US Army Soldiers assigned to the East Africa Response Force (EARF) in support of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and French Soldiers assigned to the 5th Overseas Intermarines Regiment (RIAOM) participated in a live-fire joint artillery training event at the Djiboutian Range Complex, Djibouti, at the beginning of February.
The purpose of the joint training was to share French and US artillery techniques and further the relationship between EARF Soldiers and the 5th RIAOM, CJTF-HOA said.
“This is the first time in over 4 years the US and French have conducted a joint artillery training exercise like this,” said US Army Captain Charles Hartwig, battalion fire-support officer.
Starting in December of 2020 the US Soldiers invited the French artillery unit to Camp Lemonnier to conduct call-for-fire training.
“We did some joint observer training where the French came here and they used our call-for-fire trainer with us which is a computer system to practice call-for-fire,” Hartwig said.
A week later, the French returned the invite and hosted US Soldiers at the French base.
“We went over to the French base and they had kind of an artillery show and tell,” Hartwig said. They showed us their howitzer, computer systems, vehicles and we went to observe and during that time we started to really plan the joint fire exercise for the beginning of February and we had a few safety meetings after that.”
According to Hartwig, the meetings and knowledge exchanges leading up to the culminating live-fire exercise were extremely valuable.
“The biggest take away for the Soldiers is the understanding of a conventional warfare setting, especially working alongside our NATO Allies,” Hartwig said.
Both the French and US agreed there are more similarities than differences in their artillery procedures.
“There are some differences, but the chain of command is roughly the same,” said French Lt. Cedric Duqenois. “It’s very important for our Nations to teach each other procedures so it’s easier to fight together when we go on international missions.”
According to Hartwig and Duqenois the live-fire event was a huge success and they have already started planning their next one.
“The value in this training is unbelievable, not just for the technical side but being able to meet Soldiers from different countries,” Hartwig said. “Having that commonality is something that every Soldier from both the French and US forces has said needs to continue to happen and that it was some of the best things that they have ever done in their careers — so we want to make sure we continue this moving forward with the incoming units.”