Pathfinders and French Paras on Joint ExerciseSoldiers of the Pathfinders and Groupement des Commandos Parachutistes (GCP), the advance forces of 16 Air Assault Brigade and 11e Brigade Parachutiste, about to practise fast roping from a French Army Puma helicopter during Exercise Falcon Amarante. British and French paratroopers are showing their readiness to deploy together on joint operations. Across two demanding weeks in November, south west France saw Exercise Falcon Amarante testing 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 since 2013 to deploy on short-notice operations ranging from war fighting to disaster relief. Exercise Falcon Amarante is the A-CJEF’s annual test exercise, taking place in 2018 under 11e BP’s command. Some 650 British troops and 170 vehicles of the 3 PARA Battlegroup – built around the airborne infantry of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment bolstered by artillery, engineers, medics, signallers and logisticians took part. British troops were paired with the 3e Regiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine as the A-CJEF, with US paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade working alongside it. After mission planning and reconnaissance, the exercises started in earnest with some 600 British, French and US paratroopers jumping onto the Caylus training area near Toulouse. From there, a series of simulated missions tested the skills and capabilities of the 2,000-strong force.
Military Units Featured
The Pathfinder Platoon is a pathfinder unit of the British Army, and an integral part of 16 Air Assault Brigade. The Pathfinder Platoon acts as the brigade’s advance force and reconnaissance force. Its role includes locating and marking drop zones and helicopter landing zones for air landing operations. Once the main force has landed, the platoon provides tactical intelligence and offensive action roles for the brigade.
Cpl Jamie Hart. Crown Copyright, 2018.