My experience as AMA to Commander Joint Military Command Wales (160X) – Op RESCRIPT
Upon the nationwide lockdown, triggered by the exponential growth of COVID-19, the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh made a swift exit from Ex GOTHIC DRAGON in Sennelager, Germany and began Working from Home. I was offered the opportunity to act as the Assistant Military Attaché for Commander JMC Wales, Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE, in support of the Op RESCRIPT effort in Wales. Naturally, I felt this to be a good opportunity to avoid the repetitive days of lockdown but also to help as a small cog in a big machine, in the Welsh effort to combat COVID-19.
It was the first time I have been exposed to a Brigade HQ environment. I had to learn quickly whilst also being a fresh eye on how the JMC was operating. I was asked to sanity check some work, with a Platoon Commander’s eye for simplicity and common sense, as possibly the lowest ranking Officer in the JMC. I had to learn the J1 – 9 functions rather quickly and all the personnel within them. I worked alongside a number of fellow R WELSH Officers, often a running joke of a takeover being in process. Primarily, I worked with the Brigadier, Col Nick Lock OBE and the COS, which was an interesting dynamic and I certainly learnt a lot through observation and passively intaking information. I would like to thank them for their guidance and advise throughout.
My role was to accumulate information in order to better inform the Commander throughout what was a fluid, rapidly changing situation. Listening into daily briefs from Military Liaison Officers at various Welsh Health Boards and Civil Authorities and also organising and subsequently sitting in on a visit from SJC (UK) Commander, Lt General Urch CBE certainly broadened my understanding of UK Operations. I was certainly exposed to a variety of experienced military leaders throughout my time at the JMC.
Based in The Barracks, Brecon – also home to the Regimental Museum – I certainly used anytime I had to escape my dwelling on SENTA Camp. Unfortunately, the Beacons and National Park was also under lockdown as Pen y Fan became a magnet for those doing their one piece of exercise a day. However, I did manage to accumulate some running miles and with nothing else to do on weekends due to essential travel restrictions, reacquainted myself with a road bike. I also avoided the embarrassment of a lockdown haircut whilst in Battalion, instead I had Majors and above mocking my own attempt however, at least mine swiftly grew back!
Ultimately, the 8 weeks I spent in JMC Wales helped to broaden my understanding of the Army, the Reserves and UK Operations. I learnt to work with and interact at a professional and human level with high ranking Officers and most importantly felt like I was contributing in some small way to the national effort against COVID-19.