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2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment based in Kendrew Barracks in Cottesmore train for deployment to United Nations operation in Mali




Rutland infantry soldiers have completed their final mission rehearsal exercise prior to deploying to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Mali.

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, based in Kendrew Barracks in Cottesmore, ill act as the Long-Range Reconnaissance Taskforce to a UN peacekeeping operation MINUSMA. Its aim is to protect civilians and build a sustainable peace.

Deploying with the regiment – nicknamed The Poachers - are troops from 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards and specialist support units including 35 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance and Search) and medical support from 3 Medical Regiment.

The second UK Taskforce to deploy to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Mali undertaking its final mission rehearsal exercise prior to deployment. Photo: Ministry of Defence
The second UK Taskforce to deploy to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Mali undertaking its final mission rehearsal exercise prior to deployment. Photo: Ministry of Defence

The infantry and cavalry soldiers will deploy out on patrols to engage with the local population to help the United Nations and the Malian leadership plan and deliver intelligence-led operations and help do its job of protecting the people and responding to threats from violent extremism.

The troops are not there to take the fight to the extremist enemy but, if required, the taskforce is well-experienced and equipped to react to threats and defend themselves.

They follow in the footsteps of more than 70 fellow ‘Poachers’ who deployed to Mali in December as part of the Light Dragoons-led taskforce. The soldiers have received a welcome reaction from the local population, with some of the locals asking them “to stay forever”.

The second UK Taskforce to deploy to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Mali undertaking its final mission rehearsal exercise prior to deployment. Photo: Ministry of Defence
The second UK Taskforce to deploy to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Mali undertaking its final mission rehearsal exercise prior to deployment. Photo: Ministry of Defence

Lieutenant Colonel Will Meddings, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment who will lead the second deploying taskforce said: “The first taskforce is already showing the positive impact the British Army can have. The Royal Anglian taskgroup will deliver even more - patrolling further, and for longer, than most other nations in
Mali.

“This month we’ve proved we can operate for weeks in the field, and I’m proud to be bringing such a capable taskgroup to join the United Nations, building stability and helping protect civilians from violence.”

The mission rehearsal exercise tested the future UK peacekeepers on a variety of life-like scenarios they may face in-country. This included meeting with villagers to understand the situation and gather information.

One exercise scenario saw the Quick Reaction Force and medics demonstrate their skills when they arrived at a compound that had been attacked by a violent extremist organisation. The force quickly secured the area, allowing the team from 3 Medical Regiment to attend to the civilian casualties.

The second UK Taskforce to deploy to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Mali undertaking its final mission rehearsal exercise prior to deployment. Photo: Ministry of Defence
The second UK Taskforce to deploy to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Mali undertaking its final mission rehearsal exercise prior to deployment. Photo: Ministry of Defence

Lt Col Meddings added: “We are all proud to be wearing the blue beret of the United Nations, as generations of British soldiers have before - for example, I will be wearing the beret my father-in-law wore when he deployed to the Balkans with the UN.

“The young men and women of the taskgroup are absolutely looking forward to the challenges of the tour. Peacekeeping missions such as this require skills such as diplomacy, tact and mediation - skills they wouldn’t ordinarily use in a warfighting role. So, for many this will be a new experience.

“It will be a challenge environment and it will be a hard six months. Mali is a dangerous country and the environment itself is tough, but I know our soldiers are well-trained, ready and committed to the UN mission.”



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