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French and Canadians - working together to learn

By Cpl. David Thomas
First published in
SFOR Informer#104, January 10, 2001

Glamoc - Without lights, a Canadian Coyote climbs the road up and out of the town. A French light armoured vehicle (VBL) and an APC (VAB) follow it. The last two kilometres are driven in the dark to avoid detection.
The Canadian soldiers from 2nd Troop of B Battery of the Lord Strathcona's Horse Royal Canadian (LdSh-RC) are carrying out a tactical intelligence mission in Glamoc. Their headquarters reports movements close to an old factory, possibly anti-Dayton elements.
The French soldiers from the 1st platoon of the 3rd company of the 110th Infantry Regiment (RI) who serve in the Franco-German Brigade (BFA), based in Mostar, are there to observe.
During the week-long night operations, Canadian Lt. Aaron Paronuzzi, French Lt. Gonzague-Arnaud Prouvost and Master Corporal Mike Andrews and MC. Neil Rook met each evening to determine the mission.
After two hours, the Coyote finally deploys its mast, which can go up to 7.62 m. The mission can now start. "We are carrying out missions like this one across our Area of Responsibility (AOR). This system allows us to use a thermal infra-red camera and a radar in a particular area of forest or downtown," explained Sgt Andrews. "This camera, which is third generation, can read the name of a soldier on his uniform within a 6 km range, the radar can see a man walking within 24 km," he went on.
"If we see something suspicious, we call our patrol which can go into action." The French platoon of Lt. Prouvost studies the system with interest. "During this exchange, we have complete open-mindedness to joint work. Moreover, it's a very good lesson on intelligence," emphasised the BFA officer.
"We discover new ways of working," said French Capt. Michel Magne, Company Commander. "With them, (the radar and camera) we could work in monitoring 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: their night-work complements what we do throughout the day."
Each takes his turn at the monitoring station, Canadians and French observing Glamoc and its neighbourhoods: although the units are working exercise scenarios in reality the area is very quiet.
Co-operation between the Canadian didn’t stop in MND-SW though. One week after this operation, Canadians began discovering French methods of working in MND-SE during operation "Hibou".
A total of 45 French and Canadian soldiers were involved in an exchange between MND-SW and SE. "By working together, I found it easier to find similarities than it is to find differences between our armies," said 1Lt. Aaron Paronuzzi. "I got to practice my French, it's great." "We all have learned a lot from each other," said 1Lt. Gonzague-Arnaud Prouvost "The experience is extremely valuable. Canadians have a great vehicle. We can do our work much more effectively with the Coyote. It is our first opportunity to work with Canadians, this exchange should be done more often and for longer periods."
A similar exchange between the Spanish Battle Group and the Canadian Battle Group was organised. The German and the Dutch Battle Groups are also discussing the possibility of such an exchange in 2001.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: France, Canada
SFOR at Work