British troops have returned from a successful month-long operation to conducting deep reconnaissance and deterring terrorist groups in Mali.
The Long Range Recce Group (Mali) deployed on Op SEKA, from their base in Gao, with orders to recce the area of operations, to protect the local population and deter hostile activity.
During the deployment, the group covered more than 1 500 km and visited more than 60 villages to conduct local engagement, the British Ministry of Defence said last week.
As part of the UK’s commitment to the UN operation in Mali (MINUSMA), troops from the Light Dragoons and 2 Royal Anglian deployed on Op SEKA, a security operation to provide enhanced and enduring security along the main supply route from GAO to Ansongo and the surrounding areas.
Op SEKA worked with partner contributing troops and civilians from other UN nations – including Mali – to enable a persistent presence which deterred violent activity and ensured freedom of movement for friendly forces, and protection for local communities.
This has enabled the LRRG(M) – as part of the wider mission – to prevent, anticipate and rapidly react to threats against civilians and increase security in the region, the MoD said.
The off-road manoeuvrability of the Light Dragoons Jackal 2 and Coyote, vehicles enabled the task group probe deep over incredibly challenging terrain in 40 degree heat to engage with the local population in remote areas, not previously reached by security forces; while Foxhounds of the 2 Company Royal Anglian were used in the large population centres on the Main Supply Route, all to enable an understanding of the needs of local communities.
Throughout the Operation British troops worked with UN soldiers from countries such as Sweden, Norway, Germany, Nigeria, Mali and France to help shape operations and co-ordinate activity in the region. This is an essential part of the MINUSMA mission to ensure the force is united in its effort to bring peace and stability to the region, the MoD said.
Op SEKA was hugely successful and has provided opportunities for the Task Group to work with other nations in ensuring the protection of civilians and the deterrence of armed groups. Local people also said they felt safer as a result of the work of the LRRG.
As well as troops in Gao, there are UK forces in the capital Bamako, and a CH47 (Chinook) force supporting the French on their operation in Mali – known as Op BARKHANE.
The training of the LRRG, using lessons learned from UK experience on other operations, has prepared the Group for more widespread threats across the country.
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Robinson, Commanding Officer of the Light Dragoons, said: “Op SEKA was our first opportunity to make a real contribution to the UN mission. We did this by focussing our efforts on understanding what the challenging security situation meant to the local population and how best we, our UN partner forces and the civilian mission together could help address them.
“After a month-long patrol, covering 1 500 km in 40 degree heat, our hard work paid off with a significant reduction in violence against the locals and prevented the terrorist groups from moving and acting with impunity.”
“The UK commitment to Mali demonstrates the kind of deployments which will be increasing as part of Future Soldier, the Army’s transformation plan. The Army will not just train in case of war but will be continuously working to keep the country safe. Having more regularly deployed troops– ‘persistent presence’ – gives us the ability to anticipate and react quicker to emerging crises,” the MoD said.