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Gallery: Paratroopers from Colchester train with their counterparts from the French Foreign Legion in Corsica

12:00 22 January 2014

Corporal Chris Hooper (centre) explains tthe safety drills for the UK SA80 A2 Rifle to Legionnaire Oskar Trompakajski (left) and Legionnaire 1st Class Jung Jih (right)

Corporal Chris Hooper (centre) explains tthe safety drills for the UK SA80 A2 Rifle to Legionnaire Oskar Trompakajski (left) and Legionnaire 1st Class Jung Jih (right)

Crown Copyright 2014: This image may be used for current news purposes only.

Paratroopers from north Essex have been training with their counterparts from the French Foreign Legion to build a closer working relationship.

Colchester-based B Company, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) has been working alongside 2e Regiment Etranger de Parachutistes (2e REP) at their base on the rugged island of Corsica.

As part of Exercise Blue Legionnaire, the two units have fired each other’s weaponry and practised fighting together in urban areas. The 2 PARA soldiers earned French parachute wings by jumping from a French C-160 Transall aircraft, while jumps from an RAF C-130 Hercules earned 2e REP soldiers their British wings.

The French unit has also passed on survival and climbing techniques on Corsica’s snow-capped mountains while in the Mediterranean Sea its soldiers worked with the Colchester unit on handling assault boats and attacking and defending beaches.

The two-week long training exercise is designed to strengthen the operational partnership between the units, which have to be ready to deploy at short notice on operations ranging from war fighting to disaster relief.

The officer commanding 2 PARA, Major Adam Wilson, said the units maintain strong links as sister battalions.

He said: “Exercise Blue Legionnaire has been about us seeing 2e REP on their home turf and learning more about how they operate and live. It has been a huge success in developing the understanding, respect and trust between our two units, which could prove critical in future operations.

“Corsica itself has been an excellent location that has allowed us to train in the air, on the land and in the sea. As airborne troops, the sea and high mountains are not familiar environments to us, but it has been rewarding to challenge ourselves and learn new skills.”

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