Military Reserves Exchange Programme
Reservist Flt Lt Andy Wolfe of 607 (County of Durham) Squadron travelled to South Dakota, USA, as part of the Military Reserves Exchange Programme (MREP).
One of 6 RAF Reserves selected for the Military Reserves Exchange Programme (MREP), Flt Lt Andy Wolfe travelled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from 31 May to 11 June, and was hosted by Lt Col Scott Rust of the United States Air National Guard. Lt Col Rust then visited RAF Leeming from 17 to 28 July.
The Military Reserves Exchange Programme (MREP) is an annual exercise allowing personnel from Reserve Forces of all 3 Services to travel to the USA to learn the working practices and culture of an allied nation, in order to improve inter-operability between the countries. The exchange is hosted by a representative from the US Reserve Forces who then later travels to the UK to be hosted by the same UK Reserve who visited the USA.
Andy observed, “There are many similarities between our 2 nations and notably both militaries are working as a Whole Force, with Regulars, Reserves, Civilians and Contractors all involved. The scale of the 2 forces is vastly different but many of the challenges are the same”.
Scott said, “It’s really a career broadening experience. We are now working together more and more and we aren’t just Active Duty, Guard or Reserve, you are now seeing the international partners of the UK/Australia/Germany for example, so it’s important that you understand their culture and what their needs and goals are too.”
The respective visit programmes focussed on Logistics, as both participants are serving as Logistics Officers, but also covered wider aspects of Regular and Reserve Service in both countries. During the visit to South Dakota Andy visited the Air National Guard Unit at Joe Foss Field as well as the Army National Guard Unit in Rapid City, and on the ‘home’ leg of the exchange Scott had the opportunity to visit numerous units including RAF Leeming, Cranwell, Wittering and Coningsby, as well as seeing recruitment activity at the Sunderland Air Show and even attended the RAF Leeming Station Families Day!
In their civilian lives, Scott is a Procurement and Contracting Manager for the City of Sioux Falls, while Andy consults for an oil services company and works with a recycling charity in Edinburgh.
Said Andy, “Serving with the RAF Reserves works really well for me and offers the flexibility I need so I can continue to contribute to the RAF while balancing the demands of my civilian employment. It also occasionally throws up opportunities like this. It’s been an amazing experience and I have learned a huge amount from it. I would encourage anyone from the RAF Reserves to apply”.