The Combined UK and French Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) has moved from concept to reality with more than 5,000 personnel from the two countries coming together for Exercise Griffin Strike.
The exercise, which involves a joint French/UK headquarters planning and executing military activity for the first time, will see the CJEF demonstrate ‘full validation of concept’. That means it will be available for bilateral, NATO, EU, UN or coalition operations.
Michael Fallon and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Exercise Griffin Strike today to witness land, sea and air elements operating as a rapidly deployable UK-France joint force.
The CJEF has been developed since 2010 as a product of the bilateral Lancaster House Treaty and is designed to operate for up to 90 days.
While visiting the different components of Exercise Griffin Strike across the UK, Mr. Fallon and M. Le Drian saw an armoured land assault involving attack helicopter and fast jet support on Salisbury Plain, amphibious vehicle loading onto French helicopter FS Dixmude and the exercise headquarters based at RAF St Mawgan in Newquay.
The CJEF will ultimately enable the UK and France to deploy forces rapidly to conflict zones ahead of a wider NATO or coalition operation, or to meet peace-keeping, disaster relief or humanitarian assistance requirements.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
This joint force will combine the might of two of the world’s biggest militaries, backed by our rising defence budget. It will enable us to deploy rapidly with our French allies, helping to keep Britain safe while contributing to security in the world.
French Defence Secretary Jean-Yves Le Drian said:
France and the UK share common security interests. In order to face high level domestic and international threats it is now more than important to continue to strenghten our operational cooperation between our two countries.
The exercise marks a significant milestone in the generation of the force and demonstrates the ability to send a force including all three services into operations.
Aircraft including Typhoon and Rafale jets will operate from RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire, while UK ships HMS Ocean, Bulwark and Duncan will work off the south and west coast of England with their French counterparts FS Dixmude, FS Cassard and FF La Motte Piquet. On Salisbury Plain, elements of the Army’s 3(UK) Division and French 7th Mechanised Brigade including paratroopers, armoured units and infantrymen, will exercise together.