Intense training with 3 Mobile Catering Squadron
3 Mobile Catering Squadron (3MCS) at RAF Wittering have been training the next generation of chefs and keeping their own military skills sharp this week.
Brisk temperatures met trainee Royal Air Force chefs as they learned how to cook for large numbers in a deployed setting. In a realistic likeness of a deployed operation, the trainees built their tented field kitchen, installed the catering equipment and then slept under canvas.
Warrant Officer Daz Rose is the senior non-commissioned officer at 3 Mobile Catering Squadron. He said: “You feed about a hundred people out of this kitchen, if you were working from a deployed base. But it’s the same equipment, the same burners and the same green canvas we would use on an actual operation.”
RAF chefs and stewards form Trade Group (TG) 19. Recruits who join TG 19 must first complete their basic military training at RAF Halton and then begin their trade training at Worthy Down Barracks. For the RAF recruits, two weeks of their training is the Deployed Skills Course with 3 Mobile Catering Squadron.
Trainee chef Tom Couch said: “The team has worked really, really well today. We’ve knocked up quite a lot, we’ve got curry, some steak, pie, vegetarian pizza and a really nice fruit crumble. So, for a first servery it’s been a really good go.”
Not far away, Regulars from 3 Mobile Catering Squadron were practising military skills that are common to all RAF personnel. Sleeping under canvas and living on standard military 24-hour ration packs, the airmen and women were required to guard a facsimile checkpoint and respond to hostile forces as though they were on a real operation.
The checkpoint exercise was organised by Sergeant Steve Harland of the Squadron’s training section. He said: “It was cold and arduous but whole team worked well together. People can forget that RAF chefs and stewards are also military personnel and will have to go on actual operations, so you’ve got to keep those skills sharp.”
Initially formed in 1975 as the RAF Mobile Catering Support Unit, 3MCS has been supporting exercises and operations for over forty years. The Squadron regularly supports fast jet deployments and can offer immediate support to aircraft crash situations.
Group Captain Tony Keeling (story image) is the Station Commander at Royal Air Force Wittering. He said: “This week has been about bringing deployed operations to life in a safe training environment. The trainees have done brilliantly; it’s a challenging scenario for them because they’ve never done this before. They’re living and working in the field for the first time, so it’s a good opportunity for them to experience what real operations will be like.”
The Station Commander continued: “Sustaining those basic military skills is a must. Our personnel can be cooking in a field kitchen one day and find themselves on duty at a checkpoint the next. It doesn’t matter how well qualified they are in their chosen specialism, our personnel have to be ready for operations. That’s why this realistic training so important.”