The British Army’s 1st (United Kingdom) Division is to be led by a French Brigadier General for the second time.
Brigadier General Jean Laurentin today assumed command from Major General Charlie Collins DSO OBE until September when his permanent replacement arrives.
He is stepping up from his role as Deputy Commander of 1st (UK) Division, mirroring the temporary appointment of Brigadier General Hervé Bizeul in similar circumstances five years ago - a first for the British Army.
Under the Lancaster House agreement of 2010, the French and British agreed to closer defence cooperation and have since built a strong relationship. There are a number of exchange officers on both sides of the Channel enhancing military interoperability.
Major General Collins said: “It is symbolic of the enduring friendship and mutual trust between our two nations that my deputy commander Brigadier General Laurentin will take command of the 1st (United Kingdom) Division until a new General Officer is appointed.
“He has my full confidence as a proven commander and outstanding leader. The historical bond between the 1st (UK) Division and the 1re (French) Division continues to deepen and demonstrates a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force Land partnership that is stronger than ever."
Brigadier General Laurentin said: “As a French General serving in the British Army, it is a real honour to temporarily take command of the 1st (UK) Division on the departure of General Charlie Collins.
“This is a symbol of the enduring and strong friendship between the UK and France and especially between our two armies. It’s also a proof of trust from General Charlie, I’m particularly honoured by this.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead this historical Division and I embrace the challenges associated with these uncertain times. Brigadier General Jean Laurentin
“I am well supported by the excellent Rhino team here and together we will continue to drive the Division forward. Following General Charlie’s vision for the division, I will be the link between him and the next GOC.”
The British Army has two Divisions (about 25,000 soldiers each) with the 1st (UK) Division being formed in 1809. Since the turn of the 20th Century, it has served in the world wars, the Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo. It currently has just over 1,000 troops deployed on operations and supporting other military commitments, including training roles, around the globe.
It is the British Army’s most versatile force – light, agile, lethal and expeditionary. Active and effective at home and overseas. Trusted by defence and the nation as a multi-talented workforce with unique capabilities.