RAF Reservists set gold standard in international competition

Two teams from the Royal Auxiliary Air Force took gold medals in Europe’s largest military skills competition for reservists – Altcar Challenge 18 – held at Altcar Training Camp near Liverpool between 8-9 September.

The other seven top slots included teams from the US National Guard and the Royal Danish Army as Ex Altcar Challenge 18 took on an increased international flavour with almost a third of the entrants coming from Europe and the US.

The RAF winners were 2624 (County of Oxfordshire) Sqn and 609 (West Riding) Sqn, both RAF Regiment units.

The 30-hour test of military skills and problem-solving by teams of four was held on the Altcar coastal training area in Merseyside and is designed to put personnel in situations outside of their usual roles.

Image shows the AF Regiment Team practsing their first aid skills during the Casualty Challenge. Tri-Service Reserve personnel from various nations compete in the Altcar Challenge at Altcar Training Camp near Liverpool on 8th and 9th September 2018.
RAF Regiment Team practising their first aid skills during the Casualty Challenge. 

 

“This event is partly about the promise we made to our reservists,” said Group Captain Gavin Hellard, Inspector Royal Auxiliary Air Force. “This lets our reservists know there is something for them to take part in on top of their usual terms of service.”

This year single service specialisms such as sea survival drills and interpretation of aerial photography appeared for the first time. Each task is closely monitored by staff who train participants before exposing them to the problem.

Image shows SAC Ochieno Ooul from 609 RAF Regiment Reserve Squadron. Tri-Service Reserve personnel from various nations compete in the Altcar Challenge at Altcar Training Camp near Liverpool on 8th and 9th September 2018.
SAC Ochiel Ogol from 609 RAF Regiment Reserve Squadron.

 

“It’s great to tackle problems outside of the job I would usually do,” said 49-year-old SAC Ochiel Ogol (pictured above), of 609 Sqn, who joined the RAF Regiment to gain experience he uses in his civilian job as a youth worker. “I thoroughly enjoy events that develop outdoor skills.”

The competition, which is open to non-commissioned ranks only, included entrants from Holland, Denmark, France, Poland and, for the first time, the US National Guard.

Image shows polish soldier, Wojsko Polskie
Polish soldier, Pawel Junkiewicz

 

Pawel Junkiewicz, 38, a Starzy Kapral or specialist sapper, said: “I like it because it’s a long competition, giving us the opportunity to integrate. This was the first time we did tasks in mixed teams of nationalities and it was fascinating to see how some nations did things differently.”

For the first time a team of police and ambulance personnel offered demonstrations of what the emergency services can do in a region that has recent experience of reservists working alongside the ‘blue lights’ during natural threats such as flooding and moorland fires.

Gp Capt Hellard added: “Whether it is taking part in an international competition or adventure training, it provides the opportunity to stretch reservists in a military sense, undertaking things and gaining skills that they would not normally be subjected to in their current ranks and trades. These are the extras which help them develop as a person.”

The gold medal-winning teams were: 2624 Sqn; 609 Sqn; 103 Bn, REME; US National Guard; Royal Danish Army; 3 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment; Birmingham University OTC.

Imagery © Crown Copyright

Source: 7644 Sqn RAauxAF, RAF Media Reserves 

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