I’m Charlie Martell, the Officer Commanding your Field Squadron. Myself and my team play an important role here, but what do we do and where have I come from?
I have enjoyed a career in the Regular Army, prior to my current career in the Army Reserve, deploying on operations to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia and Northern Ireland. As a Reservist, I have had a civilian career mostly in the removal of the debris of war, which has taken me to a number of countries either in conflict or post-conflict countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Georgia, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
My current tenure as the Officer Commanding (OC) JFS is far from the norm for a Sub-Unit Commander as I report to Regimental HQ in Monmouth, while also reporting to another HQ for specific matters. I also have a responsibility to the Government of Jersey and must keep both the Lt Governor and the Bailiff updated on military matters when appropriate.
Why not the Royal Navy or farming?
My family has a rich history of decorated Royal Navy Officers but as a child, my mind was firmly set on earning the coveted green beret. As soon as I was able, I volunteered for Commando training and to serve with Commando Forces. My time serving within three Commando Brigades was focused on High-Risk Search (HRS) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) operations and exercises.
My father also didn’t join the Royal Navy but instead chose to farm and make cheese, something he still does now and is the name behind one of the smelliest cheeses on the planet, Stinking Bishop.
As a child, I thoroughly enjoyed life on the farm and I realise as an adult I was incredibly lucky, but farming and cheesemaking is something I’m not yet ready for!
Why I chose to come to Jersey
In short, Covid! I was working in my civilian job when I was mobilised by the Army to support Public Health Wales (PHW) at the start of the pandemic. I left my civilian job and donned uniform full time to lead the COVID Support Force, until it was demobilised three months later. It was at this time that I was notified of the future vacancy here in Jersey; a unique opportunity, which I immediately jumped at.
What are the priorities for the Jersey Field Squadron (Militia)?
Our mission is to recruit, train and retain top quality personnel, and that remains my key priority. However, I see priorities for the Squadron ranging from immediate to circa five years out. In no particular order, these are:
- Continue to recruit personnel into JFS. It would be fantastic to see the Squadron at full staffing levels
- Enhance integration with island residents through community engagement opportunities. It’s worth noting that this year will be a busy year with the 77th anniversary of Liberation, as well as Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, 40th Anniversary of the Falkland Islands conflict, and not forgetting Armed Forces Day in June
- Continue to offer our service personnel opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills, and to gain experience as Combat Engineers and supporting trades
- Continue to train for Resilience Operations as well as war fighting operations
- Continue to offer our service personnel opportunities to deploy overseas on exercises and/or operations
- Encourage other units across Defence to train with JFS on the island
- Move towards using solar power and electric (civilian) vehicles for use on the island, reducing our carbon footprint
I hope this has given you a taste of who I am and what your Field Squadron does.