No 7 RAF Force Protection Wing, comprising of a Headquarters, normally based at RAF Coningsby, No 15 Squadron RAF Regiment from RAF Honington and a security squadron of RAF Police, has taken over Force Protection duties at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Additionally, the Wing is augmented by soldiers from the 5th Contingent from the Tongan Defence Services and an Automated Sense & Warn detachment from 16 Regiment Royal Artillery and, more recently, A Squadron from The Queen’s Royal Lancers.
Camp Bastion houses a population in excess of 28,000 people, and is therefore a critical part of the Strategic Air Bridge. The airfield supports on average, nearly 3000 flights per week and is considered one of the busiest airfields in the world.
The Force Protection Wing’s role is to maintain, along side the United States Marine Headquarters Group, a fully integrated Force Protection capability. This capability exists to minimise the effectiveness of hostile intent against Bastion, its personnel and assets, whilst disrupting insurgent freedom of movement within a 700km2 defensive zone surrounding the base.
Squadron Leader Max Kroyer, Officer Commanding 15 Squadron RAF Regiment said:
“The Squadron has quickly settled in after a successful handover and we are now in the thick of operations. All personnel are working extremely hard, employing the comprehensive training we received back in the UK. This combined with the quality and professionalism of our personnel, enables us to continue to disrupt the insurgents freedom of manoeuvre around Camp Bastion.”
Senior Aircraftsman Matthew White is an RAF Regiment Gunner serving on 15 Squadron RAF Regiment and was particularly complimentary about the pre- deployment and in theatre training he received. He said:
“This was the most valuable training that we could receive before we took over as Resident Field Squadron. I for one was really reassured by this training, which without doubt helped to improve my confidence. All instructors here have praised our personnel’s professionalism and attitude, which reflects how well we were prepared for the mission.”
Squadron Leader Stewart Beekman, Officer Commanding Security Squadron said:
“HERRICK 17 has started at a frenetic pace, with all personnel on the Security Squadron settling in and laudably rising to all potential security challenges. Our hard work prior to deployment during Mission Specific Training has benefited us immensely and has already delivered sound results on operations. Each of the sections on Security Squadron is being kept busy and we remain ready for the challenges ahead.”
Wing Commander Chris Bishop, Commanding Officer of Bastion Force Protection Wing said:
“Having assumed responsibility for the Bastion Force Protection Wing task on 29 Oct 12, our first month in the 'hot seat' has flown past. From the outset, HERRICK 17 was advertised as the tour of change - the first month surpassed expectation! The Force Protection Wing comprises a mixture of cap badges consisting of RAF Regiment, RAF Police and Royal Artillery. Adhering to the adage that 'variety is the spice of life', shortly after setting foot in Bastion; ‘A’ squadron from The Queen’s Royal Lancers joined the fold. Leaning into the task, ‘A’ Squadron, working alongside my RAF Regiment Gunners set about increasing our presence on the ground, conducting an array of Counter-Threat patrols to deny the insurgents freedom of movement. As we reach the end of a 'roller-coaster' month, the FP Wing is ready to face the challenges of Herrick 17.”