News story

Paratroopers strengthen French connection

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

British paratroopers and their French Foreign Legion counterparts have been training together as they build a closer working relationship.

British and French paratroopers training in Corsica [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]
British and French paratroopers training in Corsica

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.

British paratroopers being instructed in how to fit a French parachute
British paratroopers being instructed by a French legionnaire in how to fit a French parachute [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]

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.

It has been a huge success in developing the understanding, respect and trust between our 2 units, which could prove critical in future operations.

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.

Paratroopers preparing their parachutes
British and French paratroopers preparing their parachutes ahead of a jump [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]

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.

British and French paratroopers
British and French paratroopers ready for a parachute jump [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]

The 2-week long training was part of the interim Combined Joint Expeditionary Force – an operational partnership between the British 16 Air Assault Brigade and the French 11e Brigade Parachutiste, which stands at high readiness to deploy on contingency operations ranging from war-fighting to disaster relief.

Paratroopers approaching the drop zone
British and French paratroopers approaching the drop zone [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]
British and French paratroopers
British and French paratroopers during the training exercise in Corsica [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]
British and French paratroopers on an assault course
British and French paratroopers on an assault course [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]
Members of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment
British paratroopers practising defensive and offensive patrol drills in a 'fighting in a built up area' training village [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]
Members of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment
British paratroopers training with French army issue GIAT FAMAS assault rifles [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]
French paratroopers practise a beach assault
French paratroopers practise a beach assault [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]
British and French paratroopers
French paratroopers storm a beach defended by members of 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment [Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy RLC, Crown copyright]
Published 21 January 2014