The British Army’s 1st (United Kingdom) Division is to be led by a French Brigadier General for the second time in its history.
Allied officers commanding the forces of other, allied nations is a common event. British officers have commanded French troops before.
The Army say that under the Lancaster House agreement of 2010, the French and British agreed to closer defence cooperation and have since built a strong relationship. There are a number of exchange officers on both sides of the Channel enhancing military interoperability.
According to the British Army here, Brigadier General Jean Laurentin today assumed command from Major General Charlie Collins DSO OBE until September when his permanent replacement arrives.
“He is stepping up from his role as Deputy Commander of 1st (UK) Division, mirroring the temporary appointment of Brigadier General Hervé Bizeul in similar circumstances five years ago – a first for the British Army. Under the Lancaster House agreement of 2010, the French and British agreed to closer defence cooperation and have since built a strong relationship. There are a number of exchange officers on both sides of the Channel enhancing military interoperability.”
Major General Collins was quoted as saying:
“It is symbolic of the enduring friendship and mutual trust between our two nations that my deputy commander Brigadier General Laurentin will take command of the 1st (United Kingdom) Division until a new General Officer is appointed. He has my full confidence as a proven commander and outstanding leader. The historical bond between the 1st (UK) Division and the 1re (French) Division continues to deepen and demonstrates a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force Land partnership that is stronger than ever.”
The Army added that “the British Army has two Divisions (about 25,000 soldiers each) with the 1st (UK) Division being formed in 1809”.
“Since the turn of the 20th Century, it has served in the world wars, the Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo. It currently has just over 1,000 troops deployed on operations and supporting other military commitments, including training roles, around the globe. It is the British Army’s most versatile force – light, agile, lethal and expeditionary. Active and effective at home and overseas. Trusted by defence and the nation as a multi-talented workforce with unique capabilities.”