“The RAF has a strong presence in Buckinghamshire, nowhere more so than in Walters Ash, Naphill and Bradenham.
I recently spent a day at RAF High Wycombe. I was wearing two hats. I am both the local constituency MP and also a member of the National Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister , which brings together senior ministers with armed forces, civil service and intelligence chiefs to discuss both domestic and international threats to our country.
It was a fascinating visit. I spent the morning being briefed on current challenges, from issues to do with recruitment and equipment through to operational matters. We discussed the steps being taken to recruit more women and more people from ethnic communities, the long timetable needed to procure and design new aircraft and the challenges presented by advances in both air and space technology. Every day of the week, RAF men and women are taking action to deter and protect the United Kingdom and to defend our interests around the world.
A visit of a few hours can only give you a snapshot, but even that helps when you faced with decisions on security policy.
In the afternoon I was honoured to be invited to present awards to RAF people (some in uniform, others civilian staff) who had contributed that bit above and beyond normal expectations of duty.
The recipients were men and women from many different parts of the RAF family. But what their stories had in common were two distinctive features. First, they had all in different ways demonstrated a capacity for leadership, to take the initiative to get something done. Second, they had all shown an ability to motivate and work with others,
In the RAF’s centenary year, it was a reminder how much we all continue to owe to their service.”