1.0     Introduction

RAF Honington is located in Suffolk, situated midway between the main towns of Bury St Edmunds to the south and Thetford in Norfolk to the north.

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     RAF Force Protection Centre

The aim of the RAF Force Protection Centre is to prepare RAF and other personnel from the other Services for their Force Protection and Specialist Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) responsibilities and skills supported by integrated and constant research, training design, standardisation and drafting of tactical doctrine.

3.0     Ground Defence Training Flight

The Force Development Squadron, a part of Support Wing, consists of five flights including the Ground Defence Training Flight (GDT). GDT Flight is responsible for the training of personnel in Common Core Skills, in readiness for duties both in the UK and for overseas deployment. They also train the Guard Force, carry out First Aid training and additional weapons training.

4.0     RAF Regiment Training Wing

The RAF Regiment’s Training Wing provides appropriate recruit, professional and career training for the airmen, NCOs and officers to satisfy the trained manpower requirements of the RAF Regiment. RAF Honington is almost unique in that it delivers initial (Phase 1), specialist (Phase 2) and career (Phase 3) training at one location.

The Training Wing, commanded by a Wing Commander, is a large organisation comprising four Squadrons who each fulfil a separate role:

  • Headquarters Squadron, consisting of: Admin Flight (RAO); 4001 Flight (Demo Troops & General Duties); MT Flight; Training Support Cell (Welfare, IT and Classrooms/Training Stores); Training Validation Cell and Course Maintenance Cell (CDC); RAF Regiment Recruit Selection Flight; and the RAF Regiment Recruiting Team.
  • Regiment Training Squadron (Advanced) (RTS(A)), consisting of:
    • Junior Regiment Officers Course (JROC): provides the specialist training for Operations Support (Regiment) officers that have graduated from IOT. JROC is 37-weeks and provides the young officer with the techniques of Leadership, Command and Control, Administration and Management of Training. Functions necessary for them to perform those duties required as a Flight Commander (Flt Cdr) on their first tour with a RAF Regiment Operational Squadron. The Course is split into 3 phases providing a progressive training environment over the 37 weeks.
      • Phase 1 concentrates on individual military skills, which include weapon training, navigation and fitness.
      • During phase 2, minor tactics are taught taking the young commander up to flight level, which involves command and control of up to 32 men.
      • All this training is consolidated during phase 3, which concludes with the qualification to plan and control live firing ranges. On completion of the JROC, the newly qualified RAF Regiment officer will be posted to a Field Squadron.
    • Further Training 1 (FT1), similar to JNCO Cadre course: provides the training for the RAF Regiment gunner to be qualified for promotion to Corporal. The Course is 14-weeks and divided into 4 modules. Each module provides the potential Corporal with the skills necessary to operate as a JNCO within the varied roles of the RAF Regiment. The Modules cover, Command & Leadership, Methods of Instructional Techniques, Weapons Instructor and a Range Management Qualification. The Command & Leadership module spends a great deal of time in the field environment in order to develop commanders who will have leadership, courage and willpower, with the temperament for decisive action in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances.
    • Further Training 2 (FT2), similar to Section Commanders Battle Course (SCBC): provides the RAF Regiment JNCO with the training required to enable them to be qualified ready for promotion to Sergeant. FT2 is 7-weeks and includes a Command & Leadership module of 6-weeks and a 1-week Force Protection module. The Command & Leadership module aims to progress the JNCO to the command responsibilities associated with progression to SNCO rank. The students will be trained in the field environment, developing the skills to assist and where necessary deputise for the Flt Cdr in the command of a flight of up to 32 men.
    • Further Training 3 (FT3), similar to Platoon Sergeant’s Battle Course (PSBC).
  • Regiment Training Squadron (Basics) (RTS(B)), consisting of: Phase 1 and 2 of RAF Regiment Gunner training. This is similar to training delivered at ITC Catterick, however, there are also lessons on ‘Air Awareness’ and Force Protection to prepare individuals for their future roles as RAF Regiment Gunners.
  • Regiment Training Squadron (Continuation) (RTS(C)), consisting of:
    • Signals Training Flight (STF): currently runs three formal signals courses. In addition, STF is responsible for conducting a basic 1-day signals module on the FT2 Course and Sniper course as well as providing the foundation signals training on the JROC and TG courses. STF is also responsible for the provision of all signals equipment required on all Training Wing courses and for providing advice on tactical communications and CIS matters to all RAF Regt FE’s and HQs. Formal courses delivered by STF include:
      • Unit Signals Officers/Instructors (USO/I): The aim of this course is to provide selected Junior Officers and SNCOs with the additional skills and specialist knowledge required to successfully undertake the appointment of Unit Signals Officer/Instructor in any RAF Regiment formation.
      • Command Post Signaller (CPS): The aim of this course is to provide selected Gunners with the additional skills and specialist knowledge required to successfully operate in any RAF Regiment Command Post as a signaller.
      • PRC 346 Operator: The aim of this course is to train CPS qualified Gunners in the operation of the in-service tactical ground to air radio system (PRC 346).
      • BOWMAN/Signals Courses.
    • Field Training Flight (FTF): formal courses delivered by FTF include:
      • Field Gunner: The aim of the course is to provide specialist pre-employment training, for graduates of TG courses and for other non-qualified Airmen Gunners, in order to qualify them for employment on RAF Regiment Field squadrons. The course will cover Field Squadron specific weapons (Dry training, tactical employment & field firing), Fire Team/Section/Flight Dismounted Close Combat (Dry & Live), Force Protection measures, and culminates in an Flight Level Field Exercise. Most of the course is conducted outdoors and away from RAF Honington.
      • Field Corporal: The aim of the course is to provide specialist pre-employment training, for graduates of FT(G)1 courses and for other non-qualified Cpl Gunners, in order to qualify them for employment on RAF Regiment Field squadrons. The course will cover Field Squadron specific weapons (Dry training & instructional technique, tactical employment, field firing & safety supervision of field firing), Battle Planning, Fire Team/Section/Flight Dismounted Close Combat (Dry & Live), Force Protection measures, and culminates in an Flight Level Field Exercise. Students who have not qualified to use LMG (Minimi)/MSTAR/HMNVS + LA (72 Hours) are encouraged to arrive two weeks earlier and join the Field Gunner course, which shadows the Field Corporal course, where instruction will be conducted. Most of the course is conducted outdoors and away from RAF Honington.
      • Pre-Para: The aim of Pre-Para is to determine whether candidates have the physical aptitude, endurance, determination and the aggression to carry out military tasks under the conditions of physical hardship and stress, related to Airborne Operations.
      • Sniper: both Sniper Courses are conducted at RTS(C) as centralised training (Basic and Command). The Basic Sniper Course is a 9-week modular course conducted at Training Wing, RAF Honington. The course covers the L96 sniper rifle, Sniper Field-craft Skills (Judging Distance, Camouflage & Concealment, Stalking, Map Reading & Observation), Shooting (LF, TLFTT & LFTT), Sniper Knowledge and RAF Regt Sniper Doctrine & Tactics.
    • Weapon Instructor (WI) Course, run by RTSC for FT2 students.
    • Range Management Qualification (RMQ), the course is 4-weeks long and consists of the standard 2 week RMQ course, which is the same as the one conducted at TAG (UK)/TAG (G). The third week is Shoot to Kill (SA (E) & (F) (90) qualifications) and the fourth week is Battle Lessons and Exercises to gain the SA (M) (07) qualification. The course is attended by JROC and FT2 as their final phase, however recently a small quantity of ‘blue’ RAF has attended the first two weeks; mainly armourers (test firings) and RAF Rifle Association members.
    • HMG & GMG T3 courses.
    • Javelin Gunner, at the moment (2012) the Basic Javelin Gunner course is conducted. Future aspirations will be to run Javelin WI Courses at the Training Wing.

5.0     Reference

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].

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