Colchester soldiers train with counterparts from French Foreign Legion

First published in Essex County Standard: Photograph of the Author by , News Editor / Specialist News Reporter

PARATROOPERS from Colchester have been training with counterparts from the French Foreigh Legion.

Troops from B Company, 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, have been working alongside 2e Regiment Etranger de Parachutistes at their base on the rugged island of Corsica.

The soldiers have been training on air, land and sea as the two units build a closer working relationship.

Exercise Blue Legionnaire has seen the two units fire each other’s weaponry and practise fighting together in urban areas.

The 2 Para soldiers earned French parachute wings by jumping with French Ensemble de Parachutage Individuel parachutes from a French C-160 Transall aircraft, while jumps from an RAF C-130 Hercules earned 2e REP soldiers their British wings.

2e REP has specialist mountain and amphibious troops who taught 2 Para’s soldiers survival techniques and climbing on Corsica’s snow-capped mountains.

In the Mediterranean Sea, they learnt how to handle assault boats and attack and defend beaches.

The two-week training exercise was part of the Interim Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (i-CJEF) – a partnership between the British 16 Air Assault Brigade and the French 11e Brigade Parachutiste, which are ready to deploy at a moment’s notice on operations ranging from war fighting to disaster relief.

Major Adam Wilson, commander of 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 two units, which could prove critical in future operations.

“Corsica 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, 26, said: “It’s been a different experience to see how another army does its business.

“The legionnaires are a disciplined and professional outfit.

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.”

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