Stevenage RAF reservist arrests insurgent leaders in military exercise

Corporal Kevin Smith

Corporal Kevin Smith - Credit: Archant

A reservist who develops new medicines for a living has joined colleagues from RAF Henlow on an exercise designed to train military police on how to bring order to a country in chaos.

Corporal Kevin Smith from Stevenage was part of a team from RAF Henlow’s tactical police squadron involved in Scarlet Thunder – a two-week military exercise where armed forces were deployed to a fictitious country facing civil disorder and a growing insurgency.

The 31-year-old is a part-time reservist for the squadron, a far cry from his day-to-day job working for GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage developing new medicines for HIV and cancer treatments.

During the exercise, held at a wooded army training area in Staffordshire, the father-of-two had the opportunity to work alongside members of the British Army, Military Provost Service and US Army National Guard.

“I found it interesting working with a range of military personnel,” said Cpl Smith, who has been a reservist for three years.

“The scenarios themselves provided a great insight into how I interact with others in different situations and also how the civilian population may react to a military presence. A policing role requires the ability to adapt and overcome challenging situations, and these were represented well across the exercise.

“We’ve been under attack from insurgents, been challenged by civilians and successfully executed an arrest operation to detain insurgent leaders. There’s a range of different skills sets and backgrounds here which has led to formation of a strong team.

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“Learning how the army and other agencies taking part operate and then approaches to solving problems has been very valuable. When we develop medicines at Glaxo we often work to tight deadlines. This exercise has at times been very demanding but dealing with that pressure is something I thrive on.”

The squadron’s warrant officer Phill Rodd said: “It’s refreshing to see people from all walks of life put 100% in and to see the benefits of their putting their civilian skills to work in a military environment. The manner in which reservists step out of civvy street and switch to the military way of life so effectively demonstrates the value reservists add to the RAF as a whole.”

For more information about the squadron, which recruits and trains men and women aged from 18-50 at its RAF Henlow base, visit