Throughout the exercise our section was to provide engineering close support while demonstrating the capability of bridges and their effectiveness across a variety of ground conditions.
As it was a brigade level exercise, we were a small element of the overall force, but we had plenty of opportunities to display our skills and capabilities in front of the higher command of the French Army. By learning, observing, and communicating with our allies, we managed to learn a lot about their morale and soldiering.
The aim was to demonstrate our proficiency and competence of our in-service combat engineering bridges, the Infantry assault bridge (IAB) and Easi-CSB bridge. This was also a doorway for us to dive into French culture and increase our understanding of how our French allies conduct military operations. Our engineering skills and diligence were critical to a successful deployment.
We travelled to the home of the 17th Regiment de Genie Parachutiste – (17 RGP)). Following a couple of days of familiarisation, conditioning, and adaptation to the environment, we prepared ourselves for the upcoming challenges. Although our primary aim was to teach, we also learned about the soldiers within 17 RGP, conduct, combat vehicles (VAB-VTTT, MLF Ferry bridge, Jaguar, Griffon) and various weapons (FAMAS G2, HK416 F-S, Glock pistol). Additionally, we gained an understanding of French culture, traditions, and their history. Despite the language barrier we managed to communicate with them but thanks and credit must go to our translators, Sergeant Thomas and Corporal Moo. They helped us throughout the exercise and gave us a little bit of French humour as well.
As a memento, we exchanged our Queen’s Gurkha Engineers t-shirts and as an honour, we exchanged our regimental tokens.
By Sapper Dipen Rai, Queen’s Gurkha Engineers