SHOULD THE MILITARY ever be required to restore public order then members of the Lossiemouth-based 51 Squadron RAF Regiment are ready to serve.
The Squadron recently took part in a two-week Public Order (PO) training course as part of their build-up to potential future operations.
PO operations are used to manage crowds or counter civil disorder or rioting and are characterised by the use of shield, baton and ‘non-lethal force protection’.
Drills can be offensive or defensive in support of the police, or are designed to protect friendly forces or infrastructure – the skills learned can also be employed in support of counter-terrorist operations.
The OC of C Flight, 51 Squadron, Flying Officer Dan Garner, explained: “This was an excellent opportunity for the Gunners to demonstrate and operate in a challenging and physically demanding environment.
“The exercises we conducted during this training package were invaluable for rehearsing the use of very controlled aggression and discipline.”
Every member of the Squadron took part in the exercise, with Flight Commanders being tested on their ability to lead in difficult and dangerous circumstances with limited communications.
The RAF Gunners were drilled in the formations and techniques required to subdue a crowd, whilst importantly maintaining discipline and order within their own ranks in order to minimise injuries.
During the first week the Squadron rehearsed the drill movements and formations required both using vehicles and when dismounted. They were then taken through the infamous ‘petrol inoculation’ which exposes them to the effects of petrol bombs in a controlled environment.
The following week, they were exposed to difficult ‘scenarios’ which involved them having to escalate and de-escalate their posture and profile according to the situation.
The ‘public’ were played by other members of 51 Squadron RAF Regiment which made for some very realistic training.