SAS settles in Mali as British troops warn they are ill-prepared for extreme violence | UK | News

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Of particular concern is the threat of bombs on vehicles that are forced to use the roads and tracks because they are too heavy for sand and the lack of sufficient medical coverage. The warnings follow the deployment of a 45-man SAS special forces unit to the French base in Gao, Mali, last week, tasked with putting together an “intelligence threat assessment” for commanders in a context of increasing instability in the Sahel and attacks on peacekeepers.

They will seek to identify “communication dead points” that would leave British troops isolated in the event of an attack.Above all, another aspect of its mission will be to alleviate the challenge of sending wheeled vehicles that have to stick to roads and paths.

Roadside bombs are the hallmark of jihadist activity today, with more than 700 Islamic State fighters and their affiliates now operational across the country, regularly hitting the 13,000 United Nations troops.

Britain plans to send 250 soldiers from the Light Dragoons and the Royal Anglian Regiment to support the United Nations mission in Mali in December – in addition to the 100 RAF personnel and the three Chinook helicopters who supported the game. French mission over the past four years. .

Commanded by Lt. Col. Thomas Robinson, they will act as a long-range reconnaissance force for the UN providing intelligence that will help the mission protect civilians and move towards lasting peace in Mali.

Armored vehicle in action – The choice of the British engine for the mission in Mali has been criticized (Image: Cpl Mark Webster)

The region is one of the most violent areas in Africa and, since Operation Minusma began in 2013, 209 United Nations peacekeepers and 41 French soldiers have been killed, including 13 dead in an accident in helicopter in November.

More than 580 civilians have been killed in central Mali this year alone, as the deteriorating security situation and increasingly bold attacks by ISIS undermine efforts to protect them, the High Commissioner has revealed of the United Nations for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

The soldiers will be sent on two-week long sorties on the jackals – open-top patrol vehicles that have been armored at the bottom to protect them from the impact of IEDs. Although they have off-road capability, their fully loaded weight of 3.5 tons means they are not suitable for sand.

Fewer Foxhounds, fully enclosed 7 ton command vehicles, will also be sent. Although deployed as a force protection vehicle at the end of the conflict in Afghanistan, the Foxhound has never been operationally tested in the sand and has many reliability issues.

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A force led by France has been operating in Mali since early 2013 (Image: Getty)

To mitigate this risk, SAS soldiers will attempt to secure intelligence sources – by payment – to ensure warning of the jihadist presence in villages or towns through which these vehicles will be forced to pass.

Ironically, the British Army’s heavily armored Mastiff patrol vehicles, which have served in Afghanistan and Iraq with no casualties and can better withstand a roadside bomb explosion, are currently being sold and will not be therefore not available for deployment.

The SAS team will report to Joint Headquarters in Permenent and in December and will continue to monitor the troops to counter any attempts by extremists to attack them or use roadside bombs against their vehicles.

Last night, a senior serving officer said: “We seemed to have learned very little from our early experiences in Afghanistan. We should deploy Mastiff. Granted, it’s not as fast as the Jackal, but it will offer more protection against IEDs. No one has been killed in a Mastiff.

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Troops training on Salisbury Plains carrying ‘casualty’ following attack (Image: Getty)

He added: “The other problem is medivac. These extremists are very active and they hit the UN and French forces hard.

“We have three Chinook helicopters in Mali, but they are committed to support the French mission and will not be used to treat injured British soldiers. And there will be both injuries and deaths.

“We have to rely on Romania to supply medivac through its Russian MI8 helicopters. What concerns me is that we are faced with the situation we faced in the early stages of Afghanistan, where there just weren’t enough helicopters.

Last night General Sir Richard Barrons, Joint Force Commander until 2016, said: “We have hired a total of 300 people, which is a very small contribution to tackle a very big problem. Relying on other countries to supplement capacity is not new, but it increases the risks.

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General Barrons said “very few soldiers are sent to tackle a big problem” (Image: PA)

“It can also mean that our strength is limited to what it can do, rather than what needs to be done.

“Using jackals in a reasonably benign environment is fine – and it’s not Aleppo, although there is a risk that the commanders on the ground will be caught off guard, and I foresee losses.

“But if your goal is to protect your strength one hundred percent, leave it in bed at home. “

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense said: “The vehicles deployed in Mali have been specially selected because they are able to cross complex terrain quickly and offer a high level of protection.

“We are confident that there is medical support and appropriate equipment for the deployment. This will be under constant review, prioritizing the safety of our staff. “



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