RAF Halton is seen as a centre of excellence in the UK and by foreign defence forces. Over the last few months we have had the pleasure of hosting personnel from the Iraqi National Defence Academy, the Ukrainian Air Force and Royal Air Force Oman.
Iraqi National Defence Academy
Personnel from the Iraqi National Defence Academy visited the Defence Centre for Training Support (DCTS) to learn about our Defence Systems Approach to Training (DSAT). The visitors, who are responsible for the design and delivery of training in Iraq, listened to presentations including the DSAT relationship to officer education and training. Their visit to DCTS was part of a three-day fact finding tour to the UK to visit other military colleges and training stations. Later in the day they toured Halton House, and were presented with a framed photo of the house by Group Captain Mark Shackleton, Officer Commanding the DCTS.
Ukrainian Air Force
Lieutenant General Onyschenko, Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force accompanied by several Ukrainian officers, visited the Airmen’s Command Squadron (ACS) at RAF Halton. He is the equivalent of our Chief of the Air Staff and spent a day with the staff from ACS being shown aspects of the Non Commissioned Officer development that is conducted there.
Royal Air Force Oman
Group Captain Ahmed Ibrahim Abdullah Al Riyami was accompanied by two of his Training Officers and hosted by International Defence Training (IDT) as he visited training sections at RAF Halton. There are a large number of trainees from Oman on RAF courses and so the trip served both as a platform from which to share information on training between the two Air Forces, and a chance to gain a deeper insight into the training their personnel are receiving.
The placing of foreign military students on UK military courses is important to the UK including contributions to security cooperation, international relations, and global security. In many countries IDT forms the main activity that MOD conducts in support of its defence relationships. For others it is an important pillar to wide ranging and historic defence relationships.
Group Captain Ahmed Ibrahim Abdullah Al Riyami said: “The visit was too short now that we know how big Halton is, but it has given us a broader picture of training in the RAF and an idea of the things we would like to emulate. I would like to thank every single person involved in arranging the programme and we look forward to arranging a longer trip in the future.”
In Oman, key leader engagement, a strong loan service presence and defence sales are key components to the privileged basing and access the UK enjoys. It is estimated that Omani basing alone is worth many times more than the IDT funded places, so the UK is getting an excellent return on its investment. Other benefits are less tangible but still important to the UK. For example Cranwell and Sandhurst can cite numerous serving heads of state and hundreds of foreign military personnel as Alumini. IDT is being used to target key Middle East personalities who may assist the UK in developing influence amongst the Middle East Armed Forces in support of wider objectives.