Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft deployed British Army personnel from RAF Brize Norton to join the UN Mission in Mali earlier this month.
The advanced party led by Lieutenant Colonel Tom Robinson, the Commanding Officer of the Light Dragoons, flew out to Mali on board a LXX Squadron A400M Atlas transport aircraft initially with the main contingent followed on 3rd December on board another Atlas, which after a refuelling stop at Gibraltar flew into Gao Mali.
“This deployment is a good example of the important and often unnoticed work that is carried out by the personnel based here. This airbase is the centre of a worldwide network that supports the UK’s military Operations and activities across the world and as such plays a key role in the enabling the UK’s military operations around the world”, said Group Captain Emily Flynn, Station Commander of RAF Brize Norton.
The new British Army mission is to provide the ongoing UN mission in Mali with a new long range reconnaissance capability that will enhance the UN peace keeping mission. All UK UN personnel will be based at the UN camp in Gao at the newly constructed Camp Bagnold, which is named after Brigadier Ralph Alger Bagnold.
“The 300 strong Light Dragoon task group is joining over 14,000 peacekeepers from 56 Nations as part of this challenging UN mission in Mali to help protect the people from violence and support political dialogue. We bring years of experience on operations, first class equipment and exceptional people.
“We’ve trained hard for the last year to make that we are ready for this challenging mission. We’re proud to be the first British soldiers to join in this team effort to help combat instability in the Sahel”, sai Lieutenant Colonel Tom Robinson, Commanding Officer of Light Dragoons.
The new mission is separate to the ongoing RAF operation that has three Chinook helicopters conducting combat support operations as part of the French coalition that is conducting counter insurgency operation in Mali.
Prior to this deployment the personnel have been in an isolation bubble to ensure that all COVID-19 precautions have been taken and which will allow them to join a similar bubble in Mali.