This year’s HRFCA Annual Association Meeting (AAM) took place on Saturday 25 March at Queen’s Barracks in Perth.
Some ninety members resisted the alternative attractions of a perfect spring day and, following the formality of a brief business meeting and Chief Executive’s annual report, were treated to a range of speakers.
Maj Gen Jamie Gordon, Chief Executive of the Council of RFCAs, kicked off proceedings. Gen Gordon underlined the unique contribution made by RFCAs across the country through their continuity and local knowledge, and stressed that despite some media reports to the contrary, recruitment into the reserve forces remains on track, with a number of specialisations already at or above their 2020 targets.
Gen Gordon was followed by the day’s Keynote speaker, Mr Mark Lancaster MP, Minister for Defence Veterans, Reserves and Personnel – and a serving officer in the Army Reserve – who shared his thoughts and priorities on ‘the best job in Government’. Touching on the Cadet Expansion Programme (CEP), Mr Lancaster congratulated those who were helping to make it such a notable success in Scotland, transforming the lives of young people and helping them to realise their full potential. He also outlined the UK Government’s defence estate strategy, through which rationalisation will allow investment in better infrastructure for regulars, reservists and cadets alike, with reserve and cadet units on those sites earmarked for closure to be provided for elsewhere. The Minister concluded by thanking Association members for their support to the reserves and the cadet organisations; in common with the reservists and cadet adult volunteers, he felt that the RFCAs and their members embody the volunteer spirit – and asking them for their continuing commitment.
After a first-class performance by cadets of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and Black Watch ACF Battalions, delivered in warm sunshine and followed by an opportunity for the Minister to chat informally to cadets and adult volunteers, he took advantage of a chance to meet members of 154 Transport Regt RLC in Dunfermline before returning to Edinburgh Airport.
Other speakers on the day included Lt Col Alan Middleton, the Schools Cadet Expansion Officer, who updated members on progress with the CEP, and senior officers representing each of the services who provided individual updates.
Cdr Richard Moss, Chief of Staff at Naval Regional Command Scotland and Northern Ireland, briefed on 2017 as ‘The Year of the Navy’ and on the New Maritime Strategy; Col Charlie Wallace provided the Army’s perspective from his position as Deputy Commander 51 Infantry Bde, stressing the need for local communities to support the Army via the ‘firm base’ approach; and Gp Capt Derek Johnston, representing Air Officer Scotland, who provided a comprehensive briefing on current air operations and new and improved capabilities currently being acquired by the RAF, including the P-8 Poseidon squadron to be based at RAF Lossiemouth.
The AAM ended with a lively open forum and concluding remarks from Rear Admiral Mike Gregory, HRFCA President and Lord-Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire.
The general consensus was that it had been a highly informative and thought-provoking day, and one that underlined the importance of all those involved in defence in Scotland, whether regulars, reservists, cadet leaders, advocates or supporters such as the RFCAs, working collaboratively, cohesively and with discipline, in order to secure the best outcomes for all.
To see all the images from the event click HERE or visit the gallery section of the website.