During February 2003 16 Air Assault Brigade formed part of the massive build up of force assembling north of Kuwait City for Operation Telic, the second ground war directed by an Anglo-American Coalition against Iraq.
This was the first time the brigade had deployed complete on an operation since its inception in September 1999. Within days of the invasion of Iraq, 1 and 3 PARA with the air-mobile 1 Royal Irish battle group had occupied and secured the Rumaylah oilfields to the south; and started to move north, with the US Marine Corps to their west, to secure the Main supply Route (MSR) that runs north to Basra on Route 6. Meanwhile 7 PARA RHA had fired its first regimental fire missions since Suez in 1956.
By late March 3 PARA had entered Basra with units from the 1st Armoured Division encountering no significant opposition. The rest of the 16 Air Assault Brigade had moved north crossing the Euphrates River and occupying El Qurna, the biblical Garden of Eden, at the junction with the Tigris River.
War-fighting moved to a stabilisation phase whereby 1 PARA was pushed north with brigade elements to occupy and administer the Maysan Province and city of Al Amarah. One company was detached to Baghdad to secure the British Embassy prior to its re-opening.
The brigade lost 11 soldiers during Operation Telic. Six of whom, from 156 Provost Company, were killed by a hostile mob in the village of Majar Al Kabir.
The brigade was back in the UK by July having demonstrated its capability as a potent quick reaction force, able to work alongside armoured troops.
Battle Honour Conferred: