Exercise GRIFFIN’S TALON Marham’s Whole Force Shows Its Claws

RAF Marham tested the readiness of 138 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) with a large scale exercise at Sculthorpe Airfield in April supported by a highly capable Reservist force.

The RAF Marham EAW draws on the talents of its specialists from across the base, including Flight Operations, Engineers, Communications technicians and logisticians to setup a Head Quarters providing command and control for deployed RAF operations.

Having completed classroom training, the exercise saw EAW personnel deploy carrying all the kit they would need for the simulated three day reconnaissance and detailed planning mission, including body armour, weapons and rations.

Officer Commanding 138 EAW, Wing Commander Andy Gilbert said: ‘‘The recce and subsequent detailed planning exercise undertaken over these three days is key to developing our EAW capability such that we are ready to deploy in support of RAF operations wherever and whenever they may be required.

‘‘It’s a complex process that requires us to evaluate everything from the provision of radar, lighting and communications, to engineering facilities, security, medical and real life support; often in the most challenging of environments.’’

Throughout the exercise, Force Protection was provided by 67 RAF Regiment Reservists led by RAF Marham’s 2620 (County of Norfolk) Sqn who secured the airfield following a tactical night insertion by US Air Force CV22 Osprey aircraft from 7th Special Operations Squadron attached to 352 Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall. Senior Aircraftsman, Benjamin Caller, 2620 Squadron, explained the RAF Regiment role in the exercise: “Our job was to secure the airfield prior to the EAW arrival. Once in place, we provided a quick reaction force and perimeter security, carrying out the main job of the RAF Regiment which is to secure the ground around critical air assets to allow the RAF to operate.”

In addition to defending the airfield, the Reservist Gunners assisted EAW personnel with recce tasks, mortar attack recovery drills and first aid, demonstrating the benefit of whole force training.

RAF Regiment Gunner, Senior Aircraftsman Kevin Stubley said: “It’s been fantastic to work with the United States Air Force and the Regulars from RAF Marham. The more we train together the better we understand the different mindsets.”

Visiting the exercise, RAF Marham’s Station Commander, Group Captain Harvey Smyth said: “This training at Sculthorpe Airfield has been exceptional for the personnel of RAF Marham. Not only has the headquarters element of our Expeditionary Air Wing received essential training in a dynamic and austere environment, but alongside this, 2620 (County of Norfolk) RAuxAF Squadron has exercised its ability to provide airfield Force Protection at a simulated hostile location. It’s been brilliant to see the synergy between our Regular and Reserve forces.

“With this training now complete, I am supremely confident that RAF Marham stands ready to support the most demanding of operations, regardless of what they’re doing and where they are in the world.”