The RLC’s 156 Regiment played a significant part in Armed Forces Day 2017 (AFDNE 17) in Liverpool this year being very much at the front and centre of the Army’s contribution of planning and execution for the day.
Previous Armed Forces Days had seen the local Reserve units mount displays and engage with the public in fairly low key events in Merseyside. But given the city’s pedigree in hosting large-scale events it seemed logical to ask the question and start the ball rolling on developing an AFDNE bid.
156 Regt RLC is the lead unit for Community Engagement within the Merseyside region. In 2015 a small team from the Regt was drawn together to work hand-in-glove with the city’s major events coordinators to help shape the AFDNE bid.
Much to the Regt’s delight, Liverpool was announced as the host city for the AFDNE 17 in the preceding July.
156 Regt RLC was made responsible for the delivery of the Army village, with the CO, Lt Col T Gould being the Army lead for the event.
The Regt was adamant that this once in a lifetime opportunity must be seized upon to showcase Army battle-winning hardware to the NW public. A suitably ambitious bid was crafted including signature equipment such as Apache, Challenger 2, Mastiff and Jackal protected mobility vehicles.
The day itself when it finally arrived was a resounding success with over 200,000 attending the event. In the air, the RAF provided a series of flypasts including Typhoons, a Red Arrows display and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
At sea, HMS IRON DUKE lent in significant presence opening its doors to the public and provided a Wildcat helicopter display to close the event.
While on land, the Army village was brimming with thousands of families getting up close and personal with an array of ground based military hardware. It was a great opportunity for them to get acquainted with their local RLC Reserve unit.
HRH the Earl of Wessex was the Sovereign’s representative on the day and took the salute for the 500 strong military parade. He was accompanied by the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Defence and the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. All were hosted by members of the Regt during their visits to the Army village.
Behind the ‘Wizard’s Screen’, a large and hard-working team from the Regt had been preparing for days to make sure that the day ran seamlessly. The necessary, but unsung, Guard Force, the vehicle marshals, movement planning staff, the command and control node and administrative element, sustaining over a thousand service personnel involved.
Despite the inevitable logistic challenges an event of this magnitude brings, AFDNE 17 proved to be a once in a lifetime event for The RLC to embolden its footprint in the North West.
Bringing together the Corps’ key capabilities and showcasing them prominently alongside the wider Armed Forces on such a celebrated occasion will leave a long lasting impression on the City of Liverpool.