New Rank for the RAF Regiment
As of 1 April 2010 the RAF Regiment has officially adopted the rank of Lance Corporal for the first time since they were formed on 1 February 1942.
The new rank of Lance Corporal will bridge the gap between Senior Aircraftman (SAC) and Corporal, and has been introduced to identify the additional responsibility that a Fire Team Commander has above and beyond those of SAC rank. Lance Corporals have long been established in the Army and Royal Marines, but the introduction of the rank into the RAF has been in response to experience from Operations HERRICK and TELIC, which highlighted the role of RAF Regiment SACs appointed as commanders of small combat teams. The introduction of new weapon systems and tactics meant that, to a greater extent than ever before, SACs have had to operate independently and make command decisions in combat situations.
Lance Corporal Ricky Abbott of the Queen's Colour Squadron, was the first to receive his set of ‘tapes’ in a presentation made by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton.
Lance Corporal rank badges were also presented to all other qualified RAF Regiment personnel, both in the UK and in Afghanistan, on 1 April.
Group Captain Nick Bray, Force Commander RAF Force Protection Force, said: “The introduction of the Lance Corporal rank in to the RAF Regiment is long overdue and acknowledges the command and leadership responsibilities that our Fire Team commanders, previously senior SACs, have faced for many years. The best of our young gunners are now in a position where they are formally selected, trained and prepared to face the tough challenges associated with commanding others, as we fight to protect the people of Afghanistan and to win the battle for control of the air through the defence of our vital air bases.”
The rank will reward those who have carried additional responsibility out in theatre, and has been welcomed by Wing Commander Mick Smeath, Officer Commanding No 1 RAF Force Protection Wing at Bastion Joint Operating Base in Afghanistan. "This is especially pertinent for my personnel who are commanding Fire Teams while deployed in the complex and challenging environment that is Afghanistan” he said. "The responsibility that is associated with defending mission-critical air assets should not be underestimated and I am extremely impressed by the way in which those under my command have stepped up to the plate in the new rank."
Editor: Lesley Woods.
Photographs: RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2010.