The Army view of the RAF - help please!


I have been directed to help in the production of a serious (ish) presentation to some grown-up types on the subject 'What the Army thinks of the RAF'. Don't ask why.

Clearly I have my (hugely positive) views, but we are keen to canvas as broad an Army audience as possible. Obviously a flurry of emails have gone out across armymail but I'd like some detail from you lot.

So, what's your opinion of them, as people and as a force? Have you been seriously fcuked around by them, or equally, have you had largely a positive experience? Do you think they receive better treatment (4* hotels/better accn/better everything)? What do you think of the RAF Regiment?

Obviously this is an 'anonymous' website so you will not be identified, but especially good posts will be chopped out and used 'as is' - unless you specifically tell me not to in your post.

So if you have a view (and let's face it, we all do), could I ask you to spend a few minutes adding it to this thread? I will be asking further questions as required to: the audience aren't stupid and will need something to grab onto as opposed to "they're all sh1t cos they are" type arguments.

Thank you for your time and have a good weekend! :)

PS: clearly happy to do this via PM as well if people are worried about damaging their online personas....
Bloke I know went in as an Officer. Two years later and he was tawkin' lik' a proper Estuary geezer, mate. Mysterious!

Apparently as aircrew are selected purely on how good they are at computer games (essentially, wheras the Army vetoes greymen etc) it sort of filters in the kind of man who spent his childhood hanging around airshows with his gameboy (or something).

And then they don't have to spend lots of time learning manners off their elders and betters in the Mess like the Army does, in that they tend to live in large same-age groups for a very long time in training etc.

So there's a bit of truth to the "white socks" business... Not that they aren't jolly good at flying about, bless 'em. But the officer culture is definitely different, no sense of "Right" as understood by the Army, if you see what I mean.

Obviously they see this backwards!
The RAF camp up the road from me.

These are observations over a number of years; (Goes for both RAF & Squaddies on camp.)

24 hr gym - (Allowed to use after buying a swipe card for a £5)

Security - ID checks good, temp passes printed on the spot and binned on site. Weekly passes available as well as permanent. (All normally checked.)
Guard - Smart, polite & logical. (Dressed according to weather, shade erected if very sunny, trop hats too. Cool drinks whilst on the gate. Cold weather - parkas with hoods worn and warm brews dished out.)

General appearance/behavior - Thunderbirds (& others based there.) who visit the local town smart and polite during the working day and suitably smart/hammered/dribbling by the end of the night.

Local mong recently complained to the local paper about the noise of night flying/training flights - he got a resounding Fcuk Off from the community who nearly all backed the base and it's staff.

Other than that not had many dealings with Crab Air - the odd prick desk pilot at Brize Norton; one who nearly cried when we didn't salute him. (One; we had no head dress. Two; we thought he was a cadet. Three; he had ginger hair!)

There are the obvious; 'Weather's rubbish - we're walking!' 'My flight's been delayed - how dare they!'

On the whole pretty good - HOWEVER - This in no way effects my right to slag them off at short notice the Thunderbird, hotel dwelling, 5 day week muppets!
I have worked with the RAF in tri-service environments a couple of times (albeit at the lowest level imaginable). I'd say that a big difference between the army and the RAF is that they lack our concept of 'soldier first'; whereas any army sloppo (for example) is expected to be able to operate as a fighting soldier at the most basic level, an RAF sloppo is just there to cook. This may have been all very well back in the days when RAF support personnel were never expected to wear green, let alone leave camp, but it needs to tweaking with given the kind of ops we will be engaged in in the future. I've no doubt the RAF's lads and lasses could more than cope with it - they are really no different from squaddies. But their Service needs to stop thinking of itself as air crew + everyone else and start giving all it's personnel skills that will make them more 'military'.

(The usual RAF reaction to this kind of criticism is to pull out a million and one criticisms of how the army operates, from being unable to function without bullsh1t to trying to take over every purple task. True or not, none of that gets round the fact that the army can fight (at a basic level), the RAF cannot. Put a troop of REME VMs into a contact and they'd have a reasonable idea of how to operate. Absolutely no one could pretend that the same could be said of RAF technicians).


Book Reviewer
I am taking the WAH radar down here......

I think this is an interesting question. Having worked with the RAF closely in previous lives in uniformed service and subsequently in the civilian world (albeit defence sector). My view has been largely unaltered.

Getting away from the usual ignorance about each other, the Army and the RAf have vastly different roles and end states but one common purpose. The RAF is governed by many more civilian legislation requirements than the Army and as a result it is more 'civilianised' in its approach than the Army.

I believe there is a perception that the RAF are 'civilians' in uniform, and to a certain extent that is true in that their day job tends to be less diverse than that of a soldier. I think this is down to a few things; they are less prone to moving around RAF stations than the Army are around barracks although - it is easier to remain at a single station or indeed within commuting distance to a number of stations and therefore led a less turbulent life. That being said, both services move around a hell of a lot more than the civilian sector.

Secondly, the pay is better in the RAF (rank to rank equivalent)- as a result there will always be a bit of unhappiness - but this is down to trade skills. A consequence means the breed of people attarcted to the RAF will always be different to that of the Army.

I also believe that leadership in its raw form seen in the Army is not demanded as much in the RAF, managerial skills are more called for. That being said there is always a balance that must be struck in both services between leadership and management. It is just the ratios between the two that are different.

Historically, the RAF has always been better than the Army at getting the basics right of career structure and welfare in a physical sense (i.e. housing, amenities, et al). But the 'tribal' Regimental system of the Army fostered much more of a family identity.

The RAF Regiment....... well, it is too easy to say that they are struggling to justify their existence today. This may be true, but the requirements of the Cold War have passed and the skill set they have is now not needed. The RAF Regiment has much different views on soldiery than the Army and I believe the kindest way of putting it would be is that they are seen by the majority of the Army as 'enthusiastic amatuers'. It is unfortunate that the pride of one or two of the RAF Regiment Sqns has got the better of them and they have misconstrued their own identity and role. The RAF Regiment is not a specialist type of role (commonly reffered as 'elite') that is to be compared to the Para or Cdo disciplines. In the same way that the RAC or the AAC are not in this 'elite' category - they like everyone else are specialists in a certain discipline of the art or warfare. Anyone in the RAF Regiment that continues to delude themselves of that fact are frankly kidding themselves.

I could carry on for a long time on this subject - but this post is long enough.

My final point - I have worked alongside the RAF on operations and some are now good friends who I keep in contact with. In their discipline they have been professional, capable and a force multiplier. As an organisation, they are good at their job. Unfortunately, they can have a nasty habit of placing greasy pole climbing lunatics with other services in a desperate attempt to prove themselves - when actually they don't have to.
When I worked with them in NI I found they really do whinge, a LOT. Unless its an emergency they are a lazy bunch of whining fcuks. Everything is too much trouble when its a routine task, they obfuscate and bitch about all of it.

However, that changes 100% when someone is in trouble, then they tend to pull all the stops out and go flat out to achieve the objective. See recent Chinook TV program for examples from the sandpit.

Ultimately their ability to get the job done when the chips are down is unrivalled, on a day to day routine basis they probably rival BA in the 'lets be cnuts' stakes.
Proximo said:

I have been directed to help in the production of a serious (ish) presentation to some grown-up types on the subject 'What the Army thinks of the RAF'. Don't ask why.

snip ........
Why? :D

(Well someone had to!!)


Book Reviewer
I will add one more thing:

Air Transport. Unfortunately, these people are the face of the RAF to the majority of the Armed Forces as they move them from theatre to theatre. This group of people (and I include the tri-service element of this - RLC take note) are the worst aspect of the RAF, indeed the uniformed part of HM Forces and do reinforce all of the misconceptions about 5* Hotels and getting home before the Cup Final match starts.

I have personally been on flights when the crew have lied why the aircraft was diverted back to where they live and the subsequent investigation found that the flight crew wanted to get back to a party!!! A few people got in trouble for that - that anecdoate is true. I have heard other horror stories and read about them, including that MP in the TA who lambasted them in the national media on his way home from serving in Afghanistan.

Any group of people who fly a civilian jet from UK to Qatar and feel it necessary to walk around in flight suits with big, fcuk off shiny knives attached to them - when they are actually cabin crew, need to get a grip.

And breathe............

PS: Wah radar back on.
BA much maligned as they are can get you anywhere in the world with 2Hrs Notice.

The RAF have never done it with less than 2 Days.

Nuff Said.
I'll be brief.

1) I want a 1000lbs of explosives at the end of this LASER. 10/10

2) I'd like a ride out of theatre without being messed about too much. 4/10

3) I have business on your base and I'd like to not get messed about at the gate by a barrier operating nazi. 5/10

Jobs a good 'un!


Having worked closely with the RAF for a while, my experience was that during the very messy, dangerous bits they performed brilliantly.

It was their actions "out of contact" that reinforced the impressions of a pampered civilianised organisations.


Pro - The pilots who managed to fly a riddled Chinook back from Majar al kabir to Al Amarah to enable the 7 casualties to receive 1st line treatment, and then fly the collander style airframe onto Basra for further treatment - outstanding.

Cons - The air crew member in the same detachment who stormed into BG HQ demanding that the camp rebuild programme be redrafted to allow for windows, aircon and a greater number of fridges in the aircrew accommodation as it was "unfair that they had to spend all day in boots, trousers and T shirts when on duty crew, and it was just too hot". She had been in theatre for 5 weeks.

At this stage, most of the BG were still sleeping on roofs or the MT park, and were lucky to see a bottle of cool water once a week, let alone one fridge between four. This was while they were carrying out the usual guards, duties, patrols, and the Chefs operating in unbearable conditions.

When the RAF take the time to look at those around them and the tasks they undertake and the conditions they operate in, and then temper their demands and comments accordingly then I believe that the perceived differences between the organisations will diminish.

PS - The SH crew who cancelled a task critical to an RM/LPC cadre because the rugby was on were just cnuts, but at least honest. The lead pilot admitted why they were cancelling, but said if pressed he would accept the task but then find an airframe fault giving reason to cancel the task at the last minute for "safety reasons".
The crabs I have worked with haven't been too bad, the guys that ran the Banja Luka airhead in the mid 90s were top draw and a rock I met on a pre NI course was very honest about his Regt, however having to rock up to Brize a good 16hrs or more befoore a flight is a tad annoying and thier bus driver in NI were boring (give me a mad fecker RN any day)

However the numpty Rocks we almost slotted in S Armagh were another case entirely, strolling around our area, without telling us, wearing para smocks, blue beret, black capbadge, belt kit webbing and cam cream when we were in Helmets, body armout and sans cam, who thought the weapon of choice in an urban environment is of course the GPMG. All the gear and f**k all idea

I truely don't despise Rocks, but sometimes they need to catch themselves on, when you have a mo, pop on youtube and search for "Field Gunners", you will be in tears of laughter by the line "toe to toe with the Paras and Marines" because they do a 5 mile march and spend the day on Sennybridge Ranges
I've worked with them closely many times, but it is the perceived 'unionisation' of their jobs which always grips me (not my job mate!).
In Bosnia in 97 I was driving the Foden MWD takers from Split to BFI 1 at Lipa as my day job and we had to take over the RAF MWD fleet as they had not serviced or maintained them because 'It's not our job'. We spent a week or so doing simply 'a' jobs and servicing them to bring them up to spec then had to do their fuel runs too!
Whereas most in the army are trained for a lot of roles and jobs this seems to be lacking in the RAF, and whilst they may perceive themselves to be highly trained they are not as useful as soldiers in difficult situations requiring many and varied skills.
Being an ex-RAF Armourer,I have worked with the RE in the past (Kinloss's TA Engneer Reg & Bruggen's regular RE Reg where we had a RE LCpl in the Armoury. Great bunch of lads.We covered for the LCpl one Monday when he went on a bender & ended up somewhere in Holland with no memory from the footie club on the Friday night to when he 'came too' at a bus depot!
We got on better with the RE thn we did with the RAF Reg anyway.
As to fighting we'd just lock ourselves in a HAS( Until we saw the ones we blew up in Granby,made by the same company apparenty!)
I truely don't despise Rocks, but sometimes they need to catch themselves on, when you have a mo, pop on youtube and search for "Field Gunners", you will be in tears of laughter by the line "toe to toe with the Paras and Marines" because they do a 5 mile march and spend the day on Sennybridge Ranges
Now that is funny, it rather re-enforces my view of rocks being legends in their own mind. They feel as if they are some kind of elite fighting force, special needs more like. :oops:
Further to my comments about the Rocks

I actually think their self belief is wrapped up in their arm, in the RAF they are seen as Infantry soldier, steely eyed dealers of death, guys at the sharp end, whereas the rest of the RAF outside the pilots, are considered to be REMFy tech and stores wallahs. Its very easy to consider yourself to be "elite" in a unit like that, I have seen it loads in my Regt.

In the RA we had a group called (IIRC) Special Defence Group (SDG) now they were a real good bunch of blokes whose job was defending the Lance missiles in a similar way the Rocks guard airfields. They had to do an infantry ran course to sharpen their skills and were very proficient in what they did. However this gave them bragging rights over the rest of their Regt. The same went for my Regt, we were a predominately none weapon Regt with one Gun Bty and one AD tp, whats more they were AMF. This lead to their self belief that, because they had things that went bang and fancy badges on their arm, they were the best of the best, it didn't help having a good chunk of the other nations AMF unit being "elite" in some way and always having either the CO and/or RSM being of a Cdo or Para persuasion.

But saying all that they were bloody good at what they did
Very bad experiences with RAF SH in S Armagh.

Arriving very late without thinking it might be wise to tell the multiples being picked up hence leaving soldiers static on the ground (securing the HLS). This was after we had collapsed a big week + cordon (Op Bronski anyone?) and were expecting a backlash from PIRA.

Refusing to land on a grid picked, cleared and secured by the multiple commander as it hadn't been pre-recced by them. Since when did they pre-recce ANY site S of the Op Attainment line?
I agree with the union attitude of a lot of people in Crabair who have never been taken out of their comfort zone. We run multiple responsibilities, 1 man 3 jobs, Crab runs 3 men 1 job. However, the crabs at the sharp end get on with stuff, but the other 95% are all to happy to fall back onto regulations, 'not my job mate' etc to dodge out of tasks.
As for their limited grasp of reality of life on OP's, I had to provide evidence for a parlimentary question as to why people in the tier 2 accom at KAF were having cold showers and didn't have single rooms! The reason for the showers was that they were not using ships routine and the first ones up were jacking on the rest by using all of the hot water was the simple answer. This was brought about because someone wrote to their MP. A bit galling when you saw what the lads at the sharp end were living in and at the time myself and my team who were building the stuff were squatting in a Yank tent because there wasnt enough bedspaces!
Dont even get me started on the movers, they are beneath my contempt for being jobsworths of the highest order. They have more obtuse elements than a sodding geometry exam!
If the RAF remembered that their job is to be the light blue part of purple ops, not the air force equivalent of British Leyland in the 1970's then they might get a bit more appreciation and respect from us.

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