RAF reply to OP Trooping Flights fiasco

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by bubble-blower, Nov 27, 2006.

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  1. Just thought you would like to see this from PJHQ. Just goes to show how tight the ranks can close when the lid is lifted by an MP/TA Soldier!

    Funny how he doesn't mention anything about the shift changes, lack of information, crap options offerred or complete lack of command shown!

    Attached Files:

  2. So it is official that we are OVERSTRETCHED and not just stretched. And what about they only need to ask, or similar words, and they will get from TB? It seems to me from this report that lack of resources are the real problems. Does anyone know how the airbridge facilities of other NATO nations serving in Afghanistan and Iraq compare?
  3. Extract from above doc:
    Frustrations felt when individuals’ travel arrangements are affected by delays are always felt by the Commanders in theatre, at PJHQ and the front line commands.

  4. Cannot open fm work, any chance of a different link out there?

    Muchos gracias
  5. untallguy

    untallguy Old-Salt Reviewer Book Reviewer

  6. If it is from PJHQ, then it isn't an RAF reply is it? PJHQ being the higher command and all that.

    I'm guessing this is the bit put out by ACOS J1/J4 about the airbridge. In September. So before Lancaster had his moment. Which I believe he was slightly slapped for.
  7. chimera

    chimera LE Moderator

    Ditto- or cut and paste the text?
  8. PJHQ 'owns' Akrotiri, not the RAF, and it is quite appropriate that it responds as the organisation responsible for what happens there.
  9. I like the 'joke' about it never going to be like BA Business Class..... as if that's what we are expecting. It's not.

    However if we did expect business class, as after all we are all travelling on 'business', we would also expect our complaints to be listened to and taken seriously wouldn't we....... and that's never going to happen either is it?

    Seems like just another 'paper over the cracks' answer hoping that everything quietens down, we shut up and that the movers can soon get back to their normal methods of operation.
  10. to be honest the tristars were knackered in 92 crab air may be crap but as they have there 2nd choice air frame thats well and truly fcuked what can you expect :(
  11. Rheinstorff - this isn't about what Mark Lancaster wrote - this was in Sept 06 this was published - as PJHQ have responsibility for all theatres - nothing to do with Akrotiri.
    Most of the delays with the a/c are actually tech/engineering delays and nothing to do with the Movers. Mind - AKT never had a particularly 'op focused' mentality and does need a bit of a shake - but if you were posted along the coast from Limassol, would you be thinking 'skirt' or work?
  12. This is a paper for grown ups at PJHQ - so why all the pictures? I think I know what a Herc looks like and I have (finally) grown out of just looking at pictures in books.

    I like the end bit though "we are not resting on our laurels" - what laurels might those be then?

    In recent months, there have been a number of high-profile articles and letters on the subject of the Airbridges between the UK and our operational theatres. As the officer within PJHQ charged with co-ordinating the service, I felt it was time I wrote outlining some of the facts about the manner in which we move our personnel and equipment on operations. In doing this, I hope to provide some home truths about the performance of military and charter aircraft so that you will better understand some of the problems we face and how we are trying to solve them. Fundamentally, no-one wants to see or hear of personnel who are delayed en-route and, for example, consequently miss some of their hard-earned R&R, but it is my aim to reassure all travellers that the very best is being done to reduce the instances of delays.

    Firstly though, there is no higher priority in our planning than the safety of our personnel. The fact is the threat to our aircraft is real, constant and can not be ignored. We wish to reduce risk as far as possible, and to this end, CDS has directed that all personnel moving into and out of the operational theatres in Iraq and Afghanistan on RAF AT must be moved on suitably protected aircraft. I am well aware that some other nations operate differently. That is their choice, but the UK position is to err on the side of safety and, consequently, we are more limited in the choices available to usUnfortunately, not all our aircraft are equipped with the same levels of Defensive Aids Suites (DAS), which reduces the flexibility when problems occur – as they inevitably do on operations when using aircraft that are far from new. Naturally, this small pool of assets has to be used carefully in order to deliver operational effect most efficiently. Where we can not fly directly to the theatre, we use a hub and spoke operation (this means flying a large aircraft like the TriStar to somewhere like Akrotiri or Al Udeid and then transferring personnel to an aircraft like the smaller protected C130 for the final leg into theatre); this type of operation is expensive to resource in aircraft and personnel and does not, despite popular belief, always deliver a better service. We can not simply purchase more protected aircraft to fill the void in the short-term; therefore, we must work within existing capabilities. The RAF C130 fleet is almost exclusively working in support of our principal operations; adding an aircraft to one theatre inevitably means taking from another. We are, however, increasing the number of suitably protected aircraft. Lengthy and complex modification programmes will increase the availability of C130 aircraft and provide more protected Tristar KC1 aircraft early in 2007. These additions will give us greater options and the flexibility to recover situations where delays have occurred. We must remember, though, that we will never stop the impact of weather or diplomatic clearances which can serve to unhinge the most well-laid plans. When trying to recover a delayed aircraft, we can sometimes be forced to wait for up to a week before diplomatic clearances allow aircraft to arrive at an airfield. Equally, the altitude and time of year, runway restrictions and fuel availability all serve to compromise payloads and our ability to make rapid programme changes.

    The improvements to aircraft numbers is only one way we are trying to improve the service to passengers. The RAF is implementing a range of improvements at RAF Brize Norton, all designed to ensure that passengers are made more comfortable and better informed if delays occur. Examples of these changes are, the provision of internet terminals, flat panel information totes and easier checking in for some categories of passengers, such as those carrying only cabin baggage. Of course, while we will do all we can to improve the situation, we can never expect to achieve the BA Business Class standard, as I am sure you will appreciate.
    My staff are also currently undertaking a review of movements manning and processes (including a major review of passenger handling), in conjunction with the front line commands, across all operational theatres. This review is aimed at ensuring that we have the most effective practice and staffing levels possible throughout all theatres. The RAF and Army Movements tradesmen being considered are amongst the most stretched when it comes to operations; the review has to consider how we best balance the need for adequate personnel on operations with the obvious need to maintain functions in the UK.

    Sometimes, the very nature of the operation itself limits how we can serve a theatre. A land-locked country such as Afghanistan leaves us very little choice. For the future, we hope that we will be able to use Kandahar airfield as the strategic point of entry to Op HERRICK. We are, however, still constrained by current infrastructure work on the runway and the capacity of the taxiways to take a large aircraft such as Tristar. As soon as possible, we will adjust the way we fly to that theatre. In Op TELIC, the C130 fleet is being re-configured to give a more flexible service to the theatre as a whole. Much of the work is ongoing, and takes time to implement, but will produce dividendsIt is important to look at some hard facts. I have heard the groans when we talk of introducing a Tristar service to a theatre, but the reality is that during the past year, when it flew in support of Op TELIC, its performance was quite good. 89% of tasks actually ran within 6 hours of planned times. This was achieved at a time when we only had between 1 and 2 suitably protected aircraft available for the majority of the year. We experienced a few 24-hour delays, but even including those delays, the average delay to all tasks was only 3½ hours. Setting aside reliability and looking at pure journey time, the hub & spoke operation, currently used in Op TELIC, takes an average of 8 hours longer than direct flights from Basra for passengers to get home. On balance, I am convinced that the Tristar is capable of delivering a good and reliable service over time. We will never avoid the occasional difficulty, I have already outlined our limited resources and some of the constraints, but as more protected aircraft come on line we will see things improve.

    To summarise, the PJHQ places significant importance on the maintenance of the moral component of its personnel on deployed operations. Frustrations felt when individuals’ travel arrangements are affected by delays are always felt by the Commanders in theatre, at PJHQ and the front line commands. We are, however, operating in environments that have significant levels of threat to our personnel and equipment. It is that very threat that drives the manner in which we transport personnel and equipment. The UK has no intention of compromising on the safety of individuals travelling to/from operational theatres, given the threat and operating constraints with which we have to live, we will continue to make maximum use of scares resources. However, I have described a number of measures under way which I am confident will improve the service at all stages of the journey for passengers. We can never avoid delays altogether, and we must remember that we are dealing with operations; expectations of the service should be placed in that particular context. Certainly, we are not resting on our laurels because it is our responsibility to provide the best service we can to those who are at the sharp end of Defence.

    Air Commodore M J G Wiles MBA FCILT RAF is Assistant Chief of Staff J1/J4 at PJHQ, responsible for all Personnel and Logistics support of UK forces deployed on operations overseas.
  14. untallguy

    untallguy Old-Salt Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Thank you for posting this in full.
  15. chimera

    chimera LE Moderator

    Thanks also for posting in full.

    The argument here always drifts into aircraft availability, spares etc etc. Those sort of arguments are well, known and well understood. There can be few of the currently serving posters on this site that have not suffered from equipment non-availability due to shortage of spares, or from using ancient kit (I mean I am a Sapper - we still use Chieftain hulls!)

    Those that read Mark Lancaster's letter though will recall that it was not the fact that his aircraft was delayed that he focused on. It was the ATTITUDE of the ground staff, shift change schedules taking precedence over feeding passengers, etc. I see no mention of this is the Air Cdre's letter - unless it is within the "Review of Movements Manning and Processes" to which he refers.