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RPAS Gongs

Old 30th Aug 2017, 22:22
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by alfred_the_great View Post
The problem is that, fundamentally, the Army think that medals should only to apply to those with boots on the ground. Indeed, they've denied medals to RN and RAF personnel on the basis our equipment has self-defence equipment (DAS), and thus fails to meet the "risk" element of "risk and rigour"...
Well in that case, will they be giving up body armour?
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 05:37
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Melchett01 View Post
Well in that case, will they be giving up body armour?
We all thought it, you said it! - add in Protected Mobility and ECM too then? No risk and rigour left, or at least equal or less than an aircraft flying in a relatively denied/degraded environment!
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 06:37
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Melchett01 View Post
Well in that case, will they be giving up body armour?
hush now, this is hte Army. They instinctively think that unless they're involved, it doesn't count...
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 11:10
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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A funeral director employee belonging to a famous firm in London that was on TV a decade ago, who has contract with MoD received a medal for being in Bagram for 45 days on the trot....as he said during an interview on Brize.
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 13:30
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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During the Balkans an MT driver that never left Sicily (mostly running people to and from Palermo Airport) got his medal, whilst none of the MPA aircrew (flying in theatre with live weapons) did. Several crews did 2 tours in theatre and have nothing to show for it except log book entries.

Allegedly it was because the Lords and Masters (ex-FJ world) determined the qualification as being X months (6?) on the ground in the designated theatre (Sicily qualified) or Y number of flights in theatre. They didn't take into account that some crews flew very long sorties and didn't attain the high number of flights even though they almost certainly flew more total hours than some flying other types.

Hey-ho, that's the way the cookie crumbles.
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Old 31st Aug 2017, 23:35
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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So after a day of reading the other posts and collating my thoughts, here's a more in-depth look at my thoughts.

The whole issue revolves around what we give medals FOR. I know people all over the spectrum when it comes to medals - from those who think we should have more and look more like the Americans, to one who thinks that unless it's a Victoria Cross he isn't interested in the slightest. I sit somewhere in the middle on the fence - there should be medals for service and medals for actions, with the cross-over present too.

Campaign medals are struck to recognise active service in a conflict of some sort - the hard part comes in deciding what the qualifying criteria are. In the past some weird and wacky rules have come about as mentioned before, allowing people who happened to be in Cyprus on holiday almost to receive the same medal as those on the ground in the conflict zone. So do you say that you have to physically be in the country on the ground to qualify? As per Shader, many people are spending months and months away contributing to the fight but ultimately having nothing to show because the war is fought from the Med. In this case I believe two medals are being looked at for this very reason.

At the same time you could have been posted to Northern Ireland before 2007 for 3 years and gained a GSM and an ACSM for jsut being in the country. Stay there longer and the bars start to rack up. Then there's the OSM for Afghanistan which you could get for being in Oman at the right time, but being in the country gets you the clasp to go with it which is a reasonable idea. Look at the OSM Congo and you can't get it without having the DROC clasp at all. It's all a bit of a mess, and don't get me started on the American jockey who got a medal for flying over Northern Island due to a weatehr diversion...

Personally, I think campaign medals like the OSM's should be the reserve of people either in or over the conflict zone. There has to be some element of the risk and riguer that they're measured against. You may well be assisting with the war in other capacities, but it doesn't justify the Operational decoration. The GSM is more applicable in my opinion - Op Kipion is a prime example. People, myself included, have spent months away from families in sandy conditions but not at any particular risk apart from heatstroke. To recognise the time abroad the GSM with appropriate geographic clasp would be issued for say, slightly under 6 months total days. It is an Operation and despite some locations being nicer than others its worth recognition.

For the RPAS drivers I'm still not sold on the idea. Like being sat behind a desk in Whitehall and qualifying for a Gulf War medal, it's just not in the same spirit as those halfway round the world away from home.

There is no correct answer to it all and ultimately the decision is taken at levels infinitely higher than my pay grade. I am still waiting with baited breath for the RAF 100 medal announcement though....
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Old 1st Sep 2017, 03:24
  #27 (permalink)  
 
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A operational campaign medal should absolutely be about the direct contribution that a person makes to that operation. The fact that the debate still continues around awarding RPAS Pilots/Sensor Operators/MICs medals and has still not been resolved is a total embarrassment and disgrace. Does it need to be spelt out in simple language again the fact that this group of people on that platform have provided more direct operational air effect/support than anything else in the military (SF aside) and most certainly the RAF. Is anyone actually seriously saying that someone who has actually worked on ops delivering ISR and kinetic strikes every working day for the last 3-10 'years' is any less deserving of a campaign medal than someone who has done a couple of 4-6 monthers! Risk and rigeur is mental as well as physical and if anyone also thinks RPAS still don't fit that definition then the definition needs to be changed to live in the modern world of warfare. Sorry mr Ripley but your definition isn't fit for purpose anymore.

Raf_Techie101, you may not have said 'should have worked harder at school' but you are a fool if you say something as moronic as directly comparing RPAS Pilots/Sensor Operators/MICs roles with 'sitting behind a desk in whitehall'.
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Old 1st Sep 2017, 09:02
  #28 (permalink)  
 
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I like the story of the "overflight" GSM. When I got posted to Hong Kong from Singapore to Hong Kong in January 1968 I flew up in a Bristol Freighter of the RNZAF. We refuelled in Qui Nohn in Vietnam in a 45 minute stopover, which was really interesting as I had never seen so many helicopters in my life.

I met a US Army officer who was on R & R in Hong Kong and when I told him this he said that had I been in the US forces that would have entitled me to the Vietnam Medal. A few weeks later I got a package in the post. The guy had got hold of one, complete in its box with ribbon bar etc. All entirely unofficial of course and I've never yet been tempted to wear it alongside my single GSM on Remembrance Sunday. Maybe one day.
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Old 1st Sep 2017, 13:46
  #29 (permalink)  
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2 pages - really??? No
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Old 1st Sep 2017, 15:23
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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When you have left the RAF, and are trying to earn a living in the real world, I think most of you will realise how pointless these 'turning up' medals really are...

Sure you may earn some respect for a gallantry decoration, and have really earned it. But for the rest, they will gather dust somewhere. Your salary and, if you are lucky, your annual bonus will allow you to reward your family in a way that a pointless trinket cannot.

Perhaps a few will flame me, but 5 years after leaving I wonder now what all the fuss was about for so many parts of Service life. The real world - and the requirement to earn a real living - focuses the mind and hones your motivation.
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Old 1st Sep 2017, 16:11
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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sidewayspeak,


I'm not quite sure what or where the real world is. Having been on the ground in contact in places such as Iraq and Aghanistan, I can safely say that on each occasion I had a focussed mind, my motivation was honed and I was earning my living. If that's not real enough for you then you then I'm not sure I'd want to visit this real world of which you speak.


As for medals as pointless trinkets, it's an opinion to which you are quite rightly entitled but one with which I respectfully disagree. Everyone sees issues through the prism of their own experiences, I am no different and I wouldn't seek to tell anyone how they should think about this topic, simply to explain my own point of view. My time in Afghanistan hasn't seen my do anything particularly brave or distinguished, I've simply done the job I've been paid to do in some testing circumstances. The medal (to me) is representative of many things; 3 years in-country away from my family, friends who came home wounded or injured and some who came home dead. Others will view their own medal differently or have no view at all, and that's fine, but to me a pointless trinket it is not.


As for medallic recognition for RPAS crews, why not? Having been a beneficiary of a number of aspects of their work, observation of pattern of life being just one, I have a little insight into the peerless operational effect they deliver and have had many an occasion to be thankful for it. The stresses and strains underwhich they operate meet many standards of risk and rigour, just not the particularly narrow definitions required for campaign medals, perhaps it is time for medallic recognition to better reflect the contemporary operating environment.


MB

Last edited by Mahogany_Bomber; 1st Sep 2017 at 16:22. Reason: Trying (and failing) to sound less pompous
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Old 1st Sep 2017, 17:02
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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It's disheartening to hear that carrying out orders which see actions likely to be detrimental to mental health take second place to your position on a map when it comes to recognition of risk and rigour to an individual.

Last edited by unmanned_droid; 1st Sep 2017 at 17:15.
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Old 1st Sep 2017, 17:38
  #33 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Dougie M View Post
By all accounts the best Gulf Medal award was to the Guards polo team who were training at Happy Valley polo field in Episkopi Cyprus during the hostilities and were deemed to have been within "scud range" from Iraq. They were most surprised when the gongs arrived in the Adj's office.....allegedly.
Agreed, and the schoolies/scribblies at Akrotiri got a medal too, whilst VC10 crews flying into an area with a few miles of the Kuwaiti border, and subjected to Scuds and Patriots having a go at each other (+ the occasional Patriot thinking a VC10 was a nice juicy target) got nothing.
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Old 1st Sep 2017, 17:39
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by sidewayspeak View Post
When you have left the RAF, and are trying to earn a living in the real world, I think most of you will realise how pointless these 'turning up' medals really are...

Sure you may earn some respect for a gallantry decoration, and have really earned it. But for the rest, they will gather dust somewhere. Your salary and, if you are lucky, your annual bonus will allow you to reward your family in a way that a pointless trinket cannot.

.
Totally agree all. Especially read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cruickshank Surely he deserved that VC if anyone did.
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Old 1st Sep 2017, 20:23
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by RAF_Techie101 View Post
Without wanting to look like the idiot I'm apparently being, where did I mention anything about trying harder at school? I'm simply questioning the principle of awarding the same medal to someone flying a drone by computer screen whilst in their own country, having regular cups of tea and going home to their own bed each night as someone living in a tent in 40 degree heat wearing body armour and walking around with a pistol for self defence. I'm not saying they don't deserve recognition, but to award the same to both situations isn't in the spirit of what medals are about.
Apologies - comment redirected. Phone, small print...

Most people living in a tent with with body armour and a pistol don't have an effect on the battlespace...Drone dudes do, very much so.
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Old 2nd Sep 2017, 07:48
  #36 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by gijoe View Post
Apologies - comment redirected. Phone, small print...

Most people living in a tent with with body armour and a pistol don't have an effect on the battlespace...Drone dudes do, very much so.
Apology accepted. I was more surprised at theuglyfendoff's reply which is his second post on PPRuNe and the first since 2011. Obviously a topic close to home.

Originally Posted by theuglyfendoff View Post
A operational campaign medal should absolutely be about the direct contribution that a person makes to that operation. The fact that the debate still continues around awarding RPAS Pilots/Sensor Operators/MICs medals and has still not been resolved is a total embarrassment and disgrace. Does it need to be spelt out in simple language again the fact that this group of people on that platform have provided more direct operational air effect/support than anything else in the military (SF aside) and most certainly the RAF. Is anyone actually seriously saying that someone who has actually worked on ops delivering ISR and kinetic strikes every working day for the last 3-10 'years' is any less deserving of a campaign medal than someone who has done a couple of 4-6 monthers! Risk and rigeur is mental as well as physical and if anyone also thinks RPAS still don't fit that definition then the definition needs to be changed to live in the modern world of warfare. Sorry mr Ripley but your definition isn't fit for purpose anymore.

Raf_Techie101, you may not have said 'should have worked harder at school' but you are a fool if you say something as moronic as directly comparing RPAS Pilots/Sensor Operators/MICs roles with 'sitting behind a desk in whitehall'.
What both replies suggest is that metallic recognition should be more for the contribution you make to the war as apposed to just being there. This is a fair point to an extent - how many times do you see senior officers finding an excuse to go to a conflict zone for 30 days and then leaving again.

I gained my Afghan medal by doing 45 days accumulated service - I was TriStar ground crew and it took about 4 years of flying in and out to build up enough days in theatre to qualify. This obviously in no way compares to the army guys we took out there who were doing multiple six month tours and being shot st, but the qualification criteria are what they are. Who decides if you've earned it? The politicians? The medal office! Senior officers? The queen? Is flying in and out of an airfield in a 1970's airliner more dangerous than being inside the wire for the whole tour? They're all subjective questions and there's no right answer.

I am in no way saying that the RPAS operators don't contribute to the war effort - but in the sameness way doesn't everyone in the military do so? If my colleagues in the squadron hadn't fixed and serviced the aircraft before I came in to work to go to Afghan on it, it wouldn't have made it, so aren't they contributing too?

My personal opinion (and it's just that) remains that you should be out of the country at the very least. The RPAS engineers can't do their jobs from back in the UK after all.

Call me a moron or anywhere name under the sun if you wish, it's just my opinion. Just try not to bite too hard...
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Old 2nd Sep 2017, 09:23
  #37 (permalink)  
 
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Interesting reading for those with a passion for this subject:
https://www.gov.uk/government/upload...rt-July-12.pdf
Personally, I think that RPAS personnel should qualify by the rigour aspects to their role.
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Old 2nd Sep 2017, 12:26
  #38 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by RAF_Techie101 View Post
Apology accepted. I was more surprised at theuglyfendoff's reply which is his second post on PPRuNe and the first since 2011. Obviously a topic close to home.



What both replies suggest is that metallic recognition should be more for the contribution you make to the war as apposed to just being there. This is a fair point to an extent - how many times do you see senior officers finding an excuse to go to a conflict zone for 30 days and then leaving again.

I gained my Afghan medal by doing 45 days accumulated service - I was TriStar ground crew and it took about 4 years of flying in and out to build up enough days in theatre to qualify. This obviously in no way compares to the army guys we took out there who were doing multiple six month tours and being shot st, but the qualification criteria are what they are. Who decides if you've earned it? The politicians? The medal office! Senior officers? The queen? Is flying in and out of an airfield in a 1970's airliner more dangerous than being inside the wire for the whole tour? They're all subjective questions and there's no right answer.

I am in no way saying that the RPAS operators don't contribute to the war effort - but in the sameness way doesn't everyone in the military do so? If my colleagues in the squadron hadn't fixed and serviced the aircraft before I came in to work to go to Afghan on it, it wouldn't have made it, so aren't they contributing too?

My personal opinion (and it's just that) remains that you should be out of the country at the very least. The RPAS engineers can't do their jobs from back in the UK after all.

Call me a moron or anywhere name under the sun if you wish, it's just my opinion. Just try not to bite too hard...
Let's hope it will be medallic and metallic recognition - there is too much chocolate floating around including LS&GC for officers.

If you join the RAF to mend jets, you mend jets. If you join the infantry to close and engage with enemy you might, just might, have to fix the bayonet one day. They are totally different roles - without the first, the second doesn't get to the point where he squeezes the trigger. So effect on the battlespace is a little moot. Enablers are as key as bayonets.

Drone drivers have most definitely had an effect on the battlespace during SHADER and this should be recognised.
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Old 2nd Sep 2017, 17:10
  #39 (permalink)  
 
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From Mr Ripley's link:

A rather different issue which we have not had time to look at in detail but which certainly needs to be considered more seriously by the MOD in the future is the changing nature of warfare, for example the question of recognition for those engaged in remote operations, firing cruise missiles or weapons carried by drones. They are not themselves at physical risk but are in highly stressful situations and potentially contributing to major military successes. Similar issues have arisen in the past for those who have made huge contributions to military campaigns but only in supporting or enabling roles, for example in the areas of aerial supply and maritime support, with limited physical presence in the area of operations. Numbers on the front lines in future campaigns may be limited, posing the issue of how to deal with support personnel ever more acutely. Serving personnel are very mindful of these changes to the nature of operations and what it may mean for the opportunities for medals in future.
I agree, give the RPAS pilots, sensor ops and MICs campaign medals for goodness sake. Either that or stop dishing them out to those engineers loafing about in a nice austere base miles away from any action - touche techie?
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Old 3rd Sep 2017, 13:28
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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The way we control and conduct operations has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades. Though ground can only be taken and held with boots on the ground, enemies can be observed in real time, engaged and destroyed from thousands of miles away. Direct support of troops on the ground used to be the preserve of artillery and piloted close air support aircraft and helicopters. Now it is routinely provided by RPAS operators from the safety of the home country. The fact that those operators are not personally in harms way at the time does not diminish their vital contribution to the firefight and its tactical outcome and that should be recognised.

The current system of operational medals and awards has not kept up with the progress of delivering violence on our enemies. It is too geographically based, is no longer fit for purpose and needs updating. In principle I am generally in favour of parsimony, as opposed to profligacy, in the handing out of medals. I would not like us to emulate the Americans or North Koreans!

As an example of the illogicality, unfairness and divisiveness of the current system, the teachers in Cyprus received GW1 campaign medals, while servicemen and women who were directly involved in conducting operations were not.

The situation now is even more complicated and the purpose of operational medals urgently needs reviewing. It should be slanted towards including all those personnel making a direct contribution to a particular operation, regardless of their geographical location, while excluding those whose geographical location is currently the only criterion. RPAS operators should certainly be recognised for their involvement in combat operations. At the same time there must be a distinct recognition of those in the first category who were actually in harms way during the operation. Above all it should be credible and perceived as fair.

I do not believe it is difficult to devise a more modern procedure. Someone in MoD put a lot of time and effort into justifying a LSGC for officers, which many service personnel consider idiotic. I'm sure that the time and effort would be better spent bringing the operational medal award system into the 21st century.
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