Exercise Citadel Guibert 18, which is taking place this week in Reims, France, plays a key part in the close relationship between 12 UK Armoured Infantry Brigade and their French counterparts in the 1st French Division, say officials.

Both the British and French armed forces provide a rapid reaction force, held at high readiness to deploy on operations anywhere in the world say the British Army in a press release.

“Together they form the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) designed to deploy across the full spectrum of contingency operations, ranging from disaster relief to war fighting.

Exercise Citadel Guibert saw staff from the two nations working side-by-side, as well as with other NATO allies, to practise command and control of an operation to stabilise a fictional region troubled by international disputes, terrorism and humanitarian problems.”

Captain Ian Thornton, 12 AI Brigade Battle Captain, said of the exercise:

“Exercise Citadel Guibert is essentially designed to prove that we can fight effectively as allies, in seamless terms.

The scenario sees an insurgency break away and declare independence. The 1st French Division deploys to ensure the end state. As part of the plan, 12 AI Brigade move over the divisional border to take key objectives and persuade the insurgents to surrender.”

The CJEF is based on a lead nation approach with one or other nation providing the majority of the troops and command structure, depending on the operational and political situation.

The Rapid Reaction Corps-France is a NATO unit capable of commanding national or multinational forces. Its mission is to provide France with a rapidly deployable headquarters that can be employed within the full mission spectrum and under several mandates (French, NATO, EU, Coalition or Partner Nation). It consists of representatives from 15 countries.


  1. Tightening military links with what will be former EU partners, should help during and after the Brexit transitional period. The Teresa May is right to envision the importance of leaving the EU, but not Europe. I would like to see increased military cooperation between the UK and Germany too. I know the UK will have little or no part in the planned EU Military Council, however, I believe both France and Germany will wish to continue strong and close cooperation with the UK, regardless of what happens to the current NATO status.

    • Come on David, you know as well as I do that Germany can still field a formidable force, even with the few serviceable L2/6’s they currently have in service. Germany has a bit of an issue on its hands. If it spends billions on rearming its forces to say, 1960’s levels, she might just find herself as a prime contributor to EU and European defence? Current leadership and the hodgepodge coalition government, simply appear not to be too enthused by being top dog in the military stakes.

      • Maurice there’s precious little evidence that Germany intends to expand it’s military in any significant way. They’ve got us to a small extent but mostly the US for that job while they spend the cash they save on their economy.

  2. Germany is still a force to be reckoned with. Their ORBAT is on a par with ours but short of the French, who have more paras, tanks, guns and helicopters than anyone but the Turks! We will always be uneasy partners but 200 years of detente must count for something! Macron seems more plausible than previous French premier’s but brexit still rankles for all. The grown ups however are starting to get their heads around it. So must we. Without selling ourselves down the river.

  3. Bill..spot on..the last line is telling
    Without selling ourselves down the river.
    We need to remember that in terms of defence, security, intelligence we hold most of the cards and are the number 2 militarily in Europe. After France. Although if we get some key programmes right and a small increase in military personnel numbers we could surpass France. Key programmes to invest in
    More astute class subs aim for a further 3-4 subs.
    Poseidon MPA 9 aircraft is really a token force able to reactively deploy to threat areas not proactively hunt down and prosecute enemy contacts over a large maritime area. We need a further 6 aircraft at least.
    Type 26 frigate- these are war winners, revert back to 13 hulls
    Type 31 for patrol and lower threat areas+ ability to conduct limited high intensity warfare we need 8-10 hulls
    RAF Ned to bring into service large numbers of F35B more than 80 airframes and then any spare funds available could be used to purchase a small number of the A version.
    Eurofighter typhoon has emerged now after billions spent on its development as a true multi role fighter. Would be very happy if the RAF is allowed a further 48 aircraft of tranche 3 or a new tranche 4 specification.
    Army needs uplift in manpower, development and refurbishment of home based so fit for purpose and funds to develop challenger 3.
    Apache helicopter is fantastic value and offers outstanding bangs for bucks, order more than 54 please we should have hundreds of these aircraft.

    • Do you never get bored with fantasy numbers? Have you thought if taking up bird watching or train spotting “If only we had some more Deltics and Mk 2Fs, we could solve the railway problems.”

  4. I think Mr Bell is quite right to be expansive in looking at what we actually NEED as a minimum force, as opposed to slavishly accepting what we’re told we can afford by politicians and governments with different agendas.

    I doubt that one Brit in 10,000 has the faintest idea how slim our armed forces have become and how little we could now influence any major conflict. They bask in the warm glow of having a couple of big-ticket items, in the SSBNs and carriers, and believe all the government boasting about how little Britain is spending more than anyone else in NATO Europe. The reality is we are actually 16th on the list of Fast Jet Combat Aircraft pro rata to population, only Germany is lower in western Europe. We can field fewer army combat brigades, usually by some way, than France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Poland etc. Even the RN is now smaller in manpower than the French and Italians.

    It is astonishing how little capability we actually get for the large sum we spend on defence.

    I think it’s time that MPs and the public start to hear what the UK actually needs and the major shortfalls we have, rather than this endless political twaddle disguising the next round of salami-slicing cuts.

    I could make a strong case for having minimum 12 regular combat brigades. We only have 5 just now, including 3 Cdo Bde, with a 6th promised (the second strike bde) in 2025. We need a 10 year, 2030 plan, and in that plan we need to raise 3 additional infantry bns and a commensurate number of CS and CSS troops to facilitate the formation of a 7th bde. And we need to do likewise in the 2040 plan, with an 8th bde.

    The picture has been (deliberately) clouded by the 7 UK paper brigades. They are administrative brigades, not combat ones, though one could squeeze two combat brigades out of the regular troops given time in an emergency. The Army volunteer reserve units would need somewhere between 90 and 180 days continuous training to be getting to a war-fighting stage (and they’d need some proper kit to boot).

    Could make the same case for Fast Jet Combat Aircraft, where the long-term plan is (maybe!) 245 aircraft at some distant point in the 2030s but the minimum operational need is for around 360.

    Given Trump’s description of NATO as ‘obsolete’ and threats about US involvement if other NATO members do not increase their defence spending by large amounts pronto, NATO Europe needs to beef up our forces because we cannot be sure the USA will rush to our aid.

    The bottom line is that we are not spending what we need to on defence, by a good way. It absolutely needs to be increasing year-in-year to 2.5% of GNP or even 3% by 2030. There is currently no way this is going to happen, because one major party is committed to relentless, continuous cuts in public spending and the other, under its current leadership, is wedded to putting all available money into welfare services. And the public trundles along believing all the hype and spin about our ‘world-class’ defence forces and thinking all is well.

    It bloody well isn’t and it’s time that some independent body somewhere sets out fully exactly how short we are, what is needed and what – minus glitsy new big-ticket toys – is actually needed to plus the basic and obvious shortfalls.


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