Operation Telic
Operation TELIC was the codename under which all British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 military operations in Iraq were conducted between the start of the Invasion of Iraq on 19 March 2003 and the withdrawal of the last remaining British forces on 22 May 2011. The bulk of the mission ended on 30 April 2009 but around 150 troops, mainly from the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, remained in Iraq until 22 May 2011 as part of the Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission. 46,000 troops were deployed at the onset of the invasion and the total cost of war stood at £9.24 billion as of 2010


Operation Telic was one of the largest deployments of British forces since World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. It was only approached in size by the 1991 Operation Granby
Operation Granby
Operation Granby was the name given to the British military operations during the Gulf War. 53,462 troops were deployed during the conflict. The total cost of operations was £2.434 billion of which at least £2.049 billion was paid for by other nations such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia; £200...

 deployment for the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 and the 1956 Operation Musketeer
Operation Musketeer
Operation Musketeer may refer to:* US military plans for the Philippines Campaign * Operation Musketeer , the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt to capture the Suez Canal in 1956....

 Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

 deployment. It was considerably larger than the 1982 Operation Corporate
Operation Corporate
Operation Corporate was the codename given to the 1982 British military involvement in the Falkland Islands during the Falklands War. The commander of task force operations was Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse. Operations lasted from 1 April 1982 to 20 June 1982....

 in the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, which saw around 30,000 personnel deployed and the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, which saw fewer than 20,000 personnel deployed.

Some 9,500 of the British servicemen and women who deployed on Operation Telic for the invasion and its aftermath were reservists, the vast majority of them from the Territorial Army.

Notice that British forces were deploying to the region was given in three separate Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 statements by Geoff Hoon
Geoff Hoon
Geoffrey "Geoff" William Hoon is a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament for Ashfield from 1992 to 2010...

 Secretary of State for Defence
Secretary of State for Defence
The Secretary of State for Defence, popularly known as the Defence Secretary, is the senior Government of the United Kingdom minister in charge of the Ministry of Defence, chairing the Defence Council. It is a Cabinet position...

. On 7 January, the deployment of naval forces and Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

 was announced. 20 January saw the land forces deployment announced and 6 February the air forces. They were ready in time for hostilities to start on 19 March. When compared with the deployment of forces prior to the Gulf War things proceeded a great deal faster, with the slowest deploying elements taking 10 weeks to get from base to combat
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

 readiness in the theatre.

The deployment used 64 British and foreign flagged merchant vessels.

Telic, a purposeful or defined action, may refer to:*Grammatically, indicating telicity*A central argument of Teleology says that the world has clearly been constructed in a purposeful telic rather than a chaotic manner, and must therefore have been made by a rational being, i.e...

 means a purposeful or defined action, but unlike the United States who called their equivalent military deployment Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 uses a computer to generate its names so that they carry no overtly political connotations. As initial planning took place over the Christmas 2002 period, personnel jokingly referred to TELIC as standing for Tell Everyone Leave Is Cancelled.

Command structure

The force was commanded by a three-star
3 star rank
An officer of three-star rank is a very senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-8. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members...

 tri-service headquarters. The commander of the operation was Air Chief Marshal
Air Chief Marshal
Air chief marshal is a senior 4-star air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force...

 Brian Burridge
Brian Burridge
Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Kevin Burridge KCB, CBE, ADC, FCMI, FRAeS is a retired Royal Air Force officer...

, with Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Peter Wall
Peter Wall (British Army officer)
General Sir Peter Anthony Wall, KCB, CBE, ADC Gen. is a senior British Army officer, currently the Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army....

 acting as his Chief of Staff. The headquarters was situated at CENTCOM headquarters in Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

. The three services each had two-star commanders leading operations.

The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 commander was Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 David Snelson
David Snelson
Rear Admiral David George Snelson CB is a former Royal Navy officer who became Commander United Kingdom Maritime Forces.-Naval career:Snelson joined the Royal Navy in 1969...

 who had his headquarters ashore in Bahrain. The afloat Royal Navy commander was Commodore Jamie Miller, who had the aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 HMS Ark Royal
HMS Ark Royal (R07)
HMS Ark Royal is a decommissioned light aircraft carrier and former flagship of the Royal Navy. She was the third and final vessel of Invincible-class...

 as his flagship.

The British 1st Armoured Division
British 1st Armoured Division
The 1st Armoured Division is an armoured division of the British Army. Originally formed in November 1937 as the Mobile Division, it saw extensive service during the Second World War, was disbanded afterward, was reconstituted in 1976, and remains in service today...

 was commanded by Major General Robin Brims
Robin Brims
Lieutenant General Robin Vaughan Brims CB, CBE, DSO is a retired British Army officer. He was Commander of the Field Army at Land Command from 2005 to 2007.- Early life :...

. Three army brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

s were assigned to the division. 16 Air Assault Brigade
British 16 Air Assault Brigade
16 Air Assault Brigade is a formation of the British Army based in Colchester in the county of Essex. It is the Army's rapid response airborne formation and is the only Operational Brigade in the British Army capable of delivering Air Manoeuvre, Air Assault and Airborne operations.It was formed as...

 was commanded by Brigadier
Brigadier is a senior military rank, the meaning of which is somewhat different in different military services. The brigadier rank is generally superior to the rank of colonel, and subordinate to major general....

 'Jacko' Page, 7 Armoured Brigade by Brigadier Graham Binns
Graham Binns
Major General Graham John Binns CBE DSO MC is a retired British Army officer. Binns served as General Officer Commanding 1st Armoured Division and then Commandant Joint Services Command and Staff College. He had previously commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade during Operation Telic 1 when they took...

 and 102 Logistics Brigade by Brigadier Shaun Cowlam. The Royal Marines 3 Commando Brigade was also under the operational command of the division and was commanded by Brigadier (now Lieutenant General Sir) Jim Dutton
James Dutton (Royal Marines officer)
Lieutenant General Sir James Benjamin "Jim" Dutton, KCB, CBE, ADC is a retired Royal Marines officer. He held various staff positions in his early career, before commanding 40 Commando...


The Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 commander was Air Vice Marshal Glenn Torpy
Glenn Torpy
Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Lester Torpy, GCB, CBE, DSO, ADC is a retired senior Royal Air Force commander. He was a fast jet pilot in the late 1970s and 1980s, a senior officer in the early 1990s and a senior commander in the late 1990s and 2000s...

. Major General Wall took over command of 1st Armoured Division on 1 May 2003. He was replaced as Chief of Staff by Major General Barney White-Spunner
Barney White-Spunner
Lieutenant General Sir Barnabas William Benjamin White-Spunner, KCB, CBE is the current Commander of the British Field Army.-Military career:Educated at Eton College and the University of St Andrews, Barney White-Spunner was commissioned into the Blues and Royals in 1979. He was appointed...

. Rear Admiral Snelson was succeeded by Major General Tony Milton
Tony Milton
Major-General Anthony Arthur Milton CB OBE is a Royal Marines officer who became Commandant General Royal Marines.-Military career:Educated at King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, Milton joined the Royal Marines in 1967 and subsequently became an equerry to the Duke of Edinburgh...

, Commandant General Royal Marines
Commandant General Royal Marines
The Commandant General Royal Marines is the professional head of the Royal Marines. The title has existed since 1945...

 as maritime forces commander on 16 April 2003.


On 11 July 2003, 1st Armoured Division handed control over south-east Iraq to 3rd Mechanised Division
British 3rd Infantry Division
The 3rd Mechanised Division, known at various times as the Iron Division, 3rd Division or as Iron Sides; is a regular army division of the British Army...

, Major General Wall was succeeded by Major General Graeme Lamb
Graeme Lamb
Lieutenant-General Sir Graeme Cameron Maxwell Lamb, KBE, CMG, DSO is a retired British Army officer. He is a former Commander of the Field Army at Land Command, known for his contributions to counter-insurgency.-Career:...

 as commander of British ground forces in Iraq. Unlike the invasion period, by then there was a substantial presence from many nations other than America, Britain, Australia and Poland. In addition to British troops, 3rd Division now commanded Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Dutch
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Czech
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

, Lithuanian, Norwegian
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 forces. 3rd Division handed over a new composite divisional headquarters on 28 December 2003. Major General Andrew Stewart took over from General Lamb as commander of British forces.

After the end of major operations, the main components of the British forces changed greatly. 3 Commando Brigade
3 Commando Brigade
3 Commando Brigade is a commando formation of the British Armed Forces and the main manoeuvre formation of the Royal Marines. Its personnel are predominantly Royal Marines, supported by units of Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery, The Rifles, and the Fleet Air Arm, together with other Commando...

 was withdrawn in early May and 16 Air Assault Brigade left later in the same month apart from a couple infantry battalions. 7 Armoured Brigade remained until relieved by 19 Mechanised Brigade at the same time as 3rd Division took over from 1st Division. 102 Logistics Brigade
102nd Logistics Brigade (United Kingdom)
The Headquarters Combat Service Support Group was established in Gütersloh in January 1993, which subsequently became 102 Logistic Brigade.The units of this military formation are based both in the UK and British Forces Germany...

 was relieved by 101 Logistic Brigade in late May Most of the RAF aircraft left the area with a few retained for patrols over Iraq and support of ground forces. British naval forces also returned to more usual levels, with two surface combatants, a tanker and a repair ship present in early July.

A further rotation of ground troops occurred in November 2003, with 19 Light Brigade relieved by 20th Armoured Brigade; 20th Armoured Brigade in its turn being relieved by 1 Mechanised Brigade. In April 2004, 20th Armoured Brigade turned over its responsibilities to 1 Mechanised Brigade and Lieutenant General John McColl
John McColl
General Sir John Chalmers McColl KCB, CBE, DSO is the current Lieutenant Governor of Jersey. He was sworn in on 26 September 2011. He was formerly Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe.-Army career:...

 was appointed deputy commander of occupation ground forces. By July 2004 the British area saw its fifth commander when Major General Bill Rollo took over. At the end of 2004 General Rollo was succeeded by Major General Jonathan Riley and in November of that year 4 Armoured Brigade rotated to replace 1 Mechanised Brigade.

In May 2005, 4 Armoured Brigade was replaced by 12 Mechanised Brigade with the handover of responsibility taking place on 30 May.

In May 2006 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats were relieved by 20th Armoured Brigade under the command of Brigadier James Everard.

October 2006 saw 19 Light Brigade take over from 20th Armoured Brigade.

1 Mechanised Brigade provided HQ and troops for Op TELIC 10, deploying to Iraq in June 2007. During that tour, both the PJCC and Basra Palace were handed back to Iraqi control. They handed over to 4th Mechanised Brigade on 1 December 2007.


For full details about the UK's contribution, please see the Operation Telic order of battle
Operation Telic order of battle
This is the Operation Telic order of battle, which lists the British forces that took part in Operation Telic, including*the 2003 Invasion of Iraq,*subsequent operations during the occupation and military government of the country, and...

The conflict saw over 100 fixed-wing aircraft and over 100 rotary-wing aircraft of virtually every type in the British inventory deployed. It also saw a 33 ship fleet, which was the largest taskforce deployed by the UK since the Falklands War. Some 120 Challenger 2
Challenger 2 tank
FV4034 Challenger 2 is a British main battle tank currently in service with the armies of the United Kingdom and Oman. It was designed and built by the British company Vickers Defence Systems . The manufacturer advertises it as the world's most reliable main battle tank...

 main battle tank
Main battle tank
A main battle tank , also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the heavy direct fire role of many modern armies. They were originally conceived to replace the light, medium, heavy and super-heavy tanks. Development was spurred onwards in the Cold War with the development...

s, 150 Warrior infantry fighting vehicle
Infantry fighting vehicle
An infantry fighting vehicle , also known as a mechanized infantry combat vehicle , is a type of armoured fighting vehicle used to carry infantry into battle and provide fire support for them...

s, 32 AS-90
The AS-90 is a lightly armoured self-propelled artillery piece used by the British Army. It was first delivered in 1993...

 self propelled 155 mm howitzers and 36 105 mm towed howitzers were deployed with the land forces, with reconnaissance vehicles and everything else that makes a modern mechanised and armoured force function.

During the post invasion phase, and following a number of British casualties blamed on inadequate equipment, a great deal of new equipment was purchased to help deal with the threats posed by insurgents. These included 166 armoured Pinzgauer Vectors
Pinzgauer High Mobility All-Terrain Vehicle
The Pinzgauer is a family of high-mobility all-terrain 4WD and 6WD military utility vehicles. They were manufactured in Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom, by BAE Systems Land & Armaments. The vehicle was originally developed in the late 1960s by Steyr-Daimler-Puch of Graz, Austria, and was named...

 PPV, 108 Mastiff PPV
Cougar (vehicle)
The Cougar is an armored fighting vehicle designed to be resistant to anti-vehicle mines and improvised munitions.It is a family of armored vehicles produced by Force Protection Inc, which manufactures ballistic and mine-protected vehicles. The automotives are integrated by Spartan Motors...

, 900 enhanced FV430 MkIII "Bulldogs"
FV430 series
The FV430 series covers a number of armoured fighting vehicles of the British Army, all built on the same chassis. The most common of the series is the FV432 armoured personnel carrier....

, Desert Hawk UAV
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

 and 4 additional Britten-Norman Defender
Britten-Norman Defender
|-External links:*...

 observation aircraft.


A total of 179 British Armed Forces personnel died serving on Operation Telic between the start of the campaign in March 2003 and the end of operations in July 2009; 136 in hostile incidents and the remaining 43 under non-hostile circumstances. Full non-fatal casualty records are currently only available for the period after 1 January 2006. From that date, 3,598 British personnel were wounded, injured or fell ill (315 wounded in action); 1,971 of whom required aeromedical evacuation http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/CE1302FF-C47C-4F83-B616-2FF9645A2FB2/0/OpTelicCasualtyTables.pdf. However, these totals are likely to rise significantly as and when full records for 2003 to 2006 become available. As of 11 March 2007, more than 2100 soldiers had returned from Iraq suffering from some form of mental illness, including PTSD.

In fiction

The British television film The Mark of Cain depicted service of a fictional British Army unit, the 1st Battalion Northdale Rifles in Operation Telic, just after the end of combat operations and in the first stages of the occupation. A stage production based on the Scottish Black Watch Regiment was also created, drawing on experiences of veterans of the war. It was played out to much acclaim throughout Scotland in 2006.

External links

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