DCC Debbie Ford, named ‘Commando of the Week’ on Royal Marines Reserve winter training exercise.

As one of our supportive employers and a Silver Award winner of the MOD’s Employer Recognition Scheme, Northumbria Police Force was invited to send a representative to observe members of the Royal Marines Reserve (RMR) on their cold-climate training programme in Bardufoss, Norway in March this year.   That ‘lucky volunteer’ was Deputy Chief Constable Debbie Ford, who joined 14 other organisations from London, Highland RFCA and Lowland RFCA on a different sort of exercise…….

Debbie, pictured receiving a photographic reminder of the event from Brigadier Paul Baker, Chief Executive NE RFCA, said, “It was an amazing experience.   As a member of a different uniformed force I was very interested to see how things operated.   You can’t take anything away from the military - it was an amazing week which showed them at their best, undergoing just some of the training required to survive in an extremely hostile environment.  Minus 30 degree temperatures, frostbite, rapidly changing arctic weather etc, we learned very quickly to listen carefully to instructions and to follow them to the letter.  To be able to undertake some of the training ourselves was a fantastic opportunity and I was grateful for the chance to take part.   The highlight for me, of course, was being named ‘Commando of the Week’!”.  

Bardufoss is located in northern Norway and falls 200 miles within the Arctic Circle. This programme, known as Exercise AQUILA, is an essential element of RMR training to ensure the Reservists are equipped for cold-climate combat. The Reservists test their abilities and broaden their skill sets, gaining experience that they can bring back and apply to their civilian workplaces. 

The aim of this trip was to show employers, first-hand, what Reservists learn and gain from their military training, and in turn what skills these Reservists can bring to their civilian workplaces and communities.  

The activities that these employers saw on their visit in March included cold-weather survival tactics such as ice-breaking and building brushwood shelters, clearly showcasing the levels of resilience and resourcefulness developed through the RMR. 

And, of course, having been fully kitted out for their week’s stay, including waterproof and thermal clothing, sleeping bags and snowshoes, and after some very thorough briefings on how to stay safe and warm in an Arctic climate, paying particular attention on how to detect frostbite, the employers were invited to undertake some of the training exercises themselves.

Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Associations (RFCAs) are organisations supporting the Reserve Forces and Cadet organisations in 13 regions across the country. Funded by the Ministry of Defence, one of our key functions is to promote the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC).   The AFC is a public pledge made by businesses and community organisations to ensure Regular and Reserve members of the Armed Forces don’t face disadvantage or discrimination across areas such as employment, housing, healthcare and housing support. AFC signatories may choose to progress through the Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS), earning Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards based on the support they provide.   ERS Award winners pledge to give Reservists additional time off to facilitate their yearly training.  Lowland RFCA hosted the group of employers of various sizes and sectors to observe members of the Royal Marines Reserve (RMR) on their cold-climate training programme in Bardufoss, Norway; and, courtesy of Emma McMullen, Communications Officer of Lowland RFCA, a day by day account of the exercise is available on the following link:     https://www.lowlandrfca.org.uk/employers-join-royal-marines-reserve-on-exercise-aquila/








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