Sir Mike Rake, Chairman of BT has paid tribute to the dedication and expertise of Territorial Army (TA) soldiers from Corsham-based 81 Signal Squadron (Volunteers) during a visit to the squadron’s annual training camp at Longmoor Camp in Hampshire.
Sir Mike presented medals to 13 members of the Squadron – some of whom had recently returned from serving in Afghanistan and some for long service in the Reserve Forces. The Squadron has a commitment to deploy a number of teams of telecoms specialists to Afghanistan each year to support colleagues from the Regular Army in the vital role of keeping the lines of communication between the MoD, military bases such as Camp Bastion, and troops on the ground running effectively. The Squadron has deployed 20 soldiers in the past year and there are currently four serving in theatre.
Many of those who serve with the Squadron are BT employees from across the UK and the skills and specialisations they bring with them from their civilian roles boost the Army’s capabilities on the front line.
Speaking during his visit, Sir Mike Rake commented: “It’s been a fantastic privilege to meet soldiers who are combining a civilian job within BT and other organisations with serving their country. The skills they are able to take from their day jobs clearly play an important role in Armed Forces operations and similarly the experience these men and women gain through serving with the TA is hugely valuable to companies such as BT. BT is proud to support its reservists in 81 Signal Squadron and in other Armed Forces units”.
As well as providing telecoms experts to Afghanistan, in recent years the Squadron has also deployed to the Falkland Islands, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Brunei, Kosovo and Iraq. All soldiers are recruited with the necessary trade skills, acquired through their civilian employment. These skills are then supplemented with military training to ensure all are trained to the same level as their regular Army counterparts when it comes to skills such as weapon handling and fitness. The Squadron maintains close links with the telecoms industry and Larry Stone, BT’s President Group Public and Government Affairs, has been the Squadron’s Honorary Colonel since 2006.
81 Signal Squadron is currently recruiting for trained telecom engineers either with or without previous military experience. For further information visit http://www.army.mod.uk/signals/25570.aspx or call 01225 847388.