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Urban experts

British personnel hone their skills at leading French facility.

As troops advanced through the smoke-filled streets of a mock European town amid a cacophony of explosions and shouting, the British Army’s training was put to the test. Operating in an unfamiliar environment alongside allies with a different military culture proved disorientating at times but it was an invaluable learning experience.

Exercise Gaulish Eagle 2 was a key opportunity for the soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment to work with French colleagues in a number of serials at the state-of-the-art Ville de Jeoffrecourt complex near Reims. Normally based in Paderborn, Germany, the soldiers from A Company used French kit – including the Famas assault rifle – during the manoeuvres, which also included a week of language familiarisation and learning about their hosts’ equipment, tactics and procedures.

Entirely different to any facility in the UK or Germany, Jeoffrecourt realistically replicates a town of 5,000 people – compared to 100 at Imber Village in Copehill Down – with a residential area, industrial site and power plant among its assets. There are also a number of underground features, including a realistic car park.

Maj Matt Swales, OC A Company, said the two-week package had been complex and demanding but stressed that troops had risen to the challenges of fighting in built-up areas (FIBUA). “The exercise was part of a joint agreement between France and the UK to train together,” he told Soldier. “It was a great opportunity, particularly as the site offers such a different experience.”

Read the full story in the November issue

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