Norfolk soldiers practice skills ahead of Mali 'peacekeeping mission'
- Credit: Garry Fox
Norfolk-based soldiers who are to deploy on the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Mali have completed their final mission rehearsal exercise.
Soldiers from C Squadron, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG), based at Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley, are part of the second UK taskforce to deploy to the country.
The United Nations Peacekeeping Operation is known as MINUSMA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission) and its aim is to protect civilians and build sustainable peace.
As part of the task force the infantry and cavalry soldiers will deploy out on patrols to speak and engage with local people to help deliver intelligence-led operations and respond to threats from violent extremism.
The troops are not there to take the fight to the extremist enemy but, if required, the task force is well-experienced and equipped to react to threats and defend themselves.
Lance corporal Joshua Sims, 29, from QDG is excited about the deployment, he said: “I love the challenge of new things, and this is very different from anything I’ve ever done before. We’ll be talking to people to understand how we and the UN can help.
“We’ll be in Jackal 2 vehicles. It might look scary with a big machine gun on top but actually, it allows us to see more and it's easier for people to walk past and talk to us because it’s open top.”
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Lieutenant colonel Will Meddings who is the commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment task force said: “We are all proud to be wearing the blue beret of the United Nations, as generations of British soldiers have before.
“The young men and women of the task group 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.
"It will be a challenging 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.”