USS NASSAU --
Soldiers from the French Foreign Legion’s 13th Demi-Brigade met with senior leadership from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Amphibious Squadron 8, and USS Nassau here Wednesday during a key leader engagement event focused on reinforcing ties between U.S. and French militaries.
A group of ten French soldiers were welcomed aboard by the commanding officers from both the Marine and Navy units this afternoon after a short flight on an MV-22 Osprey from Camp Lemonier, a joint base in the East African country of Djibouti where the visiting French unit is currently deployed.
“Whenever we interact with foreign military it’s a significant event,” said Col. Pete Petronzio, commanding officer for 24th MEU. “We operate in a joint coalition, interagency world, and today is just another example of that.”
Marines from the 24th MEU have been conducting training exercises with the French in Djibouti throughout the month of March.
The visit to USS Nassau is an effort by the Marines to educate and familiarize their French partners with the unique relationship between the Marine Corps and the Navy.
“There has been good cooperation between the French and the Marines on shore,” said Col. Thierry Burkhard, commanding officer of the 13th Demi-Brigade, French Foreign Legion.
Their visit to USS Nassau is not a conclusion of this cooperation, said Burkhard, mentioning that he plans to invite a platoon of Marines to live with his soldiers and participate in an upcoming training exercise where the Marines and Foreign Legion will act as an opposing force for another French Army unit.
While on board the French soldiers were treated to lunch, given a presentation on capabilities of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, and toured the ship.
“We have a great history with the French and enjoyed hosting them here to showcase our Navy-Marine Corps team,” said Petronzio. “The MEU and PHIBRON serve as an ambassadorial delegation of the U.S. and we are proud to represent our military and country to all.” T
he 24th MEU is made up of the following units: Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (based out of New River Air Station N.C.), Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment (based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.), and Combat Logistics Battalion 24 (based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.) . They are currently deployed on ships from Amphibious Squadron 8 (PHIBRON 8) : the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4), the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48).
The 24th MEU has been conducting various training exercises in Djibouti the past month, many of which have been bi-lateral with French units.
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