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Sailors complete land-locked mission dealing with Daesh

11 August 2022
ONE minute you're sailing the Seven Seas on Britain’s biggest warship, surrounded by 1,000 sailors and aviators…

…The next you’re one of two Royal Navy personnel in the middle of the desert supporting the struggle against Daesh fundamentalists and the nearest open water is 300 miles away.

Lt Beardall Jacklin and Surgeon Commander Morris spent four months on an international base in Erbil, an ancient city in northern Iraq.

The pair were two of a handful of sailors and marines deployed as part of Operation Shader, the UK's military contribution to the destruction of Daesh which has been running since 2014.

Home to 1½ million people – mostly Kurds – Erbil lies around 200 miles north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. And if you want the sea, the Caspian is 300 miles to the east, the Black 400 to the north, the Med 450 miles to the west and the Gulf 500 miles to the southeast.

UK forces committed to Shader are mainly provided by the Army and RAF, although during last year's Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment, F-35 stealth fighters struck at Daesh from HMS Queen Elizabeth as she headed through the Mediterranean bound for the Indo-Pacific.

And although media coverage of Shader has largely focused on such military actions against Daesh forces, he mission has a broader remit to provide training and equipment to local forces ensuring that they are better able to maintain security.  

It's been different from my previous roles and enlightening.

Lt Beardall Jacklin

Surg Cdr Morris served as the operation’s senior medical officer, providing advice and guidance to UK forces deployed across the Middle East but also led the UK Role 1 medical facility in Erbil – providing first aid, immediate lifesaving measures, and triage – as well as delivering the routine medical care that you would expect from a GP surgery or Royal Navy sickbay.

The job involved close collaboration with many coalition partners including US, Finnish, Dutch and German medical teams, sharing knowledge, kit and, occasionally, some very good cakes.

Fellow sailor Lt Beardall Jacklin arrived in Erbil fresh from serving aboard Portsmouth-based carrier HMS Prince of Wales.

He was focused on supporting non-government organisations such as the International Organisation for Migration and Save the Children in their work with displaced people, in particular monitoring efforts to repatriate over 30,000 Iraqis from tented camps in north-east Syria.

“It's been different from my previous roles and enlightening,” said Lt Beardall Jacklin. “Engaging with ambassadors and charities, supporting them in dealing with thousands of vulnerable people certainly wasn't advertised in the careers office!”

Volunteers for their respective posts, both officers have had to get to grips with working as part of an 80-nation global coalition and the continuous 40oC+ heat.

“Arid, hot, dusty...perfect conditions for the Royal Navy! It was great to be back on ops in a multi-national environment,” said Surg Cdr Morris, a veteran of operations in Afghanistan.


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