The Welsh Cavalry prepare for peacekeeping mission in Mali

Soldiers from 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards have responded to reports of mass casualties and a lone gunman in a village on Stanford Training Area as part of a realistic exercise scenario.

The soldiers faced several challenging and life-like situations during their final Mission Rehearsal Exercise preparing them for deployment to Mali in West Africa.

1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (QDG), also known as ‘The Welsh Cavalry’, will lead the third Long-Range Reconnaissance Task Group deploying to Mali as part of the UN peacekeeping operation MINUSMA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali).   

The Task Group also includes A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment and specialist support from Explosive Ordnance Disposal operators, mechanics from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Un-crewed Aerial Vehicle pilots and medical support from the Ground Manoeuvre Surgical Group.

The peacekeeping role will see them deploy out on patrols in Jackal vehicles to engage with the civilian population. The situational awareness and intelligence they gain will help the United Nations make informed decisions and protect the people of Mali.

The UN has been operating in Mali for 8 years and there are currently troops from over 50 countries working in-country. The UK has been there a year and our contribution of around 300 soldiers is a small part of what is a 13000 strong multi-national force. The Commanding Officer of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Lloyd.

The Commanding Officer of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Lloyd, said: “The UN has been operating in Mali for 8 years and there are currently troops from over 50 countries working in-country. The UK has been there a year and our contribution of around 300 soldiers is a small part of what is a 13,000 strong multi-national force.”

The Welsh Cavalry already has soldiers from ‘C’ Squadron deployed in Mali alongside the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment.

Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd continued: “We talk to the Royal Anglian Regiment and our own soldiers from C Squadron QDG on a regular basis, so we keep up-to-date on the situation on the ground.”

“It has given us a really good sense of what the environment is like, what more we can do to build on the excellent foundation that’s already in place and to do our bit for the United Nations’ peacekeeping effort.”

In September, the UN tasked the Long Range Reconnaissance Group with securing a village in the area around Ouattagouna, close to Niger in the southeast of the country following reports of a massacre.  

The troops immediately secured the village, providing protection from further attack, and allowed a UN Human Rights team to interview locals and collect physical evidence left by the attackers.

In May 2020 the Task Force, which was then being led by the Light Dragoons, seized a cache of weapons including AK47 weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition that had been hidden by suspected Daesh terrorists who had been threatening local communities.

Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd concluded: “It is a huge privilege to lead such able and motivated people in an environment which is challenging for so many different reasons, including the heat and the terrain we need to operate over. Each soldier is proud to be involved in this peacekeeping mission and represent the British Army in Mali and the United Nations.”