No 2 (Tactical) Police Squadron (TPS) returned to their headquarters at RAF Henlow two weeks ago. Yesterday they proudly marched alongside other RAF Police colleagues back from their work supporting operations in the Middle East and the Falkland Islands.
For 23-year-old Corporal Nicola Lilley, based at RAF Leuchars, this was her first tour of duty in Afghanistan. She said:
As Bastion Security Flight, we were part of the force protection element for both inside and outside the camp. I have been out on patrols with the US Marines, on medical outreach missions to Afghan women.
I provided security in the compounds whilst the female medics went in to issue aid. I enjoyed interacting with the locals - you feel that you are making a difference.
Also taking part in the homecoming parade were RAF Police reservist personnel and four military working dogs with their handlers, representing some of the many and varied roles carried out by the RAF Police on operations around the world.
Corporal Ieuan Guest, 29, is a reservist with No 3 (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) Police Squadron. He was mobilised from his day job in the Metropolitan Police to serve his first six-month tour in Afghanistan. He said:
I get the best of both worlds - doing my bit for the community back home in the UK and then doing something extra with my RAF family. On my tour I worked closely with the Afghan National Army, providing force protection out on joint patrols.
During my time there we could really see the changes in the infrastructure - we saw it build up, near the highways. One area used to be a small village of a few tents, now they have a petrol station and a parade of shops. Our team definitely made a difference, helping to provide the security to enable the locals to build.
Bringing up the rear of the parade was an all-female military working dog team, including handler Corporal Amanda Banks, 22, and four-year-old Alsatian Shandy. Corporal Banks has just completed four months in the Falkland Islands:
As a junior rank within my trade I walk the patrol areas with a police dog - I’m security for the airfield,” she said.
I have two dogs I normally work with at RAF Coningsby, Shadow and Max, both boys, but I’m with a female Alsatian dog on the parade. Shandy is good in crowds and is a good tracker dog. I haven’t done a parade before - all of us being together as one, coming home from detachment, it feels like a great achievement.
RAF Police personnel are deployed throughout the world in support of UK operations. They will usually deploy as individuals or small teams, so the parade was put together to recognise the contribution of all personnel who have served overseas with the RAF in the last twelve months.
No 2 TPS is part of No 3 (Tactical) Police Wing (TPW), which is regarded as the tip of the spear for RAF Police worldwide operations in support of the defence mission and has a 24/7 very high readiness team.
It continually provides a flight of policemen and women to support the Force Protection Wing at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan since it took on the mission in early 2009.
The TPW is based at RAF Henlow and consists of a Wing Headquarters, a regular RAF Police Squadron of over 100 RAF policemen and women, and a Royal Auxiliary Air Force Police Squadron of 60 personnel.
The Royal Air Force Police provide trained personnel in support of Op HERRICK in a variety of roles, including:
• Camp Bastion Security Squadron. This squadron is responsible for internal security, mobile and foot patrols, counter-terrorist searches, flight-line security, security risk management, control of entry at main entrance points, and security patrols up to 5km outside the perimeter.
• Close Support. RAF Police mentor the Afghan National Police and are embedded within various Helmand Battle Groups.
• Close Protection (CP). RAF Police are deployed as part of joint CP teams worldwide, including VIP protection on Op HERRICK, and as part of ambassadorial protection teams.
• Aviation Security. RAF Police deliver aviation security capability across Op HERRICK and provide worldwide air transport security.
• Military Working Dogs (MWDs). RAF Police provide MWD teams to undertake various roles, from high assurance IED detection to airfield security.