Africa

UK Troops Complete Mission Rehearsal Exercise Ahead Of Mali Deployment

The soldiers previously completed integration training in July and are set to deploy to the African nation in December.

British troops preparing to deploy to Mali have completed their Mission Rehearsal Exercise.

Soldiers from the Light Dragoons and Royal Anglians are deploying to the West African country to support a United Nations mission promoting peace and countering instability in the region.

Wearing the UN blue beret on Thetford and Salisbury Plain training areas in October, the 300-strong UK Task Group underwent final assessment by the Mission Training and Mobilisation Centre, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said. 

The troops were put through a range of realistic scenarios that they may experience on the mission, practising everything from engaging with locals to conducting patrols and dealing with suspected IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).

The task group's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robinson, said: "The UN mission is all about stabilising Mali, attempting to deliver that political reconciliation and protecting the people from the consequences of violence

Light Dragoon soldiers rest next to their Jackal armoured vehicle (Picture: MOD).

"No-one in Africa or, indeed, Europe wants a failed state in North Africa, spreading instability throughout the region, so our mission is just a part of that wider mission in order to prevent that from happening."

The British soldiers will deploy in December in a non-combat role, acting as the Long-Range Reconnaissance Task Group to the UN peacekeeping operation MINUSMA. 

Their role will be to conduct patrols in Jackal vehicles, providing situational awareness and intelligence that will help to protect civilians in the region, amid sharply rising terrorism and conflict.

The Sahel, which includes countries like Nigeria, Chad and Senegal, as well as Mali, is one of Africa's most fragile regions.

It is hoped the mission in Mali will help provide more sustainable peace to the wider area.

The deployment, which was first announced last year, was delayed to December over the coronavirus crisis. 

In June, the UK also extended its military support to the separate French-led counter-terrorism mission based in Mali. 

Cover image: Royal Anglian soldiers during the Mission Rehearsal Exercise (Picture: MOD).