(www.army.mil – By 1st Lt. Stefan Gazda) US, French Foreign Legion paratroopers conduct combined training in Corsica

CALVI, France (Sept. 21, 2015) — Paratroopers, assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, conducted bilateral training with the French 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment, French Foreign Legion, during Exercise Kepi Blanc here, Sept. 1-16.

Kepi Blanc, named for the distinctive headgear worn by the Foreign Legion, is a partnered training exercise between the United States and France to strengthen NATO capabilities through allied training and to establish a lasting partnership with between U.S. and French airborne units.

“It was a great training opportunity to expand our interoperability between our NATO allies,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Cole, scout platoon sergeant, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. “It was the first time our unit has worked with the French Foreign Legion and hopefully we have opened the doors for future training with them.”

The two groups of paratroopers began the training exercise by conducting combined marksmanship training and exchanged close-quarters marksmanship training techniques. During that time, the legionnaires, who qualified with the U.S. standards, were awarded U.S. marksmanship badges.

The next part of training included mountaineering, amphibious warfare and close-combat attack training utilizing French SA 341/SA 342 Gazelle scout helicopters.

“This was an outstanding training event,” said Sgt. Christopher T. Sylvester, sniper section leader for 1st Battalion. “We were able to hit all four corners of our mission-essential task list. There is nothing the area and the legion can’t provide for a scout platoon; the island is a unique experience providing a multitude of varying terrain.”

The focus shifted the second week of the exercise when the U.S. paratroopers were integrated into legion’s yearly platoon validation course – a field training exercise executed over the entirety of northwestern Corsica with long foot movements over dense mountainous terrain. (…)

After the French exercise, the scout platoon is scheduled to conduct another combined training – reconnaissance operations with the 8th Engineer Regiment of the Italian army’s Folgore Airborne Brigade.

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Photo Credit: U.S. Army snipers, from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, scout a target during combined Exercise Kepi Blanc with the French Foreign Legion in Calvi, France, Sept. 8, 2015 ( http://www.army.mil/article/155774/)