Monday 10th September 2018
Two teams from the Royal Auxiliary Air Force took gold medals in Europe’s largest military skills competition for reservists – Altcar Challenge 18 – held at Altcar Training Camp near Liverpool between 8-9 September.
The other seven top slots included teams from the US National Guard and the Royal Danish Army as Ex Altcar Challenge 18 took on an increased international flavour with almost a third of the entrants coming from Europe and the US.
The RAF winners were 2624 (County of Oxfordshire) Sqn and 609 (West Riding) Sqn, both RAF Regiment units.
The 30-hour test of military skills and problem-solving by teams of four was held on the Altcar coastal training area in Merseyside and is designed to put personnel in situations outside of their usual roles.
“This event is partly about the promise we made to our reservists,” said Group Captain Gavin Hellard, Inspector Royal Auxiliary Air Force. “This lets our reservists know there is something for them to take part in on top of their usual terms of service.”
This year single service specialisms such as sea survival drills and interpretation of aerial photography appeared for the first time. Each task is closely monitored by staff who train participants before exposing them to the problem.
“It’s great to tackle problems outside of the job I would usually do,” said 49-year-old SAC Ochiel Ogol (pictured above), of 609 Sqn, who joined the RAF Regiment to gain experience he uses in his civilian job as a youth worker. “I thoroughly enjoy events that develop outdoor skills.”
The competition, which is open to non-commissioned ranks only, included entrants from Holland, Denmark, France, Poland and, for the first time, the US National Guard.
Pawel Junkiewicz, 38, a Starzy Kapral or specialist sapper, said: “I like it because it’s a long competition, giving us the opportunity to integrate. This was the first time we did tasks in mixed teams of nationalities and it was fascinating to see how some nations did things differently.”
For the first time a team of police and ambulance personnel offered demonstrations of what the emergency services can do in a region that has recent experience of reservists working alongside the ‘blue lights’ during natural threats such as flooding and moorland fires.
Gp Capt Hellard added: “Whether it is taking part in an international competition or adventure training, it provides the opportunity to stretch reservists in a military sense, undertaking things and gaining skills that they would not normally be subjected to in their current ranks and trades. These are the extras which help them develop as a person.”
The gold medal-winning teams were: 2624 Sqn; 609 Sqn; 103 Bn, REME; US National Guard; Royal Danish Army; 3 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment; Birmingham University OTC.
Imagery © Crown Copyright
Source: 7644 Sqn RAauxAF, RAF Media Reserves