Taking up a Loan Service (LS) posting can be exciting and challenging all at once. The most important thing is to be totally clued up on the location you’re going to, but that isn’t always easy…

AFF’s Manager Overseas, Esther Thomas, chats about your issues regularly to Maj Mike Gledhill (main photo) from the LS Support Team in London.

He has this advice: “Loan Service personnel serve as part of the host nation military force and their families live amongst the local community. It’s therefore vital that before volunteering, families review LS policy (JSP 468), read the relevant Blue Book [army location guide], and speak with others in the country to help prepare for life ‘on loan’ both personally and professionally.”

Current policy sums up LS as presenting ‘some unique personal and domestic challenges. Living and working conditions in many countries can be difficult or frustrating. Tact, patience, humour, and a determination to make the best of what is available are all keys to success; this applies equally, if not more so, to spouses and families when tackling cultural and climatic variances.’

Building relationships

AFF Overseas Assistant Abi Hamilton has been strengthening links with the 14 LS teams based in 12 different countries. She caught up with a number of families who shared their experiences with A&Y…

Gemma and Hugh – Kuwait

“The move to Kuwait is a well-trodden path and the Blue Book had plenty of up-to-date information on schools, housing and travelling, as well as cultural points and behaviours to be aware of. The host nation family sponsoring us and the family we took over from were both amazing!”

Moving from a rural area of the UK, the family were a little apprehensive about the prospect of city living, larger schools, more traffic and people, but now admit: “We have loved it! There is always something to do and somewhere to go and it helps that you rarely need to remember your coat, wellies or brolly! We have been taken aback by the warm welcome from locals and non-military communities, particularly neighbours and the school. It has made a huge difference to how we’ve settled.”

The one thing they were not prepared for was the challenge of driving. Whilst they were able to drive in Kuwait (not everyone is), they warned that it’s not for the faint-hearted!

Thomas – a teenager’s experience – Nairobi, Kenya

When AFF heard from Thomas, aged 14, who spent three years with his parents in Kenya, he explained: “There wasn’t anything else I wish I’d known, but nice surprises were the safaris, seeing the wildlife, and the fact that I could drive in the national parks.”

He did have one warning to other children attending schools in Kenya however: “Be careful of the warthogs that come into the school playing field!”

Army family – Dhofar, Oman

Having moved to Oman, the family felt that perhaps ‘people move quicker than policy’ as some of their Blue Book was out-of-date. Nonetheless, they used the Pink Book, a more informal guide written by military families in-situ, and recommended: “Use video calls to connect with families already in location to get a better understanding of what you’re coming to.

“We’ve been so overwhelmed by how welcoming the local Omani (and smaller expat) community have been and how much they value and prioritise family health and happiness above all else.”

Life on loan

Things to consider

Judging by the range of queries that come into AFF’s overseas team, it’s clear that terms and conditions differ across LS teams – there is no ‘one size fits all’.

Here are some examples of the anomalies and family considerations you may need to be aware of:

Travel to and from the UK and host nation:

  • the Kuwait MOD funds three of the six School Children’s Visit flights which are limited to Kuwait Airways and only connect with London Heathrow. There’s no option to use another airline or route, which could have implications for children who are boarding in the north of the UK.
  • in Jordan you’d expect to travel business class, whereas in Oman it’s economy.


  • the Kuwait Blue Book recently introduced a restriction on bringing dogs into the country due to changes in import regulations.
  • in Oman, there are local rules. Dogs aren’t permitted in ‘public’ places and you can only walk them between 10am and 3pm – the hottest part of the day!
  • generally you have to transport your pets at your own expense, and do consider the welfare of animals in some locations.

Leave policy:

  • this differs from regulations in the UK and has local variations to respect cultural celebrations.
  • in Oman, paternity leave isn’t granted, whereas in Brunei, it’s likely to be approved by the local chain of command.


  • no permanent vehicles are provided in Brunei, while in Oman senior personnel will benefit from a personal issued vehicle.
  • in Jordan, whilst an insured vehicle (and fuel allowance) is provided, family members are not allowed to drive it.
  • you can’t register your vehicle in the Czech Republic, and instead have to return to the UK annually to get your MOT sorted.

If you would like access to the LS Blue Book or have a query about an overseas posting, get in touch at overseassupport@aff.org.uk

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