The road to Mali: The mission so far

300 men and women are soon deploying to West Africa in support of the UN mission there. Here’s what’s happened so far

Soldiers from the Light Dragoons, Royal Anglians and a number of supporting units are preparing to deploy in support of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission known as MINUSMA.

As planned and in line with our firm commitment to the UN and global security, later this year 300 military personnel will deploy to the UN mission in Mali where they will help to promote peace and help counter instability.

What’s the background info?

In July 2019, the Defence Secretary at the time (Penny Modaunt) announced that the UK Armed Forces will deploy to Mali in 2020 in support of the UN mission there.

The announcement outlined that the forces would deploy initially for three years as part of the 12,500 strong international force and the UK would contribute to assisting the UN to deliver long-term and sustainable peace in Mali.

In July 2020, the first rotation of personnel to deploy reached a significant training milestone in their preparations.

The deployment also supports UK engagement in the Sagel region under the government’s new approach to Africa which includes support and training to Commonwealth partners.

A soldier from the Light Dragoons trains for the deployment on Salisbury Plain

What’s the UN Mission there?

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established on 25 April 2013 to support political processes in that country and carry out a number of security-related tasks.

In June 2014 the UN Security Council further decided that the Mission should focus on duties, such as ensuring security, stabilisation and protection of civilians; supporting national political dialogue and reconciliation.

In recognition of the increasing instability in the Sahel region, the UK Government authorised a deployment to support the UN mission in Mali.

Light Dragoon soldiers in their Jackal

How has the task group been preparing?

The men and women selected have been preparing for their deployment to the Sahel for the last year. First, they train and prepare their individual roles and responsibilities at home units, before coming together for integration training and bringing the task group together for the first time.

The task-group trained together for the first time on Salisbury Plain replicating various life-like scenarios and testing their ability to deal with challenges they will likely face in Mali.

The soon-to-be UN Peacekeepers have encountered tasks such as engaging with locals and navigating the cultural challenges that they may face in-country.

These are Non-combat, peacekeeping troops, which means that as part of the UN mission, their prime responsibility is to protect civilians.

- Commanding Officer of Long-Range Reconnaissance Group (Mali), Lieutenant Colonel Robinson
Lieutenant Colonel Robinson

“In conventional warfare that would be about how we best fight, but in this sort of operation it’s about what is the best option that the United Nations and governor of Mali might be able to take, to potentially diffuse the situation.”

— Commanding Officer of the Light Dragoons, Lieutenant Colonel Robinson

Marked by chronic poverty, instability and high levels of gender inequality, the Sahel remains one of Africa’s most fragile regions. The UK contribution to this UN Mission will help towards making this region of the world a safer and more stable place.

We are bringing top-class British expertise to the areas of greatest need in UN peacekeeping missions. All operational commitments are kept under review.

Find out where else the UK Armed Forces are deployed here 👇

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