Three RAF Chinooks and 100 personnel will remain in Mali as UK extends its commitment to supporting French counter-terrorism operation, say the Ministry of Defence.
According to a news release, personnel from RAF Odiham have been deployed in non-combat roles in Mali since 2018 with the aircraft contributing a unique logistical capability to the French-led operation.
“The Chinooks and aircrew allow French troops to cover a much larger field of operations by moving personnel to the front-line of activity, eliminating the need for dangerous road moves, and help move vital support equipment to strategic locations. Since arriving in Mali the RAF has clocked over 2,000 hours of flying and moved over 13,000 passengers and 1,100 tonnes of equipment. Currently, the Chinooks are being flown by aircrew from 18(B) Squadron and are supported by personnel drawn from across the RAF and British Army.
The conditions are often challenging, with over 40 degree heat in the summer months and regular sandstorms. Alongside international partners, French forces operate across the Sahel to counter the threat from militants linked to groups such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh. Forces deployed on this mission have had a number of successes and recently killed the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and several other high-profile members of the group.”
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said:
“West Africa is as important to the United Kingdom as it has ever been and we have many friends and allies in the region who share our desire to promote peace and prosperity. Combating extremism in the Sahel is vital for the security of the wider region and the UK will play it’s part tackling the declining security situation.”