Well the last few months have flown by! After recieving my call up papers and beginning the mobilisation process I’ve been bouncing all over the UK! I’m now in full time regular service working within Army Media and Communications, preparing for my roll out in Afghanistan as part of the three man Army Combat Camera Team, deploying this winter on Operation Herrick 17 for six months.
How did I get to this point? Once the call up papers dropped through my door I knew I was needed to fill the ENG (electronic news gathering/video) role on the Combat Camera Team and I was due at RTMC (Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre) Chillwell in April, to mobilise into full time service for 12 months. At Chillwell you spend two weeks training and passing various assessments, physical, mental and medical. Once deemed fit and ready to serve, you’re then taken into regular service and then you are sent onto more training, which is operational training that all troops need to do, whether full time regulars or reserves. The training is specific to Afghanistan and includes current tactics, cultural and environmental training which bugs and beasties’s to look out for and how to say hello! Many things are covered over long days and nights, but it’s all relevant, lifesaving stuff.
Once all the general Afghanistan training was covered and all the soldiering skills were up to scratch, it was time for my job specific training to begin. My next stop was RAF Halton and the Defence Media Operations Centre. I spent a couple of weeks there learning about the CCT job and what is expected and required of us. I also had my kit issued. As the ENG (electronic news gathering/video) operator I had a lot of kit- two video cameras (Panasonic P2’s), a tripod, laptop, BGAN satellite system, night scopes, various mics – from the big fluffy ones to the small radio mics you can clip onto people, the list goes on! But at least I now have everything I need and a huge PELI case to lug it all around in as well!! I’m not looking forward to getting all our kit on and off the flights to Afghanistan!
The great thing about being a member of the TA though is my TA unit (Media Operations Group Volunteers) are still training as well, so last weekend I jumped on a training weekend with them. 4 Para and some elements of the US Airborne were all set to be jumping over the weekend and we were tasked to film and photograph the jumps as a training exercise, plus I’d just got all my kit issued so I could put it through its paces! We ended up getting a team on one of the planes and a team on the ground, so we could get film and photographs at both points. I was on the plane and it was a tough shoot, the plane was bouncing all over the place but I managed to find a stable enough grip and was pleased with the outcome. Our video rushes (a selection of video clips put together for news channels to use when reporting the story) were used by ITV north, BBC North and BFBS. I also put together the following video for use on the army website. The video pre-flight and footage from the plane is by me and the footage from the ground was shot by Sergeant Brian Gamble.
The next stage is to work with the army news teams here in the UK, to get as much experience and practice filming and editing footage for the news as possible. That’s why I’m now here at Army HQ with the Media and Comms team.