British troops have completed their first operational patrol with the UN’s Mali peacekeeping mission.

The Ministry of Defence say that the 300-strong UK task group deployed to Mali in December to “help the UN keep the peace and protect civilians”.

The British contingent brings a highly specialised reconnaissance capability to the multinational mission, they added.

Today, some 200 personnel from the task group travelled 50km from their base in 60 vehicles during their first operational patrol. The troops met local people and spent several days “outside the wire” before returning to camp.

Back in December, we covered the movement of troops to the country.

RAF transports British Army troops to Mali

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Robinson, Commanding Officer Light Dragoons, was quoted as saying:

“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.”

Many readers will be aware of the ongoing air-transport support British forces are providing to France. The deployment of Royal Air Force Chinooks began in 2018.

British airpower continues to assist French operations in Mali

This 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.

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Ian M.

Keep your heads down lads!


Never was a huge fan of these vehicles. No one else seems to have a requirement for an open top in this day and age.

Shane Ramshaw

I think they are pretty cool. Just not built for an European climate. Can you imagine running around Catterick in one of those?

Kizzy p

In Vietnam the U.S soldiers used to ride on top of the M113s instead of inside them …i guess they figured something out ?


Fair point.


M113s were not safe in any way shape or form if hit by a mine or IED, RPG etc and the blokes preferred to be blown off the vehicle (And hope to get less injuries) than getting smashed about inside an armoured shell. However armoured protection and design has improved massively, and the vast majority of modern soldiers stay inside their wagons in any contact, as they are more likely to survive. We are only using open topped wagons as it’s a cheap way of equipping light forces. Be aware these boys are armoured recce and replaced light armoured vehicles… Read more »


I understand that whilst getting further away from mines was part of the reason, the main benefit seen by US troops in Vietnam of riding on top was improved situational awareness. Spotting an enemy from inside in the types of terrain most frequently encountered was almost impossible.
In Mali, the Jackal should be ideal for the mission.


Denmark ,ozzies, US, Estonia, Norway all use the export version of the Coyote which is the 6 wheel version of jackal, Airborne would know how good the jackal is for sure.


Daniele is right insofar they are good stable weapon platform but, they have replaced light armour, and in a European theatre I belive light armour in the recce role is more useful, and as ever we are trading capability for cost. When we first got these in Afghan they were a decent step change from the bloody WMIK (I also used to sit on 4 sandbags in a WMIK). They were a bit more survivable than a WMIK, lots more space and like I said a stable weapon platform with a bit more height. I liked them. However once I… Read more »

Ryan Brewis

Isn’t a huge part of the problem if you like that protection demands have skyrocketed? From Scimitar at 8-10 tons to Ajax at 40+ carrying out the same role, what would you even define light armour as these days. From just a quick read it seems there’s been problems and issues with every protected mobility vehicle we’ve had and somehow I don’t think outfitting the entire Army with Boxer is likely.
Also you mention the European theatre specifically, I hate to be a downer but if something serious kicked off would we be much use?


True as improved protection always comes at the cost of heavier platforms, but thats across the board and all countries will have the same issue. As for European kick off, we have key platforms and capabilities which most of the other European allies either dont have or have limited amounts of that asset. I believe we should play on our strengths and the landlocked NATO countries concentrate on providing most of the heavies.Yes we would be a minimal player if it comes to providing an Armoured Bde, but then again it would take us ages to get them there, as… Read more »


Could we really only deploy a single armoured brigade in the event of serious conflict in Eastern Europe? If we truly do have 227 deployable CR2, could we not deploy a division of two brigades, at least, ie about what we fielded in Gulf War 1?

Daniele Mandelli

All very well for SF roles behind the lines but these have replaced Regiments of Scimitar in regular RAC Regiments.


Exactly, as ever mate we are trading capability for cost. I liked these I Afghan, so much better than a WMIK, but, let’s not think these are the best, they were better than we had but still not good enough. As you say, these replaced armoured recce and in most theatres light armoured recce is preferable.


It does seem odd that after all the lessons that should have been learnt, our troops are still using vehicles with almost no protection against small arms fire. I read the aim is that they are fast and use that to get out of harm’s way but that was the excuse used for the snatch land rovers also. Ok they have been protection against IED but some better side armour to protect the crew seems odd to be missing.

Sean Crowley

Australian and New Zealand special forces ordered them despite having Bushmasters so must be something to them .


They have their place in the list of platforms which are required by the military, but its all about deploying the right asset to the right job mate.


God I hate that crappy blue pile of crap on our peoples head. All it does is make the job harder, by allowing far to many “descison makers” in the chain. UN, pile of crap! Anyway, aside from that, keep that ECM working boys FFS!


There should be a law that says no British or American soldiers will ever wear the blue UN hemet. It literally stands for sitting on your ass, collecting a paycheck and doing nothing.


Correct mate.


A little harsh, mate. I did a UNFICYP tour in ’81. We did effectively keep the peace between the north and the south of the island. Granted, that the UN missions in conflict zones in other parts of the world have a very mixed reputation.

Shane Ramshaw

So we have British Forces in Mali (RAF), assisting the French conduct combat operations, and we have British Forces in Mali (Army) conducting Peace Keeping operations. I don’t think the bad guys will differentiate.


I had a ten-minute tirade by an Indian General along time ago for returning fire when I was fired at. Keep your heads down lads please and remember the lawers back home.




I only ever met an Indian General in Sierra Leone. I hope it wasn’t him. He was running the UN deployment at the time and I managed to get to work for a few days with the Indian Army Gurkhas. (Top Goat Curry!) . His COS was a UK Army Col from the Army Air Corp. We were told by him don’t look or stare at the General he is self conscious about his appearance. The General had alopecia and had painted on his eyebrows and wore the worst fitting syrup I have ever seen. The Col stood behind the… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Gunbuster

Great story…he didn’t have pearl handled revolvers did he?


should write a book with your anecdotes!


I literally burst out laughing at your post!


Tom Robinson sounds like an unlikely name for a commander to be set to Mali!


A 60 vehicle patrol? Damn that’s more like a convoy. haha


See the dust cloud from miles away too!


Probably from space also. haha


None of our business to be there! Mali never attacked us nor attacked British interest, its not near us geographically. I can assure you by the time British forces leave there, more people from there will just hate us, who maybe didn’t even know much about the UK. This is doing France neo colonism bidding which I think is dangerous. This about French firms securing land to steal resources. Sucking up to France never bears fruit. British soldiers should not be in harms way cheaply ✌️

Last edited 2 months ago by James

You could be right James….a flying saucer has just landed in my back yard. The little green men inside claim to be from Calais. I suspect that they are Trump supporters!


Mate, everything you said was wrong! In the SE and recently discovered NE of the country are large Uranium deposits. Not only do they feed French reactors, but most of those in Europe. It is mostly in the form of Uraninite and Uranyl Tricarbonites. The average ore grade is around 19% which is relatively high. The Gao area has a very high level of background radiation as mineral deposits can be found on the ground surface. Granted it would be very difficult for terrorists to use these minerals to make weapons grade Uranium. However, it can be adequately refined enough… Read more »

Ian Skinner

Good post DaveyB; by putting a relatively small effort in now, we can save a lot of grief later.


Agreed, I am personally of the opinion that one should help when one can. That applies at both a personal and national level. But if we want to look at it in a purely self-interested fashion: Active involvement in the international community delivers global political influence, which can translate in any number of ways. That is why the cold war didn’t remain in Europe, that is why Russia and China are now involved in Africa and elsewhere (not just in economic and trade terms). You only have to look at 4 years of Trump’s isolationist policies of withdrawing from international… Read more »


It is not a colonial issue. The French (and British) are there at the request of the Malian Government to help drive insurgents out of the country. They are helping protect the population from pretty brutal terrorists and the people are happy that they are doing so. This is not Iraq or Afganistan… Also we should be helping one of our closest military allies, there is nothing wrong with that.


I don’t think that anybody in Africa thinks that France is there to save Malians from some warlords. France has no business in Mali. Wherever they are in Africa have caused environmental disasters , sponsored coups , propup dictators that allow them to legally steal natural resources. French colonialsm never left Africa. France Is very much disliked by the new generation of Africans who are better educated of their games which is why France is panicking and having a summit with African youth rather than its leaders. That said the Turks are giving them a big headache in Libya Niger… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by James

They were asked to be there by the Malian Government!!!!!

Mr Bell

Agree. Unless ISIS or AlQaeda are in Mali? In which case go in kill them and get out. No enduring commitment to a French colonial mission.


Erm… That is exactly what is happening! It is an anti-terror mission not a colonial one! Please read before moaning…

john melling

I think James, obviously a pal of Harold, should have a reality check

Wake up and smell the coffee


Reality check? All you guys do is suck up to the French who pretty much are arrogant towards Britain . France has always been selfish policy wise .British soldiers and our tax payers money should not serve french failed neo colonism attempts. No No No! Britain should have its own Africa foreign policy that engages Africa on equal terms win win strategy unlike other actors or we risk being tainted by the French who have a horrible reputation there that everyone jokes about In the fastest growing region of the planet


It is not Colonialism!!!! Please read the history of the conflict and maybe take in some facts rather than just making things up! France are one of our biggest allies and not only that it benefits us for terrorism and radicalism to be stamped out and for African countries to be stable and productive. Now France may well have a bad rep in some places in Africa but on this one they were specifically asked to help by the Government and the people are happy that there are soldiers there to protect them against the brutal Insurgents that have almost… Read more »

Mr Bell

Modern day long range desert group. Least that is what they look like.
Probably fit for purpose. High mobility, excellent visibility. Splattering of automatic weapons. About right for this mission.


Lt Colonel Tom Robinson – I hope they sing “2-4-6-8 Motorway” as they head in to battle don’t think “sing if you’re glad to be gay” would have the same impact


A Light Cavalry Regiment doing what it is designed to do, and the Jackal is a vehicle well suited to operate in that environment. Great to see expeditionary operations taking place again.