Chinook RAF helicopter in Mali Sahel region Africa - pic used on 120620 CREDIT MOD.jpg
Africa

UK Extends Military Support To Counter-Terrorism Mission In Mali

RAF Chinooks and personnel will remain in Mali to support the French-led counter-terrorism operation.

Chinook RAF helicopter in Mali Sahel region Africa - pic used on 120620 CREDIT MOD.jpg

The UK has extended its military support to the French-led counter-terrorism mission based in Mali.

Three RAF Chinooks from RAF Odiham and 100 personnel will remain in the country where they have been deployed in non-combat roles since 2018.

The mission across the Sahel region 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.

Recently, forces deployed on the mission killed the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as well as other high-profile members of the group.

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".

The Sahel is one of Africa's poorest and most fragile regions.

It goes as far west as Senegal and as far east as Eritrea, passing through a number of other countries including Mali and Sudan. 

RAF helicopters and aircrew deployed to the region provide logistical capability and help move personnel to the frontline, as well as support equipment.

UK anonymous service personnel in Chinook during Mali deployment - pic used on 120620 CREDIT MOD.jpg
RAF Chinooks and personnel have been deployed to Mali since 2018 (Picture: MOD).

Over the past two years, the RAF has clocked up more than 2,000 hours of flying, moving over 13,000 passengers and 1,100 tonnes of equipment.

Aircrew from 18(B) Squadron are currently in charge of flying the Chinook aircraft, operating in 40-degree heat and sandstorms.

They are supported by personnel from across the RAF and the Army.

Later in the year, 250 British service personnel from the Light Dragoons and the Royal Anglian Regiment will be deployed to Mali as part of a UN Peacekeeping Mission.

The UK is also one of the largest humanitarian donors to the region, contributing more than £500 million.

Map Sahel region 020320 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
A map of the Sahel region.

Cover image: MOD.