UK & World News
British And French Navies Team Up For Drill
Thousands of sailors and marines and a flotilla of warships from Britain and France are on manoeuvres in the Mediterranean in preparation for combined operations around the world.
Codenamed Corsican Lion, the operation - the biggest since the two countries signed a military cooperation treaty in 2010 - is designed to get both sets of troops used to each other's fighting methods.
The exercise, which involves 6,000 service personnel, is using a range of vessels from both navies, although the centrepiece is the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle and her fast jets.
Her presence has re-ignited the controversy over the scrapping of the UK's own carriers almost a decade before their replacements will be in service.
The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, who flew in to observe the exercise and hold bi-lateral talks with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, faced a barrage of tricky questions from reporters about the potential embarrassment of the UK having to go cap in hand to her allies to provide carrier cover in the meantime.
Mr Hammond insisted that tough decisions had had to be made and that the new Queen Elizabeth class British carriers would provide an enhanced capability when they came on stream at the end of the decade.
"As I stand on the deck of the Charles De Gaulle, I shall be remembering that we are building two brand new modern carriers," he said.
The commander of the UK Response Force Task Group, Commodore Paddy McAlpine, said the combination of land, sea and air abilities means that in any future deployment, anywhere in the world, "we are the crystal everything else forms around".
The week-long exercise involves not only five British naval ships but Royal Marines from 3 Commando Brigade and their French counterparts.
Air support comes from French Rafaele and Super ?endard jets and dozens of helicopters ranging from Apaches to Sea Kings and Chinooks.
On the water, small boats and landing craft allow the Marines from both sides of the Channel to practice their drills.
It is not without its problems though.
French Lieutenant Benoit Bouquin said: "It's very interesting for us because we can use all the British boats, but quite difficult with the language. Not many of our soldiers speak English."
Few Royal Marines speak French either, although Corporal Ben Cussons says they manage to communicate.
"On the shop floor, you just make do," he said. "It's all smiles and nods and 'hellos'. At our level, that's enough."
Once Corsican Lion is complete the fighting flotilla will move on to the Adriatic and further exercises, this time with the Albanians.
That exercise is imaginatively tagged "Albanian Lion".
what do you think?
Windows Live User
Our lads in rowing boats then? Quicker we get a real Navy back the better
Have we not been here before? As part of NATO France was not a reliable partner the joke used to be is France a NATO country this week? Then in WW2 they were not exactly 100% with us. Now Cameron is relying on them - those who do not learn from history are forced to relive it.
Wash your mouth out blueside. The French were totally with us in both world wars. During the latter, the French lads fought furiously so we could escape to Dunkirk and the many French war graves testify to their courage and sacrifice. They held out untill we escaped and only capitulated when Paris was surrounded and Hitler threatened to raze it to the ground if they continued to resist. As they did not have the luxury of a sea moat like us they had very little alternative. Even so they formed tough, brave little resistance groups and heroically did their bit including risking their lives to get Allied pilots back to Britain. So before snearing at them ask yourself if you would have had the guts those French boys and girls had?
Windows Live User
The French fought a magnificent rearguard at Dunkirk which assisted approx 70,000 French to be lifted onto the ships. British also fought rearguard actions, including the DLI
For once I agree with Roger. The French did help our trops to escape at Dunkirk (and at Cherbourg) as well as forming the resistance. They also scuttled their ships at Toulon when the Germans occupied the South of France so that they wouldn't fall into enemy hands.
The trouble is that French priorities differ from our own. Although they made information available to us during the Falklands campaign, would they send the CDG down south? What this shows is that our so-called strategic defence review was hastily conceived and implemented without being thought through. Labour got rid of our Sea Harriers, and the Tories the remaining Harriers after they had been modernised, and also scrapped HMS Ark Royal.
So now Cameron a Euro backer wants our Armed forces run by Brussels. All conservatives must now throw him out as Prime Minister because he is a traitor
Do you really think we can ask our forces to do everything on the planet on their own? Grow up will you, we have to have cohesion within Europe, it's the only way forward or do want to sell us out to the Yanks and continue to let them use our boys as cannon fodder? It will be Iran next!