RAF News

Air mobility team returns from Mali after working to establish new UK United Nations operation

Image shows an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft on the ground.
Air mobility team from RAF Brize Norton has returned from a four-month deployment to West Africa.

A Royal Air Force air mobility team from RAF Brize Norton has returned from a four-month deployment to Mali. The deployment was to establish an airhead for the newly operational British military contingent serving with the United Nation there.

The team from the United Kingdom Mobile Air Movements Squadron (UKMAMS) was led by Sergeant Dan Ashford who set up the facilities and oversaw the unloading required to deploy the Light Dragoons led Long Range Reconnaissance Group that is now operating as part of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

The deployment was unusual for UKMAMS as squadron members are not often deployed in a UN role, personnel from the squadron usually provide support to British UN contingents rather than deploy wearing the UN beret.

“The role of UKMAMS is to provide the equipment and expertise to enable forward operating in austere conditions that will allow the UK military to deploy worldwide as required. In Mali I supervised the team that unloaded the various RAF aircraft that were transporting the personnel and equipment for the Army deployment.”

Sergeant Dan Ashford
UK Mobile Air Movements Squadron

This deployment was the largest UK air deployment since the Op Herrick deployment to Afghanistan in 2006 to support the first deployment to Helmand province. The Mali operation has seen over 640 tons of freight and around 300 military personnel deploy on board 24 aircraft moves from the UK.  

Image shows Sergeant Ashford in front of a military vehicle.
For Sergeant Ashford (pictured) the deployment was unusual as squadron members are not often deployed in a UN role, personnel from the squadron usually provide support to British UN contingents rather than deploy wearing the UN beret.

Another important aspect of the deployment carried out by the team was liaising closely with the UN HQ in Mali, to ensure the arriving equipment and personnel were off loaded quickly and efficiently.

Sergeant Ashford was able to bring 20 years of experience to the role gained from being previously deployed on operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wider Middle East amongst other places.

“It was an honour to wear the UN beret and represent my Squadron in Mali, demonstrating our capability. My most memorable part of the operation was realising the sense of achievement we all had after knowing that we had done it and completed the task.”

Sergeant Dan Ashford
UK Mobile Air Movements Squadron

During the deployment Sergeant Ashford led a team of two other personnel from the RAF and they have now been replaced by a new team of two, whose principle role is to sustain the ongoing logistical support for the LRRG.

Image shows an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft on the ground.

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