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    US, French Foreign Legion paratroopers conduct combined training in Corsica

    US, French Foreign Legion paratroopers conduct combined training in Corsica

    Courtesy Photo | A U.S paratrooper from the 173rd Airborne Brigade scouts a target during combined...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. A.M. LaVey 

    173rd Airborne Brigade

    by 1st Lt. Stefan Gazda

    CALVI, France - 173rd Airborne Brigade paratroopers conducted bilateral training with the French 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment, French Foreign Legion, here during Exercise Kepi Blanc taking place from Sept. 1 through 16.

    Kepi Blanc, named for the distinctive headgear worn by the Foreign Legion, is a partnered training exercise between the U.S. and France to strengthen NATO capabilities through allied training and to establish a lasting partnership with between U.S. and French airborne units.

    "It was a great training opportunity to expand our interoperability between our NATO allies,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Cole, scout platoon sergeant, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. “It was the first time our unit has worked with the French Foreign Legion and hopefully we have opened the doors for future training with them.”

    The two groups of paratroopers began the training exercise by conducting combined marksmanship training and exchanged close-quarters marksmanship training techniques. During that time, the legionnaires who qualified with the U.S. standards were awarded U.S. marksmanship badges.

    The next parts of training included mountaineering, amphibious warfare and close-combat attack training utilizing French SA 341/SA 342 Gazelle scout helicopters.

    "This was an outstanding training event," said Sgt. Christopher T. Sylvester, sniper section leader for 1st Bn. “We were able to hit all four corners of our mission-essential task list. There is nothing the area and the Legion can't provide for a scout platoon; the island is a unique experience providing a multitude of varying terrain.”

    The focus shifted the second week of the exercise, the U.S. paratroopers were integrated into Legion’s yearly platoon validation course – a field training exercise executed over the entirety of northwestern Corsica with long foot movements over dense mountainous terrain.

    The allied paratroopers conducted multiple platoon-level training lanes, with challenges such as water crossings and intensive mountain movements. The field training event concluded with a test of the U.S. scout platoon's capabilities.

    The platoon executed a 24-hour reconnaissance & surveillance mission near Lumio, Corsica, beginning with a nighttime 9K march through the countryside and a clandestine movement through the city. The platoon then climbed a 2,500 foot mountain and established surveillance sites, providing continuous intelligence collection and reporting to the Legionnaires. The French paratroopers then utilized information gathered by the Americans to conduct a raid on the objective.

    "I have enjoyed our time training with the 173rd Airborne Brigade,” said French Maj. Jean Baptiste, an operations officer with the 2nd Regt. “It was a unique experience training with the scout platoon - we do not have a unit like this in the French Foreign Legion.”

    For some of the American paratroopers it was perhaps an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    "This has been the best training rotation I have been on over the last two and a half years in this unit,” said Sgt. Daniel T. Fedele, a scout team leader. “It is an experience I will never forget."

    After the French exercise, the scout platoon is scheduled to conduct another combined training, this time reconnaissance operations with the 8th Engineer Regiment of the Italian army’s Folgore Airborne Brigade.

    The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, capable of rapidly projecting forces to conduct the full range of military operations across the U.S.
    European, Central and Africa Commands' areas of responsibility.



    Date Taken: 09.21.2015
    Date Posted: 09.21.2015 10:17
    Story ID: 176711
    Location: CALVI, FR 

    Web Views: 1,197
    Downloads: 0