Military aid to civil authorities

The RAF Regional Liaison Officers (RAFRLOS) are on call 24/7/365, ready to provide military assistance to civil authorities.

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The RAF can quickly provide aircraft, specialist equipment, and specialist technical knowledge for a range of incidents including floods, terrorist attacks, pandemics, nuclear accidents, and wildfires.

This is coordinated by our ten Regional Liaison Officers.

They work full time with the emergency services, civilian agencies, and local authorities as a conduit to the RAF and other military forces, before and during emergencies, including live exercises.

The RAF’s versatile Chinooks were key to securing the damaged dam

It's about knowing what the RAF can offer in a situation
Wing Commander Gary Lane, RAF Regional Liaison Officer

Ready to support our civilian partners

Military support can be requested by civilian organisations or the government under the Military Aid To Civil Authorities (MACA) process

Importantly, our role is not to do everything in a response: our role is to support the emergency services and other civilian organisations with our people, equipment, and technical expertise.

RAF Regional Liaison Officers in action: Toddbrook Reservoir dam

In August 2019 the Toddbrook Reservoir dam in Derbyshire was threatening to burst after heavy rain and large volumes of water damaged the spillway.

The Environment Agency had issued a 'danger to life' warning and residents in the town of Whaley Bridge in the valley below were told to evacuate.

RAF Chinooks dropped bags of sand, gravel, and stone into the dam to shore it up and into surrounding watercourses to stem the flow of water into the reservoir.

8
RAF crews from 18 Squadron and 27 Squadron based at RAF Odiham
6
Chinooks deployed from RAF Benson and RAF Odiham
2
teams from the Joint Helicopter Support Squadron at RAF Benson
58
flying hours over 6 days
 
600+
tons of aggregate (a mixture of sand, gravel, and stone) delivered

RAF Chinooks dropped bags of sand, gravel, and stone into the dam to shore it up and into surrounding watercourses to stem the flow of water into the reservoir.

Our Regional Liaison Officer collaborated with many partners including the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, Kier’s civil engineers, the Canal and Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, Derbyshire Police, and the British Army.

Meanwhile emergency services drained millions of gallons of water from the Toddbrook reservoir to reduce the risk of the dam bursting.

A lot of the time the military response is only a small percentage part of what's going on ... so yes, we did stop the dam from bursting, but our job was to buy time for the whole incident team to empty the reservoir
Wing Commander Gary Lane, RAF Regional Liaison Officer

How are the Regional Liaison Officers organised

The UK is divided into nine RAFRLO areas, such as Scotland, and the East Midlands.

Each RAFRLO area is commanded by a Regional Liaison Officer. These RLOs are full time reservists, with the rank of Wing Commander.

The nine Regional Liaison Officers are part of RAF Operations, headed up by a tenth RLO based at RAF High Wycombe.

Recent RAF responses to UK emergencies

Our Regional Liaison Officers have been requested to support a wide range of incidents across the UK, including: 

Operation Ruman

In 2017 Hurricane Irma caused devastation in the Caribbean. The RAF was integral to the UK's biggest military and civilian operation since 2011 to provide assistance.

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