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Where are UK military personnel deployed this Christmas?

Christmas is all about spending time with loved ones.

However, each year members of the military sacrifice a festive period with their families in order to protect their country.

This year, 6,100 sailors, soldiers, airmen and women, and Royal Marines will be deployed on operations throughout the festive period.

They are deployed in multiple continents on 22 operations in 30 countries across the globe, as well as in the UK in support of the country's COVID booster jab programme.

    While families at home celebrate Christmas, personnel will be working around the clock in many time zones to keep the nation safe and protect the UK's interests.

    Here is a look at some of the locations where the British military is deployed this festive season.

    At sea

    Multiple Royal Navy vessels will be at sea over Christmas.

    These include five River-class Offshore Patrol vessels. HMS Tamar and HMS Spey are working with regional partners in the Indo-Asia Pacific, while HMS Trent is supporting maritime security in the Mediterranean.

    HMS Medway is in the Caribbean and HMS Forth in the Falkland Islands – both carrying out similar security roles.

    Survey ships HMS Scott and HMS Echo are patrolling close to Gibraltar.

    Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose will celebrate Christmas in the Gulf, protecting trade and oil shipping.

    Mine countermeasure vessels HMS Chiddingfold, HMS Penzance, HMS Bangor and HMS Middleton, supported by RFA Lyme Bay, are deployed to the Middle East where personnel will also protect vital shipping lanes and operations in the Gulf.

    Ice patrol vessel HMS Protector is sailing through the waters of Antarctica and the southern hemisphere in support of international climate research.

    Since 1969, the UK has also had a submarine on patrol for every minute of every day in the year, providing the UK's nuclear deterrent – and this Christmas is no different.

    HMS Montrose will be in the Gulf region this festive period (Picture: Royal Navy).
    HMS Montrose will be in the Gulf region this festive period (Picture: Royal Navy).

    Supporting allies, defending territory

    More than 650 soldiers are on Operation Cabrit leading a battlegroup under NATO's enhanced Forward Presence.

    In Ukraine, on Operation Orbital, 100 troops will continue to build military capability in the country through training courses developing personnel and instructors.

    There are 230 personnel from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, part of a 411-strong tri-service contingent defending Gibraltar.

    About 860 personnel from all three services are stationed in the Falkland Islands – a British presence will remain for as long as the islanders wish them to.

    In Mali, more than 500 servicemen and women are deployed on two missions.

     

    UK personnel deployed to Mali as part of UN peacekeeping mission (Picture: MOD).
    UK personnel deployed to Mali as part of UN peacekeeping mission (Picture: MOD).

    Operation Barkhane is French-led, though British personnel are providing logistical support and Chinook heavy lifting.

    Meanwhile, under a UN Peacekeeping mission, British troops form the Long Range Reconnaissance Group protecting civilians from terrorism.

    In Somalia, 65 soldiers are deployed to support the national army to promote stability.

    Cyprus will see 220 personnel from 1st Battalion The Rifles support the UN peacekeeping mission there.

    In the UK

    Remaining at very high readiness to protect UK security are HMS Westminster, HMS Dragon, HMS Severn, HMS Tyne, RFA Tiderace and a UK submarine.

    More than 900 personnel are currently committed to bolstering the UK's COVID defences.

    Around 7,000 are on standby for winter support resilience operations in the UK.

    A QRA RAF Typhoon fighter being scrambled
    Royal Air Force personnel will be ready to scramble if required (Picture: MOD).

    More than 400 personnel are deployed to support the booster programme rollout, with a further 500 vaccinators preparing to help this winter.

    About 300 troops have deployed in response to Storm Arwen, going door-to-door in Aberdeenshire, Durham and Northumberland.

    The UK's Quick Reaction Alert squadrons at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby will, as ever, be ready to scramble in aid of UK airspace security.

    Other RAF bases will remain busy, with duty supply officers tasked with keeping hardware in working order.

    Personnel at RAF Fylingdales will continue the 24/7 job of tracking objects in space, while military working dog staff will be carrying out care and security tasks.

    In London, the Coldstream Guards, Grenadier Guards and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment will guard Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace, Horse Guards, the Tower of London and also Windsor Castle during the festive period.