Monday, May 14, 2007

Sir Jock

14 May 07
We had quite the dog and pony show today. As the Chief of Defence Staff (they spell defense with a “c”), Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup is the top military man in the UK; a post equivalent to our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He came to Basrah to visit the British troops and asked specifically to come see 70 Sqdn. I suspect part of the visit was to assess whether Prince Harry will come to Basrah. Prince Andrew was here two months ago. I suspect he was doing the same.

With Scifi just getting back from his R&R at 0430 this a.m., I was the daddy-rabbit for the visit. Col Sami gave him a capabilities brief then we went out to the hangar to see the aircraft. Of course we showed him the damage to our ramp, aircraft and hangar from recent rocket attacks. The British have been great in helping/performing whatever repairs are beyond 70 sqdn’s capability.

Sir Stirrup was on loan to the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force in the early 70’s conducting a mission very similar to the one we are performing now in Basrah. He flew Strikemaster aircraft for their air force during their Dhofar War.

I’ve never met a knight before and I have to say he was a really nice, down to earth guy. For the briefing we put a welcome slide up that said simply “Welcome Air Chief Marshal Sir Stirrup.” The new 903rd Expeditionary Air Wing Commander, Group Captain Burt, recommended we put his full name and all of his “post nominals.” (I’d never heard of “post nominals” or such a long name/title.) Anyway his full title is :

“Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup GCB AFC DSc FRAeS FCMI RAF”

GCB = The Most Honourable Order of the Bath
AFC = Air Force Cross
DSc = Doctor of Science
FRAeS = Royal Aeronautical Society
FCMI = something to do with India
RAF = Royal Air Force

After the brief Col Sami invited Sir Jock to go flying with him. The Brits in the room held their breath for a second until Sir Jock politely declined saying he was too pressed for time. One of them later said that was polite to ask but would we really go flying with Iraqis? I told them I already had.

Much like the Brits call their operations in Iraq “Operation Telic” they didn’t call GW1 Operation Desert Shield/Storm. They called it “Operation Granby.” And Sir Jock commanded a an RAF wing then.

I was shocked to learn recently that British officers aren’t required to have a college degree to become an officer. Grp Capt Burt and I were discussing that today and he commented that, in fact, he was 17 when he received his officer commission and by 18 was commanding a platoon in Northern Ireland. He reckoned that some 40 percent of officers don’t have a degree—a good many of them are pilots. One of the only positions in the RAF that requires a degree is aircraft maintenance officer. They must have an engineering degree.

Grp Capt Burt later obtained both a master’s and a bachelor’s degree…in that order. He was sent to a military academy masters program where he earned a masters. A year later he finished his bachelor’s degree.


Anonymous said...

If Prince Harry comes, you should all get together and have an initiation for him! Atomic wedgies and such...perhaps streaking with body armor. Could be a site for the paparazzi!


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