No 8 RAF Force Protection Wing Annual Formal Inspection
An important diary date for 8 RAF Force Protection (FP) Wing (Wg) was its first Annual Formal Inspection (AFI) on 6-7 April 2011.
This Inspection, the first since the creation of 8 RAF FP Wg, provided the opportunity for Air Commodore Russ La Forte (Assistant Chief Of Staff (ACOS) FP and Commandant General of the RAF Regiment) on behalf of Air Officer Commanding 2 Gp to formally inspect the Wg’s functionality.
The visit got underway on the evening of Wednesday 6 April, when the Wing officers invited Air Commodore La Forte out for dinner at Brown’s Pie Shop in Lincoln. Brown’s Pie Shop provided a relaxed and informal setting for the officers to interact socially with ACOS FP and for him to get a to know the personalities serving on the Wg. A ‘fire-side’ chat back at the Officers’ Mess followed, where ACOS FP informed the Wg officers of current issues and future challenges and took a multitude of questions relating to all aspects of Force Protection.
The AFI got underway formally on Thursday 7 April, where the sub-units of 8 RAF FP Wg (8 RAF FP Wg Headquarters (HQ), 63 Squadron RAF Regiment and 2503 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment) gave presentations on their ‘Achievements, Challenges and Opportunities’. The rest of the AFI was structured to give ACOS FP the opportunity to engage with a cross section of Wg personnel and to see 8 RAF FP Wg’s infrastructure.
The inspection was very successful, ending with an AFI Wg photograph and a surprise presentation to Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Jim Hilton (8 RAF FP Wg HQ). Flt Lt Hilton was awarded a Mention in Dispatches for his bravery whilst serving as a Fire Support Team (FST) Commander on Operation HERRICK when he was involved in combat with the Taleban at Helmand River. He was serving as a Warrant Officer Class 2 in the Royal Artillery and was the only Non-Commissioned Officer commanding a FST during Operation HERRICK 8. Flt Lt Hilton was involved in supporting a 16-man United States Special Operations Forces Patrol, when the patrol was embroiled in a three-sided ambush. Combat Air Support Teams were unable to identify the troops because of thick tree cover so Flt Lt Hilton had to put himself in the line of fire in order to mark his team’s position, whilst all the time calmly talking the pilot on to the enemy position and simultaneously clearing the air space for the firing of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System. He was ‘outgunned’ and ‘outnumbered’ and put himself in significant danger to save his comrades. During the four-hour battle his inspirational leadership and outstanding gallantry undoubtedly saved the lives of friendly forces and resulted in eight enemy fatalities.