Final validation for Franco-British expeditionary force

D-day -2 before “Griffin Strike 2016” begins; the Franco-British exercise involving some 5,500 soldiers (including 2,040 French ones) will take place from 14-23 April in England. These joint manoeuvres will validate the concept of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) set up by both nations in the framework of the 2010 Lancaster House treaties.

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Soldiers of the 1st fusiliers regiment warm up on the Copehill Down training grounds in preparation for the Griffin Strike exercise (Photo credit: 1er régiment de tirailleurs)

The CJEF should enable France and the United Kingdom to rapidly deploy intervention forces to a conflict zone whilst awaiting the constitution of a broader military coalition, or to bring urgent assistance to a zone of natural disaster or humanitarian crisis.

Once the concept of the CJEF has been validated “France and the United Kingdom will (…) be able to envisage the planning and conducting of a first deployment operation with the quick reaction forces of both countries,” the two countries declared in a statement at the 34th Franco-British summit on 3 March in Amiens, northern France.

“Griffin Strike” is an exercise for ground, air and naval forces. On the ground, the French army will deploy some 300 soldiers: the chief of staff of the 7th armoured brigade (7e brigade blindée) and the command posts of the 35th infantry regiment (35e régiment d’infanterie) and the 1st light cavalry regiment (1er régiment de Chasseurs) will participate in command exercises at RAF (Royal Air Force) St Mawgan in Cornwall; the 1st fusiliers regiment (1er régiment de tirailleurs) supported by elements of the 1st light cavalry regiment, the 1st artillery regiment and the 3rd engineer regiment (régiment de génie), will for its part be involved in manoeuvres on the British Army’s training grounds on Salisbury plain in south-west England. They will have four Leclerc tanks, eight armoured infantry combat vehicles (VBCIs) and two VAB armoured personnel carriers at their disposal.

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VBLs and Leclerc tanks parked side by side in the United Kingdom awaiting the start of Griffin Strike (Photo credit: 1er régiment de Tirailleurs)

In the air, Rafale and Typhoon fighter aircraft will supply air support from RAF Lemming in north-east England.

Finally, on the water, a dozen warships, including the French navy’s BPC Dixmude will undertake naval exercises including amphibious assaults.

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Fusiliers from the 1st fusiliers regiment practice at Copehill Down (Photo credit: 1er régiment de Tirailleurs)

The manoeuvres will end on Salisbury plain with a show of strength by land forces supported by aircraft and helicopters. A combined mechanised infantry force will simulate wresting control of a village.

This exercise will conclude a long series of bilateral exercises: Corsican Lion 2012, Joint Warrior 2013, Capable Eagle 2013, Rochambeau 2014 and Griffin Rose 2015 which was the first of the two CJEF validation exercises.

As and when we get photos and have stories to tell about Griffin Strike 2016 we will keep you posted!