Sir, ladies and gentlemen, good evening. It gives me great pleasure to talk to this evening about the ‘final’ chapter of the Hawk on 208 Sqn, following on from Neil Meadows’ talk to you last year covering his own command from 2001-2003. Well, I must confess to being tremendously grateful for the condition that Neil left the Sqn in before his own departure. The Sqn was clearly configured for a much higher output than was required during my tenure, with ops room and support staff all still in place as he had left them some 5 years earlier. And even the 208 history and RAF leadership boards were still on display and looking sharp throughout the building. Thank you Neil!
In the years between Neil’s and my own command, with Nige Clifford and Garry Kelly at the helm, there had been a fairly constant reduction in the required output. The biggest change to the Sqn had been through the introduction of the Indian Advanced Flying Training task, whereby some 63 Indian students had successfully graduated from 208 Sqn by the end of the venture. The Indian Air Force Chief had also taken the opportunity to visit the Sqn before the last course was complete – this also took place just shortly before my own arrival in 2008.
So I was fortunate indeed to inherit a Sqn in really good shape from Sqn Ldr Simmons, who had been holding the reins for a couple of months after the departure of Gary Kelly. But not many months had passed before I could see storm clouds gathering on the North Welsh horizon, and from 2 directions. At the strategic level, the RAF was already looking ahead to the 2010 Strategic Security and Defence Review. Furthermore, the £38Bn hole on the Defence budget had become the focus of attention with the resultant pressure on the Front Line. Indeed, in 2009 the decision was made to close the Harrier Force the following year, naturally personally very disappointing but also to many great students who had recently graduated from the Sqn. At the tactical level, there were also pressures increasing
Hawk Chapter 2008 - 2010
Commanding Officer 19 Jun 08 - 3 Jan 10
Hawk 2008-2010 Page 1 2 3 4 5