The last 12 months have been busy for 70 Sqn, and we have been involved in many Operations and Exercises all around the world.
The final Search Teams from 70 Sqn returned from Afghanistan, having successfully completed their deployment on Op HERRICK 19. It was good to finally see the Sqn complete and back in Invicta Park Barracks, ready to shed the mantle of Search for good and move on in our new Force Support capacity.
As the Sqn re-roled away from Search and into Force Support, we went on a Field Training Exercise to Salisbury Plain in early February., The whole squadron benefitted from the exercise, as we turned our attention back to a more traditional role than that which has been required of us in Afghanistan. Inclement weather made its mark on us as well, and the old adage that ‘if it ain’t raining it ain’t training’ would suggest that we got a significant amount of training done!
In late February the floods hit the UK, and 70 Sqn were tasked to provide manpower for the relief effort. We worked alongside Soldiers from 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Light Dragoons in the Kent area, providing an Engineer Recce capability and Sappers to instruct the other soldiers on how to lay sand bags effectively. Although it was upsetting to see some of the damage that the water had caused to peoples’ homes and lives, we were pleased that we were able to give support to a County that has supported us for so long.
Throughout the past months we have been tasked to provide a Very High Readiness (VHR) Section to support a deployable Field Hospital. Several exercises have taken place during which Sappers from 70 Sqn have gone to help set up the Hospital and keep their machinery running whilst it was deployed.
A break came for 70 Sqn as it deployed to Nepal on Ex HIMALAYAN SAPPER – a refurbishment exercise during which an Area Welfare Centre and a School received a much needed makeover, gave the Sqn chance to practise its artisan trade skills and make good use of Nepal’s terrain for some Mountain Biking and Trekking!
Four Sections from 70 Sqn also competed in the Regimental Section Competitions, with our Sections being placed 2nd, 5th, 7th, and 10th in the Regiment.
The Sqn was also responsible for an upgrade to the Regiment’s in-house training area, conducting refurbishment of several of the buildings, and emplacing two large water tanks to allow the Regiment to do Water Supply training without having to trek to Weymouth.
70 Sqn journeyed to Cyprus in late 2014 on Ex PINESTICK, and dedicated itself to the tasks of the construction of a swimming pool office facility, two entry point sunshades, and the upgrade of a training camp. As well as finishing their original tasks on time and to a very high standard, the Sqn was also called upon to support Op SHADER in the creation of fuel bunds for the RAF. The POMs were delighted to be given such an important task, and relished the opportunity to develop their trade skills as well as contribute to an operational deployment. 70 Sqn also found time to work on some community engagement tasks for the local population, upgrading several routes and making a non-equipment bridge.
70 Sqn is now looking forward to its role as part of the 200th anniversary of the Brigade of Gurkhas, especially providing the Guard for Buckingham Palace and running a charity dinner night at the Tower of London.