New medal unveiled to recognise the fight against Daesh

Proudly holding the new medal for the ongoing struggle against terrorism and fundamentalism in the Middle East is one of its first recipients: Lieutenant Commander Lindsey Waudby.

She received the inaugural campaign medal struck for personnel from all three services who have successfully tackled Daesh – presented here by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Lt Cdr Waudby spent six months in Baghdad in 2016 working at the headquarters of the effort against Daesh in Iraq, the Combined Joint Forces, Land Component Command – one of more than 200 Britons spread across the country, just half a dozen of them Senior Service.

At the time, Iraq’s Security Forces were locked in a life-and-death struggle with Daesh across swathes of the country, with Coalition forces such as the UK providing much of the support, planning and training needed to defeat the uprising.

Although Baghdad was not in the front line of the fighting with Daesh/so-called Islamic State forces (unlike the city of Fallujah – just 30 miles away from the Iraqi capital), Lt Cdr Waudby was all too aware of the horrors of the conflict and what was at stake for the future of the Iraqi people.

“In Baghdad, mass slayings in the form of suicide bombings were a daily occurrence as Daesh attempted to divert security forces away from the fight,” she said.

“Daesh are an unconventional, unpredictable enemy, waging war against soldiers on the ground and innocent civilians alike.

“Although the Royal Navy’s contribution was relatively small and despite this very much being a land campaign, our experience and professionalism were highly valued by Coalition and Iraqi forces alike.

“Above all, we were focused on the defeat of Daesh – and Daesh have now lost the fight in Iraq.”

Above all, we were focused on the defeat of Daesh – and Daesh have now lost the fight in Iraq.

Lt Cdr Waudby

She was one of 12 RN personnel out of 38 men and women from across the military to receive the what is the first Operational Service Medal to be created since 2003.

UK forces have been involved in the fight against Daesh since 2014 under the banner of Operation Shader – there remain 1,400 personnel committed to this day.

Mr Williamson said all could be “extremely proud” of their contribution.

“Our troops have made huge contributions to the fight against Daesh, helping end its tyranny in large parts of Iraq and Syria.

“Only by defeating this evil and barbaric group for good will we reduce the deadly threat they pose to us. I am pleased that today those who have bravely fought against such untold evil will get the recognition they deserve.

“Reflecting the changing nature of warfare I am pleased to announce that the medal will now recognise those making a vital contribution to Operation Shader from outside the conventional area of Operations, for example those Reaper pilots taking life-and-death decisions from back here in the UK.”

The RAF have so far conducted over 1,700 strikes against Daesh terrorist targets and units from Britain’s three services have helped train more than 77,000 Iraqi Security Forces in Infantry skills, bomb disposal work, engineering, and medical expertise. As a result, their capacity to defeat Daesh has increased considerably, contributing to the success of this campaign.

As for the Operational Service Medal for Iraq and Syria itself, it is silver with the Queen on the obverse with the inscription: ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FID. DEF.

On the reverse is the Union Flag, surrounded by the inscription FOR OPERATIONAL SERVICE and the four major points of the compass with, between the points, four Coronets: Royal (top left), Naval (top right), Mural-Army (bottom left), and Astral-Royal Air Force (bottom right).