To enable an expedition of this nature to take place a huge range of skills and capabilities are required. Those selected must have the physical and mental robustness to be able to operate in a hostile and highly demanding environment while far from help or rescue. They must also have the intellectual capability to be able to undertake cutting edge scientific research and exploration irrespective of their fatigue or the environmental factors they are faced with. In 2009, a squad of 120 personnel from across all ranks throughout the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force was selected to undertake further training and development, designed to allow them to operate in the Antarctic environment and undertake the science programme of the expedition. Initially, the training concentrated on honing mountaineering and skiing skills in a variety of different settings. This included two fortnight long summer training sessions in the Alps. During these, the squad underwent rigorous technical and physical training in arduous conditions to ensure their personal ability not just to survive, but to also operate effectively in the coldest, windiest and most inhospitable environment in the world. During a further fortnight long training session in the Alps the squad focussed on ski touring and winter survival techniques to ensure the team members can cope with the expected conditions on the Antarctic Peninsula. These will include deep snow, icy terrain, highly variable temperatures, heavily crevassed terrain and steep ascents and descents, which the team will need to negotiate while hauling heavy loads and while being roped together. Concurrent with these, the squad trained every month in a wider range of generic skills that will be required. These skills included; communications, casualty evacuation, marine engine familiarisation and repair, competent crew sailing, wilderness first aid, science equipment operation, Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) operation and crevasse rescue. Over a period of two years the original 120 potential team members were slowly whittled away to leave a team of 24 personnel with the requisite personal character traits and essential skills to be able to undertake this auspicious expedition. While it is impossible to be certain that any of the objectives can be achieved, the BSAE2012 team members have been trained and tested in every aspect of what they are likely to face in Antarctica.
Initial planning for this expedition began in 2007 and was overseen by a Tri-Service ‘Higher Management Committee’. The squad of 120 prospective members was divided into a series of planning teams in order to ensure that no area of expedition planning was overlooked. The planning team was divided into 9 separate groups under the Expedition Leader and Deputy Leader, using the military ‘Joint Planning’ system. A breakdown of the planning team organisation is shown in the diagram below.
J1 (Manpower & Administration), J2 (Intelligence), J3 (Coordination), J4 (Logistics), J5(Planning), J6 (Communications), J7 (Training), J8 (Finance & Sponsorship)