On 12th April we wrote about the Anglo-French Griffin Strike exercise that will have demonstrated when it is over that the concept of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) adopted in the framework of the Lancaster House Treaties in 2010 is “validated and credible.”
We were slightly ahead of the armies’ press services as we’ve just received the exercise’s media document!
It teaches us several things, notably that “France has made Griffin Strike 2016 one of its priorities despite the high level of its operational engagements and is completely and fully participating in this exercise.”
It also supplies us with a map which is rather more understandable than a description to show you where these exercises are taking place. FOB will be on Salisbury Plain on Thursday.
The media document teaches us that Griffin Strike is aiming to play the complete deployment of a binational expeditionary force. Covering all levels, strategic, operations and tactical, it will also test the coherence of the binational command chain, Franco-British interoperability across the components, and the reactivity of a joint deployment.
The overall force is under British command, as are the individual land and air components, whilst France commands the maritime component.
For the land component of the exercise, coordination between the chiefs of staff is entirely simulated. In parallel, the tactical echelons are undertaking real manoeuvres on the Salisbury military training ground. These are notably testing the interoperability of the command and communication chains. This part is centred on joint manoeuvres in urban zones (on foot, with armoured vehicles and infantry), using fire support with the British assault infantry, and on relief procedures (leapfrogging and on station).
In our 12 April piece we mentioned that “some 300” French soldiers were taking part in the land component with 14 vehicles at their disposal. We understand that in fact the French Army is deploying more than 450 personnel and about 50 vehicles. From our initial list were missing the six light armoured vehicles, nine troop carriers; the engineers’ fast support and protection vehicle; the Leclerc tank breakdown vehicle and the heavy multipurpose breakdown carrier, known by its French acronym PPLD.
Let us stop for a few moments and look at this PPLD which is progressively entering French Army service. Able to carry very heavy weights whilst maintaining good mobility and offering its crew the kind of protection necessary for foreign theatres, the PPLD DP undertakes supply missions, transports or evacuates personnel, repairs or evacuates vehicles, transports materials to support mobility, provides counter-mobility and helps in urgent deployments.
The 8×8 PPLD, made by the IVECO/SOFRAME Franco-Italian grouping, can be transported by BPC or in the A400M. It can be equipped with a protection kit made up of a cabin armoured against IED/mine/ballistic aggressions, windows protected against stone throws, a bracket for a 7.62mm gun (which will allow it to carry the future MAG58 machine-gun) with ballistic protection for the shooter, and the ability to drive on flats after the tyres have been perforated. In total, 400 protection kits will be procured as part of the programme. The PPLD is designed to integrate the PR4G radio, the SITEL information system, the DAGR or PLGR GPS and, for the protection versions, a medium power scrambler and the CMT/STC-CENTAURE simulation and training system.
The first firm orders for the vehicle were notified at the end of 2010 for 50 PPLDs, all equipped with protection kits. First deliveries of the series vehicles to the French Army were made in 2013.