Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Ged Killen has been swapping ‘Civvy Street’ for a taste of military life as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme.
The scheme was established 30 years ago to offer members of parliament an invaluable insight into the experiences and lives of servicemen and women.
Founder, Sir Neil Thorne OBE, set up the scheme after finding very few MPs had previous military experience, which was having a ‘serious affect upon the quality of debates’.
Ged volunteered to take part in the 2018-19 term, and committed to undertake a minimum of 15 days a year experiencing service life with a range of military personnel.
He was attached to the Royal Navy Scheme, and attended a two-day introductory course at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham, where he learnt about the role of the military in a democracy, the strategic context for defence, and how forces are generated to achieve military strategic objectives.
As well as attending several sessions at bases across the UK, Ged travelled to Norway with the Royal Marines and camped out in the Arctic Circle at -23 in February this year.
He also witnessed the Assault Group Royal Marines’ amphibious training exercises in Hellarbogen.
Last month, the Scottish Labour politician travelled to Cyprus for a demonstration of the new representative military tasks, and sampled some of the exercises.
During his time with the Royal Navy, Ged also visited ships such as HMS Bulwark to learn about its capabilities and speak with Navy personnel about what it is like to serve on board.
Ged Killen MP said: “It has been great to meet and interact with armed forces personnel at every level to gain a deeper understanding of what they do.
“It was a real privilege to spend some time with the Royal Marines in the Arctic Circle. Every year they go there to train in the harshest of environments to maintain a UK presence in the Arctic Region.
“Having spent just one night camping at -23, I’m full of admiration for the resilience and commitment of these young men and women.”
He continued: “I’m also very grateful to everyone who helped organise a fascinating couple of days out in Cyprus last month.
“We spoke to the men and women working on the ground and learned more about political situation and the important work UK armed forces and the UN are doing there.
“We also had a demonstration of the new representative military tasks training and sampled some of the exercises, and had a tour of the Green Line, the United Nations buffer zone between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus.
“This was the final visit on the scheme which has been hugely informative and a privilege to take part in.”
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