RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

Out of Area…

I was recently asked this question on Twitter:

“When you get deployed, what is your role within your team? I know you are an AV Tech, but what does it entail?”

Well.  This is an ace question.

Of course in my CURRENT role there isn’t much call for a Deployable Continuous Improvement facilitator, so I wouldn’t be deployed in THAT role, I’d go “Out Of Area” (OOA) as an AV Tech.

Or at least you’d think I would.

I think now is a good time to explain just what the RAF does with regards to deployments and how it deploys people.  And it does so in one of two ways.  Either as part of a “Formed Unit” – Say 617 Sqn getting sent away somewhere – or as part of a “Non-Formed Unit” – where we just get sent out to fill a post out “there”.

Formed Units go out and do the job they train for when they are back at home.  Lets look at the Merlin Force who are in the process of building up out in Afghan right now (and as I type I read that they have gone operational out there).  The Engineers will travel en-masse in groups to theatre, and go through the theatre arrivals processes together (I won’t bore you with that, but essentially a LOT of briefings), and then go about doing their normal job – fixing helicopters – but just deployed. So the Avionics guys will work on the Avionics of the aircraft, the heavies will look after the engines and airframes; Armourers looking after any weapons equipment that may be fitted to them, and so on.  As I say, they’ll be doing their normal jobs out there.

For ME…I am not part of a squadron and so would go out as Non-Formed Unit personnel.  In this case I might go out in my role as an Avionics Tech – but as far as I know there are no avionics bays out there for me to work in – and so I would very probably go in an “any trade” post.  These are the more interesting jobs such as assisting in managing the Helicopter operations, or acting as a Guard Commander, or just doing general administration of the sites out there.  I could even go out and do one of the Military Stabilisation Team jobs, or act as a trainer to the local forces.  The list is pretty endless.

So it’s quite difficult to say what I’d be doing if I were to go out of area.  It’s fairly easy if you are working on the aircraft on the flying squadrons, but more complicated if you are not.  When I went out to Saudi in the 90’s I was in a Formed Unit working on the Tornados or the equipment fitted to them but now.  What I end up doing if…WHEN I go out there (as I know I surely will at some stage) will be down to the sort of job that I am in, and what jobs they need doing Out Of Area.

As an aside – if you’ve got ANY questions about life or work in the RAF, then please don’t hesitate to contact me either as a comment on these pages or via @RAFairman on Twitter.

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