AUBAGNE, France --
Since 1778, the U.S. Marine Corps has been cultivating a unique partnership with the French Armed Forces. To further strengthen the relationship, Maj. Gen. Francis Donovan, 2d Marine Division’s (2d MARDIV) commanding general, recently traveled to France to visit with the command staff of the 6th Light Armoured Brigade (6th LAB) and commemorate the Battle of Camerone.
Brig. Gen. Alain Lardet, the commanding general of the French Foreign Legion, hosted Maj. Gen. Donovan, at the French Camerone Ceremony at French Foreign Legion Headquarters in Aubagne, France on 30 May 2022. The ceremony marks the 159th anniversary of the Battle of Camerone, in which 62 Legionnaires and three Legion officers repelled repeated assaults by more than 3,000 Mexican infantry and cavalrymen, as they defended their positions at Hacienda Camarón, in Camarón de Tejeda, Veracruz, Mexico. The reputation of the legendary bravery of the French Foreign Legion derives from their actions during this battle. The attendance of Donovan at the ceremony was a part of a larger visit with the Commanding General of 6th LAB, Brigadier General Eric Ozanne, which included briefs from various major subordinate commands of the French 6th LAB and French Maritime Forces Command.
“The relationship we have built between 2d MARDIV and 6th LAB lays the foundation for future integration in both training and future operations” said Donovan. “Training with our French Allies aligns to the guidance put forth by our Commandant, which recognizes the strategic importance of close alignment with our partners and Allies.”
This year, leadership and service members from 2d MARDIV shared in the tradition by attending two different ceremonies, one overseas in France and one during a service-level training exercise in California. On April 30, 2022, Staff Non-commissioned Officers and Officers from 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment; 2d Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment; and 2d Marines, 2d MARDIV, along with French Foreign Legion soldiers, participated in a separate ceremony, sharing in the history and memorializing the Battle of Camerone, at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California.
U.S. Marines and French Foreign Legionnaires took a moment to reflect on and remember those who lost their lives in the Battle of Camerone. The unwavering courage from the legionnaires is remembered every year during this ceremony.
“The legionnaires celebrated the Battle of Camerone alongside us in a field environment on 30 April,” said Sgt. Maj. Daniel Krause, 2d MARDIV’s sergeant major. “Just like how we celebrate our Marine Corps birthday no matter where we are in the world. Taking the time to pause and reflect on our history with celebrations and traditions like these, continues to build our bond and strengthen our friendships.”
In 2014, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the French Chief of the Army signed a memorandum outlining the initiative to find additional ways to partner and train together. In 2019, the Marine Corps assigned 2d MARDIV to work alongside 6th LAB in future military operations.
Since then, the Marines of 2d MARDIV have operated alongside French Foreign Legion soldiers in France and in the United States, and key leadership from both 2d MARDIV and 6th LAB have visited one another’s headquarters. Each training or visit provided an opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between 2d MARDIV and 6th LAB.
A memorandum of cooperation between 6th LAB and 2d MARDIV was re-signed in 2021 in order to, “facilitate the development of interoperability and continued friendship at the regiment and battalion level.” As a part of the memorandum, subordinate units within 2d MARDIV have been consistently partnering with 6th LAB and have conducted operational, short-duration training activities based on embedded cadres of Officers and Noncommissioned Officers.
This ongoing training and integration is a direct contribution to the future of the force, as directed in the 38th Commandant’s Planning Guidance: “Our wargames have shown that in any great power conflict, our alliances are an essential factor to achieving success. We will fight in defense of our allies and will operate in close alignment with them, from their territories, alongside their ships and aircraft, and in cooperative and even integrated formations on the ground. We must work with them in peace to be ready to partner with them in war.” The enduring relationship forged between 2d MARDIV and 6th LAB has and will continue to ensure our forces are prepared to engage any future adversary.