Page 99 - The Chapka 2016
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 SO2 ISTAR and Defence Engagement, 11th Infantry Brigade
Iarrived at 11th Infantry Brigade thinking that I would be most- ly in the Brigade HQ and mostly doing ISTAR. How wrong I was! On arrival I was informed that I’d be taking on a new role for the Brigade HQ in the form of Defence Engagement (DE) for South East Asia and that I’d better pack my bags as I’d be leav- ing for Hawaii the following week for a conference. You can but imagine my dismay at this prospect... naturally I reached for my surfboard, Panama hat and manned up!
Since then it has been a whirlwind of travelling the region, working with the Defence Attaché network (both in the region and in the UK), the FCO, the Department for International Trade and, the International Policy and Plans (IPP) branch of the MOD, where I now work half the week. We have had 11th Infantry Brigade troops participating in exercises in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and New Cal- edonia, and the 11 Brigade HQ team deployed on a Five Powers Defence Arrangement exercise in Singapore. The Philippines will send a team to exercise Cambrian Patrol this year – the first time a nation from South East Asia has done so. It has been fasci- nating and eye opening, and has given me a broader perspective on wider strategic issues.
The easiest way to articulate the type of thing we have been do- ing is via a short anecdote. We were asked to attend the Pacific Armies Management Seminar in Kuala Lumpur in November on behalf of CGS. The Malaysians asked if we would provide a keynote speaker (one of nine from 34 military chiefs in attend- ance over the four day period) to speak on countering violent extremism and counter radicalisation. I in turn approached the MOD’s Imam to join us and speak on his experiences both in the UK and on operations. Not only was he incredibly well received, he got public acknowledgement from the Malaysian Defence Minister and it opened doors for him to go to their Ministry of Religious Affairs for further engagement. In turn, this led to us getting a disproportionate amount of time with the
hosts of PAMS – the Malaysian Chief of Army and Commander PACOM, General Brown. When the Malaysian Chief of Army comes to UK next, he has specifically asked to come to see us at 11th Infantry Brigade. I should also mention that on arrival we did an ice breaker exercise which resulted in my holding hands with the Pakistani chief of intelligence whilst dancing to ‘gang- nam style’ and painting a batik...
Separate to all of this, I was wearing my other hat as SO2 ISTAR for 11th Infantry Brigade during a full training year where we achieved Collective Training Five and trained all of our units to Collective Training Four. We are now at readiness as the Van- guard Light Brigade. Although doing both jobs has been very demanding on both time and priorities, it has been excellent to work in such a capable and professional Brigade HQ.
Lastly, I spent six months with UKSF in Afghanistan under Op- eration BLANCA, the first ‘green army’ Major to do so. Whilst I am not permitted to write about where I was or what I was doing, I can say that I had a truly fantastic time and was enlightened to a world of information, activity and freedoms not previously ex- perienced. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone given the opportunity.
  Army Foundation College Harrogate
Returning to the Army Foundation College (AFC) as Ad- jutant has been a very pleasant experience. After leaving nearly two years ago as a Platoon Commander, and handing over to Captain Mark Vowles, it was reassuring to see that things were still in hand. Junior Soldiers (JS) still conducting themselves as only 16 to 17 year old recruits can and the vast array of goings on that occur somehow haven’t changed all that much.
The college, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel W J Strick- land OBE (QRH) finds itself in a fantastic position, with a duty of care to both recruits and permanent staff that is sec- ond to none. The challenges that face a Platoon Commander are wide and varied, from anxious parents to putting weapon sights on the wrong way round. The rewards are still huge, seeing the Platoon develop from a fresh faced group of young people into a well-trained and significantly more mature unit of motived soldiers is a humbling experience.
As Adjutant, the G1 chain is vast, and you genuinely couldn’t write some of the more serious incidents that arise from over 1000 JS and 300 Permanent Staff (PS). In fact, who am I kid- ding, you probably could. Thankfully it isn’t all discipline and paperwork. In part due to the recent success of the Chan- nel 5 documentary and an increased exposure in the House of Lords, the AFC has become the focus of lots of visits. Arrang- ing and meeting numerous COs, Brigadiers and members of Parliament makes the day varied and interesting.
Being able to identify and track future Royal Lancers is a treat, whilst answering questions about the Motto and gain- ing further exposure to the wider Army is always beneficial. The Lancers repertoire is forging on with great strength at the AFC. Even past members of our antecedent Regiments are fondly remembered in unique ways: the Al Grant memo- rial garden still raises a smirk from those in the know and a puzzled look from those that don’t.
TW and MV

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