British Army trainer teaches Iraqi soldier in counter-IED training at Camp Taji

Coronavirus: How Has The Pandemic Affected Military Operations?

British Army trainer teaches Iraqi soldier in counter-IED training at Camp Taji

While the majority of people in the UK have been told to stay at home for another three weeks, the military is working around the clock and around the world on operations despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Here is a taste of what’s still going on and how deployments have been changed by the pandemic.

Operation Shader: In Iraq, the UK's training mission has been paused for 60 days, due to COVID-19.

The UK has been training Iraqi forces as part of a US-led coalition mission since 2014, but most troops have now returned to Britain, given the reduced requirement for training.

British soldier teaches class of Iraqi soldiers in counter-IED techniques 201118 CREDIT US ARMY
Operation Shader in Iraq is currently under suspension for 60 days (Picture: US Army).

Some British military personnel do remain in Iraq. They are supporting the Iraqi government, Global Coalition and UK interests.

Operation Tosca: In Cyprus, British personnel continue to patrol the UN buffer zone between the Turkish north and Greek Cypriot south.

The pandemic has made a difference here. Soldiers from 27 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps had their six month tour extended while their replacements from 7 Rifles went through a 14-day isolation period after arriving in Cyprus.

Personnel on Op Tosca have also been taking steps such as disinfecting vehicles and social distancing.

Soldiers at Harrogate Nightingale during coronavirus covid 19 crisis construcion 160420 CREDIT BFBS
In direct response to the coronavirus outbreak, the UK military has launched two operations to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Britain and in her overseas territories.

Operation Rescript: In the UK, this Op has seen 10,000 extra personnel put on higher readiness in response to the outbreak, joining around 10,000 others who were already on standby to assist.

Operation Broadshare: This covers the COVID-19 military effort  overseas. It includes repatriation and rescue missions for civilians. 

The British Military also continues training missions in other parts of the globe.

Operation Orbital: This training mission in Ukraine, which has been extended to March 2023, is focused on building the resilience and capacity of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

It includes mentoring on the identification of mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), infantry skills, medical care and logistics.

Operation Kipion: Anti-piracy is also a part of the deployment in the Gulf. Op Kipion also helps ensure freedom of movement in the region.

Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships cooperate within a 30+ nation maritime force with approximately 1200 UK personnel on duty here.

Operation Atalanta: The Navy continues to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean.

Gibraltar: Two patrol boats from the Royal Navy's Gibraltar Squadron, HMS Sabre and HMS Scimitar, continue to protect Gibraltar's territorial waters. 

One change in Gibraltar is that 175 British military personnel are assisting the government with the delivery of food and medicine to local residents.

Royal Navy personnel on patrol in Gibraltar February 2020 CREDIT BFBS
Royal Navy personnel on patrol in Gibraltar.

Operation Cabrit: This is the UK's operational deployment to Estonia. British troops are leading a multinational battlegroup as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence. 

Around 900 British personnel rotate on a continuous basis alongside Danish, French, and host nation Estonian forces.

Operation Azotize: Returning to Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania after six years, the Royal Air Force will shortly deploy a 150-strong Typhoon detachment as part of NATO's Baltic air-policing mission.

Operation Tangham: In Somalia, UK Armed Forces continue to support four organisations. The UN, the African Union Mission in Somalia, the EU and the Somali National Army. All of this is part of international efforts to restore security and stability in the region.

Personnel are also staffing the Standing NATO Maritime Groups, an integrated multinational maritime force made up of vessels from various allied nations.

They provide NATO with a continuous maritime capability for operations and other activities, HMS Sutherland was recently set to join their ranks.

Falkland Islands: Troops still maintain a presence in the Falkland Islands with 1,800 defence personnel deployed.

Operation Toral: In Afghanistan, British troops are stationed in Kabul where they take a leading role within the Kabul Security Force.

They provide protection for UK and coalition advisers working with Afghan partners to increase capabilities and capacity across the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces.

Cover image: US Army.