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Exercise Gallic Marauder saw 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA) and 35e Régiment d'Artillerie Parachutiste (35e RAP) put through their paces at the Castlemartin ranges in Wales.
The two-week camp (7-18 Oct) tested the British and French gunners’ ability to control and co-ordinate the fire from each other’s weapons. Fire Support Teams – who co-ordinate artillery and close air support for troops on the ground – called in fire missions from 7 Para RHA’s 105mm Light Guns and 35e RAP’s 120mm mortars, as well as airstrikes by French Navy Rafale fighters.
Lance Bombardier Ben Sawyer, 22 from Taunton, worked alongside French troops in the Joint Fires Cell, co-ordinating the relay of target information from FSTs to the mortar and gun lines to fire on.
“Working with the French, getting around the language barrier and understanding the slightly different ways we do the same job, has added an extra challenge but we make it work,” he said. “I’ve been on the radio with French observers feeding information to our guns and British FSTs spotting for the French mortars and fast air – and the targets got hit!”
The training cemented links between 7 Para RHA and 35e RAP as part of the Airborne Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (A-CJEF), a partnership between 16 Air Assault Brigade and 11e Brigade Parachutiste. The two brigades provide the airborne rapid reaction forces for their respective armies, and the A-CJEF has been trained and ready to deploy on operations ranging from war fighting to disaster relief since 2013.
7 Para RHA Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Justin Baker said: “Gallic Marauder is our critical training opportunity to develop the partnership with our French counterparts 35e RAP, developing our understanding and confidence in each other’s kit and procedures. We each bring similar capabilities and unique properties to the relationship, with our Light Guns and the French 120mm mortars combining to bring additional flexibility to what we can deliver together.”
Major Franck Ducornetz said: “We have a good relationship with the British and this is a good chance to practise our tactics, techniques and procedures together, both for the gunners on the ground and the pilots in the air.”