Operation SHADER explained: Daesh’s demise

Operation SHADER explained: Daesh’s demise

From striking Islamic State targets from the air over Syria to teaching skills and drills to the Iraqi forces, the UK Armed Forces have contributed to the Global Coalition for six years

Op SHADER — Air Element

Surveillance and airstrike sorties as part of the Global Coalition led by the Royal Air Force.

How it started:

Operation SHADER began six years ago on 9 August 2014, when the Royal Air Force began a series of humanitarian air aid drops onto Mount Sinjar in Northern Iraq.

UK Aid being loaded onto a RAF C-130 to be dropped into the Mount Sinjar area of Iraq.

“It was emotional, and still is emotional. It gives a great sense of pride that we live in a country that chooses to go and help in a situation like that. It gives great legitimacy to your underlying reasons for service.”

Following the aid drops, the RAF was tasked to change focus to surveillance, an undertaking that saw the RC-135 Rivet Joint deployed on its first ever operational sortie in 2014.

Left: RAF Rivet Joint. Centre: RAF Sentinel. Right: RAF E-3D Sentry
Based out of Cyprus, the Royal Air Force continue to surveil and strike targets in Iraq and Syria as part of the Global Coalition under the banner of Op SHADER (A).

How it’s going:

Six years later and many of the aircraft operating on Op Shader have changed, but the objective of defeating Daesh and restoring peace and stability in the region remains.

A RAF Typhoon refuels from a RAF Voyager
Left: A RAF Typhoon over Iraq on Op SHADER. Right: A RAF Typhoon takes off at sunset from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

“We remain in situ at the request of the Government of Iraq but with circumstances significantly improved. The Daesh attempt to set up a so-called Caliphate has been defeated and we are now supporting the Government of Iraq to rebuild and establish security across their entire country as they fight the terrorist insurgency that Daesh is now conducting.”

“The front of any operation is the aircraft, but actually all the work and effort is from the people that are unseen. Our part today is the continued support and sustainment of those personnel actively engaged in assisting the Government of Iraq, and to provide assurance in the skies for those people who we previously came to help.”

Op SHADER — Land element

Building capability within the Iraqi security forces through mentoring and training.

How it started:

No strangers to Iraq, for the last six years the UK Armed Forces have been passing on their skills and drills to the Iraqi forces.

How it’s going:

Ranges, identifying Improvised Explosive Devices, and lessons on patrolling skills were all on the training program for the Iraqi soldiers, but arguably the British soldiers’ biggest contribution was the gift of training the trainers.

UK kit is loaded onto aircraft to leave Camp Taji in 2020 after handing over the training mission to the Iraqis.

Find out where the UK Armed Forces are deployed here:



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