Deploying on Operation TOCSA as the Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant Second-in-Command, in support of the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Corporal Navin Rai had an operational effect whilst working as part of the Mobile Force Reserve (MFR) within Headquarters (HQ) UNFICYP. His achievements were extraordinary.
Upon arrival in theatre, Corporal Rai’s positive impact was immediately felt. Through his own initiative and diligence, he quickly identified numerous items which were unserviceable or out of date, both UK and UN-owned, and ensured all were backloaded and replaced where necessary. In addition, he cleared more than 350 outstanding infrastructure improvement requests and equipment demands, some dating back to 2018. Both elements had been deemed unachievable by previous Operation TOSCA rotations, yet Corporal Rai made short work of them, increasing operational effectiveness, and improving our soldiers’ lived experience. It was his unmitigated success in this regard that brought him to the attention of the UNFICYP HQ, in particular the 1* G4 pillar. He became a trusted advisor and the ‘go-to’ individual for myriad logistic and supply issues. This included him – as a Corporal – providing technical support to the Late Entry Staff Officer Grade Thre in the HQ, a former Force Ordnance Warrant Officer, and the OF4 Deputy Chief of Staff Operations Support in the HQ. Corporal Rai deployed with a remit of assisting the provision of G4 support to a team of 65 personnel in the MFR; however, he ended up playing a vital, first-hand and enduring role in delivering logistic output to a multi-national force of more than 1000 personnel and swiftly became an invaluable asset to HQ UNFICYP.
Hugely impressive though this is, Corporal Rai’s most astonishing achievement and operational effect came from the work he did in the development of the UNFICYP Contingency Operation Plan (COP) for the withdrawal of personnel and equipment from the so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (TRNC). Known as COP FALLBACK, this plan had UN HQ sign-off in New York and a strategic impact. Previous iterations had been developed with the full ‘staff-power’ of a 2* military HQ but, following review, refinement was required. Nominated as the Logistic subject matter expert, Corporal Rai quickly identified critical failings in the plan and highlighted that, as it was, it would not have succeeded resulting in a diplomatic issue and severe risk to UN Peacekeepers. Corporal Rai single-handedly conducted the logistic analysis and planning that two battalions had attempted previously, accounting for all equipment in Sectors 1 (Argentinian) and 4 (Slovakian) and developing the transport requirements to move it. Through his recommendations and input, COP FALLBACK was completely re-written and approved by UN HQ. With relations between the so-called ‘TRNC’ and Republic of on the island Cyprus at their lowest ebb since 1974, this COP has been rehearsed and tested, ready for enactment. For a single individual, whatever the rank, to have had such an inordinately positive impact on a strategic level plan would be rare; that it was a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer delivering this level and standard of work all the while managing his numerous day-to-day tasks is truly remarkable.
Corporal Rai’s performance has been astonishing. Often working ‘out of lane’ while producing output expected at least 6 ranks higher, his technical excellence and unprecedented operational impact deserve formal recognition.