A new British National Component Commander has taken command of the RAF Chinook detachment serving in Mali in support of the French Counter Insurgency Operation.
Commander Colin Kiernan of the Royal Navy has taken over from Lieutenant Colonel Steve Brining of the Army Air Corps during a handover ceremony at Gao Airbase in Mali, West Africa.
Commander Kiernan will be the senior British Officer commanding the detachment that includes 1310 Flight RAF which operate the three CH-47 Chinook helicopters that are currently being flown by aircrew from 27 Squadron RAF. 1310 Flight is deployed in a combat support role and is fully integrated into the French Groupement Tactique Désert-Aérocombat.
The RAF Chinook helicopters support the French Operations in a combat support role by providing heavy lift capability and also specialist roles that have allowed the French led operation to extend is range and reach.
“Command of the CH-47 contribution to Op Newcombe is a privilege and honour of no equal, for me. I have been handed a highly motivated and capable team of RAF and Army personnel who, despite the environmental and operational challenges are always ready to deliver.
“Our continued deployment here demonstrates Britain’s commitment to working with France and other allies to address shared security challenges in our host nation Mali and the wider Sahel, a region affected by instability and extremism.”
Commander Colin Kiernan
Commander Kiernan takes over a detachment that in the last six months has expanded the boundaries of non-combat missions in response to a significant increase in operational tempo. The helicopters have delivered nearly 700 hours of operational tasking, including delivering 400 tonnes of freight and over 3,500 personnel across the Area of Operations.
As an integral part of the GTD-A, the Detachment has supported numerous French and G5 Sahel operations including the Malian military. This has included personnel from the Tactical Supply Wing of Joint Helicopter Command, delivering forward-area refuelling from at Chinook to both UK and French aircraft.
Another aspect of the operations has seen the deployed personnel from the Joint Helicopter Support Squadron have facilitating numerous under-slung load movements, that have included French armoured vehicles, containers and various other items of freight.
“It has been an immense privilege to have been the National Component Commander for an outstanding tri-Service team that has delivered operations 24/7 in the most challenging of environments, and in the face of a significant enemy threat.
All personnel have risen to the challenge and I am sincerely grateful for their efforts. The ability to work within a multi-national operating environment is testament to their skill-set and the close-knit ties with the French and G5 Sahel units have significantly contributed to the mission success.”
Lieutenant Colonel Brining