A SOLDIER from Dewsbury has been making the most of a real French connection.
Pte Jade Barber has taken part in the very first Anglo-French training exercise since the signing of a joint defence treaty late last year.
The 19-year-old medic from Thornhill joined 130 soldiers in tackling training for operations into built-up areas.
And she praised the state-of-the-art training centre they used in north-east France. “It’s great there,” she said. “The other ranges I have been on might use two or three buildings, but here there are 20 in one village or 30 in a town, so it puts a much bigger picture into practice.”
The former St John Fisher RC School pupil joined the Army in 2008 and was one of several medics in her regiment attached to the Coldstream Guards for the exercise. She developed her training as a medic while the rest of the company honed their skills as infantrymen.
The ultra-modern centre is where French forces do their training for built-up area operations. The two-week exercise marked the first steps towards long-term integration between British and French armies at all levels.
“The centre has a firing range, small village and a town complete with town square, a multi-storey car park and a river.”
Jade, of 5 Medical Regiment, said: “The boys in the platoon go through the buildings and fight the enemy and, as a medic, I stay back.
“If there are casualties they are evacuated to me and I treat them.”
She thinks there is still much to learn for both sides.
“When the French give briefings some don’t speak English so you have to use translators and I found that difficult because you are listening to it twice,” said Jade. “You have to get as much as you can out of it though, to see how they do things and compare how we do things. There quite a lot of differences in methods, but I have noticed we can definitely learn.”