Training at RAF Wittering for humanitarian operations

Human security is the theme for Exercise Swift Pirate at RAF Wittering this week as No 1 Air Mobility Wing personnel train for humanitarian operations.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 10:15 am
The team from 1AMW loading humanitarian cargo onto a C-17 Globemaster
The team from 1AMW loading humanitarian cargo onto a C-17 Globemaster

No 1 Air Mobility Wing (1AMW) specialises in passenger and cargo handling and the safe loading and unloading of military transport aircraft.

During Exercise Swift Pirate, 1AMW puts its deployable personnel to the test and keeps those skills up to scratch. 1AMW is based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire but is part of the RAF A4 Force, which is has its headquarters at RAF Wittering.

Squadron leader Katherine Ingram, who is the deputy commander of 1AMW, said: “Human security is an important part of all UK military operations and, simply put in the context of this exercise, is taking into consideration the needs of the people we are trying to assist.

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“For 1AMW personnel it means making sure that the movers work closely with the other organisations like the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) to ensure that the humanitarian aid they deliver gets to the people who need it most.”

1AMW is part of the A4 Force Elements; the specialised, high-readiness, engineering and logistics squadrons that support Royal Air Force operations and exercises at home and around the world. The scenario for this exercise sees 1AMW personnel delivering humanitarian assistance to the victims of a catastrophic natural disaster.

Alex Franklin is a supply chain manager working on behalf of the FCDO. He has been working with, and training, 1AMW personnel in how to deal with the real-world situations which might occur during humanitarian relief operations.

He said: “It was really easy working with the team from 1AMW, the conversations have been ongoing and it’s been fantastic from our perspective to work with the personnel that we co-operate with in real life scenarios.”

Exercise Swift Pirate is a regular feature in the station’s busy calendar, and the heavy aircraft of the RAF Mobility Force are a familiar sight in the skies around RAF Wittering.

Although not connected to Swift Pirate, the arrival of Typhoon aircraft on a brief detachment from RAF Coningsby made Wittering’s airspace all the more interesting.

Group captain Jo Lincoln, commanding officer of the A4 Force Elements and station commander at RAF Wittering, said: “What a week it has been for the A4 Force and for RAF Wittering.

“It has shown us yet again what a valuable resource our airfield is for defence, with both heavy aircraft and fast jets arriving, but the A4 Force Elements have risen to the challenge and supported this major exercise and the Typhoon deployment.

“This work we are doing with our colleagues from the FCDO is exceptionally important. Human security is a key part of any relief operation. Our teams from 1AMW and the UK Mobile Air Movements Squadron support the FCDO to deliver aid to some of the most vulnerable people on the planet and our human security training will help it get to the people who are in most need.”