Dean leaps in with the Legionnaires

french connection: Pte Dean Brown trains with the French Foreign Legion
french connection: Pte Dean Brown trains with the French Foreign Legion
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A Chorley paratrooper has made a French connection.

Private Dean Brown trained with the French Foreign Legion on his first overseas exercise since joining the British Army.

Pte Brown, 20, of Colchester-based 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA), was on Exercise Blue Legionnaire in Corsica, alongside troops from 2e Regiment Etranger de Parachutistes(2e REP).

The exercise was designed to improve the ability of 2 PARA and 2e REP to work together. The two units are part of a partnership between the British 16 Air Assault Brigade and the French 11e Brigade Parachutiste, which stands at high readiness to deploy together on contingency operations ranging from war fighting to disaster relief.

Pte Brown, who joined 2 PARA in November after completing his basic training, said: “The exercise has been everything that I expected and the Foreign Legion have been really good guys.

“They’re the same quality of soldiers as we are and, because of that, we understand each other.”

During the two-week exercise he has used the Giat Famas assault rifle, the standard weapon of the French Army, learned French tactics and techniques for beach assaults and fighting in built-up areas, climbed the island’s snow-capped mountains; and tackled 2e REP’s assault course.

Dean, a keen kickboxer, added: “Getting out into the mountains and learning how to use ice axes and crampons was a fantastic experience.

“I’ve never done anything like it and the views from the summit were amazing.”

The former pupil of Parklands High School, Chorley, added: “I’ve wanted to be in the Army since I was a boy.

“I only wanted to go into the Paras because they’re the best, which is what I want to be.”

16 Air Assault Brigade is the British Army’s largest brigade with 6,100 soldiers, combining the speed and agility of airborne and air assault troops with the potency of Apache attack helicopters.

The brigade deployed to Afghanistan between October 2010 and April 2011 and since its return has focused across a number of commitments, most significantly its core role as the Air Assault Task Force (AATF), ready to deploy on operations anywhere in the world at short notice.