UK forces have helped train 19,000 Iraqi troops to tackle Daesh and will increase that support as 50 additional trainers deploy to Iraq next month, the Defence Secretary has said.
Speaking at a counter-Daesh coalition meeting in Washington, as the first cabinet member of the new UK government to visit the US, Michael Fallon discussed progress made against the terror group.
The Defence Secretary also announced that the Kurdish Peshmerga had taken the first delivery of UK gifted machine gun and sniper ammunition. The total amount of extra ammunition for the Peshmerga values £1.4 million and consists of 480,000 machine gun and 250,000 rounds of sniper ammunition.
As well as the coalition training of 19,000 Iraqi forces, who are preparing for operations to retake the key city of Mosul, he spoke about the recent UK commitment to provide £1million to NATO’s training mission inside Iraq. The training mission builds on the successful NATO programme currently training Iraqi officers in counter-IED, medical and security training in Jordan.
Speaking after a meeting with counterparts from 65 countries, including US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
From the battlefield to the airwaves, we are making progress against Daesh. We must now look at what more we can do to press home our advantage and defeat these terrorists.
Mr Fallon said that since the start of the coalition campaign in 2014 the UK had steadily increased its contribution to ensure Iraqi successes are maintained. This year alone Britain has committed extra trainers, medical experts, engineering and logistics personnel and has made an additional Airseeker aircraft available. More widely, the MOD has:
- Conducted over 900 air strikes in support of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the Syrian moderate opposition
- Eight RAF Tornados, six RAF Typhoons, and RAF Reapers carrying out these strikes and also providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability
- Over 1,100 military personnel working to defeat Daesh
- RAF Airseeker, Sentinel and Sentry aircraft providing crucial information, coordination and surveillance to UK and coalition partners
- A RAF Voyager to provide air to air refuelling for RAF and coalition pilots
- Provided over 50 tonnes of non-lethal support, 40 heavy machine guns, nearly half a million rounds of ammunition and £600,000 worth of military equipment to the Kurdish Peshmerga
- Confirmed the first delivery of Heavy Machine Gun ammunition and Sniper ammunition, with a combined value of £1.4m
The counter-Daesh meeting, led by Mr Carter, allowed coalition members to review progress made and plan for future operations. The announcements come as Iraqi Security Forces, aided by UK and coalition airstrikes and training, continue their advances against the terrorist organisation. Iraqi forces in recent weeks have liberated several strategic areas, including Fallujah and Quayyarah West.
During his first visit to Washington since the EU referendum Mr Fallon emphasised that the UK would increase its global commitment, ranging from NATO troop deployments in Eastern Europe to equipment investment in Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Apache attack helicopters and the Continuous At Sea Deterrent.
Mr Fallon also used the trip to the US to discuss implications of Britain’s exit from the European Union and reassure allies that the UK will continue to lead on the international stage, through its membership of NATO, the G7, G20 and the Commonwealth, and the UN Security Council.