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RLC in the news a lot

#1
2 big stories in the news concerning RLC types this week.

I would have thought it merited a mention in the RLC corner of the Forum?

Well done to both for very positive stories.
 
#2
I suggest this has more to do with the presence of RE in the EOD CoC.

or maybe the Bomb Gods have had a change of policy...?

Remember, an AT is for life, not just for a tour..
 
#3
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scott … -21723687/
Army captain Judith tells how she defused 14 Taliban bombs on her first day at work in Afghanistan

Oct 5 2009 By Marion Scott

A COURAGEOUS Scots Army captain defused FOURTEEN bombs on her first day at work in Afghanistan.

Bomb disposal expert Captain Judith Gallagher risked her life time and time again during a marathon 30-hour shift in the warzone.

She narrowly avoided detonating one booby trap with a trigger disguised as a rock on the desert floor.

Judith, who is just 5ft1in tall, then calmly defused another device as Taliban bullets rattled into the earth two metres away.

The 30-year-old said: "It's my job and I just get on with it. Once you have the device in front of you, the training comes to the fore and you just concentrate on trying not to make any mistakes.

"The knowledge is that anything you do incorrectly will be the end."

Edinburgh-born Judith is one of only four women bomb disposal experts in the Army.

During a 15-week tour in Helmand province, she used her bare hands to scratch away at the sun-baked Afghan soil to find deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In total, she took more than 50 bombs out of the ground.

Her first call as an ammunition technical officer in Afghanistan. was near Nad-e-Ali, where British and Estonian troops were fighting the Taliban.

Judith, who weighs 7.5st and wears a size 2 Army boot, said: "They had discovered a suspected IED on a track near a compound and cordoned it off."

Leaving her back-up team - a soldier to protect her from enemy fire and two assistants - Judith took what bomb disposal experts call "the longest walk" across 80m of open ground to the device.

The soldier said: "I lay on my belly and felt forward with my fingertips, gradually exposing the ground around the device.

"Some ammunition technical officers wear gloves to do this but I don't. I can feel more accurately what I 'm dealing with if my fingertips are exposed.

"It wasn't much good for the manicure - the ground is hard during the summer. But that wasn't the greatest worry onmy mind.

"The first device was a yellow plastic oil drum filled with homemade explosives. It was wired up to a crude pressure plate detonator.

"The Taliban make pressure plates out of anything - bits of wood separated by a spring, old hacksaw blades, anything they can lay their hands on.

"Because the parts are homemade, each device needs to be dealt with as a unique bit of kit.

"I have a bag of tools with me and, in this case, I was able to set up my kit to disable the device."

Judith discovered three other devices surrounding the first she worked on.

One was wired up to four 82mm mortar rounds buried in the ground.

The metal shells of the mortars would have disintegrated into lethal white-hot shrapnel if the device had been triggered.

During another incident, a firefight raged as she dealt with a device near the town of Musa Qala.

Judith said: "There were rounds coming in and I could see them hitting the ground close to me.

"I took cover as best I could and carried on with what I was doing."

She added: "After dealing with a device, you can have some scary thoughts in a quiet moment about close calls.

"You put those to the back of your mind and get on with the job."

On her first day, Judith disabled every device in her path. She worked through the night until 6am, when she was immediately called to another set of IEDs.

Soldiers watched in awe as she successfully dealt with the bombs.

She said: "A couple of lads said, 'Oh I wouldn't like your job, ma'am'.

Judith is part of the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment based in Didcot, Oxfordshire.

She said her RAF engineer husband Martyn was proud of her.

Judith added: "When we met, I had already chosen to do this job.

"He does worry about me but he accepts what I do."

Judith is due to return to Afghanistan in two years.
 
#5
pombsen-armchair-warrior said:
HE117 said:
I suggest this has more to do with the presence of RE in the EOD CoC.
......or perhaps the RE will become responsible for the AT Trade once the RLC is re-organised post forthcoming SDR.
Which would make no sense at all considering AT/ATO responsibilities beyond IEDD/EOD.
 
#6
Sangreal said:
pombsen-armchair-warrior said:
HE117 said:
I suggest this has more to do with the presence of RE in the EOD CoC.
......or perhaps the RE will become responsible for the AT Trade once the RLC is re-organised post forthcoming SDR.
Which would make no sense at all considering AT/ATO responsibilities beyond IEDD/EOD.
An argument which would have stood up to scrutiny 20 years ago when only 10% of trade was involved in EOD of any sort.

Hardly any ATOs/ATs are left in base organisation, a few left doing Inspectorate duties when not stagging on manning UK Dets or rotating through Op EOD tours. Senior operational managers of Ammunition trade are already firmly embedded in RE chain of command whilst most of RLC hierarchy is completely indifferent to technical aspects of ammunition management.

Assimilation is inevitable in due course.
 
#7
Herrumph said:
Sangreal said:
pombsen-armchair-warrior said:
HE117 said:
I suggest this has more to do with the presence of RE in the EOD CoC.
......or perhaps the RE will become responsible for the AT Trade once the RLC is re-organised post forthcoming SDR.
Which would make no sense at all considering AT/ATO responsibilities beyond IEDD/EOD.
An argument which would have stood up to scrutiny 20 years ago when only 10% of trade was involved in EOD of any sort.

Hardly any ATOs/ATs are left in base organisation, a few left doing Inspectorate duties when not stagging on manning UK Dets or rotating through Op EOD tours. Senior operational managers of Ammunition trade are already firmly embedded in RE chain of command whilst most of RLC hierarchy is completely indifferent to technical aspects of ammunition management.

Assimilation is inevitable in due course.
Is resistance futile? :(
 
R

really?_fascinating

Guest
#8
Herrumph - wow, so after 16 years of utter indifference to the rest of the RLC do ATs suddenly want to be in the Corps?

Not sure Sappers want ATs - I think they want your jobs and will do it using Sappers. Where that would leave the AT trade is a different issue.

I know the RLC has a big push on to ensure the capability is properly understood and that the Corps remains responsible for the technical aspects.

But as you say, a defence review might find other solutions.
 
#9
really?_fascinating said:
But as you say, a defence review might find other solutions.
It well might.

The key question to answer is 'What is the RLC for". Certainly, if it were to be designed today from a blank sheet, many of the current functions would simply not be included.

The bottom line is that many current RLC functions could be easily txd and absorbed into other Arms and Services, including, but not restricted to:

Movers to RAF
Pet Ops to RE (already responsible for TFHE)
Posties to AGC.
Port Sqns to RN/RM
Pioneers to RE/Inf

Conversely, there may be capabilities that may best be aggregated and txd to the RLC. The bottom line is that capability should be managed as a single entity, whereever appropriate, and not in discrete bites.

End state. Capability maintained but with headcount efficiencies.
 
#10
pombsen-armchair-warrior said:
really?_fascinating said:
But as you say, a defence review might find other solutions.
It well might.

The key question to answer is 'What is the RLC for". Certainly, if it were to be designed today from a blank sheet, many of the current functions would simply not be included.

The bottom line is that many current RLC functions could be easily txd and absorbed into other Arms and Services, including, but not restricted to:

Movers to RAF
Pet Ops to RE (already responsible for TFHE)
Posties to AGC.
Port Sqns to RN/RM
Pioneers to RE/Inf

Conversely, there may be capabilities that may best be aggregated and txd to the RLC. The bottom line is that capability should be managed as a single entity, whereever appropriate, and not in discrete bites.

End state. Capability maintained but with headcount efficiencies.
Have always been responsible for TFHE(S) or for the oldies -the W7 catalogue. I am actually hoping that this is the way ahead. It makes perfect sense apart from where does Receipt Storage, Assurance, Issue fit into a RE's job description. Fuel is not an Engineer log item (or it wasn't the last time I checked).

Maybe the RE would be able to get the lads some qualifications via the appropriate awarding bodies unlike the RLC which has had 16 yrs to come up with the sum total of FA. I witnessed Pet Ops being co-erced into completeing NVQ 2 in warehousing and apprenticeships in Driving.

Other ones to consider are:

RE Dvrs - RLC
RAF Suppliers to RLC
RAF Dvr's to RLC
RAF rotary wing techies to REME Avionics techs
RAF signals to RSigs
RAF Bomb Disposal to RE/ RLC
RAF chefs to RLC
RAF medical services to RAMC etc
RAF Police to RMP

There's a pattern emerging here...... and I haven't even suggested moving fast air to the Fleet Air Arm!

TSW- disband, all functions can be carried out by the proposed all new shiney Pet Op RE! Preffered choice of refueller my big fat Pet Op Arrse!!!!!!!

Movers - disband and put out to contract, I defy anyone to explain why this can't happen? They have to send their washing forward FFS.
 
#11
Herrumph said:
Sangreal said:
pombsen-armchair-warrior said:
HE117 said:
I suggest this has more to do with the presence of RE in the EOD CoC.
......or perhaps the RE will become responsible for the AT Trade once the RLC is re-organised post forthcoming SDR.
Which would make no sense at all considering AT/ATO responsibilities beyond IEDD/EOD.
An argument which would have stood up to scrutiny 20 years ago when only 10% of trade was involved in EOD of any sort.

Hardly any ATOs/ATs are left in base organisation, a few left doing Inspectorate duties when not stagging on manning UK Dets or rotating through Op EOD tours. Senior operational managers of Ammunition trade are already firmly embedded in RE chain of command whilst most of RLC hierarchy is completely indifferent to technical aspects of ammunition management.

Assimilation is inevitable in due course.
Interesting to note however the rise in importance of ATSG at Kineton, and the ever increasing demand for AT/AS in the ammo tech support role...

I am just waiting to see how long it takes before someone realises that AT support might just make some considerable saving in the ammunition budget...!
 
R

really?_fascinating

Guest
#12
HE - quite right. The RE want EOD - they do not want anything to do with ammo. As for AT support saving cash, happening now.

Senior offrs in Corps are interested in technical ammo management - could it be that AT trade suffering twenty years of insular EOD focus?

EOD role to RE?

RLC trade of Ammunition Examiner anyone?
 
#13
I would be the last to dismiss the importance of AT support, but when there has been a marked shift towards direct delivery from factory to users it is hard to see where and when the AT/AS(!) will look after the ammunition.

Once the posties, movers, pet ops, port ops and pioneers have gone what is left the RLC? De-skilled suppliers and drivers.

Those senior officers from teeth arms might argue that storeman and driving skills are well provided for from within the teeth arms. Once you become a Corps of generalists your role can be taken by all arms generalists.
 
R

really?_fascinating

Guest
#14
Herrumph - do not think anyone is looking to offload any capability.

Cannot see any infantry Regt Col being keen on 650 of 1 Loamshires forming a Queens Div Supply Regiment any time soon! The Corps is a mix of generalists and specialists. But specialist does not equal special and if the view is taken that the capability is no longer relevant or required, then it will go.
 
#15
Strange, but what I remember is being told was that EOD was not Corps (or core) business. Our focus needed to be close ammunition support or whatever the latest buzz phrase was deemed to be. Squadrons dropping the EOD from titles and correct emphasis placed on support to the green army, especially when briefing the police (FFS!). That message allegedly came straight from the top - the head of our trade.

Look at the good it did us.

It was then followed by dumbing down training and standards because high threat EOD was a historical legacy, won't be needed again. Those most closely involved with EOD did tend to be a little insular and even obsessively focussed on the subject. Hard not to be when your soldiers are involved in manual approaches on a daily basis.


Ammunition support has always been equally important to most ATO/ATs. Most of us will bore people to death on explosive safety given a chance. I wish it was seen as being as important to other RLC officers who have some of the most cavalier attitudes I ever experienced. Far worse than most other arms and services; their glib careless atttiude normally based on their extensive training back on their YO or Captains Course.
 
#16
Herrumph said:
I would be the last to dismiss the importance of AT support, but when there has been a marked shift towards direct delivery from factory to users it is hard to see where and when the AT/AS(!) will look after the ammunition.
Eh...on Operations perhaps? As an aside, ATs don't do distribution which I thought you would have known?

Herrumph said:
Once the posties, movers, pet ops, port ops and pioneers have gone what is left the RLC? De-skilled suppliers and drivers.
This is absolute supposition and is not currently being discussed outside of this thread as far as I'm aware.

Herrumph said:
Those senior officers from teeth arms might argue that storeman and driving skills are well provided for from within the teeth arms...
They're not! They are arguing quite the opposite in so much as they do not have the capability to store and manage stocks which are beyond the doctrinal norm of 1st line holdings. This is due to be addressed in the very near future!
 
#17
I think (at last) the errors in the glib assumption that ammunition would simply be a "manufacturer to user" commodity are becoming apparant. The reality of the situation when your source of supply is no longer a trusted ROF are becoming only too apparant. There is, was and always will be a need for the specialsit management and handling of ammunition and explosives. The concept of a "wooden round" is a management myth and always was.. Increasing ammuniton complexity and regulation increases the need for specialist managment, not reduce it...

As far as EOD is concerned, again it has been proved from the Balkans that a two week course and a tour EOD as practiced by RE is not sufficient when dealing with IED. You really do need career specialists (both Officer and OR) to do this at acceptable risk. However RAOC/RLC did allow the trade to become split, which did it no good in the long term. The reason that ATs were/are good operators is that they have deep familiarity with ammunition. Splitting the trade into "Lab rats" and "Bomb Gods" missed the point as we are now discovering...

Surely the point is that the requirement is for a trade with both elements in it. Nobody can sustain 100% EOD work, even the sappers. The difference with RLC is that the individual is remaining within the specialist area rather than going off and doing something completely different, which is what RE do..

I know this is a radical suggestion, but I think we need at least two Ammunition Technical Support Regiments. (perhaps three if you add a TA Regiment). Put one at Kineton, and the other at Longtown and cover all the EOD/Inspectorate and Tech support from these locations.
 
#18
HE117 said:
I think (at last) the errors in the glib assumption that ammunition would simply be a "manufacturer to user" commodity are becoming apparant. The reality of the situation when your source of supply is no longer a trusted ROF are becoming only too apparant. There is, was and always will be a need for the specialsit management and handling of ammunition and explosives. The concept of a "wooden round" is a management myth and always was.. Increasing ammuniton complexity and regulation increases the need for specialist managment, not reduce it...

As far as EOD is concerned, again it has been proved from the Balkans that a two week course and a tour EOD as practiced by RE is not sufficient when dealing with IED. You really do need career specialists (both Officer and OR) to do this at acceptable risk. However RAOC/RLC did allow the trade to become split, which did it no good in the long term. The reason that ATs were/are good operators is that they have deep familiarity with ammunition. Splitting the trade into "Lab rats" and "Bomb Gods" missed the point as we are now discovering...

Surely the point is that the requirement is for a trade with both elements in it. Nobody can sustain 100% EOD work, even the sappers. The difference with RLC is that the individual is remaining within the specialist area rather than going off and doing something completely different, which is what RE do..

I know this is a radical suggestion, but I think we need at least two Ammunition Technical Support Regiments. (perhaps three if you add a TA Regiment). Put one at Kineton, and the other at Longtown and cover all the EOD/Inspectorate and Tech support from these locations.
Spot on! Ammunition safety and an ability to give a piece of ammo in storage the once over and check some critical inspection points is paramount. When somebody asks me if a FROG 7 is Safe to Move you need to know!!! You don't find that info on a 3 week High Risk IEDD course - or a book that you happen to have with - so its back to basics!
 
R

really?_fascinating

Guest
#19
All of that is true, but none of it suggests that EOD and AT capabilty HAVE to go together. Where they can, it makes sense.

if you were sitting in defence, would it not concern you that the most expensive capability (AT) takes the longest to become effecitve (six years?).

Compare that with training an RE Sgt (even if trg increases to six months) who, once trained can go and operate straight away. Yes, there are huge relative quality arguments to be had, but in terms of 'return on investment' it would appear Sappers are better value. Particularly when you factor in the very low return on investment for a Capt ATO who leaves after one EOD tour. The real trick is to prove that every bit of an ATs training is useful to defence all the way through - the bipolar nature of the trade and the bomb god/ brown box split is unhelpful in this regard, as is the pressure on EOD capability, that actually harms both RLC EOD capability and Ammo technical capability.

Hard quaetions are being asked about IEDD at present - at last, someone is grasping the nettle to bring some coherence to the capabilty. But we might not end up looking the same as we do now as a result.
 
#20
Sorry - don't agree at all that the two elements are not connected... The BEST IEDD ops I know of have been equally good in both contexts. The care and attention of the lab rat approach always is a good foil for the more dynamic approach of the Bomb God... If anything we have allowed the breeding of too much "cojones" in to the latest bomb gods IMHO...

Nothing to stop you using Cpl/Sgt AT in the CMD/UXO role.. just bung it onto the upgrading course...

As to the 1 tour ATO... this has always been a point of contention. Why do we not use ATOs more? This seems to back to the "only senior ranks as SMEs" bollox which is what really got us into this mess in the first place...

The cost/benefit curve depends on whole life, not just the next few years....

The costs of not doing EOD right is in terms of plaques on the wall... Are we seriously suggesting that we can sustain a high body count? We have been here before...

Even the most crass and stupid military thinker must appreciate that we are facing a long term IEDD problem both in UK and abroad, that is simply not going to go away.. We need to get to a position where this capability can be sustained over long periods of time. RLC can do this, RE can not..
 

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