Last Updated: 14 October, 2014

1.0     Introduction

The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) along with the Royal Logistics Corps, Army Medical Services, Adjutant General’s Corps and the Intelligence Corps form the British Army’s Combat Service Support forces.

In 2012, the Combat Service Support Capability Directorate (CSSCD) brought together the Royal Logistics Corps and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in one central authority.

REME has a number of trades which soldiers can join:

  • Aircraft Technician: maintain the weapons, gas turbine engines, environmental controls and much more of the Army’s fleet of helicopters.
  • Avionics Technician: maintain navigation and communication systems, flight controls and instruments, and also work with missile systems on the Apache attack helicopter.
  • Electronics Technician: service and repair a long list of equipment, from tanks and self-propelled guns to guided weapon systems and communication equipment.
  • Vehicle Mechanic: responsible for repairing and maintaining everything from motorcycles and generators to armoured vehicles, trucks and tanks.
  • Recovery Mechanics: recover the Army’s ditched, bogged and overturned vehicles using powerful winch equipment and cranes.
  • Weapons System Engineers (Armourers): inspect, repair and maintain all the military’s combat systems. This means working with a variety of weapons, from small arms to heavyweights like the AS90.
  • Metalsmiths: qualified to work with every type of metal, experts at welding using hand and power tools.
  • Technical Support Specialists (Storemen & Trainers): responsible for the security, identification, shipping and stock profiling of a wide variety of kit.

With minor exceptions only, REME is responsible for the examination, modification, repair and recovery of all mechanical, electronic, electrical and optical equipment of the British Army beyond the capacity of unit non-technical personnel.

2.0     Training Hierarchy

REME Phase 2 specialist training and Phase 3 career training is conducted at schools which form part of the Defence College of Technical Training which in turn forms part of No 22 (Training) Group RAF, commanded by the Air Officer Commanding and Chief of Staff (Training), an Air Vice-Marshal, who in turn reports to the Deputy Commander Capability and Air Member for Personnel and Capability, an Air Marshal.

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Figure 1: REME Defence Training Establishments

Depending on what trade a soldier chooses to specialise in, they will complete their training at one of two REME engineering schools. The School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (SEME) in Bordon, Hampshire, teaches the electromechanical and support trades and the School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering (SEAE) in Arborfield, Berkshire, caters for the various technician trades.

As well as initial trade training, soldiers will attend courses at these schools throughout their career to update knowledge and skills and gain further qualifications such as City and Gilds and BTECs. These are all transferable to the civilian sector and highly sought after by employers.

3.0     Defence College of Technical Training

As part of the Defence Technical Training Change Programme (DTTCP) driven development of Defence Technical Training, the Defence College of Technical Training (DCTT) formed on the 01 October 2012 from:

  • Defence College of Electro-Mechanical Engineering (DCEME)
  • Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE)
  • Defence College of Communications and Information Systems (DCCIS)

With the above colleges having changed to schools on 01 October 2012, the DCTT now has 4 Pillars:

  • Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering (DSAE) with the school HQ at Cosford.
  • Defence School of Communications and Information Systems (DSCIS) with the school HQ at Blandford.
  • Defence School of Electro-Mechanical Engineering (DSEME); initially comprising Borden and Arborfield schools with No 4 School of Technical Training to become subordinate on move to RAF Lyneham.
  • Defence School of Marine Engineering (DSMarE) with the school HQ at Gosport.

The DCTT structure is coherent with training volumes in each of the Defence Schools and provides OF5-level command to enable delivery of site functions as Heads of Establishment in the Stations and Garrisons concerned (e.g. Commandant DSAE also the Station Commander of RAF Cosford). The HQ DCTT will be initially based in HMS Sultan, Gosport, but will move to RAF Lyneham no later than the end of 2014.

4.0     Defence School of Electro-Mechanical Engineering

The Defence College of Electro-Mechanical Engineering (DCEME) was formed on 02 April 2004 and brought together a number of separate Service training organisations, all of which were delivering forms of electro-mechanical engineering, with the aim of exploiting synergies to improve training delivery and output, and increase efficiency and effectiveness. DCEME became the Defence School of Electro-Mechanical Engineering (DSEME) on 01 October 2012.

DSEME runs courses in partnership with other training providers, including external companies, in order to deliver the best value for money for defence without compromising standards.

5.0     REME Arms School

The REME Arms School, based at Hazebrouck Barracks in Arborfield, delivers training in REME command skills and engineering management to officers, soldiers and Equipment Support Staff. The School manages the delivery of officer and artificer training across the Arms school, the School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering and the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering based in Bordon. In addition to REME students, the School provides training for students from the other arms, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, the Civil Service and overseas.

6.0     The School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering

The School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (SEME) – located at Prince Philip Barracks in Bordon, Hampshire – provides Phase 2 specialist training for REME soldiers. SEME is the UKs largest electro-mechanical engineering teaching establishment and at any time there are approximately 1,500 soldiers undertaking career and equipment courses and gaining transferable qualifications ranging from National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) Level 2 to Higher National Diplomas.

Levels 1, 2, 3 and Artificer training of Electro/Mechanical trades of REME and various related training to other units within the British army and the Navy and Air Force is conducted at 10 Training Battalion REME, based at Bordon in Hampshire.

6.1     Induction Training

On arrival at SEME soldiers will receive a series of induction presentations and visits that will explain what they can expect to experience during their time at SEME and during trade training. These induction presentations and visits last a few days and involve presentations by the:

  • Commanding Officer;
  • Company Commander;
  • Diversity and Equality Officer;
  • Padre;
  • Gymnasium staff; and
  • Trade training coordinator and their staff.

There will also be visits to 10 Training Battalion and trade areas/facilities. At the end of the induction period soldiers should be in no doubt what they can expect during their time in Bordon, the Training Battalion and the Trade School.

6.2     Military Training

Military training is designed to ensure that REME soldiers are joining the Field Force as trained and effective soldiers who can successfully perform their trade in both garrison and operational environments. The types of military training conducted include:

  • Military Annual Training Tests (MATTs): are divided into eight sections and focus on maintaining personal skills and attitudes that contribute to operational effectiveness. Individuals have to achieve and maintain a standard appropriate to their role, their likeliness of operational deployment, and in the Battalion’s case, based on the phase of training that a soldier is currently undertaking.
  • Basic Close Combat Skills (BCCS): are those military skills that are currently not taught at Phase 1 initial training, but are the next progressive step to the basic field craft skills. BCCS includes collective tasks at team, squad and section level, both dismounted and mounted – they are based on the lessons that have been identified by the Field Army on operations around the world.

All Phase 2 soldiers leaving 10 Training Battalion will complete the BCCS programme which has the MATTs included. Soldiers will be loaded onto the BCCS course after completing their trade training and before departing for their first assignment. The BCCS programme will prepare soldiers for further military training with the Field Army.

Although the priority for training at 10 Training Battalion is trade training, SEME considers it important that soldiers leave training with the military skills necessary to fight, survive, and win in an operational environment so they can perform their trade tasks.

6.3     Key Skills and Foundation Training

Other training undertaken at SEME includes:

  • Key Skills Level 2: soldiers are assessed and taught life-long lessons in order to identify their level of key skills. They will be taught and/or assessed on:
    • Communications
    • Application of numbers
    • Information communication technology
    • Working with others
    • Improving their own learning and performance
  • Common Foundation Training: many soldiers will attend a period of common foundation training. It is five weeks in duration and includes periods of academics, maths, science, technical drawing, materials and workshop technology. On successful completion a soldier may gain a recognised national qualification.

7.0     The School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering

REME currently has its Arms and Service Directorate, DEME(A) and Regimental Headquarters collocated with the trade specific Level 2, advanced Level 3 and Artificer training of Electronic and Aeronautical Technicians at 11 Training Battalion REME based in Arborfield Garrison, in the county of Berkshire.

The garrison contains Hazebrouck Barracks, which is a training base for the REME School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering (SEAE). The potential craftsmen within SEAE, study in the school to learn a trade as aircraft technicians, avionics technicians, and electronics technicians, (which encompasses all maintenance operatives for all land based electronic equipment).

The Defence School (formerly College) of Aeronautical Engineering (DSAE), established on 01 April 2004 as a result of the Defence Training Review is responsible for training of aircraft and avionic technicians. The DSAE from its conception has been integrated as part of SEAE.

8.0     Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering

The Defence School of Aeronautical Engineering (DSAE) is a federated school and comprises training establishments across 3 sites and embraces:

  • The Royal Navy Air Engineering and Survival School (RNAESS) based at HMS Sultan in Gosport;
  • The REME School of Electronic and Aeronautical Engineering (SEAE) based in Arborfield;
  • The RAF No 1 School of Technical Training; and
  • The RAF Aerosystems Engineer and Management Training School.

The latter 2, plus the Headquarters DSAE, are located at RAF Cosford. The principal task of the DSAE is to produce highly trained and motivated aeronautical engineering mechanics, technicians and officers ready to contribute to UK Defence.

8.1     DSAE (Gosport)

The DSAE (Gosport) element consists of the Royal Navy Air Engineering and Survival School at HMS Sultan. The school operates 4 strands of training, namely Air Engineering Mechanics, Air Engineering Artificers, Survival Training and Air Engineering Officers.

8.2     DSAE (Arborfield)

DSAE (Arborfield) in conjunction with the Technology Branch, which forms part of the Arborfield element of DCEME, is responsible for training all REME aviation technicians, artificers and engineering officers. The Technology Branch is responsible for teaching academic subjects such as electronic theory and the theory of flight, while DCAE (Arborfield) covers, engineering techniques, aircraft systems and equipment training on the lynx and gazelle helicopters.

9.0     Phase 2: Soldier Training

9.1     Vehicle Mechanics

After completing the foundation modules of trade training, soldiers will choose between two different roles:

  • Vehicle Mechanic A (VM(A)), specialising in heavy armoured vehicles that run on tracks; or
  • Vehicle Mechanic B (VM(B)), specialising in light tracked and wheeled vehicles.

VM(A)s receive additional training on the Challenger 2 main battle tank and other heavy tracked vehicles while VM(B)s learn all about bridging equipment, tank transporter equipment and bulk fuel tankers. Whichever route you take, your job will be to work out what’s gone wrong with the vehicle and fix it. After 20-weeks technical training soldiers will be taught to drive many of the vehicles they will be called upon to service.

A VM(A) working on tracked/armoured vehicles can expect to be at Bordon for 29+ weeks and receive instruction in:

  • Workshop procedures
  • Engine technology
  • Transmission technology
  • Heavy tracked vehicle technology
  • Vehicle repair techniques
  • Hydraulics
  • ECS
  • Crane operator
  • Tracked licence

A VM(B) working on light vehicles can expect to be at Bordon for 24+ weeks and receive instruction in:

  • Workshop procedures
  • Vehicle technology
  • Light tracked vehicle technology
  • Repair techniques
  • Hydraulics
  • ECS
  • Crane operator

9.2     Recovery Mechanics

Recovery mechanics have the job of racing into the field, recovering an immobilised vehicle and getting it back to somewhere safe where it can be properly fixed.

Recovery mechanics have to work out how to recover a vehicle that is ditched or overturned, and then recover the vehicle using cranes, lifting gear and training in mechanical theory to aid the process of retrieving immobile vehicles.

Recovery mechanics are taught how to estimate the amount of force required, as well as learn to drive tracked vehicles, cut metal and use explosives. Soldiers can expect to be at Bordon for 17+ weeks and receive detailed and physically enduring training in:

  • Recovery ethos
  • Vehicle technology
  • Challenger driving (Driver Training Tank)
  • Special servicing techniques
  • Recovery techniques
  • Driving and familiarisation
  • Associated equipment

9.3     Armourers

REME armourers modify all of the Army’s weapons, whether they are simple rifles and pistols or complex heavyweights like the AS9O gun and the Challenger 2 120mm tank gun.

The job of armourer allows progression to Artificer level, successful completion of which leads to the rank of Staff Sergeant and further progression to Warrant Officer Class 1. Every unit has its own weapons, so they depend on the armourer to ensure they are ready to fight. The course lasts 30 weeks and includes:

  • Workshop technology and procedures
  • Small arms general principles
  • Light weapons
  • Support weapons
  • Vehicle-mounted weapon systems
  • Instruments and sighting systems
  • Associated equipment
  • Driving licence acquisition

9.4     Metalsmiths

If it is made of metal, it is the metalsmith’s job to work on it, whether it is knocking dents out of Land Rovers, making tools for engineers or fitting parts on vehicles and other equipment using a range of hand and power tools. Metalsmiths can expect to be at Bordon for at least 35 weeks and receive instruction in:

  • Workshop procedures
  • Sheet metal
  • Blacksmithing
  • Traditional welding techniques
  • Modern welding techniques
  • Electronics and computer science
  • Crane operator

9.5     Technical Support Specialists

REME uses hundreds of tools and specialised pieces of equipment to keep the Army up and running. One of the roles of the technical support specialist (TS Spec) is to look after these tools and pieces of equipment, and help the tradesmen and women get their job done right first time.

TS Specs are also responsible for delivering military training to their unit. Having gained instructional qualifications in courses such as weapons handling, range work, chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear (CBRN) defence and dismounted/mounted close combat skills, TS Specs will then help train the remainder of their colleagues in these skills. Before being assigned to their first REME Unit, TS Specs can expect to spend a total of 12 days in Bordon learning accounting and unit material management responsibilities before moving to the Defence Logistics School for 4-weeks to attend in-depth training on the All Arms Storeman Course.

10.0   Phase 2: Officer Training

10.1   REME Platoon Commanders Course

Once officers have completed their Phase 1 initial training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) they will attend the 8-week REME Platoon Commanders Course (RPCC)which is designed to take the generic skills learnt at RMAS and adapt them to the needs of a REME Officer. The Introductory Phase is at Arborfield and covers the organisation, doctrine and procedures of REME. The Engineering Phase is split between Arborfield and Bordon. This phase covers the practical application of engineering techniques in the military and includes familiarisation on a wide range of equipment. During this phase officers qualify as an armoured vehicle commander.

10.2   Military Systems Engineering Course (LAND)

Officers will attend the Military Systems Engineering Course (LAND), commonly known as MSEC(L). This course includes a 4-week attachment to the officer’s first unit as well as various leadership and engineering courses.

After MSEC(L) officers will be posted to the Field Army to assume their first command, which is normally a REME Battalion, Commando or Parachute Regiment (for those that have selected this) or even Canada.

10.3   Aeronautical Engineering Course

Officers with any degree who wish to work within the field of Army Aviation must complete the Aeronautical Engineering Course. This intensive sixth month course qualifies officers as Aircraft Engineering Officers. On successful completion, officers would be posted to either a workshop in an Army Air Corps Regiment or to 7 Air Assault Battalion REME.

10.4   Industrial Attachment

After three years service officers will be sent on a three month attachment to civilian industry, in order to broaden their design skills and commercial awareness. Recent attachments have taken place in France and Germany as well as the UK, and have included companies such as Lotus, Aston Martin, British Airways and Thales.

10.5   Chartered Engineer

All the training officers receive and experience they gain is accredited by the Institution of Electrical Engineers, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and the Royal Aeronautical Society. Although not compulsory, REME Officers are expected to become chartered engineers within 5-7 years as part of their normal career path. This will stand them in good stead whether they decide to have a full career in REME or leave to find civilian employment.

10.6   Junior Officers Equipment Support Course

The Junior Officers Equipment Support (JOES) course is a continuation of the Phase 2 specialist training officers receive during their RPCC course. The intent is to look at the issues driving equipment support within the British Army from the next level up, i.e. a junior Captain appointment. Successful completion of the course will qualify officers as a Competent Engineering Officer and open the way to a senior platoon command posting.

11.0   Cost of Training

In 2012, it was estimated that the cost per soldier recruit for Phase 2 training for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (includes the School of Electrical and Aeronautical Engineering and the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering) was £1,310 to £43,930 (HC, 2012).

12.0   References

Institution of Mechanical Engineers: http://www.imeche.org/

HC (House of Common Debates) Daily Hansard – Written Answer, 12 June 2012, Column 449W. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120612/text/120612w0002.htm#120612w0002.htm_spnew58. [Accessed: 12 March, 2014].

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