RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

Counting Down…

Well it arrived yesterday.

My ‘Joining Instructions’ (JI’s) for the whole of my deployment to The ‘Stan.

This is a 23 page document that lists everything I need to know about preparing for both the training and the deployment itself. It gives me a timeline for the training and shows me what I should be doing, when and where – giving me a better idea of what is going on. It also details when I am to have leave over the next 6 months to ensure that (a) I get my leave in and it’s not wasted and (b) that I get some family time in before I go. In this way the deployment doesn’t become a 9-10month long one (given jetting about for training courses) and is much more manageable. In effect it’s managed my life for the next year or so…well it will do for the year from 1st November when my training course starts.

I can’t – as yet – tell you what I am doing on the training course, but it looks firstly very intensive, and secondly it looks like it has been designed to get me really ready for being out there, and for what I’ll be doing.

And it brought home to me just what I will be doing out there.

And just to clarify, I will be going ‘outside the wire’. I will be attached to an Infantry unit and spend a lot of time living in Patrol Bases, going on patrols with the troops on the ground, meeting the locals, getting involved.  It is not the run of the mill stuff a normal airman would be doing out there. Normally an Avionics Techy would spend pretty much all his time nice and safe back in Bastion or at Kandahar, but that is not for me (and it was the subject of a little argument with the Civvie in clothing stores yesterday when I went over with my kitting list requirements – ‘This is the kit list’ she kept saying. ‘No’ I kept insisting, ‘THIS is MY kit list…’ showing her the three pages from the JI’s…)

Either way the JI’s were also clear on the fitness requirements for the whole of the deployment. And the weapons training requirements.  I basically have to bring myself up to being an infantryman in the next two months. Infantry fitness, infantry weapons skills.  There is a lot of difference between my normal day job of sitting in an office and being an infantryman.  I have had training to handle weapons and I used to run a weekly exercise which involved living in the field, but it was a couple of years ago…we simply do not do all that stuff on a regular basis, so it is still a bit of a steep learning curve.

But I have had a chat to the chaps in the RAF Regiment section who are very keen to help me out as much as they can – inviting me along to go on range days and there’s a training exercise for the Merlin guys who are off out to Afghan next year in October that they have invited me along on. And the PTI’s in the gym have been helpful in advising about training – particularly for the Combat Fitness Tests that I will be doing during the courses.

So.

Whilst I feel daunted by the whole thing now the actual paperwork has turned up.  It’s gone from me volunteering one Tuesday afternoon in work after reading an ‘advert’ for it on the RAF Intranet site to being something that is really going to happen.

It’s really real now, with actual dates for things to be completed by, with pre-course reading to do, dates when I will be going here, there and of course dates when I will be going in to theatre all listed in black and white…well actually I feel a little calmer because a lot of the questions I had have been answered.  Not all, though, and I still have a few.

But the biggest and most important question has also been answered by it all. And that is the date for me to come back – and how much leave I will get off when I do. And I am already looking forward to next October – when I get a whole month off and the deployment is all over.

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14 thoughts on “Counting Down…

  1. emma morgan on said:

    Keep safe out there, my thoughts as always with your family and yourself and the lads out there past and present.

  2. Carol_51 on said:

    Well unless mother nature ie your health dictates otherwise. In a way I hope your health stops you from going, I want all troops home safe and well from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

  3. POTL (Post-Operational Tour Leave) is the best thing since sliced bread. Can’t wait..

  4. Ali Nicoll on said:

    Sounds very interesting and honestly, I wish – was going too.

  5. IanEMassey on said:

    You are preparing very well & doing everything you can to get your weapon handling skills & fitness levels up to speed. I was in a similar situation two years ago during my 1st deployment. A civvie copper working out of a FOB mentoring the local Chief of Police. Frequently outside the wire relying on military Force Protection but expected to be very much part of the team if things went wrong. It’s a steep learning curve but one which you are doing everything possible to fully prepare yourself. Soak up the training & have a great tour. You have been selected for a job that offers great rewards & certainly makes a difference. I look forward to hearing all about your adventures.

  6. cazzycd on said:

    Just stay safe as much as you can and make sure you give us your address in stan so we can send you/your unit care packages 🙂

  7. Mike Cox on said:

    stay safe son and bless you all,as an ex raf serviceman i wish you all the best.

  8. Wow, a 23-page document? So the ABC of “Accuracy-Brevity-Clarity” we were all taught hasn’t changed, then…?! Hee hee, could’ve written it myself, I was always getting told off for verbosity on my Service Writing course!

    Whilst I didn’t get to do an Afghan det, my OH spent a lot of time out there (in fact two days after we got married he flew back out after his brief spell at home – & we ended up as a “human interest” story for the RAF Lyneham ‘Airbase’ series!). I know he certainly found it challenging but fascinating also.

    I happened to pick a book up off the shelf the other day; & a ‘bluey’ from him to me, fell from between the pages. In it he described a visit to a remote, tranquil airfield surrounded by mountains & green pastures; how friendly the locals were, how polite & charming not to mention welcoming. They’re not all Taliban bullies & just want their peaceful, pastoral existence to continue unhindered.

    So I’m sure you’ll find your own time “outside the wire” an enriching & enlightening experience – here’s wishing you a safe-&-sound detachment.

    Incidentally I’m working on a special “Help for Heroes” gelato (luxury artisan iced cream) for which the profits will go to the Charity. Being ex RAF myself it is a cause close to my heart & anything I can do now that I’m on this side of the fence, I will.

    P.S. Sorry you saw fit to block my tweets, BTW – is there any reason why you did so? I was absolutely gutted!

    Best wishes,

    Jo (from Lovespoon Gelato).

    • Not QUITE sure how you ended up being blocked. Maybe when I checked your account to see if it was a real account or a spammy one your recent tweets must have looked a bit…spammy. Sorry.

      Any way I have un-blocked you now! Sorry if I offended!

  9. No problem – thanks! :o)

    I suppose that some people might assume at a glance, that “Lovespoon” could be something rude; whereas actually here in Wild West Wales it’s a wonderful, traditional, honourable gift that a courting chap would carve & present to his Intended as a mark of endearment or even to express a marriage proposal. We called our gelato ‘Lovespoon’ as it just ticks all the boxes here in Wales. So – my apologies too, if I appeared ‘spammy’ in any way – mind you don’t think that’d be anyone’s favourite flavour – yeuch! Ration pack, anyone? Perhaps some Biscuits Brown…? (Oh don’t tell me they still do those cardboard monstrosities)

    As I mentioned we’re looking to do a H4H Gelato but so far the third ‘colour band’ is eluding me…the pale blue. We only use fresh, natural ingredients (i.e. for this one, a combination of different soft fruits so far) & absolutely NO added colourings – so it all has to be part of the flavour; not to mention something truly delicious & moreish so people will want to buy & therefore help the Charity. I’m really excited as this is my biggest gelato challenge yet!

    As you can tell we’ve come a long way from our RAF careers although I often miss the camaraderie (the goats have only one topic of conversation – “where’s my DINNER?!”). I’m sure – as with so many – our paths must’ve crossed at some time. After all it’s sad to think the entire RAF, if all gathered together, couldn’t even fill a football stadium these days – if only the British public realised! And worse still, yet more cuts on the cards…possibly even the ‘purple jumper’ scenario on the way (the public would certainly recognise THAT uniform!!). Is a nuclear missile capability really worth it…??

    Incidentally I wasn’t intending to leave the RAF; but the OH persuaded me as if we didn’t take the plunge in this venture now – whilst we’re still (sort-of!) young enough – we never would/could’ve done so. Life is very different today, actually much more stressful in a way; especially as I work an average 20-hr day, 7 days per week – but the life skills & opportunities the RAF gave us to get here, make me forever grateful – & proud – that I was a member of such a fine organisation. You folks are doing a fantastic job & I just wish the British public appreciated how hard & selflessly you work so that not just ushere in ‘Blighty’ but people the world over, can sleep safe in their beds at night.

  10. Do you get to go to Canada to be with Army b4 deployment

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