British paratroopers and their French Foreign Legion counterparts have been training together as they build a closer working relationship.
Colchester-based B Company of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) has been working alongside 2e Regiment Etranger de Parachutistes (2e REP) at their base on the rugged island of Corsica.
Exercise Blue Legionnaire has seen the 2 units fire each other’s weaponry and practise fighting together in urban areas.
The 2 PARA soldiers earned French parachute wings by jumping from a French C-160 Transall aircraft, while jumps from a Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules earned 2e REP soldiers their British wings.
As 2e REP has specialist mountain and amphibious troops, 2 PARA soldiers were taught survival and climbing techniques on Corsica’s snow-capped mountains, and, in the Mediterranean Sea, handled assault boats and practised attacking and defending beaches.
Major Adam Wilson, officer commanding B Company, said: “2 PARA and 2e REP maintain strong links as sister battalions. Exercise Blue Legionnaire has been about us seeing 2e REP on their home turf and learning more about how they operate and live. Corsica itself has been an excellent location that has allowed us to train in the air, on the land and in the sea. As airborne troops, the sea and high mountains are not familiar environments to us, but it has been rewarding to challenge ourselves and learn new skills.”
Corporal Chris Hooper added: “It’s been a very different experience to see how another army does its business. The legionnaires are a very disciplined and professional outfit and we’ve worked well together because we’ve got the same role and mentality. It’s been a friendly exercise with a lot of war stories swapped – they did an operational jump in Mali last year and we’ve got a lot to say about Afghanistan.”
2e REP’s Captain Pierre-Francois Mitton said: “2e REP and 2 PARA share the airborne spirit and our soldiers have a very similar level of training, discipline and operational experience. After training together we know each other better and are well placed if we deploy on an operation in the future.”
The two-week long training is part of an operational partnership between the British 16 Air Assault Brigade and the French 11e Brigade Parachutiste, which stands at high readiness to deploy together on contingency operations ranging from war fighting to disaster relief.
Photos by Corporal Andy Reddy RLC
MoD / Crown Copyright, 2014