AIRCREW ADMIN OFFICER!
Over the next few paragraphs I would like to introduce you to the roles and rigours of being the Flt Lt Trg 2 Officer on 92(R) Sqn AWC.
My primary role is to help coordinate the planning and execution to the RAFs Capstone training Exercises: Combined Qualified Weapons Instructions (CQWI) Course and the Tactical Leadership Training (TLT) Course. The traditional home of these exercises had become RAF Kinloss, and for up to 3 times a year I had to make sure all participating sqns, support staff and visitors have ended up at the right place at the right time.
In essence my job is split into 2 areas of responsibility: The pre-deployment organisation of the exercise and the actual day-to-day running during the Exercise. The pre-deployment work begins about three months before the exercise start date, with the organising and booking of all the mandatory administration that must occur before the Exercise can take place – the sort of stuff that nobody knows about and, for the most part is taken fro granted! These jobs involve, booking all the airspace, allocating radio frequencies, booking Air to Air Refuelling Tankers, reserving Weapon Ranges and making sure Air Traffic Agencies are properly informed about the Exercise. The more mundane tasks involve allocating accommodation for the participants, editing and printing briefing slides and ensuring all documents are correct, produced and available to the participants prior to their deployment.
Potentially, my most difficult task is to ensure the Exercise White Force (16 Sqn Ldrs from 92(R) Sqn) arrive safely at RAF Kinloss. This in itself is no easy task as they all have their own agendas and opinions on how and when to arrive at RAF Kinloss. However, after a lot of briefing, re-briefing and a firm hand they all get to where they are supposed to be and on time, even if some of them manage to drive up in the vehicle that was allocated for the Sqn Boss! – I have been told it is easier to herd Cats!
I actually travel up to RAF Kinloss 4 days before the exercise starts to get the building set up for the arrival of the exercise participants – Aircrew!. This entails making sure the rooms are ready, the computers are working and the tea and coffee are available, you know all the really important stuff. If this was not done there would be even more additional ‘whingeing’, “why do we only have jam doughnuts and not ring doughnuts”, “our room does not have a window, can we have a room with sunlight” (the blinds are down for the whole exercise), “I have to share a room in the mess”!
Once the exercise has kicked off I have a daily routine: cancelling airspace, speaking to external air traffic agencies and sending out the Air Tasking Order and Communications Card. The rest of the time I try and put out all the niggling little fires – “The shredder is full, how do I change the bag”, “the photocopier is not working” – well load some paper!
It’s all about handling priorities and putting out the closet fire at hand. Of course some people think I’m the admin monkey and that I’m only there to help them with their ‘special ‘problem. Sometimes when we run out of milk you would think it was the end of the world. However, for me it could be so trivial, because at that very moment I could be dealing with an airspace issue which, if not sorted, could mean cancelling the exercise for that day.
Nevertheless, despite a few emotional moments, there is a great deal of satisfaction and pride, knowing that you contributed to probably the best exercise the RAF can provide for all its aircrew. And to be honest, I also know that the role I play is pivotal to the success of the exercise and is truly appreciated by my colleagues and Chain of Command. Normally, the least the exercise participants see of me the better, because this means you are doing your job properly and the exercise is running smoothly.
By Flight Lieutenant Emma James