Last Updated: 08 August, 2016
The gunners of the RAF Regiment are the Royal Air Force’s ground troops. Their principle role is that of force protection. 8 Field Squadrons provide ground security for RAF operations. This role is not limited to simple perimeter security but can include aggressive patrols out into the surrounding area. Weaponry and equipment available to field squadrons include MWMIK Jackals, WMIK Land Rovers, hmgs, gpmgs and 81mm mortars. Other RAF Regiment roles include provision of Tactical Air Control Parties (TACPs), Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) detection and decontamination, combat search and rescue and Special Forces support.
1.1 Women and No.2 Squadron RAF Regiment
On 08 July 2016, the MOD announced that all Ground Close Combat Roles (RAC, Infantry, Royal Marines and the RAF Regiment) would be opened to women by 2018 (British Army, 2016).
2.0 No.2 Squadron RAF Regiment
Originally formed in Heliopolis, Egypt, on 07 April 1922 as No.2 Armoured Car Company RAF at Heliopolis, No.2 Squadron is now an elite parachute-trained field squadron that is capable of jumping in and seizing airfields and securing refuelling points; although this capability has not been used in combat operations.
The squadron, commanded by a Squadron Leader (OF-3), operates as a normal field squadron, but its capability is used on specific operations as well. For example, in 2001 a Squadron parachute jump was conducted into Sierra Leone as part of Operation Silkman. This show of force had the effect of disrupting rebel operations and proved the worth of a rapidly deployable capability.
Members of No.2 Squadron are required to pass the arduous RAF Pre-Parachute Selection (RAF PPS) Course in order to attend a military parachuting course at RAF Brize Norton.
It must be noted that the RAF Pre-Parachute Selection course is not the same course as the All Arms Pre-Parachute Selection (AAPPS) course (aka P-Company) delivered by the Parachute Regiment.
The RAF course was originally intended to be a preparation and selection course prior to personnel attending P-Company. However, apparently, the standard set was so high that the RAF dropped the requirement for attending P-Company.
An FOI request revealed the following:
“The RAF Regiment conducts the RAF Pre-Parachute Selection Course to assess the physical and mental suitability of an individual for service in parachute roles across Defence. This course is aligned with the Army All Arms [Pre-] Parachute Selection Course and is used to select personnel to serve in the numerous RAF Regiment parachute roles.
Under Section 16 of the FOI act – advice and assistance – I can tell you that the reason that the RAF Regiment conducts a different course is due to the diversity of the parachute roles filled by these personnel and different training requirements to that of our Army colleagues.”
After candidates successfully complete the RAF PPS Course they will then attend a Basic Parachute Course at RAF Brize Norton. Look here for further information on this course (scroll down to Part Five: Basic Parachute Course).
The RAF Regiment contribution to the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG) is drawn from the ranks of No.2 Squadron. Their role within the SFSG is thought to include force protection and the provision of Tactical Air Control Parties (TACPs) and sniper teams. Personnel can apply for service with SFSG after two years service with No.2 Squadron.
No.2 Squadron is based at RAF Honington in Suffolk.
The motto of No.2 Squadron is Nunquam Non Paratus (Never Unprepared).
3.0 Forward Air Control
RAF Regiment personnel man the majority of Tactical Air Control Parties (TACPs) that coordinate Close Air Support for the British Army. These small teams move with Airborne, Armoured and Infantry units in order to identify enemy targets and call in air assets to attack them. They are also trained to call in artillery fire. TACPs are required to move quickly around the battlefield and can be inserted by vehicle, helicopter or parachute.
4.0 Useful Stuff
- A book by Graeme Deeley: ‘Never Not Ready: The History of RAF Regiment Parachute Units 1942-2012’ (http://www.nevernotready.co.uk).
- RAF Regiment: Pre-Parachute Selection course: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKRtNyg4Yp0.
British Army (2016) Ground Close Combat Roles Open To Women. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.army.mod.uk/news/28632.aspx. [Accessed: 08 August, 2016].