VIP Visits to the JAG

During recent weeks JAG personnel have seen a stream of VIPs.

Air Mshl Bagwell, DCom Ops, and AVM Atha, AOC 1 Gp, visited RAF personnel that are based within JAG at Camp Bastion. For the first half of the visit they met with a range of support personnel including engineers from both 1310 Flt and 1419 Flt, suppliers from Aviation Supply Group (ASG), the Survival Equipment Section (SES), the Mobile Air Operations Team (MAOT) and the Tactical Supply Wing (TSW) det.

Each section had a chance to speak to both DCom Ops and AOC 1 Gp about their tours and the issues that they have faced.

Flt Lt Alex Evans, OC TSW Det, explained to DCom Ops the capability that her section holds in terms of refuelling aircraft not only at Bastion but also at Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) as well as austere locations within the Area of Operations (AO).

DCom Ops met with the engineers of 1419 Flt that were currently preparing the Merlin aircraft for their redeployment to the UK. Flt Lt Longbottom, JEngO for the detachment, explained the process of breaking the aircraft down in order for them to be moved by C-17 aircraft back to the UK where they are rebuilt at RAF Brize Norton and flown back to RAF Benson. Members of ASG also discussed their part within the redeployment of the Merlins to DCom Ops including the parting of the spare parts they hold.

For the second half of the visit DCom Ops and AOC 1Gp met with the Chinook aircrew and operations staff. Flt Lt Matt Butterwell, Chinook pilot, talked DCom Ops through an operation that the Chinook Fce had successfully enabled that morning, which precipitated further discussion on the future direction of the Chinook Force and its tasking.

Later in the month they were honoured to be visited by His Royal Highness The Duke of York who had travelled to Afghanistan to meet with British troops.

The Duke flew into Camp Bastion where amongst other units he visited the JAG. After speaking with the Comd of the JAG, Gp Capt Nicholson, he was able to meet with personnel from 857 NAS and reflect on his previous naval career experience compared to the unit’s modern-day role.

857 NAS operates the Royal Navy’s Sea King Mk7 airborne surveillance and control helicopters in support of operations across central Helmand, using the sophisticated radar system to provide intelligence to ground forces.

At the JAG he also met Lynx and Apache helicopter air crew from the AAC. The Duke then flew by helicopter to Lashkar Gah, to continue his tour. During the visit The Duke said: “It’s absolutely vital that members of the Royal Family should come and visit troops on the front line. We try and come out once or twice a year to make sure the connection is there and maintained. The thing that has been driven home to me today is that the Afghan Army and Police, having been presented with the fact that they are in charge, have risen to the challenge. The training that we have delivered to them over the last two or three years has stood them in good stead and they are really well prepared for taking this on, and an enduring operation for Afghanistan.”

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