Updated: Aug 8, 2020
Who is the Jolly Green JTAC and where did Widow One Zero come from? It's a question that has been asked either directly or in not quite as many words. I'll tell you. From the beginning to where we are now.
In 2007, I enlisted as a Trooper in the Household Cavalry Regiment. There I spent two and a half years with the ceremonial regiment before my move to the other side of the regiment responsible for formation reconnaissance (Recce) which was conducted in CVR(T) or dismounted. For those who don't know what CVR(T) is, it's a small lightly armoured vehicle that runs on tracks. My transition to the recce side was seamless with the initiation of pre-deployment training for D squadron who were part of 16 Air Assault brigade. As a result the squadron was a priority for any new manning to the regiment and we deployed for a winter rotation.
After 6 months back at home, the remainder of the Household Cavalry started its own pre-deployment training for a tour in 2013. This was to be a summer tour and one I was keen to get on after not really feeling like I'd "cut my teeth" with D squadron. I put my name forward for the Brigade Reconnaissance Force which, for a trooper wanting to show his ability, was the place to be for the upcoming tour. It, sadly, was not to be. A few months into training, and on a range package in wales, I was removed from the squadron, along with one other, for getting into a fight. An alcohol fuelled mistake which cost us the opportunity of a life time. Or so I thought.
I was tasked to drive the Adjutant (Adj) from point A to point B whilst on an exercise in Canada. The Adj was a great guy and despite his position and rank of captain, he was brilliant to talk to. In-fact, he used to be my troop leader back when I was conducting ceremonial duties in London. Half way through our drive to point B, he had his troop leader head on again. "What's the plan, where do you want to be, how are you going to achieve it and you're not going to allow this (removal from B squadron) to set you back are you?" I expressed my interested in being a FAC (Forward Air Controller the now, Joint Terminal Attack Controllers or JTAC) but that would have to wait as I need to promote two ranks before I could get a sniff at that. Until then, I had no idea.
It was at this point I discovered a job I had no idea existed, despite the position having being established, well before my career in the military had started. "Have you considered the TACP signallers job?" the Adj asked. If, like me at that point, you have no idea what a TACP signaller is you'd be forgiven. TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) is an agency that UK JTACs report to when requesting Close Air Support or airspace. Within the party are two signallers who help facilitate the running of the radios, maintain the equipment and amongst other things, generally do all the "in-between jobs" that keep the bigger parts moving efficiently. This was the first step into the FAC job I had wanted from the beginning and a leapt on it.
I deployed on that very same tour only this time, I was involved in the community that I had hoped to be a part of since i'd broken in my first pair of boots, even if at this stage I was only a Lance Corporal in a signallers role. Under the TACP call-sign Widow One Zero, I learnt a lot. My chain of command consisted of an officer and an acting SNCO and both were driven to develop their two signallers. I was given as much responsibility as could have possibly been given with in safe and legal boundaries and the "make everyone better" mindset was a way of working that I bought into fully. I was given sensor taskings to conduct with on station assets, drafting requests for support and constantly being kept in the loop with regards to the CAS flow. The future for me was crystal clear and being part of the Widow One Zero team had shown me how the majority of the UK FAC/JTACs had a community mindset.
Fast forward two years and back to Wales, I was sat in a small tent manning my radio when I was told to get outside because the Regimental Corporal Major, a monster of a man, wanted to speak to me. Promotion. I had no idea it was coming but I was pleased as punch as this now meant I met the minimum rank required to attend the schoolhouse for all UK JTACs, JFACTSU. As long as I passed both of the screening processes, I'd be taking that next step on my journey.
In 2015 I passed my basic course at the schoolhouse and started my career as a JTAC. Despite not having the opportunity to deploy on kinetic operations in my trade to date, I have loved every second of it. So much so, 3 years ago I left the HCR and transferred to a Royal Artillery regiment which, at the time, allowed me to progress with the trade better than I might have with the HCR.
It's been two years since I started the Jolly Green JTAC page. It was created as a means of taking the CAS media I had collected away from my personal page as a matter of PerSec for myself and family, and to try to spread the word about UK JTACs as a way of recruitment and interest; the name officially changed from FAC to JTAC around 2015 I believe. I have always been fully aware that issued kit was never of interest to anyone, myself included and it certainly wouldn't have given the page the traction it had. Non-issued kit is a love of many soldiers and military enthusiasts alike and so I've always kept my eyes open for the newest, most efficient or most effective items to come available and tried to apply them to my trade (to the annoyance of my chain of command understandably). I've always hoped to find a solution to a problem before it becomes a problem.
Every British service man and woman knows the phase "Ally". It was used to refer to the way a soldier looked or what piece of their uniform was non regulation or perhaps dated. With so much kit in the market these days, generally, only the older generation hold it to its original definition. In this newer and ever evolving Army, with its readily available Crye Precision, Aku Spiders or Patagonia L9s, "Ally" is no longer how you look but rather defined by how you do your job.
Fast forward to 2019, and you're deployed with me and sat in my bed space in Estonia. My brain gnarled around half thoughts and ideas that were begging to find shared foundations. I had a conversation with a friend about shared competencies and distributive training regarding Close Air Support and I realised that kit, people and culture could indeed share its requirements on both a military and civilian frontage. It was at this point that the engines for a company were ignited. The idea to use the name of our TACP from Afghanistan, the place that I learnt that people want to invest in people, wouldn't come to mind until May 2020 but the business plans were well underway.
Here we are pushing our signature garments which is phase 1 in our 4 phase plan. We are really pleased to have you all with us and couldn't be more humbled by the response so far. Phase 2 will be on the horizon in the next 6 months and well add another dimention to WW10 as well as building the ground work for phase 2b and phase 3.
My JTAC community is unique. It is filled with individuals that, for the most part, want to see you thrive and better yourself. Surround yourself with people who push you, want to see you succeed and at all costs. Be it to stay grounded or to pick yourself up, "Remember who the fuck you are"
"You weren't put on this earth to get lost in the weeds. Be the tall poppy you were born to be" - Dawn Russell
For extra feels on the QOTB, take a look at small poppy syndrome and see how the quote applies to you!
Stay safe and dare to achieve.