RAF Recruit Training Embrace the Whole Force approach

Thirty-six Royal Air Force Reserves recruits this week became the first RAF reservists to undergo part of their basic training alongside Regular recruits. The recruits, who are normally based at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire, worked together for two days at Bramley Training Ground in Hampshire to learn about life on operations; during their exercise they conducted patrols, lived in the field and some had an opportunity to be flown on a Chinook to simulate a tactical
extraction from the battlefield.

RAF Halton’s move to integrate Regular and Reserve training is in line with the Government’s Future Reserves 2020 strategy, which has seen a £1.5 billion investment into the UK’s Reserve Forces and recognises the wide range of skills, experience and capabilities that Reserves bring to the Royal Air Force. RAF Halton has already pioneered ‘whole force graduations’ where Regular and Reserves personnel pass out of basic training together; this week, even as their Reserves colleagues trained in the field, 16 RAF Reserves recruits who had recently completed their basic training took part in the first Regular and Reserves ‘supergraduation’.

Officer Commanding Training Wing at RAF Halton, Wing Commander Jason Chalk said: “Ultimately we deploy together, so it makes sense that we train and graduate together as well. I think it helps both Reserves and the Regulars understand each other and recognise the skills and the qualities that they bring are exactly the same. We require exactly the same standard of the Reserves as we do for the Regulars. It’s all about knowing that when you go on operations together, you can rely on the person next to you.”

Those training at Bramley had the chance to hone a range of skills, including patrolling and living on ration packs. Aircraftman Sarah Holland, 31, from Blackpool, works as a retail manager for Sainsbury’s and has recently joined the RAF Reserves to train as an Intelligence Analyst. She said: “I think it’s important that we train together to have that respect and confidence with each other regardless of whether you are Regular or Reserve. At the end of the day we are all qualified to do the same job.”

Group Captain Adrian Burns, Station Commander RAF Halton said: “We need to meet the challenges of the future, and enabling Regular and Reserve personnel to train together is an important part of that process. I cannot underestimate how proud it makes me to help deliver the whole force to the RAF.”