all deployed personnel get the chance to relax and also receive some crucial welfare briefs on re-integrating back into normal life. Having arrived back in the UK, the Wg were flown back to RAF Coningsby from Brize Norton by a Dakota DC-3 from BBMF, this added a really special touch to the Wings homecoming, and all friend and families were waiting to meet the Wing off the aircraft.
The Station Commander Gp Capt Stringer, also met the returning personnel and had the following to say on the occasion, “The UK and its allies can only complete the task they have with the use of air assets, whether that is transport, intelligence gathering, offensive operations or any of the other roles required. In Afghanistan the RAF Regiment carry out a vital function in protecting the airfields, thereby giving the air component a secure base from which to operate. In order to secure those bases, alongside our colleagues in the other Armed Forces, the men of 7 FPW have put themselves in harm’s way on behalf of us all. I’m delighted we could take this opportunity to say a very public ‘thank you’.”
All those from 7 FP Wg HQ would like to extend their most sincere thanks to firstly, their friends and families whose support over the last 7 months has kept us all going; the impact of this should not be underestimated, secondly to the Station; the Community Support Team headed up by WO ‘Al’ Jenkins has been a constant in supporting the families of the deployed personnel, and finally to all those at the BBMF who ensured that the homecoming was a really special event. Our thoughts now turn to some well earned Post Op leave.
On another note, SAC ‘Duane’ Evans was the proud recipient of a free season ticket from Derby County Football Club after winning a Photo Caption competition organised by the club. SAC Evans was presented with his prize at Pride Park during half time by Derby midfielder Will Hughes.