If I were to predict an area of collecting that will become more popular as the years go on, it would be combat uniforms from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan with insignia on them. As time goes on interest in collecting these conflicts will increase and if the market for World War II uniforms with original insignia on is anything to go by, combat uniforms with badges on them will prove to be quite desirable as the years advance. At the moment however, they are still common and cheap and make an ideal entry point for the younger or less well off collector.
The RAF Regiment was particularly involved in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, with troops serving in these theatres from 2003-2011 and 2001-2014 respectively. The Regiment was tasked with airfield defence. The men of the RAF Regiment are intended to counter ground-based threats to overseas/deployed RAF assets and, to this end, are trained as mobile infantry to move on foot, or in helicopters and protected mobility vehicles, to defend airfields and landing sites. The large area surrounding airfields (regularly up to 140 km square) means RAF Regiment rifle flights (platoons) often spend long periods of time deployed on the ground deterring and detecting potential attackers.
The RAF Regiment shirt we are looking at today is made in the desert DPM camouflage seen during the earlier years of deployment in the War on Terror:
The shirt is of the CS95 pattern and has been covered many times on the blog before, so today we are focusing on the insignia. On the left sleeve can be seen the subdued shoulder title with the name of the regiment, over a Union flag:
The opposite shoulder has the same title, and beneath this is the RAF Regiments Tactical Recognition Flash in the traditional RAF colours of dark blue, light blue and red:
This flash can be traced right back to the start of the RAF when it was used as a flash on the pugarrees of pith helmets from the 1920s onwards.
Finally, a large Royal Air Force patch is sewn over the right breast pocket:
Leaving aside those injured, seriously or otherwise, five RAF Regiment gunners were killed in Iraq (one in a firefight, three, including a member of the RAuxAF, in a single mortar strike, and one in a road traffic incident) and five were killed in Afghanistan (one due to hostile fire, four due to IEDs, including one 51 year old member of the RAuxAF, the oldest member of the British Armed Forces to die in Afghanistan) with an additional man dying in an accident in Cyprus after leaving Afghanistan. Additionally, over the same period, three Military Crosses were awarded to RAF Regiment members for conspicuous bravery.