Entente not so cordiale as French pull-out forces cancellation of major Royal Marine exercise
Westcountry based Royal Marines have been forced to cancel their biggest amphibious landing for more than a decade after their French allies pulled out, it has been claimed.
More than 1,500 commandos had been in training to storm the shoreline of Djibouti in the Middle East as part of the Cougar 13 deployment.
It has been planned that around 500 French Troupes de Marine would provided back up.
However, the exercise has been cancelled and another rearranged after the French decided to cancel in the wake of what is said to be a breakdown in relations over “administrational issues”.
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Royal Marines - the majority of which are from Plymouth’s 42 Cdo - were said to be furious about the issue as Exercise Djibouti Lion had taken a year to set up.
Moreover, is understood that getting to the venue itself cost the Royal Navy flotilla, which is led by Devonport based HMS Bulwark, £1million plus in fuel.
The landing was due to take place later this month under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Neil Sutherland.
A Navy source told The Mail on Sunday:
“Djibouti Lion had been planned for at least a year in advance and was supposed to be the set-piece event of 2013 for the Marines – with the amphibious assault being bigger than anything we’ve done since 2000.
“Everyone is gutted. Djibouti had been chosen to stage the amphibious landing because there was nowhere in Britain big enough for so many Marines to come ashore.
“There was no point us conducting the exercise on our own after the French pulled out. The whole point of Djibouti Lion was to test how we can operate together, with British and French marines fighting shoulder to shoulder. So when the French left it was game over. So much for entente cordiale!”
The Ministry of Defence confirmed the exercise had been scrapped. The French Defence Ministry declined to comment.