7010 Sqn Activities, April–June 2018
Current Establishment: 94. Strength: 74. Fully Trained Strength: 53
One member of the Sqn is currently mobilised and undertaking pre-deployment training prior to full-time service overseas for six months with the RAF in support of Op SHADER.
The Sqn’s primary focus remains the provision of intelligence analysis in support of operations and the augmentation of Regular RAF teams at RAF Wyton. We have four teams, each focused on a different intelligence tasks involving the analysis of imagery.
The re-titling of 7010 (VR) Sqn from “Photographic Interpretation” to “Intelligence” has been completed with the receipt of our new crest from the College of Arms.
17 members of the Sqn are currently enrolled on the Operational Air Intelligence Course (Reserves) (OPAIC (R)). Successful completion enables participants to work as generalist Intelligence Analysts prior to completion of imagery specific training.
Two Sqn members completed the Intelligence, Reconnaissance & Surveillance foundation course at RAF Waddington and one member completed the Space Operations course.
Our latest recruits completed Basic Recruit Training at RAF Halton with one graduating with the Best Recruit Trophy and another the “Top Shot” award (the latter somewhat of a “first” for a Sqn that generally works indoors!).
Sqn members have been directly involved in the following activities:
• RAF100 Baton relay at BAE Systems, Warton.
• One Member won the RAF Rowing Women’s masters E 1x competition.
• Staffing the Invictus Games UK Sailing Team selection trials.
• Staffing the official opening of the International Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln which was attended by 301 Bomber Command veterans.
A Sqn officer received a Medmenham Association Commendation in recognition of his leadership and outstanding performance during the previous year – a significant achievement for a reservist.
Honorary Air Commodore (HAC)
The whole Sqn attended a formal lunch in the Officers’ Mess at RAF Wyton in April to say farewell to the outgoing HAC, Air Cdre Delva Patman, as her long association with 7010 Sqn comes to an end. She received an engraved decanter and a framed Air Commodore’s pennant from myself and we wish her every success in her new role with 601 Sqn.
The Sqn’s new HAC joined us for an introductory visit at RAF Wyton earlier this month.
OC 7010 Sqn
135 Geographical Squadron Royal Engineers
Mobilisation and operational output
135 Sqn have a number of roles: Geospatial Information Dissemination (GID), survey, geospatial analysis and now bulk reproduction of mapping
The Sqn continues to provide geo support to the Army, Defence and wider Government.
The Sqn has a constant remit to provide geo support when required to the following customers-
• Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), in support of NATO
• VANGUARD – support to a UK Divisional deployment
• Wider Defence
We have recently gone back to soldiering basics. Last year we were very focussed on technical training to meet the ARRC and VANGUARD requirement. Over the last couple of months we have been ensuring that our basic soldier skills are maintained, conducting a basic dismounted infantry weekend followed by a weekend dwelling on convoy skills culminating in section attacks and taking the fight to the enemy. The weekends were a great success due to great weather, professionalism of the training, and indeed the enthusiasm shown by the attendees. Indeed our newest soldier led the final attack!
Looking forward we are about to embark on the multi-national EX ARRCADE GLOBE in June, receive the Freedom of St Ives, and embark upon a Battlefield Study to Amiens to study the final 100 days of WW1 in August.
Recently we acquired our new Bulk Reproduction capability that allows us to plot high volume mapping in the field. This is not a new capability as back in the 80’s and 90’s we provided a similar capability utilising print machines. We are currently training the Sqn up on this new capability.
Bulk Reproduction (Bulk Repro) is a new capability It is a set of eight plotters mounted on two vehicles that can plot hundreds of maps in an hour. All soldiers in 135 Geo Squadron are currently being trained in Bulk Reproduction. Unlike the GID vehicles which store and distribute mapping as their core activity, with a reduced plot capability, Bulk Reproduction has one tasking only – plotting multiple maps in the field.
This graphic shows the inside of a Bulk Reproduction box body that is mounted on a 15 tonne MAN truck. The box body is a standard sized container which enables it to be transported easily. Bulk Repro consists of two of these containers. The equipment shown includes four A0 plotters which can be operated simultaneously to print out large quantities of mapping. Geographic Information System (GIS) computers to enable the operators to make bespoke mapping if required.
The graphic below shows a bird’s eye view of the interior of a Bulk Reproduction box body. The interior has powerful air conditioning units which keep the equipment cool when it is hot outside and warm during cold weather. The box body is also fully protected from Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) contamination.
We also have Geospatial Vocational Specialists (GVS) within the Sqn who have a reduced training obligation. They are employed for their pre-existing vocational/civilian skillsets. GVS are currently employed providing instruction, automated process scripting, reach-back development from the field to the UK via ARCGIS Online and experience of drone operation for surveying purposes. Indeed the latter is advising both RICS and British Standards. If you believe you can support Defence why not contact us?
The Sqn has also competed at Corps and Army level in a number of sports including:
– In cross country, we have members of the Army winning team and came second in London District against whole Regiments, the event was described as too short by our team, so they did a park run beforehand to limber up!
– Marathon running; a member of the Sqn came 2nd out of all the Armed Forces and first out of the Army at the London Marathon.
The OC of 135 Sqn will change at the end of September with Maj Neal Archer being replaced by Maj Mark Sleeman.
With the tempo of migrant smuggling on the decline in the Mediterranean, ECHO has been able to make a return, albeit for now only on a part-time basis, to her primary role of Military Data Gathering (MDG). A perishable skill that needs to be kept fresh, with the help of staff from FOST HM, ECHO’s ship’s company threw themselves into the task of regaining their edge as professional surveyors – finding the odd surprise or two along the way – look right is that an underwater Christmas tree, or a Star Destroyer – you tell us?!
Once the refresher training was complete, work started on re-surveying the important anchorage and merchant ship holding areas off the East coast of Malta. After nearly 2 years of working in the Mediterranean, Malta is definitely home away from home for the crew and this area was a good place for us all to get to grips with restoring our survey and oceanographic skills after a long period of non-core tasking.
Hands to Bathe
A famous Naval tradition, and a brilliant way to unwind and cool off after weeks of hot and difficult work off of Libya and North Africa. Hands to bathe is always popular and successive Royal Marine detachments consider it an essential rite of passage to jump from the highest (safe!) part of the ship! Wherever you leap from – it’s always higher than you think – leaving you plenty of time to reflect on your decision on your way down!
Way out East
At the end of March, ECHO headed way out east – calling in for a watch rotation and logistics visit to Limassol Cyprus, and the UK sovereign base there. The stop allowed the Ship’s Company to re-certify and re-qualify in a number of essential skills and training areas that can normally only be achieved in the UK. Popping home is not such an easy thing for the ship to do when deployed for over three years… On departure from Limassol, ECHO took part in search and rescue training with the Cypriot coast guard and defence forces – making the most of the skills honed over nearly two years of rescue work off the coast of Libya. Skills obviously in high demand as just two months later we found ourselves back in Cyprus – this time representing the United Kingdom in Cyprus’s largest multi-national joint Search and Rescue training event – Exercise ARGONAUT 2018 – involving ships, aircraft and observers from a host of different nations.
Consisting of large scale day and night SAR exercises, ARGONAUT involved searches for downed aircraft and passenger ships off of Cyprus’s coastline. Culminating in a casualty evacuation exercise we made the most of an exclusive ride home at the end of the exercise for our embarked Cypriot liaison officer – being winched off the deck was probably not how he imagined going home!
Royal Visit – Athens
All eyes were on ECHO as she berthed in Piraeus, Athens to host a visit from HRH Prince Charles. Visiting ECHO as part of his state visit to Greece, Prince Charles toured the ship to learn about ECHO’s work in the Mediterranean and how the UK has been contributing to European efforts to curb the flows of illegal migration and people smuggling. The visit also gave us a chance to show off some of ECHO’s survey capability – and most importantly gave Prince Charles the chance to meet and talk with the Ship’s Company about the great work they have been doing.
During his tour, Prince Charles made official presentations of Long Service and Good Conduct medal clasps to POCS Warnes (1st clasp – 25 years) and to WO1 Doody (2nd clasp – 35 years). Excepting the Queen, VIP presentations don’t get better that this!