A French brigadier-general will be appointed a deputy commander of a British Army (Light Dragoons Blog News) division for the first time, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The move is part of an exchange programme aimed at strengthening ties between the two nations.

The as-yet-unnamed officer, who starts in April, will command the 1st (UK) Division when its commanding officer is on leave, MoD officials confirmed.

As part of the exchange, the British officer colonel Nick Nottingham will take up a similar role in the French army.

An army spokeswoman said: These and the 17-plus posts that are exchanged between the French and British armies demonstrate the long-term commitment to providing security at home and abroad.

The French officer will be one of two deputy divisional commanders. The appointment will be made in accordance with a 2010 treaty that aimed to foster closer military ties between France and the UK.

An army source told the Telegraph1 that the French soldier was unlikely to command British soldiers in the field on a foreign deployment in the near future.

The agreement was signed by the then French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and David Cameron. It provides for the sharing and pooling of materials and equipment, including the building of joint military facilities, mutual access to each country s defence markets, and industrial and technological cooperation.

Last year, an American brigadier-general was appointed to the deputy command of the 3rd (UK) Division. Speaking at the time, Michael Tarsa said it was an honour to be given the role.

There were about 60 French officers deployed across the whole of the British armed forces, including the 17 in the army, according to the Telegraph.

One senior officer said: Whenever you deal with the Americans, because of their size, they are always the elephant and we are always the mouse. No matter how courteous they are, it s very clear who is in charge.

We ve found working with the French, that they are a similar size to us, we ve both had empires and we just seem to understand each other. It turns out the language barrier isn t as important as we thought. It s all about distance and scale.


  1. ^ told the Telegraph (
  2. ^ Nicolas Sarkozy (

In November last year, at about the same time that the controversial compensation deal with Danny Morrison and others was signed off by government lawyers, police in Northern Ireland arrested a former British paratrooper (Sean O Neill writes).

Soldier J, 66, was taken to Antrim police station where he was interviewed over the deaths of 14 civil rights marchers, shot and killed by paratroopers on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972.

Were he to be convicted, Soldier J would not qualify for the early release scheme from which hundreds of republican and loyalist inmates benefited after the signing of the Belfast

Donald Trump1 has claimed more British Muslims join Islamic State than join the British armed forces, but can that really be true?

The US Republican presidential candidate tweeted the statement in response to a petition demanding he be banned from the UK for his support of a total and complete shutdown 2 of US borders to Muslims.

Trump s tweets have been disputed in the past: he claimed in the same hour that the Sun s Katie Hopkins was a respected columnist. But is this statistic true?

Where does this claim come from?

Trump is not the first to make this allegation and it is not a fringe opinion. The National Review article he links to has no figures but has a hyperlink to a Times article from August 20143, citing the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr, Khalid Mahmood4, who said there were easily 1,500 jihadis and about 560 Muslims in the armed forces. Those figures are in some dispute.

Donald Trump s comments on British Muslims prompted a show of solidarity outside an east London mosque. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

How many Muslims are in Britain s armed forces?

According to a freedom of information request5 to the Ministry of Defence from 2014, there are 640 Muslims in the armed forces: 550 in the army, 40 in the navy and 50 in the air force.

FOI from 2014. Photograph: FOI

How many Muslims are fighting with Isis?

Shiraz Maher, a senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King s College London, estimates that 750 Muslims have gone to Syria to fight over the last three to four years.6

Related: With just a few tweets, Donald Trump has redesigned Britain | Archie Bland7

But that figure needs breaking down before we can definitively say there are more Muslims fighting in Isis than in the British Army (Light Dragoons Blog News). Maher, who has dedicated his research to tracking British fighters, says many recruits in the beginning did not join Isis.

Isis is a fairly late actor. Most of those who went out in the earlier phases of the civil war were not joining Isis, they were going to Jabhat al-Nusra8, and many other groups.

Since last year, though, it has been pretty much one-way traffic to Islamic State9, but at the beginning it was much more diverse and we don t really know for sure where they went.

There are not 750 British people currently fighting with Isis this is a cumulative figure. The British government estimates at least 260 have returned to the UK, which may be for a number of reasons, but many may have returned after becoming disillusioned at how different rebel groups were subsumed by Isis in the past two years.

Maher has counted 50 Britons who have died in combat, although the government s estimate is 60. Many more fighters in that 750 figure who left for Syria are also likely to be dead or disengaged, but their whereabouts are unknown.

That leaves an estimate of approximately 430 to 440 British fighters alive and currently in Syria, and there is a good chance that the majority are with Isis, Maher said.

It is not really accurate to compare a cumulative number of fighters heading to Isis over a number of years with the current number of Muslim recruits in the British Army (Light Dragoons Blog News). But we can say one thing:

At no point over the past three years has the number of active British Isis fighters eclipsed the number of serving Muslims in the British armed forces.


  1. ^ Donald Trump (
  2. ^ total and complete shutdown (
  3. ^ a Times article from August 2014 (
  4. ^ Khalid Mahmood (
  5. ^ According to a freedom of information request (
  6. ^ Shiraz Maher (
  7. ^ With just a few tweets, Donald Trump has redesigned Britain | Archie Bland (
  8. ^ Jabhat al-Nusra (
  9. ^ Islamic State (