British troops to be sent to Mali to fight the war on terror in Africa
Troops from the Light Dragoons and 2 Royal Anglian (Poachers) will deploy in December.
Attention has switched to Mali in west Africa as the terror-alert raises there and the British military finish their four year United Nations deployment in South Sudan.
British troops have spent the past few years in Africa training the country’s troops to fight extremism including Nigerian, Cameroonian and Moroccan soldiers.
And now regular British troops are back on the frontlines themselves from this December.
250 soldiers from the Light Dragoon Guards based in Catterick in north Yorkshire and from 2 Royal Anglian based in Rutland will join the French-led counter-terrorism mission based in Mali.
The mission across the Sahel region which is focused on providing long-term stability and tackling the threat from militants linked to groups such as Al-Qaeda or so-called Islamic State (IS), also known as Daesh.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said combatting extremism in the Sahel is “vital” for the safety of the wider region, describing it as a “declining security situation”.
RAF helicopters and aircrew have already deployed to the region to provide logistical capability and help move personnel to the frontline, as well as support equipment.
And the Light Dragoons, a cavalry regiment which drive armoured vehicles, and the ‘Poachers’ who are a mechanized infantry battalion who have seen active tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, have just started their 14-day training package together on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire in preparation to be the Long-Range Reconnaissance Task Group to the UN Peacekeeping operation MINUSMA.
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Robinson, Commanding Officer of the Light Dragoons, said: “This exercise is part of an intensive training package.
“Over recent months we have been honing our specialist skills and now we have brought all aspects of the Task Group together to operate as a highly professional and effective peacekeeping force.”
2 Royal Anglians deployed to Afghanistan during the height of the fighting there between 2006 and 2014, and also deployed to Basra in southern Iraq in 2006.
The ‘Poachers’ recently completed a six-month tour of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul alongside the Parachute Regiment, returning home last year.
The Light Dragoons are no strangers to fighting either, being a part of ‘Operation Panther’s Claw’ in Helmand in 2009 which 10 British troops died in trying to reclaim ground back from the Taliban.
A House of Lords committee earlier this month called on the Ministry of Defence to set up an “action plan” for Africa and said the Government needs to match efforts in Mali throughout the continent.