British Paratroopers train with French Airborne Cavalry

British and French troops have been train­ing togeth­er to improve their urban fight­ing skills and devel­op co-oper­a­tion between the two armies.

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British para­troop­ers train along­side mem­bers of the French Air­borne Cav­al­ry on a joint exer­cise to devel­op their urban fight­ing skills [Pic­ture: Sergeant Obi Igboe­bi­siok­wu, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Colch­ester-based A Com­pa­ny of 3rd Bat­tal­ion The Para­chute Reg­i­ment (3 PARA) has been work­ing with the tanks of the 1er Rég­i­ment de Hus­sards Para­chutistes (1er RHP) [French Air­borne Cav­al­ry] at the Cen­tre d’En­traîne­ment aux Actions en Zone Urbaine (CENZUB) in North East France, the largest urban war­fare train­ing facil­i­ty in Europe.

The train­ing, called Exer­cise Gaul­ish Eagle, was designed to pro­vide 3 PARA with expe­ri­ence of urban oper­a­tions and work­ing with oth­er armies to pre­pare for its role in the Air­borne Task Force (ABTF).

The ABTF is the British Army’s rapid reac­tion force, held at high readi­ness to deploy on oper­a­tions any­where in the world.

The first part of the two-week exer­cise saw para­troop­ers train with the Giat Famas assault rifle, the stan­dard weapon of the French Army, and learn French tac­tics for work­ing with Leclerc main bat­tle tanks in built-up areas.

The train­ing cul­mi­nat­ed in a field exer­cise with the two units work­ing togeth­er to attack and defend CENZUB’s two pur­pose-built train­ing towns – Beause­jour and Jeof­fre­court — which have been con­struct­ed with dif­fer­ent dis­tricts imi­tat­ing retail, res­i­den­tial and indus­tri­al areas.

Major Richard Todd, Offi­cer Com­mand­ing A Com­pa­ny, said:

“As the Air­borne Task Force, 3 PARA is on stand­by to go any­where in the world to do any­thing from dis­as­ter relief to war-fight­ing. On an ABTF oper­a­tion it is like­ly that we will be work­ing along­side oth­er armies in an urban envi­ron­ment, so this train­ing has been excel­lent prepa­ra­tion for us.

“The exer­cise has also served to strength­en the rela­tion­ship and under­stand­ing with our French allies. We’ve used their kit and tac­tics, and work­ing with 1er RHP’s tanks has been an enjoy­able chal­lenge.”

Pri­vate Dave Cheshire said:

“It has been a tough exer­cise because it’s been so dif­fer­ent. We’re using French weapons and their approach to fight­ing in urban areas is slight­ly dif­fer­ent to ours. Also, as para­troop­ers, we’re not used to work­ing with tanks so that has been some­thing new.”

Pri­vate Damien Miles said:

“Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the French troops has been a chal­lenge at times, but we’ve got by with a few words of French and lots of hand sig­nals and sketch maps.”

Dur­ing the exer­cise the sol­diers enjoyed a day in Paris, vis­it­ing the Eif­fel Tow­er and the Lou­vre.

The train­ing builds on the two coun­tries’ mil­i­tary co-oper­a­tion fol­low­ing the sign­ing of the Defence and Secu­ri­ty Co-oper­a­tion Treaty by Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron and French Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy in Novem­ber 2010.

3 PARA is part of 16 Air Assault Brigade which has been tasked with build­ing a part­ner­ship with the French 11e Brigade Para­chutiste. The two brigades are work­ing towards the for­ma­tion of a joint expe­di­tionary force for con­tin­gency oper­a­tions.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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