British soldier observes explosion with Iraqi soldier at Camp Taji
Iraq

British Personnel To Drawdown From Iraq

The UK's training mission in the country has already been paused for 60 days, due to COVID-19.

British soldier observes explosion with Iraqi soldier at Camp Taji

A number of British military personnel are leaving Iraq to redeploy back to the UK.

The UK has been training Iraqi forces as part of a US-led coalition mission since 2014, but this has been on hold for the last 60 days due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Ministry of Defence says, as a result of COVID-19, there has been a reduced requirement for the training, with the Defence Secretary stating the "tempo of training has significantly declined".

Key British military personnel will remain throughout Iraq, however.

Troops returning to the UK will remain at readiness for different potential deployments.

The rest of the US-led coalition's training mission in Iraq has been suspended due to coronavirus fears.

The Ministry of Defence says personnel redeploying back to the UK will have the "opportunity to support loved ones" affected by coronavirus.

British soldier teaches class of Iraqi soldiers in counter-IED techniques
A British soldier teaching a class of Iraqi soldiers in counter-IED techniques in 2018 (Picture: US Army).

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "In recent months the tempo of training has significantly declined, which means that I am in a position to bring back the current training unit to the UK.

"There remains a significant footprint of UK Armed Forces within the coalition and elsewhere.

"We are committed to building Iraq’s security capacity through our membership of the Global Coalition that has proved so effective and will continue to support the Iraqi Government in achieving stability."

Around 400 UK military personnel are currently stationed in Iraq across several sites.

As part of Operation Shader, British troops have trained more than 100,000 Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in weapons maintenance, counter IED, medical and engineering skills.

Kurdish Peshmerga have been provided with heavy machine guns, more than a million rounds of ammunition and hundreds of thousands of pounds of equipment.

Cover image: A British soldier training an Iraqi soldier at Camp Taji in 2019 (Picture: US Army).