French and British troops train together in Germany

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

French military personnel have been working alongside their British counterparts in Germany to prepare for an upcoming major military exercise between the two countries. Report by Captain Mike Billings.

A four-man team from the French Army’s 1st Logistic Brigade spent a week attached to the British Army’s 102 Logistic Brigade at their barracks in Gutersloh as part of Exercise Pre-Flandres, building up to the main Exercise Flandres 2011 which will take place at Mailly-le-Camp in France later this month.

The exercise will provide an important opportunity for British and French Armed Forces personnel to work together and for military logisticians from both countries to improve their joint communications capabilities.

Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Rhodes, Chief of Staff of 102 Logistic Brigade, said:

The aim of Exercise Flandres is to demonstrate interoperability between France and the UK - our ability to work together on a professional and personal basis is key.

While we will be working together using English we will however use French planning processes and procedures.

“Exercise Pre-Flandres is the last in a series of exercises designed to prepare us to do this and I am happy to say that we have built a strong relationship with our allies in the French 1st Logistic Brigade.”

Exercise Pre-Flandres was one of the first steps to bring to reality a 2008 agreement between Britain and France. The Anglo-French Summit of November 2010 gave fresh impetus to this co-operation.

The two Armies have directed the implementation of a brigade partnership that will see a unity of effort and equipment which includes the eventual creation of a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force - resulting in a greater level of security for both nations.

Major Philippe Paul, from the French Army’s 1st Logistic Brigade, said:

It has been very interesting working with the British during this exercise and we will learn a lot from sharing skills and knowledge in this way. It makes sense as neighbouring countries to be working together making best use of equipment and defence resources.

Corporal Cas Castellari, who serves with 102 Logistic Brigade, added:

It has been interesting working with the French and seeing what equipment they use for their communications and IT. I am looking forward to the main Exercise Flandres in France and the opportunity to be able to see the planning process through from start to finish as part of a binational headquarters.