NIMES, France --
Since 1778, the U.S. Marine Corps has kept a long-standing relationship with the French Armed Forces. Maj. Gen. Francis Donovan, 2d Marine Division (2d MARDIV) commanding general, and Sgt. Maj. Daniel Krause, 2d MARDIV sergeant major, traveled to France to visit with the command staff of the 6th Light Armoured Brigade (6th LAB).
Additionally, Donovan and Krause visited U.S. Marines with 2d Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (2/6), 2d MARDIV, who were participating in Exercise Skrenvil, an amphibious bilateral training evolution that enhanced interoperability between U.S. Marines, and the French Army and Navy.
Donovan and Krause met with Brig. Gen. Jean-Christophe Béchon, 6th LAB commanding general, to tour five 6th LAB units across Southern France. The host unit demonstrated key capabilities of the French forces during that time.
“The relationship between 2d MARDIV and 6th LAB has a long history,” Béchon said. “Common knowledge among leaders is a key to success. It is important to check our process and get to know each other in hopes to implement future training exercises, and in hopes we will be able to go forward and develop many more command exercises.”
In 2014, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the French Chief of the Army signed a memorandum outlining the initiative to find ways to work together. Five years later, the Marine Corps assigned 2d MARDIV to work alongside 6th LAB in future military operations.
As a result of the assignment, Marines with 3rd Platoon, Echo Company, 2/6, trained alongside French Foreign Legion soldiers aboard French amphibious helicopter carrier Dixmude for two weeks in support of Exercise Skrenvil.
U.S. Marines and French Foreign Legion soldiers completed the exercise in three phases: planning, testing and execution. The allied forces conducted an amphibious landing in Valras-Plage, France. After securing the shores, 3rd Platoon maneuvered to secure a bridge, seize an airport, and make contact with the opposing force. As a result of the exercise, American and French service members exchanged tactics, techniques, and procedures to strengthen the bonds and cooperation between the forces.
“This experience has been awesome,” said Sgt. Kaven Stockton, a Butler, Kentucky, native and squad leader with 2/6. “The platoon we’ve been working with has taken us under their wing and showed us how they operate as a whole.”
As military forces around the world look toward the future with modernization, visits like these assist in sharing of ideas with purposeful meetings and training.
“That’s what we’re leaning towards, meaningful engagements, good return on investment on both sides, targeted engagement that we’re both trying to achieve something that we could then end up employing our forces together in a crisis…” said Donovan.
The Marines were ultimately able to visit 5 of 7 regiments of the French Army alongside Bechon, allowing the conversations to develop and relationship opportunities to increase.