High-performance assets alone do not make a navy efficient. Technical and operational expertise and training are equally important. In addition to giving client armed forces access to a wide range of initial and ongoing training services, France also shares its vast operational know-how with partner countries. For over 30 years, this mission has fallen to DCI (Défense Conseil International), the French specialists in defence training, consultancy and support. Some 70% of DCI’s staff are serving or recently retired military personnel. Every year, DCI organises 160 training programmes for 3,500 or more trainees.
While contractors provide technical and maintenance training for their respective products, Navfco, DCI’s naval arm, offers access to tactical and operational training in partnership with the French Navy, whether as part of defence acquisition programmes or long-term partnerships as in the case of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
(© : DCI)
Services include refresher, specialist and advanced training courses as well as complete programmes lasting four to seven years. In France, Navfco trainees enjoy full board and support while receiving the same training and earning the same qualifications as French Navy officers and petty officers. In addition to theory classes, trainees attend specialist courses before moving on to at-sea training in platform management and naval warfare tactics under the watchful eye of DCI instructors. Trainees also learn the importance of teamwork, the key to effective naval operations.
In 2013, DCI set up NavOcéan, a joint venture with shipbuilder Piriou, to operate the Almak, a new vessel designed specifically to train international crews. This vessel has a core crew of eight accompanied by two instructors and up to 16 trainees. A streamlined maintenance schedule ensures that the Almak is at sea for up to 40 weeks per year. Supervised by Navfco instructors, trainees then progress to surface combatants or submarines in service with the French Navy or their home country’s naval forces. In the case of the Scorpene SSKs acquired by Malaysia, a retired French Agosta SSK was returned to service specifically to train the country’s first 146 submariners.
In 2015, DCI launched a 22-month training programme in Mumbai for the first 100 submariners for the Indian Navy’s new Scorpene SSKs. The latest challenge is another major training programme, this time in Egypt. In just three months, DCI aims to train 500 crew members for FREMM frigate Tahya Misr and BPC-type LHDs Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar el-Sadat.