BASE SUPPORT WING OVERVIEW
If RAF Coningsby is about aircraft, equipment and people, then Base Support Wing is very much at the forefront of supporting the latter. In this edition we describe the range of work that has been going on in BSW in support of those who serve at RAF Coningsby as well as the families that support them.
Never is there a greater need to support our people and their families than during operations and as the RAF moves from deployed ops onto a contingent footing, exercises such as the recent CAPABLE EAGLE in support of the contingent Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) ensure that we are all working to the same operational end.
When the EAW is called upon to deploy, either on exercise or for real, we have 2 sets of people to look after. Our ‘home team’ caters for, and supports, the needs of our families and those left behind and the ‘away team’ is responsible for looking after those deployed. When deployed the role of my staff is just as broad as back at base, albeit more complex. We continue to deliver routine personnel services, along with arguably one of our most important roles – dealing with compassionate and welfare cases, whilst also managing personnel movements, the accommodation plot, flight bookings, arrivals briefs, soft facilities management, infrastructure issues, disciplinary casework and, close to everyone’s hearts, the provision of welfare and fitness training and equipment. This is just a flavour of the diverse work we do.
Are You Prepared for Contingent Operations?
The Marham Coningsby Expeditionary Air Wing stood up on 1 November 2013 under the leadership of Stn Cdr RAF Coningsby and from the outset BSW personnel played an integral and important part in the planning and coordination. With people as our most important asset, it is vital that we get our job right! Firstly, we need the right mix of people and that includes ranks, trades/branches, competencies and experience. Secondly, we need to ensure they are trained and prepared for their roles. Finally, we need to ensure they are adequately provided for and supported when called upon, either in an Exercise environment or on Operations.
With the constant changing demands on our people, our Operational Establishment Table (OET) (the list of people and skills needed from both Stations to meet the EAW commitment) changes by the day; as therefore do the associated preparation and training requirements for those people. All those on the OET are held at high readiness so if called upon they must be ready to move within a very few days. It is therefore essential that our people remain fully prepared to avoid any delays to the deployment which could adversely impact operations.
This is where BSW come in. Passports, driving licenses, fitness testing, medical and dental checks plus vaccinations, common core skills training, individual contingency readiness training and weapon handling tests must be in date whilst personal details including next of kin and emergency contact details must be up to date. All of this preparation must be fitted in around the routine business of BSW as well as the primary duties of all 80 RAF Coningsby EAW personnel. Flexibility therefore is the key to ensuring that the Station can continue to maintain its Force Elements @ Readiness posture.
Formal Recognition for RAF Coningsby High Fliers
RAF Coningsby personnel are deployed across the Globe 365 days a year in support of operations. In recognition of the effort and sacrifice made by both our Service personnel and civilian colleagues, we have a prestigious Honours and Awards system to ensure that those most deserving are fully recognised. This ranges from personnel deployed overseas on operations, to those who have served with loyalty and distinction throughout lengthy careers, or those who have served above and beyond the call of duty either in the workplace or in their local community. RAF Coningsby is blessed with dedicated and hard working people and accordingly we are proud to have a significant number of honours and awards to present to our personnel each year.
Starting 2013 with a considerable backlog, legacy of a tremendously busy 2011 and 2012 on Operations ELLAMY and OLYMPICS, the BSW team have worked hard this year to clear the backlog as well as ensure that awards are received in a timely fashion and in a manner befitting of the recipient’s achievements. Accordingly, BSW have held 6 Honours and Awards ceremonies in 2013 at which the Force Commander and Station Commander have between them presented 124 medals and 23 commendations. These range from Operational to Meritorious Service Medals, and Commendations awarded by the Stn Commander and Air Officer Commanding Number 1 Group.
The last ceremony of the year is scheduled for 5 December 2013. However, the team still have a large number to award and already have 10 ceremonies scheduled for 2014. Each ceremony is held in the Officers’ Mess and the families of recipients are invited to attend along with work colleagues and bosses. The nature of each award is explained and each recipient receives their award in person from the presenting officer and following the formal ceremony refreshments are served for all attendees. All details of future ceremonies are available on the General Duties Team page of MOSS or you can contact the Station Adjutant or her Administrative Office for details.
The Shape of Things to Come…
You’ve got to be fit to fight, whether that fight is at 39,000 feet or just 3 feet above sea level. Physical training is a fundamental part of Service life and being fit to fight is also about being well educated on the best ways to train and achieve your goals. It is not all about being ‘beasted’ into shape; it is about pushing personal stamina and capability, but not breaking people in the process! That is what the Station Physical Education Flight is here to do – to provide training and education.
Having recently welcomed several new members of the team, namely Sgt Rob Gale, Cpl Andy McMahon and Cpl Sadie Williams, the Physical Education Flight has started to deliver a more diverse programme of training and education as part of the new PEd timetable. That includes more frequent circuit sessions that are spread out across the week and scheduled to cater for day and night shift personnel, and yet more to come as new ‘core strength and stability’ sessions will appear in the timetable in the New Year. Keep an eye out for announcements.
The support of squadron sports and fitness reps has been immense and generated significant increases in fitness testing and pass rates. In October alone the PEd Flt tested over 30% of the Station population yet still ran a full programme of daytime and evening sports and fitness sessions. There is much work going on behind the scenes as the PEd Flight is working to improve the existing gyms, including the Typhoon Aircrew Conditioning Area and the Health and Fitness Suite, by rationalising all of the equipment and sharing it out across the Station. The aim is to distribute more equipment across more floor space to maximise the numbers of people who can take part in physical training. On the teaching side ‘survival training’ will be returning to the main gymnasium and it will be delivered by qualified members of PEd Flt using a new parachute training rig. New Adventurous Training (AT) equipment has been purchased and will go into a new AT store. With 3 AT instructors now based at RAF Coningsby the Station is well placed to make the most of arduous and experimental activities to train and develop people to be fit for ops.
PEd Flt will be making the very best use of existing facilities and working to continuously improve services, so if you want more details about taking part in formal and informal physical training, education and development at RAF Coningsby please speak to Sgt Gale and his team in the Station Gymnasium. That’s the shape of things to come for PEd and PT here at Coningsby: more choice, more options, more people, more often!
A New Facility and a Name Remembered –
The Frazer Lodge
With a fair wind and dry concrete, by the time this edition of One-to-One hits the streets the Station will be well on the way to having a new facility. The Frazer Lodge is being built next to the existing pavilion near to the sports pitches. The Lodge will be a small but welcome addition to the Station’s infrastructure, and will facilitate a variety of uses. For example:
• Post sporting fixture recreation, somewhere warm and dry to celebrate or commiserate.
• For the use of the wider Station community – for example ‘Gym Tots’.
• A facility for Air Training Cadets/Combined Cadet Force on Summer camps
The need for the Lodge was identified by the Station Training Officer; Flight Lieutenant Chris Williams. The scheme was then taken up by OC SSS, Squadron Leader Nikki Duncan, who sourced funding for the project in partnership with one of our contractors, Lend Lease. Lend Lease are the contractors on Station currently building the new SLAM accommodation. The Station is paying for the material for the Lodge with Lend Lease supplying the materials for the foundation and hard-standing. Lend Lease are also providing the building expertise to complete the work, along with volunteers from the Station, coordinated by Flt Lt Williams, to assist with the labour. The work was due to begin in November.
The Lodge has been named to remember Flying Officer Robert Frazer DFC, who was killed in action on his 63rd operation, flying from RAF Coningsby in April 1944. Post war, his name was inscribed on the Honours Board in the foyer of SHQ, but due to an error he was recorded as ‘R Iraler’. As the Lodge will be open for the Spring season around the 70th anniversary of his death, and as an opportunity to remember one of our own who was in a way ‘forgotten’, the decision was made to name the building, ‘The Frazer Lodge’ in his memory.
We’re All Going On a Summer Holiday
BSW are pleased to announce that RAF Coningsby will soon take delivery of its very own motorhome thanks to a grant from the RAF Central Fund, additional funding from our Local Initiative Grant and much hard work and effort by the Community Support Team (CST).
The upshot of all of this has been the purchase of a brand new Elddis Autoquest 180 which will be available for RAF Coningsby personnel to hire from early 2014. This 6-berth motorhome can be driven by personnel aged over 25 years who hold a full car licence and so should prove attractive to a wide audience of families and friends. As well as all the basics, the vehicle will also benefit from cabin air conditioning, cruise control, a 4 place bike rack and a TV and DVD player.
The RAF Coningsby CST placed the initial bid for the grant from the Central Fund in Summer 2013 and since then the bid was approved and a committee formed under the leadership of FS Ridley (Safety Cell) and CT Hartley (MSC) to take the project forward. Expect to see some advertisement soon and be sure to book early to avoid disappointment. Prices are expected to range from £290-390 per week.
If you have any ideas for other projects that could benefit RAF Coningsby personnel and which could be paid for by an RAF Central Fund grant, please contact either OC PMS, Sqn Ldr Warner, or the SCSO, WO Jenkins.
JRs Have Their Say with the New Junior Ranks Committee (JRC)
The newly established Junior Ranks‘ Committee (JRC) aims to provide the JRs with a coherent voice, sprinkled with a bit of muscle so that they own what functions happen in their bar and also what food choices they have in their mess. This is nothing new for Sgts and Officers but for JRs this is a complete step change and a shift into the 21st century, whilst seizing the opportunity to get the most out of the CRL partnership.
The JRC might be at the embryonic stage but the initial meetings have sparked enthusiasm, vision and future plans; the first being the JRs’ Christmas Cocktail Party. Gone is the traditional Living In Christmas ‘sprout throwing’ Dinner in the JR Mess as the JRC are proposing a Cocktail party with Christmas themed canapés and cocktails on 12 Dec 13 in the Typhoon Bar and Heroes. Another step change is that the function will be open to all JRs and provide the opportunity to get dressed up for a function that will not be too dissimilar to Sgts’ and Officers’ Mess Christmas draws. Sadly the greatest challenge facing the JRC is ‘hard cash’ as JRs do not have the luxury of generating money in the same way that messes can; however, a number of options are currently being explored with the Stn and CRL – so watch this space!
As you read this the JRC are planning and preparing a comprehensive entertainments package coupled with regular theme nights in the mess but the largest venture over the course of the next 6 months will be the transformation of the Typhoon Bar. With the full support of the Stn and CRL, the JRC hope to change what is currently a dark and dismal bar area into a multi-functional inviting environment that JRs will want to use and chill out in.
The future is very exciting; we have a JRC which has a vision and is currently planning to make this vision come to life and supporting them in the process is the Stn and CRL.