Operation Trenton


Operation Trenton
Part of United Nations Mission in South Sudan
UK Engineer Task Force are deployed on Op TRENTON.jpg
The UN Compound in Malakal, South Sudan where members of the UK Engineer Task Force were deployed.
ObjectivePeace and stability in support of United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
Date2017 – 2020
Executed byUnited Kingdom United Kingdom

Operation Trenton was the contribution of the United Kingdom in support of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). It was one of the largest UK operational deployments at the time, with over 300 military personnel committed to it, based within two UN locations in Malakal and Bentiu. The operation consisted of an engineering task force, with the bulk of the units from the Royal Engineers, in addition to military medics, logisticians and force protection personnel. After four years, it ended with the construction of two hospitals and various upgrades to public infrastructure with several units receiving medals for their involvement.[1][2]


In 2011, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan following 25 years of civil war. The United Nations Security Council announced that the situation represented a threat to international peace and security and established the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to bring about peace and conditions for development. The conflict escalated in 2013 due to clashes between the government and opposition forces and, as a result, 60% of the population experienced food insecurity, with 2.2 million out of its 13 million population becoming refugees and 1.9 million becoming internally displaced.[3] In July 2019, there were 182,050 civilians in the six UN Protection of Civilian sites in South Sudan.[3]


The deployment began in 2017 with a task force operating in two U.N. locations; Malakal and Bentiu. The task force comprised 25 units, totaling up to 378 service personnel across all three services.[4]

The units involved included:


The operation began winding down in January 2020, four years after it first began. It had resulted in the construction of two hospitals, as well as upgrades to schools, prisons, roads and bridges.[2] Minister for the Armed Forces Anne-Marie Trevelyan praised the "professionalism and skill" of British service personnel, adding "Everyone I’ve met here, from politicians to UN officials have only the highest praise for the work of our armed forces in South Sudan".[2] 160 members of 39 Engineer Regiment were awarded service medals.[8] The UK engineering task force completed its final tour of duty in March 2020.[9] 36 Engineer Regiment were awarded the Firmin Sword of Peace partly due to their role in the operation.[10]


  1. ^ "UK successfully concludes UN mission in South Sudan". Army Technology. 31 January 2020. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "UK's largest UN mission draws to a close after four successful years". GOV.UK. 30 January 2020. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Operation Trenton: 4 things you need to know". medium.com. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Vietnamese Hospital Unit take over from RAF on Op Trenton". Royal Air Force. 26 October 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  5. ^ "400 British Soldiers in South Sudan Deployment". Warfare.Today. 24 July 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  6. ^ Butler, Clare (3 June 2020). "Huntingdon UN peacekeeper tells of life in South Sudan and helping construct NHS Nightingale". The Hunts Post. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Operation TRENTON 4: the Royal Naval Medical Service in South Sudan". Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  8. ^ "British Troops Awarded Service Medals For Work In South Sudan". Forces.net. 26 July 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  9. ^ "UK Minister visits Malakal as engineering task force prepares to exit South Sudan mission". United Nations. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  10. ^ "Royal Engineers awarded Sword of Peace for humanitarian work overseas" (ITV News). 24 July 2020.