Security in the Spotlight
Name: Michael Starhahn BSc
Final rank: Sergeant
Years served: 14
Courses: IMAS level 2 Field Operator; level 3 EOD Technical Advisor
Provider: MAT Mondial Ltd
Current job: Remote mechanical demining operator
‘As a serving soldier with 14 years in the Royal Artillery, having specialised in communications and reached the rank of Sergeant, the thought of leaving the Forces was daunting, but I knew I wanted to work in landmine clearance and humanitarian aid projects around the world. I was lucky that a friend mentioned early on that the MAT Mondial EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) course could be found online.
‘I was informed that, to secure employment overseas, the live range demolitions that MAT Mondial Ltd provides are invaluable. It was an easy choice: with the MoD assisting towards food and accommodation, and combining ELCAS funds, the total cost can be greatly reduced.
‘The small town of Peja, set at the foot of a mountain range in Kosovo, is where I attended the full “Zero to hero, day and night” six weeks’ training. The modules – IMAS level 2 Field Operator and level 3 EOD Technical Advisor, both taught by UK and local instructors at the highest level – meant that theory and practice-based lessons helped the days fly by and kept you on your toes. Live demolition days thrown in with exercises around the local area made the whole experience extremely rewarding. Following extensive formative and summative testing, and a final exam, it was refreshing to find that not only are you qualified in landmine clearance and munitions “bomb” disposal, but you have also gained enhanced C-IED skills and are trained in clearing heavily booby trapped rooms, as well as area search, and understanding air dropped weapons and guided missiles. The skills gained are impressive and varied.
‘Having completed the course and gained the Best Student Award, I was still four months away from my last day in the Army. With some money I had saved I decided to complete another course as a fall-back – something that had always interested me. I travelled to Hereford, home of the SAS, and completed the Phoenix Close Protection body-guarding course run by ex-Special Forces personnel. I achieved a top score on the SIA final written exam, and was also able to plan, lead and conduct a full counter-surveillance operation. I remained there for another week, qualifying as an Advanced/Approved Operational Tier 1 Trauma Medic, as this would help in both industries later on. With these on my CV and two months’ terminal leave remaining, I decided to use the indulgence military flight and travelled 8,000 miles to the Falkland Islands for two weeks’ work experience with the BACTEC EOD Demining teams, at my own cost. What you put in you nearly always get out. I spent two very windy weeks observing the demining process, both manual and mechanical clearance, across various terrains, giving me an insight into whether this was the life for me.
‘Finally leaving the Army in April, I managed just two weeks of asset protection work within the security sector (my back-up plan) before receiving a phone call from the BACTEC Demining company asking if I’d be willing to work for them in the UK for two months until deploying to the Falklands in September, to continue on contract there as a remote mechanical demining operator. I agreed without taking a breath as the pay is almost double I was receiving as an Army Sergeant.
‘There is no doubt that, with the EOD level 3 qualification, your CV and skill-set become very attractive within what is a thriving industry, however people commonly underestimate the importance of networking or going that extra mile (or 8,000!) to put yourself ahead of the pack. I am now helping fellow soldiers to follow the same path I chose on the route to a career in humanitarian aid and EOD.’
To find out more about a career in the security sector, turn to our feature on page 22
Durham University announce the £20,000 ‘Military Scholarship’
Durham University and the British military have a long and illustrious history of association. Many alumni have laid the foundations for nationally significant military careers during their studies in the North East. Furthermore, Military Scholars will become members of St. Cuthbert’s Society, one of the University's oldest Colleges, which has itself an extensive military heritage. Many staff and students fought in both First and Second World Wars and, in 1946, the Society was re-founded by veterans of the war.
The University is indebted to Patrick (Paddy) Walker, an alumnus (St. Cuthbert’s Society 1980-83) who initiated the Military Scholarships programme in 2011 by creating the first two Scholarships in honor of Lieutenant Abraham Slowe – 6th Batallion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and Brigadier Harry Walker – 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guard. One of the two inaugural scholars became the first person in his family to go to University.
Taking Paddy’s vision forward, we are delighted to be able to launch an expanded programme with increased support from a number of Trusts and Foundations. Thanks to their support, and generous contributions from individual donors, Durham University is able to award two undergraduate scholarships of up to £20,000 per scholar, commencing in the academic year 2015/16. The scholarships are designed to support an individual who has been injured, wounded, or sick as a direct result of military service, or a direct member of their family. The scholarships have an application deadline of 15 May 2015 and candidates are required to submit an academic application to the University prior to submitting their scholarship application. Further information and eligibility criteria are available here.
Durham University would like to express its sincere gratitude to Walking with the Wounded, ABF the Soldiers' Charity, the Stuart Halbert Foundation and the 3Ts Charitable Trust for their continued support.
Get on course for a new career with Providence Training
Providence Training is a specialist training provider that can offer its customers not only a wide range of courses but also a wealth of experience and expertise. Our training centre is located in the beautiful county of Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, and within easy reach of many military bases.
Our unique offering to learners comes in the form of small informal classes, vocationally experienced instructors and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. This manifests itself in high levels of learner success – for example, our NEBOSH General Certificate pass rate is 84%, which is roughly 20% higher than the national average.
Providence Training, through its pipefitting and welding training departments, also has links with the engineering construction industry, which is responsible for the building and maintenance of many key industrial plants, such as refineries and power stations: the ‘energy sector’. Predictions are that there will be a shortfall in the number of skilled workers available within the country to meet the planned construction projects designed to reduce national CO2 emissions (eight nuclear power stations and 44,000 wind generators). It is evident that significant employment opportunities will emerge imminently in this sector. Consequently the courses offered by Providence Training are structured to enhance future employment prospects for participants. Under the ELC scheme, we offer Welder Training & Coding, the NEBOSH General Certificate in Safety & Health, and NVQ 3 and 4 awards in Occupational Safety & Health under City & Guilds.
Other than the level 3 and above courses, Providence Training offers a wide range of other training courses, including various passport schemes – all of which can be booked outside of the ELC scheme. Please visit www.providence trainingltd.com for more information.
Our prices are very competitive and there are no hidden extras. For instance, the NEBOSH price of £850 + VAT includes not only lunch but also the NEBOSH textbook and delegate registration.
Other onsite facilities include extensive training workshops, four fully equipped classrooms, disabled access, canteen facilities serving hot and cold food, and an extensive grassed area for relaxation between sessions.
For further information please call 01646 600062.
See the advertisement on page 39.
Return to Work Initiative benefits injured TA soldier
A Territorial Army soldier, seriously injured in Afghanistan and unable to return to his former employment, has taken on a new challenge working with the national arms and armoury collection. Lance Corporal David Sterling Brown, 39, from Dilwyn, Herefordshire, was left with serious leg injuries and a broken back when a roof was blown off a building by a low-flying helicopter in Garmsir last year. The roof landed on him, causing devastating injuries and he was airlifted to Camp Bastion hospital with three broken bones in his lower spine.
Mid-way through his recovery back in the UK, he realised that he might not be able to return to his former employment as a specialist armourer, reproducing medieval armour pieces for private collections and museums around the world. However, at this point, an Army welfare team began working to get Lance Corporal Brown into the Return to Work Initiative: a programme run by the MOD to help find meaningful employment for Service personnel in a period of recovery following injury or illness. And, this April, Lance Corporal Brown benefited from the scheme when he arrived for his first day of a very suitable placement at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, helping museum staff to audit the national collection, which includes items that he himself made prior to his deployment!
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