Irish Guards bandsmen stand by Royal Hospital Chelsea Christmas Tree

Where Are The Armed Forces Deployed This Festive Season?

While families at home have been celebrating Christmas, thousands of troops are working to keep Britain safe.

Irish Guards bandsmen stand by Royal Hospital Chelsea Christmas Tree

Irish Guards in the grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea (Picture: MOD).

Christmas is all about spending time with our loved ones.

However, there are some groups of people that every year sacrifice the festive period for a higher purpose.

Among them are the Armed Forces. This year, 11,000 sailors, soldiers, airmen and Royal Marines will be deployed on operations over the festive period.

They are deployed in multiple continents on 35 operations in 30 countries across the globe, from Somalia and South Sudan to Kuwait and Ukraine.

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

    In total 14 naval vessels will be at sea from Type 45 Destroyer HMS Dragon in the Gulf to Type 23 Frigate HMS Argyll in the Pacific.

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

    The Armed Forces will also be busy at home.

    More than 1,000 personnel are on short notice to react in the UK, with many more deployed around the world.

    The Squadrons of the UK’s Quick Reaction Alert will be on duty at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby, many of them ready in their green flight suits waiting for the call to scramble and protect UK airspace.

    Also on duty will be troops of the Household Division, keeping guard outside royal residences in London and Windsor.

    Blues and Royals Lance Corporals by Royal Hospital Chelsea Christmas Tree
    Two Blues and Royals soldiers at Royal Hospital Chelsea (Picture: MOD).

    Currently, around 1,000 people are working to fight Daesh and train the local security forces from locations in Iraq and the wider Middle East as well as from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. Almost 1,000 Army personnel are in Afghanistan training British allies.

    There are also 100 RAF personnel deployed to Afghanistan on Op TORAL, the British contribution to support NATO's Resolute Support Mission in the country, as well as members of the Royal Navy.

    In the South Atlantic, over 1,000 personnel are stationed in the Falkland Islands along with survey ship HMS Protector.

    While in the Caribbean, RFA Mounts Bay has been on alert over the hurricane season and remains overseas.

    Christmas graffiti in Camp Bastion
    Christmas graffiti in Camp Bastion in 2013 (Picture: MOD).

    In Europe, 150 UK personnel are deployed to Poland and around 850 British personnel from 1 YORKS are deployed in Estonia on NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) deployment.

    In Africa, the 120 Army troops are deployed to wildlife reserves in Malawi to assist local forces with counter-poaching and halt the population decline of many of Africa’s animals, including elephants, rhinos and lions.

    Troops will also be in peacekeeping missions in Somalia and South Sudan.

    In Mali,RAF Chinook helicopters from RAF Odiham are supported by around 90 British troops to support French counter-terrorism operations.