Global Armed Forces
Today that focus is on the Global Armed Forces.
All three arms of the UK military have representation overseas, from elements deployed in Europe to the detachments in the South Atlantic, numerous vessels sailing around the world’s oceans, as well as those operating within the UK. In these global deployments they work alongside our global allies from NATO and the UN as well as serving the UK national interest.
Members of the RAF are currently deployed in Lithuania supporting the NATO air policing mission, there are numerous Royal Navy vessels currently deployed on maritime policing and anti-piracy operations not to mention the members of Army deployed in the middle east.
Whether deployed to a British base overseas, such as those in the Falklands or Europe, detached to a facility run by our partners or serving on of the Navy’s many vessels, the members of our armed forces take pride in representing not just their service but the nation.
When operating globally it is common for us to fall under the command of larger multinational groups such as AFCENT (Allied Forces Central Europe now Allied Joint Force Command) or UN peacekeeping forces. A more recent example would be the UK team working at Vandenberg AFB as part of the Coalition Space Operations team.
Even when operating overseas there are certain ceremonial activities that still take place. These range from the relatively mundane, such as the daily raising of the ensigns and their lowering each evening, to larger affairs like Summer Balls or concert series. There are also the formal ceremonies where global bases are handed back to their hosting nations, such as those that happened in Germany as the draw down of UK forces comes to an end.
There are also religious services as well. Normal military life continues even if you are in a different country so promotions and awards ceremonies also take place, as do a number of social events organised either official by the various messes or by the serving personnel themselves.
One big aspect that follows wherever there are members of the military is the good-natured inter-forces rivalry which is usually demonstrated through sporting events such as the Army v Navy Rugby matches and numerous football and cricket games. This even extends to the other nations that we are working with. They even include the forces schools in the sporting action to make sure that it's as inclusive for everyone as possible.
Working around the globe gives the members of our armed forces the chance to experience many different cultures, and also allows them to strengthen international bonds.
Global Armed Forces
The UK armed forces work with a large number of other military groups from allied countries around the world. In some cases, this is done in their own countries and sometimes it’s done from bases over here.
The most prolific of these is probably the US Air Force, who have several bases across East Anglia operating all sorts of aircraft in support of NATO operations. Sadly, it was one of these units that suffered the loss of one of their pilots recently.
The recent training exercises carried out by the crew of HMS Queen Elizabeth in the US to prepare for joint carrier operations is another example of the global nature of the armed forces. As part of that training operation the crew worked with the US Navy, the US Marines as well as the RAF and Navy aircrews.
Another great example of the global co-operation can be seen in the bands and groups that take part each year in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and make it such a resounding success.
The continuing work of all the armed forces around the globe help to make the world a safer place and for that we are grateful.
Even during the coronavirus pandemic, where the armed forced ability to operate internationally in person has been restricted, they are still finding ways to work together and help lend aid to those who need it.
In addition to the efforts we have all seen them take on the news in response to the pandemic such as setting up hospitals and helping to manage testing centres, examples how the international armed forced community has come together to raise moral and commemorate events can been seen in the joint flypasts between the Red Arrows of the RAF and the Patrouille de France which took in both Paris & London to mark 80 years since Charles De Gaulle’s BBC Broadcast during the war.
It could also be seen in the way that musicians from the UK military came together with those of 7 other nations, and led by the US Air Force created a video of them jointly playing “I’ll be Seeing You” from lockdown.