A joint team of RAF regular personnel from 90 Signals Unit, reserves and contractors have provided a backbone of information and communications technology skills in Afghanistan since operations began in December 2001. One of the first units deployed, they may also be amongst the last to leave as the UK drawdown in Afghanistan continues and Afghan-led forces take responsibility for security.
Reacher satellite communications equipment has been widely used throughout Afghanistan, and as the number of British forces reduce so too does the need for bandwidth. So personnel are dismantling and repacking the deployable kit. This will enable it to be shipped back to the UK, ready for use somewhere else, on one of the RAF’s C-130 Hercules freighters operated by 904 Expeditionary Air Wing based at Kandahar.
VIDEO: Time-lapse sequence of RAF personnel dismantling Reacher satellite equipment at Kandahar airfield
Squadron Leader Dave Harvey, Officer Commanding Kandahar Information and Communication Services Squadron, said:
You can see drawdown happening as Afghan forces take responsibility for their own future. What you can’t see here however is the ‘whole air force’ - contractors and reservists working with my unit as one communications team, always using the best person for the job.
The changes in Kandahar have been seen by Corporal Craig Caira-Neeson, a reservist from 600 (City of London) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force who said:
This is my second deployment to Kandahar. I really feel part of the team here. I’m often the first point of contact at the help desk, and I like to solve people’s problems if I can.
Kandahar is home to the RAF’s tactical air transport fleet and Tornado GR4 fast jets, which provide overwatch and shows of force to Afghan-led ground forces. An RAF presence will endure until the last British forces leave the country, and there will be a continuing requirement for information and communications technicians as long as they are there.
Squadron Leader Dave Harvey said:
Wherever we operate we need Information and Communications Technology specialists as they play a key part in delivering mission essential information to the right person and at the right time.
We have recently been busy across the globe in areas like Mali and supporting operations over Libya. I’m always interested to hear from people wanting careers in the communications infrastructure or technology trades.
The Reacher system is the sort of deployable equipment that we train on and I’m sure we’ll be putting it up somewhere new soon enough; although I can’t guess where.
The RAF Reserves are recruiting now; for more information about the jobs available visit their website.