Entente cordiale goes with a bang

French and British troops taking part in a live firing exercise at Otterburn.
French and British troops taking part in a live firing exercise at Otterburn.

FRENCH soldiers got to see how their British counterparts do things during a joint live-firing exercise in the Northumberland hills, as part of ongoing training between the two nations.

Exercise Boars Head involved an infantry company from 5 SCOTS, a unit of 16 Air Assault Brigade, and a company from 8th Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, a unit of the French 11th Parachute Brigade.

French and British troops taking part in a live firing exercise at Otterburn.

French and British troops taking part in a live firing exercise at Otterburn.

It was part of the continuing relationship between French and British Army units following the signing of the Defence and Security Co-operation Treaty by Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in November 2010.

Officer Commanding, A Company 5 SCOTS, Major Neil Brown, said: “During November 2010, on the eve of the events that happened in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, the Prime Minister and French President signed a security cooperation treaty.

“The Prime Minister and President Sarkozy created a joint mechanism to address outside threats against the UK and France. Its purpose was to save expenditure on weapons, and to form joint expeditionary forces.

“5 SCOTS and 8th Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment exchanged different methods of military tactics used by the two armies to make it easier for both formations to train, and ultimately serve, in future conflicts together.”

French and British troops taking part in a live firing exercise at Otterburn.

French and British troops taking part in a live firing exercise at Otterburn.

The exercise involved a wide range of live firing exercises from platoon to company level involving a range of supporting weapon systems and saw the French company conducting live fire attacks supported by a British fire support team in a demanding environment.

16 Air Assault Brigade has been tasked with building an operational partnership with the French 11th Parachute Brigade with a particular focus on contingency operations as the UK returns 16 Brigade to contingent capability. It is the British Army’s largest brigade with 7,400 soldiers, combining the speed and agility of airborne and air assault troops with the potency of Apache attack helicopters.

The Brigade deployed to Afghanistan between October 2010 and April 2011 and since its return has focused on its core role as the Airborne Task Force (ABTF), ready to deploy on operations anywhere in the world at short notice.

Commander Land Forces, General Nick Parker, and his French counterpart, Lieutenant General Hervé Charpentier, who is Commander Forces de Terrestres visited the training on Thursday.

General Parker said: “The UK-France summit being held in Paris tomorrow will provide Ministers with the opportunity to review progress since the treaties were signed in 2010 and announce new areas of cooperation.

“France, like the United Kingdom, is one of the few nations with both the capability and will to deploy overseas. Their Armed Forces are a similar size to ours and have similar capabilities and the ability to operate together in the future will be important for both nations. Exercise Boars Head demonstrates the UK’s ongoing commitment to working with the French and is part of a wider programme of reciprocal training.”