East Anglia RFCA spearheads a collaboration with RAF Wyton to maximise opportunities for Reservists and Cadets

Deputy Chief Executive Lt Col Alison Falcon brought together key RFCA staff and stakeholders at RAF Wyton in a move to ensure all opportunities for collaboration and synergy are delivered.

RAF Wyton is the home of the famed Pathfinder building, the National Centre for Geospatial Intelligence (NCGI) and also serves as a primary work location for multiple Reserve Forces units across the country. The base counts upwards of 2,000 military and civilian staff and is growing to become one of the largest employers in Cambridgeshire.

Major Locke

One of the Reserve Forces units based at RAF Wyton is 135 Geographic Squadron (Reserves). Major Quintin Locke RE is the Officer Commanding of 135 Geo Sqn. The Squadron is a Reserve unit within 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic), an award-winning hybrid regiment comprising both Regular and Reserve units under Defence Intelligence.
His reservists are experts at assisting decision-makers and deployed commanders to understand, plan, navigate and target. They manage, analyse and visualise geospatial data in many different forms, and they disseminate their people, maps and data where they’re needed for Defence and the Joint Forces.

Major Locke said: “We welcome interest from people in the wider Huntingdon area, with or without previous military experience, for whom a part-time career in geospatial analysis with us in this exceptional setting might just be the adventure of a lifetime.” 135 Geo Sqn share their latest adventures on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and Instagram.

reservists mountain biking in Jersey

In the last 12 months, reservists from 135 Geo Sqn have deployed on board the Aircraft Carrier HMS Prince of Wales, on exercise with Regular troops in Kenya, and on a leg of a Royal Engineers expedition sailing from the UK to South Georgia Island via the Falklands.
At their summertime two-week annual training event in Jersey, they trained in military skills including shooting, fieldcraft, navigation, first aid, counter mine and IED, as well as driver training.
The team also challenged themselves through mountain biking, coasteering, trail walking, rock climbing and kayaking. 

reservists working inside a lorry container fitted out for map printing

In the autumn, 135 Geo Sqn carried out annual urban operations training, where the team practiced room clearance drills through a complex bunker system in darkness using loads of blank ammunition and laser sights. As a group of 30 reservists, they also carried out Bulk replication training over a weekend; this involves printing large paper maps from the back of a 15T truck under various challenging scenarios such as the disintegration of all IT and communications networks.

Liam Gardner

135 Geographic Squadron (Reserves) consists of up to 127 reservists with locations in Ewell Army Reserve Centre, Reading Army Reserve Centre and RAF Wyton. The reservists are trained as combat engineers, geospatial technicians and HGV drivers. We met Liam Gardner, former Army Chef, turned NHS digital champion and recent recruit to 135 (Geo) Squadron who has recently completed his combat engineer training with the squadron. He said: “As soon as I heard about this unit, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of and I threw myself into it. Completing the training was just the right challenge at the right time for me. “

The Regional Employer Engagement Director for DRM, embedded into East Anglia RFCA, shared networking opportunities open to NCGI and 135 Geographic Squadron from her vast experience of promoting the Armed Forces Covenant and the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme in the region.

East Anglia RFCA Joint Cadet Committee was heralded as the best forum through which to engage with the senior leaders of the uniformed cadet forces in our region. Highlighting the highly advanced work being carried out at RAF Wyton could serve to inspire some to consider geo-spatial intelligence as an area of the military that those wanting to join the Services could consider.

Graham Booth, RAFAC Central & East Region Chief of Staff, also was brought in by the RFCA to ensure a joined-up approach to identifying opportunities for both Reserves and Cadets offered by the facilities in and around RAF Wyton.

The RFCA’s Cadet Training Centre (CTC) in Waterbeach is a mere 30-minutes away from RAF Wyton by car and can potentially supply overnight accommodation for up to 150 Reservists, if and when they were congregating at RAF Wyton for training. This of course providing it doesn’t interfere with the usual activities on site; the CTC is in regular use some weeknights and most weekends by the Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force.

Main image from left to right: East Anglia RFCA Head of Engagement Paul Bishop, Reservist with 135 Geo Sqn Liam Gardner, OC 135 Geo Sqn Major Quintin Locke, East Anglia RFCA Deputy Chief Executive Lt Col Alison Falcon.

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