Page 4 - Chiron Calling Spring 2021
P. 4

by Colonel Mark Morrison QHVS, Chief Veterinary and Remount Officer
As the nation emerges cautiously from its winter in lockdown, Covid vaccination rolls out and spring takes hold, I hope we are all beginning to feel the sense of optimism that comes from being able to re-establish contact with friends and family, not seen
in person for many months. For
my part, I have missed enormously contact with soldiers and officers across the RAVC and I very much look forward to being able to gather again as a Corps, outside and socially distanced of course, for
our Corps Reunion on 26th June, Government guidance hopefully still allowing.
Despite the long winter, there have been high points for me. First amongst them was the chance I
had to celebrate, in person, Pass
Out for our two most recent intakes of Royal Army Veterinary Corps recruits from Initial Trade Training. From the video footage of their route through training and the energy and enthusiasm that came across in my conversations with them, it seems their training had been minimally affected by the pandemic and as fulfilling as ever. This is a tribute to their instructors and all staff at the Defence Animal Training Regiment, whose determination to keep training going has been admirable.
I have also enjoyed my regular contact with our Apprenticeship programme. From the apprentice voices, captured as part of our self-assessment process, it seems that similar resourcefulness to
keep learning going has occurred
at the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment. Indeed, with reduced external commitments, many
report spending more one-to-one time with their dogs. This will have helped consolidate learning and sustain morale. Certainly, RAVC Apprenticeships are once again at the top of the Army’s programme. With the Army now confirmed as
the leading Apprenticeship provider nationally, we might argue that this leaves the RAVC apprenticeship as
the ‘best of the best’.
Over the course of the winter
months, I have also really enjoyed the regular tweets from the Defence Animal Training Regiment’s Twitter account (@official_DATR). It has been really uplifting to see some
of our newest canine recruits at work and some of our most recently retired enjoying their new lives. It is also a source of real pride to read in the pages of this edition of Chiron Calling how the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment has been directly supporting the national Covid effort. This is further evidence of the effectiveness and professionalism
of our soldiers and it is great to see that we have played our part in what has been a tremendous national effort.
In my Foreword to the last edition, I wrote that I would keep you abreast of Defence transformation activity that could impact on RAVC. And it certainly feels as if the Defence and Army ‘change engine’ has been hard at work, despite Covid. Over recent weeks, the Government’s Integrated Review (IR) has concluded,
and Defence has published its Command Paper to explain how it will implement the Review. Whilst these strategic documents do not reference specifically the niche animal and veterinary capabilities our units provide, I take heart that both of these capabilities can help Defence deliver against multiple of the four new national objectives and that this will see our units continue to play a valuable Defence role for the foreseeable future. We now
await more detailed Army plans to understand whether there will need to be any specific adjustments to the RAVC and the wider Army Medical Services.
Beyond the IR and the implications of the new Defence Command paper, at least three other strategic transformation activities may impact on the RAVC over the coming year. None should be seen as a threat to the Corps and all could present opportunities for our
people, strengthen
the capabilities
we provide and
enhance their
governance. The
first is Unified Career Management (UCM). This initiative is being rolled out across Defence with a view to integrating cadres and broadening opportunities across all Services. Work is now underway to develop UCM for Defence Medical Services cadres. This will include Veterinary Officers in the early tranches because of the medical support officer role they provide. It will not, however, include the RAVC soldier cadres until the potential benefits are clearer. The second is the
new Army Operating Model. This will change the way capability is managed within Army Headquarters and could see an adjustment to
how RAVC staff are configured to support military working animals. The third is the Defence Medical Services’ adoption of the Functional Leadership approach being implemented across Government and within Defence. My aspiration is that this will provide a formal
3* Functional Owner for animal health and welfare, which does not currently exist.
I am pleased to report that we
are being extremely well supported through these transformation activities by the Army Medical Services Corps Colonel’s office
and the Capability Sponsor. I do, however, continue to work with senior RAVC staff to ensure that
the Corps and military working animal interests remain properly championed. Of course, this task is all the easier because the hard work and professionalism of our people on operations and in the firm base continues to ensure the RAVC and military working animals are much valued. I remain immensely grateful to all our soldiers and officers for their ongoing efforts, particularly through what has been such a difficult time.
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