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RPAS Gongs

Old 29th Aug 2017, 11:39
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RPAS Gongs

Quick question to help inform an ongoing happy hour discussion/debate - are there any circumstances in which RPAS operators can be awarded a gong for conducting sorties over an operational theatre while physically being located in UK/US?
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 13:19
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By all accounts this very question is what's holding up the issue of the Op Shader medal. Personally, I can't see why you'd award them the same medal as the troops on the ground in country.
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 13:56
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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.
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 18:19
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Originally Posted by RAF_Techie101 View Post
By all accounts this very question is what's holding up the issue of the Op Shader medal. Personally, I can't see why you'd award them the same medal as the troops on the ground in country.

Surely that depends on what the medal is issued for. By your definition you'd only get a medal if you were on the ground in the operational area (would you need to be shot at to qualify?).
If on the other hand is that you provided operational effect in support of an operation, then surely that should be recognised. Traditionally, this is done with a medal.
I've nothing to do with RPAS by the way and I worked hard enough at school not to be on the ground in an op area
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 18:37
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Or a scribbly dishing out Dollars in fortress KAF...

Or a techie working in jets in mainland Italy for flight over the Balkans...

Or a PTI for running the gym programme at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi whilst the jets fly over Iraq...

Or the mobile catering chefs supporting the jet efforts over Libya...

The fact is, if you are actively fighting the war by taking life from afar then surely you are as deserving (or maybe more) as the above?
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 18:55
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Originally Posted by Daf Hucker View Post
Surely that depends on what the medal is issued for. By your definition you'd only get a medal if you were on the ground in the operational area (would you need to be shot at to qualify?).
If on the other hand is that you provided operational effect in support of an operation, then surely that should be recognised. Traditionally, this is done with a medal.
I fought GW1 in AFOps in Whitehall, wearing a suit. I thus provided 'Operational Effect', by briefing PM, SofS, CDS, CAS and a few others during proceedings. Indeed, SofS used a sentence of mine in a speech to the House of Commons.

However, pi$$ed off though I am after all those 12-hour night shifts and getting no medal, I did no more than someone flogging himself to shreds in a UK Supply Depot shovelling the essential kit out to the front line.

I defer on the RPAS aspect ... that is indeed a conundrum. But I do know, having a mate from the business, that it's rather stressful at times [a.k.a. actually killing people].
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 19:31
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MPN11 I suspect that our paths probably crossed during GW1 (although my team was doing 24 on /48 off throughout). Although I never even thought about any "gong", having( like all of us) mates in theatre. I did have some angst directed against those who had made careers by staying "Close by their desks "etc. who were still busying themselves playing peacetime personal one-upmanship games around the various departments for the duration.
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 19:44
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Hi Haraka - that reminds me of a comment made by some thrusting Sqn Ldr MoD chair-polisher just after the South Atlantic war. He was desperate to go down south; when asked why, he replied "You are no-one in Town if you haven't been there!"

Quelle wanquerre - I hope he was eventually outed for what he was!
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 20:04
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Originally Posted by RAF_Techie101 View Post
By all accounts this very question is what's holding up the issue of the Op Shader medal. Personally, I can't see why you'd award them the same medal as the troops on the ground in country.
In that case surely the OSM is the answer, with a clasp for service 'in country' and just the gong for service elsewhere - as per the OSM Afghanistan?
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 21:53
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Originally Posted by mr ripley View Post
Having helped write the criteria for an OSM, I believe the key words at the time were 'risk' and 'rigour'
I always understood that the notion of 'risk & rigour' applied to all gongs for operational service, not just the OSM. That said, I still think we are too parsimonious with operational recognition. Given the ever-increasing demands being levied against personnel, I would favour a relaxation of that principle that recognised operational commitment without insisting that personnel had to live face-down in a puddle for months on end, under fire and having worked at least 20 hrs a day just to warrant consideration for thinking an operation is worthy of recognition. Surely more 'minor' cases of operational service should fall under a more general award rather than a fully fledged campaign or award for operational service? There seems to be precious little we can do for personnel these days, medals being one of the few things that hasn't been farmed out and remains within our gift; let's start using that gift a bit more sensibly to reflect demands of operational service.
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 22:14
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I would have thought a twin-track approach would solve the problem: a SHADER OSM for those on the ground and the aircrew overhead, a la TELIC and HERRICK, and the GSM 08 with an "Air Ops Daesh" (or other suitably worded) bar for engineers, RPAS crews and others not in the line of fire. Establishing a differential in risk threshold between OSM and GSM would be useful as it would offer a means of recognising service without distorting the existing system too much; over time Army types would still distinguish themselves with a chest full of OSMs, while remote combatants would acquire only bars to a single GSM ribbon. Accumulating days of GSM-earning service would also unlock the ACSM, which would further recognise the enduring contribution made by many remote combatants.

A slight problem: they just need to finish awarding the contract to mint the GSM 08... only 9 years after its inception...
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Old 29th Aug 2017, 23:14
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The obvious answer:

OSM for everyone in Irak and possibly in the other country.

GSM 08 for all those supporting ops, including drone drivers, who have done a great job on SHADER, training teams in other places, other ME dets etc. All AcSM earning.

What is likely to happen?

Irak and other country - you get OSM(which stacks up towards AcSM).

The rest of you unlucky.

If this is the case then there are going to be some mightily annoyed people who have been sent on 'op tours' yet their time away etc won't be recognised.

Cue BS about X-factor etc.

RAF Techie idiot 101 - trotting the line 'should have worked harder at school' makes you look a fool. There are some incredibly capable and sharp individuals of all ranks running around the battlespace, or 'ground' as you call it. Maybe they wanted a bit more of a physical and mental challenge than you?
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 01:23
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Originally Posted by gijoe View Post
RAF Techie idiot 101 - trotting the line 'should have worked harder at school' makes you look a fool. There are some incredibly capable and sharp individuals of all ranks running around the battlespace, or 'ground' as you call it. Maybe they wanted a bit more of a physical and mental challenge than you?
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.
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 02:26
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Originally Posted by gijoe View Post
The obvious answer:

OSM for everyone in Irak and possibly in the other country.

GSM 08 for all those supporting ops, including drone drivers, who have done a great job on SHADER, training teams in other places, other ME dets etc. All AcSM earning.

What is likely to happen?

Irak and other country - you get OSM(which stacks up towards AcSM).

The rest of you unlucky.

If this is the case then there are going to be some mightily annoyed people who have been sent on 'op tours' yet their time away etc won't be recognised.

Cue BS about X-factor etc.

RAF Techie idiot 101 - trotting the line 'should have worked harder at school' makes you look a fool. There are some incredibly capable and sharp individuals of all ranks running around the battlespace, or 'ground' as you call it. Maybe they wanted a bit more of a physical and mental challenge than you?
It was Daf Hucker, not RAF_Techie101. I agree though; a moronic comment.
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 08:04
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Irak
Should have worked harder at school!!!
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 09:37
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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.
RAF Techie

If I may answer the second half of the above quote?

- i would offer that there is just as much danger to someone operating on home soil as there is for someone sat in well defended operating base. Indeed we know that the bad guys are most likely looking to target the RPAS flyers on their way to work or as they go about their daily business - so they could be in MORE danger than the deployed personnel.

- We also need to consider the RPAS type. Watchkeeper is line of sight only and so is 'up country' operated anyway. Reaper is beyond line of sight and so you have a Mission Command Element that controls the RPAS from afar via satellite and then a Launch Recovery Element that operates the RPAS line of sight for take off and recovery which is 'up country' somewhere (in Afghanistan it was KAF).

- We also need to consider this warfare is different. The people that fly Reaper are exposed to the ooerations day-in day-out without significant breaks. They will develop targets and watch military/terrorist targets for days on end - often getting the full intimate pattern of life. Then when given clearance to do so they have to drop a building or take a life knowing the full effect of their actions. If they have to engage under self defence ROE for whomever they are providing overwatch for they may hear the shreaks of the wounded on the RT and then again watch the after effects of the weapons they have fired in full HD. They then have to go home and be a normal mum/dad afterwards. You also have to live with the consequences of your actions - did you get things right/wrong are you going to jail for killing outside ROE? This is stressful and to m is ample 'rigour'.

Then you have to offset this against supporting staff that get canpaign medals for dishong out kit, money, sports equipment and other stuff - to me RPAS operators deserve campaign medals for being at the fighting edge of the canpaign.
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 10:07
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I am a firm believer that RPAS operators do deserve gongs - its an emotionally and mentally stressful job, far more so in many ways than being in a rear echelon camp in country, because you have the daily head screw of taking kids to school, going to work, either observing someone or then dropping a bomb and killing that person, and then going home to tea with the kids.

Its hard work, there is no 'operational space' to get your head in the game and instead you have to constantly jump between two very different worlds. I wonder if a case could be made to put RPAS operators on regular short (e.g. 1-2 month) tours in a third location like Akrotiri to allow them the space to deliver the operation?

Perhaps two levels - the 'in theatre' and the 'out of theatre' to reflect same outcomes, different means of delivery?
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 10:45
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Originally Posted by The B Word View Post
Then you have to offset this against supporting staff that get canpaign medals for dishong out kit, money, sports equipment and other stuff - to me RPAS operators deserve campaign medals for being at the fighting edge of the canpaign.
Agreed. A lot less chance of PTSD at Al Udeid or Al Mussanah than at Waddington/Creech.
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 15:34
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Posted by Daf Hucker
I've nothing to do with RPAS by the way and I worked hard enough at school not to be on the ground in an op area


You can do that by not even going to school
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Old 30th Aug 2017, 20:07
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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"...
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