- Specialist Training: takes place at RAF Manston in Kent and consists of:
- 15 weeks basic firefighter training; and
- 5 weeks of further specific military training which includes:
- 2-weeks functional skills; 1-week adventure training; and
- 2-weeks airman development training.
- The basic course will teach trainees:
- Techniques to deal with emergencies, including aircraft crash rescue and domestic firefighting;
- How to use rescue equipment, including breathing apparatus;
- How to operate fire extinguishers;
- How aircraft ejector seats operate; and
- About the chemistry of fire.
- Trainees will also deal with ‘live’ practice fires, and gain experience of specialist crash rescue and firefighting vehicles. Specialist training will earn trainees a number of qualifications, including: accreditation to the Institute of Fire Engineers at preliminary level; the St John Ambulance First Aid at Work qualification; and Home Office accreditation to wear breathing apparatus. Trainees will also be on their way to completing a Level 2 NVQ. Together with Functional Skills in Application of Number, Communication and Information Technology and a Technical Certificate, this will qualify trainees for an Apprenticeship in Aviation Operations on The Ground and achieve the majority of credits towards a Diploma in Aviation Ops. The job may require individuals to work under extreme and sometimes dangerous conditions. Accordingly, Firefighter training is physically and mentally demanding. Trainees will receive professional training in firefighting skills and learn how to use specialist equipment such as breathing apparatus and cutting and lifting equipment. The RAF will also teach trainees how to operate specialist airfield crash fire and rescue appliances. Later individuals will have the opportunity to qualify in the specialist skills of fire safety, road traffic incident instructor and compartment fire behaviour training. As part of training, trainees will take an LGV driving test and qualify in emergency fire appliance driving techniques. Trainees will also have the opportunity to complete an Apprenticeship in Aviation Operations.
- Ongoing Development: As a career progresses, the RAF will continue to train individuals in new skills. Early on, individuals could earn their LGV driving licence and teach the specialist skills needed to drive firefighting vehicles. Individuals will also have opportunities to continue the same programme of professional development as civilian firefighters, earning the same qualifications as they do at each stage of an individual’s career.
2.0 RAF Police
- Specialist Training: Airmen/Airwomen are posted to the RAF Police School having completed Phase 1 initial training at RAF Halton. Successful completion results in the individual being promoted to Corporal and being posted to an operational unit. The next step is specialist trade training – the Royal Air Force Police Initial Course (RAFPIC), lasts for 23 weeks and is delivered at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding (DSPG) located at MOD Southwick Park, Hampshire. The course teaches the students general policing duties, including Investigations, reporting and recording of Service and Civilian offences, Arrest procedures and Police Interviews. Additionally the RAFPIC also trains Airmen/Airwomen in the basic principles of Security including, Security Risk Management, Personnel Security, Physical Security, Counter Terrorist measures and Information Security. Trainees are also trained in Operational Policing and Security, mirroring what is expected of the RAF Police on Operations. If a trainee has volunteered for dog-handling duties, they will have a further 7 weeks of training where they will team up with an RAF Police dog. This training will take place at the Defence Animal Centre, Melton Mowbray. During the specialist training course, trainees will be enrolled on an Apprenticeship. Once the course has finished and individuals have gained some practical work experience, they will be awarded a Professional Technical Certificate and an NVQ Level 2 in Security, Safety and Loss Prevention. At the end of the course, trainees will receive their first assignment.
- Ongoing Development: As a career progresses, the RAF will continue to train individuals in new skills. Individuals will have opportunities to attend many different courses in areas such as counter-intelligence, criminal investigation, close protection, covert operations and protective security, as well as management and leadership training.
- Specialist Police Duties: as a member of the RAF Police individuals could specialise in other roles: As a Military Working Dog Handler individuals can specialise on Patrol Dogs, Drug Detection Dogs, Arms & Explosive Dogs, Vehicle Search Dogs; Special Investigations (CID); Air Transport Security; Counter Intelligence; Close Protection (Bodyguard protecting senior military officers); Forensic Investigator (CSI); Computer Forensic Investigator; Defence Flying Complaints Investigator; or Security Surveyor.
3.0 RAF Police Officer
- Specialist Training: After Initial Officer Training, trainees will complete the 20-week RAF Police Officers’ Course (RAFPOC) at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding (DSPG), Southwick Park near Portsmouth. Although DSPG is a tri-Service establishment, separate training will be conducted for each Service. However there will be extensive opportunities to meet and share views with British Army and RN counterparts. The RAFPOC will continue to build upon leadership and management skills whilst covering all aspects of criminal and Service law, investigations and protective security (incorporating cyber security, counter intelligence and security risk management). Trainees will also be given additional training on deployed military skills to enable them to effectively fulfil the wide variety of operational roles conducted by the RAF Police. Once specialist training has been completed, individuals will then be ready to undertake their first tour.
- Ongoing Development: RAF Police Officers can expect to be employed on a wide range of duties and may be selected to undertake further training (see Section 2.0) in fields such as Serious Crime Investigation (if posted into the Special Investigations Branch), Counter Intelligence or Cyber Security.
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).
4.0 RAF Regiment Gunner
- Specialist Training: As a Gunner, trainees could specialise in some of the RAF Regiment’s other roles:
- Become a paratrooper serving on 2 Squadron RAF Regiment or other parachute-capable units;
- Serve on the Queen’s Colour Squadron, carrying out ceremonial duties including guarding Buckingham Palace, as well as the normal operational role;
- Become a sniper – an expert in camouflage and marksmanship;
- Be part of a unit specialising in detecting and protecting against chemical or biological attack;
- Train as a member of a Forward Air Control team, calling in strike aircraft and helicopters in support of ground troops;
- Work in support of Special Forces operations; or
- Work as part of a small team to recover downed aircrew or other key personnel.
- Ongoing Development: As a career progresses, the RAF will continue to train individuals in new skills, particularly different weapons systems. There are opportunities to learn specialist combat medical skills, undertake management and leadership training and complete GCSEs, A-levels and more advanced NVQs. In addition, individuals will have the chance to gain qualifications in adventurous sports such as mountaineering, rock climbing, skiing, sailing and canoeing and for them to lead training as an Enhanced Team Leader.
5.0 RAF Regiment Officer
- Specialist Training: RAF Regiment training starts with the Junior Regiment Officers’ Course (JROC) where trainees will learn the field skills and tactical knowledge they will need to command a flight of Gunners in a combat situation. The course is mentally and physically tough and trainees will need grit and resolve to succeed. Upon successful completion trainees will then be posted to a front line squadron and could serve anywhere in the world. Some squadrons have specialist roles: 2 Squadron RAF Regiment is parachute capable and on the Queen’s Colour Squadron individuals will combine operational tasks with ceremonial duties such as mounting guard at Buckingham Palace. Individuals will normally spend about two years in each role. As a career progresses, individuals will have the opportunity to serve in a wide variety of roles and locations. Some of the tasks within a first few years of service could include:
- Leading a flight on patrol around an airfield to deter, locate and destroy the enemy;
- Working with the British Army as a Forward Air Controller to call in and direct close air support;
- Parachuting into a hostile environment to secure an airfield for RAF or allied forces use;
- Planning missions and leading a small team to recover downed aircrew or other key personnel;
- Providing specialist capabilities to warn of and counter the effects of chemical, biological or radiological weapons;
- Providing training for RAF personnel; or
- Leading a flight in ceremonial events in front of the Royal Family, visiting Heads of State and other VIPs.
- Ongoing Development: JROC is only the beginning; as individuals undertake new roles they will take courses to help them meet any challenge, be it Forward Air Controlling, Jungle or Arctic Warfare courses or military parachuting. Life as an RAF Regiment office is never predictable and a new challenge is always around the corner. Much will be demanded of individuals but, in return, they will go to places and experience a world their civilian friends can only dream of.
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].