Parliamentary Questions

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by Gunz_45, Oct 31, 2006.

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  1. The following is the text from a letter currently doing the rounds. After the "utterly, utterly useless" memo, this is probably the last thing the Crabs needed. :lol:

    [align=center]MARK LANCASTER TD MP

    Wing Commander Conway RAF
    Station Commander
    RAF Akrotiri
    BFP057 2nd October2006

    Service Provided by RAF Akrotiri to Transiting Troops

    By way of introduction, apart from my role as a member of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee. I am also a serving member of the Territorial Army and it was in this latter role that I travelled through your station on the way back from Kabul on Tuesday 26 September after an eight week operational tour in Afghanistan.

    Whilst I have served on several operational tours before, my motivation for volunteering for service during summer recess was to see first hand what our troops were going through and whilst much of what I experienced was positive, I regret to say that the service provided by your station was not. If I may I would like to recite the experience, and whilst I appreciate the start and end of the journey are not your responsibility, the majority of it was. My overwhelming impression was one of a complete lack of service by the RAF and of what little was provided, was done so entirely at the convenience of the RAF with little or no regard for passengers.

    I am sure that there was good reason to have to arrive at Kabul airport at 05:15 for a 09:30 flight, but I would be delighted to know what it was. Having been given just 15 minutes for breakfast we were told we had to he back in the departure lounge by 07:30.

    The flight finally took off shortly before 10:00 (D+30) and landed in Cyprus shortly after 14:00 local. On landing- we were told to take off all of our hand baggage due to a minor problem with a window that was expected to be fixed during our two hour stay on the ground. (I subsequently discovered from a member of the crew that the fault with the window was discovered and reported in Kabul, but the crew were keen to get to Cyprus rather than stay in Kabul).

    On entering the terminal, troops on the front patio were quickly told to come inside as they were not allowed to stand outside, no explanation was given. Shortly after entering a Fit Sgt announced that it would take two days to fix the Tri-Star and that a Titan Airways 737 had been held back to fly us home. We subsequently discovered that this plane ‘that had been held back for us’ was in fact not due to take off until 2000 and was in fact scheduled to take home elements of 3 PARA post decompression.

    The flight was scheduled to go first to Hanover but these passengers (almost all returning for R&R) were informed that the flight would no longer be going there and that their onward travel would be ‘sorted out’ when they arrived at Brize. Shortly alter our arrival all RAF staff disappeared and no facilities were offered to troops to ring home to let families know of the delay.

    At approximately 17:00 buses were laid on to take troops to dinner, being on the last bus that left a 17:20 I was told that I would only have 10 minutes to eat before having to travel back, not it turns out due to meal times, but apparently due to a shift change, the airmen escorting us were due to end their shift and keen to go home. I cannot begin to express the anger that this revelation caused with the many troops who had been on a six month ‘shift’ in Helmand. Having been forced to return to the terminal to meet your stations shift patterns all RAF staff once again disappeared.
    20:00 came and went with no departure. Approximately 20:30 the duty mover (a Ft Sgt) came into the terminal to announce that there was a problem, it turns out the weight of the passengers and bags were too great for the 737. He was rightly questioned as to why this hadn’t been established 6 hours before when the Tri-Star first went U/S, he was unable to answer.

    At approximately 20:30 the same Fit Sgt rushed in to announce that passengers had 30 Secs to decide whether to travel tonight with no bags, or wait two days for the Tri-star to be fixed to travel with the bags. Understandably passengers were not happy and when asked when and how they would pick up their bags he was unable to answer. Potentially passengers going to Germany on R&R would have to wait two days at Brize for their bags only then to be transported by road to Germany and so miss the first 3 days of their R&R.

    It was suggested that since the flight would be travelling to Brize, the Germany passengers bags should be taken off allowing the remainder to travel to Brize with bags and the Germany passengers to travel the following day to Germany with the Tri-Star and avoid a road transfer. Whilst it was accepted that this was a good idea, we discovered that it was impossible because all of the bags which had been carefully segregated in Kabul had been mixed up when unloading the Tri-Star.

    It was interesting that up until this point not a single RAF officer had been present in the terminal.

    The Fit Sgt then apologised for suggesting that passengers travel without bags as it was clearly a mad idea given the uncertainty of when the bags would follow.

    Unfortunately for him 15 mins later a Flt Lt (the first officer to be seen) turned up and ‘ordered’ passengers to get on the plane without their bags.

    I wish my departure from Cyprus was the end of this sorry saga, I regret it was not. Having arrived at Brize we were handed pre-printed cards (presumably this debacle is a regular occurrence) giving a number to ring to find out when the bags would arrive. Ringing the next day I was told first that the flight would now be arriving at Stansted and that my bags would be taken to Colchester. The second time I rang I was told that my weapon was at Brize but my bags were at Colchester. Finally at my third attempt, I discovered that my bags bad arrived at Brize only a few hours after me, obviously the Tri-Star damage was not a serious as was first thought.

    Overall it was an appalling experience that gave the impression of a station being run entirely for the convenience of’ the RAF (and particularly the ‘shift’ system) with scant if any concern for returning troops from theatre. You will be aware that the Defence Select Committee are due to travel to Cyprus as part of an investigation into the support that the Garrison provides to Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and after my experience I intend to focus on the role played by the RAF.

    In the meantime I would grateful if you could provide answers to the following questions. If you feel unable to do so I intend to table Parliamentary questions on the 18th Oct so answers can supplied prior to the Committees visit at the end of the month:
    Why it is required to arrive at Kabul 4 hours before departure?
    When exactly the broken window was reported?
    Why if the broken window was. reported in Kabul, it was possible to fly to Cyprus? And if so why then not on to Hanover and Brize Norton?
    Why if the window was reported on take off did the flight not return to Kabul?
    Why passengers are prevented from going onto the patio at the front of the terminal?
    Who the Titan 737 was due to fly back?
    What the shift timings are for the station?
    What the working hours are for the station?
    Why the segregated bags were mixed up when unloading the Tri-Star?
    Why no officer was present at the terminal until 20:20?
    Why no facilities were offered to passengers to ring home to inform of the delay?
    What arrangements were made for the onward passage of Germany Passengers?
    How many days R&R were lost for Germany passengers?
    Why the weight limitations of the 737 were riot checked once it became apparent that the Tri-St was U/S?
    When the Tri was fixed and when did it arrive at BZN?

    Thank you in advance for your attention to this letter and I look forward to receiving your reply.

    Note: Do not piss off an MP!
  2. If this person was a full time military man and not an over paid politician I'm sure he would just accept the fact that with limited resources that they are working with the RAF are doing the best they can. Surely his time in the commons would be better served trying to obtain better funding and equipment for the armed forces and not knocking them. If he had been flying Civair would he be kicking up such a fuss.
  3. I think our MP friend is too used to having his nice segregated area in the strangers cafe and his own opening hours in the strangers bar. plus his nice cosy recess over the summer and christmas. he knows what i'm on about. As has been pointed out it's part of military life, off the bus, on the bus, skis on, skis off..............
  4. O-H

    If th letter is correct then the RAF are obviously not doing the best they can;

    Quote " I'm sure he would just accept the fact that with limited resources that they are working with the RAF are doing the best they can." Unquote

    Well he does not accept that fact and feels that they can do better even with limited resources. If you go to Arrse and PPRuNe you will find many similar posting about RAF Movements. We have also had them on this Forum. A group of people with poor leadership giving a poor service.


    Try this thread
  5. Seadog

    Seadog War Hero Moderator

    Old Hand wrote

    He is an ex regular. Did you know that? Of course not. Not that his status matters!

    I would. Wouldn't you? I've had some nice upgrades from well written, verifiable drips.

    Nutty wrote
  6. Sounds like a general drip,just cos hes an MP he seems to expect "special" treatment!I wonder just exactly what his motivation was to join the TA?PR related??Draw your own conclusions.
  7. I was chatting to a colleague about this earlier today and he couldn't understand why if the RAF could fly from Kabul to Cyprus with a apparently faulty window, they couldn't fly to Germany? If the fault was serious enough to pose a hazard to life and limb then to take off from Kabul at all would have been reckless, so presumably this was not the case.

    The second issue raised is that appears to be acceptable that servicemen put up with this sort of treatment, if I understand you correctly nutty-bag? I disagree. If servicemen have had to put up with this, well they ought not to in this day and age with modern transport and long-haulage flights being possible. I have said elsewhere on RR, you lot need to stand up for your rights when you're trodden on in peacetime. Without this what chance is there of retaining experienced personnel in the modern forces in the medium to long-term? You cannot assume that MPs are aware of your working conditions but choose to do nothing about it. This view is mistaken.

    End of mini rant!
  8. My point A.A.C was about the hurry up and wait side of the argument which we have all been subjected to on regular occasions hence "on the bus, off the bus" comment. No we shouldn't have to put up with crap kit and crap service ESPECIALLY when personnel are returning after a particularly long and difficult tour. hope that clears that one up?
  9. Seadog

    Seadog War Hero Moderator

    andym wrote
    Once again-he's an ex regular. Makes sense to go into the reserves on completion of his regular commission. PR? As for 'expecting' special treatment because of his civilian status (he's an MP, he's lower than whale sh1t) I doubt his day job was an issue.

    Mark Lancaster is a soldier, whether regular, ex regular reservist or reservist and therefore a brother. If he says there is something not right in the way the RAF delivered support to soldiers, why slag off his day job? And, he's not dripping for his own sake.
  10. War or no war, Crabair has always been the same. Everyone has to fit in with them.
  11. AAC - the aircrew concerned flew this aircraft to Cyprus with an accepted fault on their aircraft's window because....they didn't want to be downbird in Kabul but were happy to accept staying on the ground in Cyprus. :roll: Draw your own conclusions from that...

    Irrespective of how hard and over-stretched the RAF transport fleet is, it is not doing 6-month tours in cack accom with people shooting at them. They should treat each and every one of their "customers" to the best possible service, commensurate with having been defending their interests abroad in harsh conditions.

    This is not an unknown problem with troops returning from operations and the RAF has been getting away with far too much for far too long. However, I will accept that this TA Officer has used his MP status to air this issue - what harm can come of it? Either the RAF will get additional resources to provide a better service or they'll get a kick up the backside to....provide a better service - win-win for our troops... :p
  12. I worked with the RAF at Lossie for many years, you should hear the Crabs moan, about flights, makes the MP sound like a Pussycat.
  13. Thanks, cleared up nutty-bag. Can I have some nutty now? Please? :)
  14. No you cant. But you can have some of my minging biscuits brown that are sitting in my shed. Or perhaps some primula as per pussers rations?
  15. Its one thing to make allowances for the antiquated airframes and the general lack of resources available when travelling crab air. Its the general feeling of being the bottom man in a mongolian cluster fcuk that gets peoples backs up.
  16. How the hell can anyone slag off the MP after reading that story? And how on Earth can anybody who has been through something similar disagree? It is patently obvious that the utterly utterly useless Royal Air Farce (sic) have yet again screwed up. Most of you moaning about his "allowances" (so MPs should be on the minimum wage, should they? THAT'll attract high calibre people...) have probably had no experience of movers in the RAF, so assume that the tale is exaggerated. It isn't. The civvies-in-blue jobsworths who make up that particular branch are rude, uncommunicative, inefficient and downright incompetent.

    They epitomise everything that is wrong about a Health&Safety obsessed East Coast Defence Force with the vast majority of its bloated manpower permanently in cushy safe billets in the UK (or that holy-of-holies Cyprus), compounded by the fact that the movers never go to war - and have no knowledge or experience of war - they just fly into airfields, work not a second over their precious shift system timings and refuse to anything that might help any of their passengers before flying out again. It could be bloody Ibiza for what they know or care. What's more, 99% of the Army and 80% of the RAF have an identical opinion to this.

    I challenge ANY of you with first hand experience of this shower of shit organisation to dispute the MP's letter. The rest of you are - to put it mildly - ever so slightly misguided.
  17. Winging git, He was lucky they didn’t stuff him into a Hercules with parachute jump seats and an elsan toilet, half the speed of a jet so twice the journey time and flying low in all the turbulence.
    swannnin around in Tri Stars. so whats a little inconvenience with the baggage ? doesn`t he know there`s a war on.

  18. I'm with the MP here. R&R is meant to give an individual quality time away from his operational task and who wants to spend any more of that time in any aircraft/hangar/airfield apron?

    Hurry up and wait is a slogan that we all recognise, but the common denominator in all the HUAW scenarios that I've experienced is a combination of Pongo movers and Reluctant Air Force personnel of all ranks.

    It's generally not the sharp-end flight personnel that are the problem, but the ground element, and I have never seen any RAF officer anywhere near a difficult situation, it always appears to be left to a SNCO to face "the public".
  19. Patently the majority here haven't experienced the love and tenderness that the RAF movers give to the rest of the Military world

    More bollocks spouted by those with their fingers on the pulse of the modern military treadmill "cough cough"

    Why do so many rumrationers keep getting it so wrong
  20. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Well put Geoffrey

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