I’ve been a soldier since the mid 1970s when I joined the Royal Irish Rangers. During my MOD career, I’ve trained soldiers and prepared foreign forces for operations, as well as being involved in numerous operations myself. I now work in the Operations Plans (Ops Plans) team.
Having spent my military career either training for operations, on operations or preparing foreign forces for operations I was selected by the Army manning branch for the post. I came to the role with a detailed knowledge of the UK training estate and a working knowledge of the overseas training estate in the UK, NATO and other nations.
Role of the Ops Plans Team
In essence the Ops Plans team advises the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force as well as other Government agencies on the training estate and develops these locations for its future requirements. The team ensures we have a training estate of the correct size, that it is safe and that it meets the needs of Defence.
A good Op Plans officer knows the estate and its limitations and understands the military requirement now and in the future. It is a must to be a team player - the team is small and has a very wide remit, and consequently we cover one another's areas of interest. The Ops Plans team needs to understand and work through DIO, the Armed Forces and other Government agencies to ensure we capture their requirements and can provide a safe and sustainable estate.
Training and Readiness
The Government requires each of the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to be at various states of ‘readiness' to support Government policy world-wide. My job is to advise the Armed Forces on the best locations to train in order to prepare themselves to achieve their readiness states. This requires a thorough knowledge of the training estate and its limitations. I need to know how each service trains in order to understand and develop its future training requirements.
Every day is different but ultimately the team is here to provide Defence and other government departments and agencies with a training estate that is safe and fit for purpose. This can vary from an urgent operational requirement to advising a future commander on the best location to achieve their training objectives.
There have been many interesting aspects to this job as life is very varied and definitely not mundane. On an average day, for example, I might deal with provision of estate for foreign forces, advising on the ability of a suitable training facility for a trial of new equipment, manning advice to both civilian and military staff and arranging a meeting to discuss how to host training estate information on Defence IT system.
This is a typical day in the life of the Ops Plans team in DIO Ops Training!
The highlight of my career with DIO so far is being able to provide both Defence and other Government agencies with the appropriate training facilities at short notice on a regular basis.