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Vincentian soldier trains with French Army

Vincentian soldier trains with French Army

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Vincentian soldier serving in the British Army, Private Andy Keir (34), has been training in France with his battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (5 SCOTS).{{more}}

Private Keir took part in ‘Exercise Gaulish Hackle’ when for the first time a Scottish battalion trained with the French Army’s 152nd Infantry Regiment at Centre d’Entrainement aux Actions en Zone Urbaine (CENZUB), a French urban warfare operations training facility.

Private Keir said: “The purpose of the Exercise was to begin the formation of a future joint Anglo / French expeditionary force.

“CENZUB is a purpose built urban warfare operations training facility. It is located in north east France, and comprises a training camp, and a large training area in which there are two urban warfare centres.

“We exchanged tactics with the French, and used their Giat Famas assault rifle the standard weapon used by the French Army.”

“We also ate French rations during the Exercise which were not a patch on what British Army chefs prepare for us!”

The former pupil of North Union Secondary School signed up in 2009, and apart from France, he has also served in Kenya and Afghanistan.

He is a machine gunner in his platoon and provides the heavy fire power for his section.

He lives with his partner Malica Glasgow and five-year-old Andronique at the battalion’s base in Canterbury.

The former Police officer lists his main hobby as basketball.

Officer Commanding, A Company 5 SCOTS Major Neil Brown, explained the rationale and purpose of the Exercise: “During November 2010, on the eve of the events that happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed a security cooperation treaty.

“The Prime Minister and President Sarkozy created a joint mechanism to address outside threats against the UK and France. Its purpose was economic: to save on expenditure on weapons, and to form joint expeditionary forces.”

Former Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said at the time: “There are many reasons why this co-operation makes sense. We are Europe’s only nuclear powers. We have the largest defence budgets and are the only two countries with real, large-scale expeditionary capability.

“We are both permanent members of the UN Security Council, and leading members of the G8 and G20.

“There is no better time to deepen our relationship with France. Since President Sarkozy came into office we have seen a vigorous attempt to bring Europe and the United States closer together, and to bring France deeper into NATO.

“The Anglo French Defence Co-operation Treaty has energised efforts to facilitate mutual training and improve interoperability.”

5 SCOTS and 152nd Infantry Regiment exchanged different methods of military tactics used by the two Armies to make it easier for both formations to train, and ultimately serve in future conflicts together.

CENZUB is the largest urban warfare training facility in Europe, and to date has cost €100 million to build, with new construction still ongoing.

5 SCOTS will host a French Army unit in the UK during 2012.

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