The Value of Reservists

FS Gary Mawhinney details his experience of working at RAF Coningsby as part of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF).

Prior to arriving at Coningsby in January this year, my previous job at Air Cmd was No 1 Gp Reserves HQ Delivery, processing requests within particular Branches & Trades to assist your sections with RAuxAF personnel. As I primarily liaised with the RAuxAF sqns HQ staff and Sqn Ldr Ratnage (Coningsby Reserves Co-ordination Officer), I had very limited / nil interaction with the Part-Time Volunteer Reservists (PTVR). However, I always received positive feedback about their output within the Whole Force, whether supporting UK units or in overseas roles.

Now, back into Trade, I am the customer on the receiving end, experiencing first hand the value of these reservists. On my recent Op TORAL detachment in Kabul, one of the two Air & Space Ops Specialist (ASOS) in my team was a PTVR corporal from 606 (Chiltern) Sqn, based at RAF Benson. In Air Ops, I currently have a mobilised PTVR ASOS from 602 (City of Glasgow) Sqn. On her previous mobilisation period during the initial COVID-19 uncertainty in March, leading to several staff self-isolating, the section could have struggled to continue its Flight Planning output without the dedication and work ethic of SAC Brown over a three-week period. Without her input, Flight Safety could have been compromised as the pilots may not have had up to date information on which to plan their sorties. Back with us again for her second tour this year, she is fully now validated within Air Ops and can provide the same output as her regular colleagues. This will not always be the case as the PTVRs are considered inter-operable as opposed to inter-changeable. Do not expect them to be SQEP as the regular cadre.

It’s interesting for me to come full circle, initially providing PTVRs throughout Defence whilst at Air and now, as a Line Manager, getting the benefit from having their assistance on the frontline.

I can highly recommend the utilisation of PTVRs, but to do so, you need to plan in advance. The majority work full-time and need agreement to be released by their employers. As the recognition and value of the RAuxAF grows, so does demand. Unfortunately, this demand vastly outstrips supply, but if you don’t try, you won’t succeed.

To discuss the possibility of employing RAuxAF personnel, initial contact should be via Sqn Ldr Ratnage, email