As I get more deeply involved in the Team Rubicon UK planning for a stand alone humanitarian mission to the Philippines and whilst reflecting on our contribution to the Team Rubicon USA deployment in Nepal, I find myself thinking more and more about the potency of the wider Team Rubicon Nation.
I am an ex Gunner, and whilst serving was completely convinced (rightly) that my Battery was the best in the Regiment and that my Regiment was the best in the Gunners and that as a Gunner I was (of course) better than any Engineer or Infantryman, etc. (I’m sure you get my drift.) Healthy competition and rivalry has always been strongly encouraged in the Armed Forces at all levels as it engenders pride and raises standards of performance- all good and valuable stuff. As a British officer, I have proudly served alongside many Coalition Forces, including US, Canadian, Polish, Czech to name just a few and I’ve always enjoyed that same competitive spirit.
As TR Global excitingly starts to take shape and I hear talk of “Union Jacks”, “Stars and Stripes” and the other flags of the coalition with all those old rivalries, I think back to an afternoon in Tacloban, Philippines at the tail end of my deployment with TR USA on Operation Seabird in 2013. As our medical team moved through what remained of some of the back streets, we were called over by a wonderful old couple, who were standing arm in arm at the end of their driveway, leaning against the remains of their garden gate. A makeshift stove at their feet was boiling water and they invited us to join them for tea. They were smiling broadly. The idyllic picture was only ruined when you looked over their shoulders to realise that nothing whatsoever remained of their house but a tangled pile of wood, wriggly tin, and rubble. They seemed oblivious to their plight and were much more interested in thanking us for being there to help. The old lady marvelled at the distances we had all come and was further amazed as different team members in turn revealed that they came, by chance, not just from USA but Canada and UK, too.
It was a particularly humbling, inspiring and emotional few minutes as we passed around their tea, listening to them making light of their experience, whilst repeatedly thanking us for leaving our own homes and loved ones to help them. It hit me very hard then, that our own previous rivalries and competitiveness suddenly mattered not one bit. A team of like minded individuals with a unifying bond of a desire to help people and continue to serve were doing simply that. It didn’t matter to the old couple exactly where we had come from, only that we had come. I have always been and will always be proud to be British, but right then, I was much more proud to be simply Team Rubicon.
The day cannot come quickly enough when a truly international coalition response team is standing together somewhere in the world and the answer to the question, “where are you from?” is “Team Rubicon”! One Team. One Mission.