December 29 2004 - post from
E.V. (KBF) Who was accepted and subsequently deserted
December 15 2004 - post from
E.V. (nick name Tragedy) "An american who was told to come back in 18
September 27 2004 - post from
E.V. who decided the Legion was not for him and got himself released
after six months and Follow up as to reason to depart
29 2004 - Excellent post about Joining and basic training by Juxtaman
15 2004 - Post Info about Fort Nogent (Paris) recruitment center
7 2004 - Post from Tony reply to commando question
7 2004 - Post from E.V. (volunteer recruit)Mike who just returned from
7 2004 - Post from Tony reply to commando question
2004 - Post from E.V. (volunteer recruit) who just returned from the
2004 - Post about French Special Forces By Peter Lyderik
27 2004 - Letter from brother who joined recently. It is in English and
2004 - Latest Information from legionnaire who returned after BSLE
2b - Latest
Information from a serving legionnaire
2003 post about eyesight
1b - Latest
Information from legionnaire who returned after going rouge
Letter/post of enlistment requirements
Latest Information from E.V.
letter/post about joining procedures
- Letter/post Cooper test info
letter/post about joining and basic training
Letter/post about joining and leaving
Personal view of joining the Legion
Letter/post joining process
letter/post about joining process
Joining criteria of a recruitment officer
Information about Legion commandos
Tips about joining
11 - tips
12 - Pay in
Letter/post about joining the Legion
Letter/post about joining the Legion
15 - A
poem about the Legion
Latest(jul-aug 2001) info about joining the Legion
Various info about the Legion (pay, french citizenship, etc)
- Letter/post about what to bring when joining (June-25-2002)
- Letter/post from Legionnaire presently in basic training
Letter/post apt reply By former warrant officer to insulting
Directions to reqruitment station in Paris
Epsa's account of joining, basic training and leaving.
Re: [wannabe] joining somewhere in summer 2010
Update:So, I made it in, I write this day by day like a diary and not from memory (some syntax edited by Voltigeur for easier reading)
I did get selected with a group of 25 out of a group of 39, 5 guys were Europeans.
I did 9 paliers and 8 tractions, climbed the rope with my feet.
In the psychotechnic test, I scored very high showing my six years of university were not in vain.
It took me 2 days to get black, 2 to get green and 13 to become rouge. The group that went before mine had 29 selected out of 50.
As I see it, the selection consists of passing the tests, being approved by your immediate superiors, like the caporals and sergents, and only after that the comission decides.
I saw the selection process as being a transparent and righteous. Every arrogant guy was put in place and I believe that the people meant for the legion were in at the end.
I don't say that because just because I got selected myself.
I spent a total of 9 days working outside the base in legion facilities, that and seeing the just incorporated legionnaries helped me to get to know what would have awaited me had seen it through.
I didn't see corruption or ethnic bands or anything. Contrary to what you have heard all languages you know will help you communicate, especially English.
One given day there where 135 people doing selection, 25 of whom where russian speakers, about 15 rumanians, etc.
Most are here for the money because of the crisis and the romantics and those don't last long, but the legion wouldn't be what it is if it didn't take people with a harsh past.
I had a very realistic idea of what it would be and am highly motivated to go professional and I know there are others that will strive also to achieve the best.
When you get rouge you are initiated to army tasks, like doing guard duty, learning the code of honor, recognize different ranks and, last but not least, cleaning the rooms of your superiors.
So far I haven't ever had a problem with authority.
Many guys need additional guidance as they don't understand orders, more so in an unknown foreign language or are unwilling to work in a group.
Physical fights are strictly prohibited between equals in rank. I am worried about the rumours of homosexuals being attracted to the legion, but have not seen anything compromising by myself, yet.
We were issued the gear we will need at Castel and today we received the money, 170 euros each. It will be deducted from our salary later.
There are people in our group with military experience and for me they, and the francophones are the most valuable.
There is a way of keeping money rotating inside the very legion, it's also a form of enforcing comraderie.
Many times we are almost forced to spend our money.
These are the times I feel proud for not drinking, smoking or using drugs. You can remain a man even if everything around you goes chaotic but in a so patriarchic medium like the army, you must hide it just to not be swept away.
The people in the midst of us who have the military background keep helping me and teaching me new things, they have the highest working ethic, even if they come from the third world.
I'm just more than three weeks here, but it seems like three months as every day is different, not like in civil life.
Physically it seems I'm improving just because of the regime here, for instance I have no more belly fat.
To get extra food or sleep or anything here you have to use wit, social skills and every talent you have to improve your wellbeing little by little.
It is not that obeying every rule will kill you instantaneously, but it will drain your energy.
Today I signed my 5 year contract and all of my group is going to Castel. Most of the army problems arise because of the peacetime syndrome, my believe is that with all the population growth and lack of resources it won't happen to us.
No time for writing. Going to Castel.
Second day at Castelnaudary. Yesterday did all my medical. The doctor said something about my knee, but I think the test results show what I'm capable of.
The food for lunch is very good. Today was my physical, on the Cooper I ran 2850m and fulfilled the standard situp, pushup and pullups. From the initial 31 we are just 29 left. No fights, robbery or other issues yet. Climbed the rope without legs for the first time in my life.
Today seems like a holiday, the ordinaire is closed and we eat rations all day.
Received all our color shoulder strap and are now officially voluntary conscripts of the 4th foreign regiment of the french foreign legion, assigned to our company and section.
The farm that i thought was going to last 4 months ended up to be only of 30 days, after which we return to Castelnaudary and do the rest of basic training.
The superiors give us always time to adapt to our new military life, sometimes i hear that nobody wants the instructor job, but almost everybody does what they ought to do.
The discipline, loyalty, order and fidelity i see here resembles so much my catholic french order school that i'm just enjoying all this experience, but not letting anyone know, as it's not what you should do in the army.
Yesterday I finally got through all the procedures to receive eyedrops for my conjunctivitis issue.
My throat is not a problem, the doctor said.
We are learning a lot, like marching, singing and all the military stuff we will need. As we progress in training, there is more responsibility, more opportunities and everything is more serious and organized.
The new rouges are adapting rather fast. We are already distributed into three groups for the farm and the caporals and sargeants in charge are attached.
I'm in the most anglo-western group. My preparation includes taking all the salt and sugar I can, like in the anti-cholera beverages.
It is said that the food isn't the biggest problem at the farm, but I think the sleep will be the rural version of Aubagne.
When I'm free I try to learn french talking with the caporal, translating porn and military magazines at my room.
The German and Japanese are also in my group that doesn't seem to be random.
Yesterday I did above average on the swimming test. The philosophy of preparing for the unknown, using the knowledge base of your sport does prove to be beneficial.
Parting for the farm, located 15 minutes from the regiment.
Life is not as bad here, hot water, food. I started getting calluses on the palms because of the pushups.
Disarmed, armed and safety checked the FAMAS faster than anybody, and that having lost one detail.
Today we go running for the first time in here.
Everytime a superior acts aggressively physically towards me, I'm reacting like I would in the ring, that shows character but also undiscipline.
I also show too much initiative for a soldier, especially with intellectual tasks.
Not a lot of physical violence here anyway.
We were divided into three groups by running aptitude, got into the second group of those running less than 3000 on the Cooper test.
We continue to learn survivalism, singing and marching.
I ate garbage from the garbage pit. If a man can live 7 days without water, then i wonder how many days can one live with little food and water.
Yesterday was the hardest day in here. Woke up at 0530 for a 2km run from our tent camp to the farm. Lost my teaspoon and fork in the process.
Then formation and marching with songs. Then an hour run in sport uniform. Lots of food at lunch, though. Made myself a wooden spoon.
After we had weapon training and other stuff that I don't remember, and before dinner carried trunks round the stadium.
At night i did guard duty and pomped because no one wanted to replace me.
I was astonished to see at combat class how inexperienced the recruits are.
Today was a rest day. In the morning we did the obstacle race, after which a dozen people needed medical attention.
It is like they want to test how though we are. After that we had plenty of time for cleaning our clothes and ourselves.
The food is still good, and even when we go camping like today, we are allowed to eat before and after.
A soldier must be very balanced, what concerns me most is my relative low stamina while running, though I do better on marches with weight.
Today they announced the table with the sports results and there is just a handful of people who swam only the minimum required.
As I'm sure everything counts in the selection after training, I try to show, if not initiative then at least motivation and intellectual capabilities.
In all areas like gun management, hand to hand combat, language, etc I'm ahead of the group.
Recently I found out that there are really special forces in the legion, called GCP.
The superiors seem to take their job seriously, really focusing on knowing well the recruit.
The people are becoming very edgy and uptight, even I had altercations and I had to stand up for myself five times.
I try to not explode as I don't have the strength even for running, much less for streetfighting.
The atmosphere becomes very electricized and this is not even the end of the first week.
All it takes to make people mad is take away basic necessities like bathroom use, food, communications, sleep, etc and the beast shows it's real face.
Seeing this as a human experiment it is very interesting and valuable for me.
One guy is going civil, interestingly He is the one that always gave lots of advice, good sportsman and all that.
The two rest days are coming to an end. Today we did rugby voluntarily and siesta.
Good soldiers ought to be annoying, to annoy the enemy, that is what i'm starting to think and be more cool about it.
The next week has to be harder, so I will probably have no time for writing as in the abscence of food and sleep it is really hard to think.
Nobody here wants to kill us, just keep us on edge to make the weakest quit.
Already two people are demanding going civil.
Doing guard duty the last five days was killing me, I started falling on the walk.
Today they opened the buffet and I could get chocolates and soda.
They don't want to kill us, but rather give us days with lots of work followed by a good meal.
I'm fine now, going at 2330 doing my guard so I have to finish writing.
The forest and tactical training is very entertaining, marching too.
There is civilian personnel in the legion. Even in the fourth regiment there are at minumum three female cleaners, so it's not that hardcore.
I feel very well after an obstacle course training and having eaten well yesterday. I'm still in medical care mode for the last five days, with sport shoes instead of boots and no running, so i'm full of strength compared to the others.
We study, as I understand it, anti-guerrilla tactics, as we are all infantry.
I started to remember songs from my school and started laughing like back in the day when i did it out loud. This is so a good therapy for the soul and the body.
I'm so much more ripped every day from work and the marches, that I'm amazed.
Survived the 25km march with the fit as hell sergeant.
As fatigue starts accumulating I'm becoming less concentrated, more talkative and prone to be picked on as a scapegoat.
I should keep to myself and not call attention to my self.
At this point all the officers, sub-officers and military ranked personnel know everything about everybody.
I don't know how good their intelligence and communication is or if the Gestapo is leaking information, but it's better not to pretend what you are not.
Controlling oneself is sometimes difficult, if I wrestle I want to win, if somebody asks, I want to answer, etc and that creates problems. On the other hand you stand out, and it is known there is a ranking system for recruites in the legion and that the superiors objective opinion is important.
I'm feeling worried about my relative low running times, as they keep scaring me on the thoughness of the combat regiment. Today I called to much attention to myself.
Yesterday we should have fulfilled all our pensum, as they don't teach us much more French. The ones that teach us french or tactics don't know the language very well.
Being isolated from mainstream France and surrounded by foreigners is the biggest barrier for me to learn new things. Many words used in the legion are not in the dictionary, even verbs.
The kepi blanc march will be two days long and we should be carrying the FAMAS, which will make it much difficult. I hope there is a chance to hang it on the bag.
Finished the kepi blanc march. I had and still have an issue with my ankle from carrying two bags at the mountain on the way down, nevertheless I finished on time. nevertheless It all seems easy on paper, but in reality the lack of sleep, food, the changes in the pace of the march and the low quality shoes make it way harder. neverthelessThe ceremony was in a little nearby town, the people knew who we were and were very nice.
Tomorrow we should go to Castelnaudary back for another three months of hard training.
I can barely believe I received a kepi blanc and have so many emotions and ideas it will take some time to formalize.
Now the moon is full and I'm already two months in the legion. I hear many bad things about the Rep.
Like high prices on the island, harsh discipline, slavic racism, low recreational possibilities, hate of the locals, etc. But from what I see, the best staff comes from the Rep.
Others are fit too, but I don't want to spend my time with people whose motivation is money and the passport but with the real soldiers.
It is difficult to make a right decision with my lack of military experience. I can only judge what i see.
I started to know how to get food and other stuff in the regiment. Yesterday we had a mass in a catholic shrine, I cried for the first time in a long time.
We are becoming soldiers little by little, capable of doing a job or arranging ourselves in a two-column formation, march and then change formation again, all without a supervisor.
Life has been calm all this week, I can even write my diary sitting on the toilet while awaiting to be called to the infirmery for my ankle to be viewed.
Our guard duties are starting this week, the jobs around the regiment too.
I'm trying to access the internet but haven't been succesfull yet.
While working in the cuisine one can buy oreos I didn't have for 10 years in my country.
There is also female military personnel in the legion, it must be French army personel working inside. Today I saw a female Commander I didn't think it possible.
The doctor gave me 7 days of rest, that means I'm losing guard duties and physical training, which is only running, for the rest of the week, then immediately we part to Formigueres for a week of rest.
Today, at the time of another evening military nonsense group drill in the corridor I got into my first fight, me on the ground and he standing, so there is not much to tell, comrades intervened but it was invigorating anyways.
Two thirds of the pills they gave me at the infirmery are painkillers, so hardcore i don't feel anything in my legs and can run like before.
My guard sucked. At the last time I ****ed all the ironing of my chemisse (shirt), so I had to rendre compte. At the end of the day lost one of my kepi blancs.
Many guys, mostly the younger teenagers, are going civil. This army is one of rough men with a life experience, I understand why they go, as they haven't had a taste for life yet and are afraid of being maimed.
Yesterday the professional biathlonist refused a direct order, that got everyone in trouble.
We are going to be 35 men at the end of the week. The problem is that as the most educated and sensible types leave, only the thirld worlders and the criminals will remain.
We were allowed to go to the local store for the first time oficially, but no drinks, besides mineral carbonated water, (I got two bottles of those), or food allowed. The prices are normal by european standards.
Yesterday evening we changed rooms randomly so we can learn comraderie and our rooms were dearranged for us to understand order and cleanliness.
Spent a week in Formigueres doing mountain training.
I talked to the section leader, He said that people who wanted to be soldiers, go to missions and didn't care for partying on weekends. The Rep was the best option where the corvee there is minimal.
We were allowed to leave for two hours in the city, but there was no internet.
I bought chewing gum and lots of milk.
Fought again with a bigmouth who didn't want to respect me. On the stairs, after he hit me with a useless jab, I took him and his friend down, dropped on him from the side and delivered three punches that left marks on his head.
The caporals all knew about the incident but didn't say anything as we both denied it happened.
The first day of our company's field operation training we slept all night doing guard without shelter and didn't have breakfast.
When I saw the legion has a field cuisine, I understood I love this place.
Little by little we are treated more humanly and given little privileges.
Just returned from our four days in the farm. This was the last time we visit the place who gave us so much pain.
An army has to be rough, in order for the men to give the best of themselves.
The next week will be guard and regimental duties, and then we are going to the firing range.
This army doesn't know how to survive cold weather. My french is improving as I'm studying it old school while, for example, standing in line.
I'm starting to solve problems I have with my fellow soldiers verbally abusing my reputation. Morale is good.
The date of our return to Aubagne is already known. My hands are rougher than ever.
Today I worked at the cuisine, which means access to the store and lots of food that I was lacking on the field.
The food has to be prepared by yourself to be clean and good, I stopped trusting restaurants.
The camelbacks are for one-day missions, not for use at this level.
The women working at the kitchen seem narcotic addict prostitutes.
The caporal said that for each combat legionnaire there are three for support.
The GCP is 60 men strong what roughly equals to 0.9% of the legion force.
When you have only 15 minutes for yourself a day you start to appreciate the beauty of, say, the full moon.
I started to remember times and people past and experienced a little nostalgia.
Today I had to slap-jab another guy who wasn't showing me the respect I think I deserve.
They start with joking, but slowly try to put you down to the point it became instinctive for me to use force.
Today, during the medical test following the sport test I was told by the colonel it could be very difficult for me to get into the Rep with my knee injury.
The first thing that came to my mind was that I'm going civil if not sent where I want to go, as I saw many injured people.
Anyway, I said only one desired regiment, but he said that it would be unprobable or something.
Maybe I can find another regiment with the same action, missions, pride, more freedom, return home or just persevere.
The most difficult thing is to get accurate info, as everybody here lies, is in for the money or is simply scared.
The sport tests i did average, with a 2950 Cooper, 0853 seconds to climb the rope, 15 pullups, etc.
My blood pressure is 127/64 that I don't understand anyways, but my pulse is 50 per minute, as in my teens.
Overall I think I got already healthier in these three months. My weight is the ideal 82kg, though my body hasn't changed that much for me to tell without a camera.
The biathlonist told me he doesn't want the Rep as it's a prison and suggested the 2 Reg as a good alternative.
Whatever the rumors I will keep the Rep my first option.
At last got a nailclipper and noticed I have no more a nail in my little toes, the whole toe is a callous mess and I wonder how many other physical changes will I undergo in the army.
Did the 8km with a 11kg sac-a-dos in 45 minutes and the swimming test in a time they didn't let me know, but far better than the average for what i heard.
I'm not the best runner and start feeling pain in my knee, that's why the infantry wouldn't be the best choice for me.
In the morning we snuck out of the regiment to go a party.
We had two groups going and returning in the morning, so I was very tired.
I'm not doing this again as it's not the way I want to spend my weekends, doing BBC (bitches, beer, cigarettes).
From what I see here it must be like that in a regiment like 2 Rep with a harsh regime.
The thing is, with everybody doing it, it could be very miserable to keep oneself apart.
The internet and phone I can get regularly here, to know if there is someone on civil waiting for me.
The 2 Reg seems like a good option as I'm an engineer and have plenty of skills like swimming that you don't get without technique.
As I'm told they are not only builders, they have also 3 infantry companies, compared to 5 in the REI.
Three more guys are going civil after instruction. I heard that during basic training the first two months in the regiment is possible to go civil.
My morale is low nowadays as I have skyped to the civil world, as many go civil, as punishments continue, freedoms are restricted and I'm scared of a prospect of a second class soldier with my injured knee.
On one hand I'm eager to see the real regiment and missions, on the other hand I don't want to do the things I could do in civil.
I'm closer than ever thinking about civil.
I'm doing the guard 24, which is easier if you know what you want to do.
To get essential things like tea, coffee and clothing from the store is easier but forbidden as a rule.
One guy got injured and when he wanted to jury with the legion, they found out he had police problems and are saying that he will be deported.
I'm getting pain on my knee everytime I run on concrete, and I do it every day for an hour or more and with boots.
Our test of French was fake, though it's true that we four knew French well, but I think it's the same for the others. Ok, there is corruption here, it is the army.
Today they announced the vacancies: 9 Rep, 9 Rei, 4 Regs and Rec, 4 for Guyana.
I lost a little want of going to regiments with so many vacancies.
An army like the Legion is better man for man than the armies of Nato because these men are hungry for food and women, not like a paramilitary, say, Finnish army.
The driving test was real, I passed but they said I'm not so good.
On the parade I saw the wife and child of one of our top cadres and was disappointed.
These last three weeks are passing relatively slow, as I'm getting used to it. At some point I think I'll have to choose between civil family life and the celibate adventure of the army.
As I promised it will be my last adventure before settling down.
Ultimately, i'm a man who needs food, shelter and a woman.
Returned from the field. We made a combat training scenario with the whole regiment.
Deplacement, communications, etc may not seem a lot, but they are the base of any army and the bigger part of the rest is a joke.
Yesterday we returned from the farm and our instruction is over. We did nuclear defense, FAMAS, patrol and other tests. I'm demanding civil the first opportunity I have. In 12 days we are going back to Aubagne.
Today I work at the officers ordinaire, yesterday asked civil and nobody made a problem. In a month i should be out. I'm so tired of no sleeping.
I asked the Chef of the company formally to go civil. He said I should wait for 10 days for the paperwork.
It happened that I finished fourth of the 48 initially in the section and was offered all regiments including the accelerated Caporal program by the chef of section.
Shamefully I don't see the sense in being looking forward to go to the ville inside a prison when I can get freedom right now.
This army is more rough and limitative because it is supposed to hold people with no other place to go, and that is true.
It seems everybody in my section got the regiments they wanted and are happy.
I was told to wait on the stage of peinture anti-stress till the administrative job is done.
I'm way more relaxed now. In the morning I was taken to the bureau major to do paperwork, instead of a sudden permission for the group to do sports, the Caporal there said I should wait for 2 or 3 weeks for the paperwork and for me that's fine.
I'm paid so they won't keep me for ever. My group leaves in 5 days, but some will return to do stages or wait their regiments, so I won't be alone here.
I'll be free in 20 days approximately and I wait, read a lot and so.
These last days are passing easy. I can have internet, phone calls and store almost at a cadre level.
I'm sleeping not less than 10 hours a day.
I'm working as a barman, which means I'm getting food, no dirty work and weekends.
I was thinking that my intelligence is what pleased the cadres, mostly my French language skills.
Being outside the initiation system gives a perspective about the shit and lies the soldiers live in.
I have already won the right to phonecall in civil life, so why should I renounce to it?
As I was told by the chef of company, I came to Aubagne on time. I already saw the local Chef, handed in all my military things and I'm waiting another six days to leave definitely.
Only 31 guys out of 48 made it through Castel. The Colonel that said I won't go Rep was a general, so I had no chance.
One thing that caught my attention is the lack of smokers in the guys going civil compared to those of my section, it's like five to one.
Most of the legionnaries of my section had backgrounds linked to drugs.
Yesterday talked to the ex repman, ex para, who received a paradrop trauma and he said the hardest part is knocking the door at Fort de Nogent, getting the kepi and finishing instruction, as the rest is mostly bureaucracy.
Djibouti has already been closed and transferred to the regulars, according to the people who have been there.
We are all twelve leaving tomorrow after midday.
My Experience at Aubagne.
Posted on deCervens forum.
Written by EV: Michal Jack/James Martin
My Experience at Aubagne
My Experience at Aubagne
First let me say that no two experiences are identical during preselection.
The procedures change daily and nothing that you read can actually prepare you for the experience.
Also, preparation is not indicative of your success.
I will elaborate on my experience and hopefully assist future EV’s in one form or another.
BIO: 35 year old white male (turned 36 while blue, no cake) with no prior military service (Gov’t Contractor) and in peak physical conditioning.
Pre-Training: Followed Stoengs 3 month training plan, learned Legion Chants, history and memorized the Code of Honor prior walking through the gates.
The walk through the Gates:
On August 28th 2015 I took a taxi from Marseille to the front gates of Aubange.
I exited the vehicle, grabbed my bags and was waved in by a tall dark skinned Corporal who was guarding the gate.
He looked at my passport and smiled while saying “American ha ha, walk in there” as he pointed towards an open door.
I approached the door and stuck my head in as I knocked. The Corporal Chef who was smoking on a cigarette glanced at my passport then waved around the corner and said in broken Anglais “sit next to the other.”
I walked around the corner and saw a few guys sitting on this little red bench.
I sat down next to them. It soon became clear that waiting would be a major part of preselection.
As I sat on the bench clearly overdressed in black jeans a black shirt and combat boots, the sun slowly crept a little higher by the hour.
After about two hours a Corporal Chef exited the door and called me into a little room. My bags were inventoried, my money was counted and my undesirable possessions were tossed out.
Lucky for me I came relatively light and the only thing tossed was a first aid kit.
Contrary to what I thought prior to entering, Cell phones are inventoried and placed with your other belongings.
I happened to send mine back to the US with my Laptop and Driver’s License that very morning (I regretted this later).
Once I signed off on the inventory I sat back outside on the little red bench where I continued to wait with about half a dozen other gentlemen most of whom were speaking Spanish. We waited silently for several hours cooking in the sun as I started to question my clothing choice with sweat pooling in every crevasse possible.
Finally the Corporal Chef walked out with his bag and or files and told us to debout.
My heart started to race as we walked deeper up a hill and into the installation. I was thinking to myself “yes, all of the preparation and planning has paid off, I am finally here.” I was extremely happy and confident with my decision. This was day one, or so I thought.
As we approached a building we were told to wait by the entrance. I was very happy not to be sitting on that little red bench and the adrenaline was pumping. I hardly noticed standing in the sun for 30 min in silence just awaiting our next orders.
We were then waved into the building and told “silence” or Silance as it was pronounced by the Corporal Chef. We were led into a room some of us more fortunate than the others by receiving reasonably comfortable chairs while others were handed little metal stools.
One by one we were briefly interviewed and asked family questions. Each person sat for about 30 minutes with the Corporal Chef as we were given our new identities.
Yet again, some of us were more lucky than the others, it just so happens that I was given the precious name of Michal which might be Mike in Russian but by all other accounts it sounds like Michelle when pronounced by any other of my Corporal Chefs.
(Just so you future EV’s understand you will more than likely be answering to a Corporal / Corporal Chef. My experience during Aubange was almost solely dealing with Corporal Chefs. It is in your best interest to learn how to read the ranks and how to address them before walking through the gates.
Once I was given my name which you will have no control over unless you are a combat veteran who has earned a couple of medals than if they like you they might let you pick your own name. Regardless don’t count on it. You are who they say you are. I was “Michal” and proud of it.
Once you are given a name you are then sent outside into for lack of better words the “prison yard” this is the case if you came straight to Aubange, the “Prison Yard” is not occupied by those who are from Paris or already completed their sport and medical somewhere else.
The “Prision Yard” is perhaps the first test for those who have come directly to Aubange. It is an easy but grueling experience and I believe that it may be designed as such.
Basically you have four things which must be completed before you make the transition from Civil to an actual EV. The name change, the medical, the sport test and the contract signing. You would hope to knock all of these out in a day or two but during my experience it was one per day. How long do these things take?
Day 1 - Name change: 2 hours
Day 2 - Medical: 5 hours
Day 3 - Sport Test: 15 mins
Day 4 - Contract Signing: 2 Mins
Now you ask well what the hell do I do with the rest of my day while I’m waiting to become an EV. The answer is tres simple. YOU WAIT!
Basically your day will go like this. 5:00am wake up then wait, 6:00am eat then wait, 8:00am Test (either medical or sport) then wait. 12:00 Lunch then wait 6:00pm Dinner then wait 10:00pm shower then sleep.
It may sound easy enough but it is truly the first test of the Legion. Are you content with sitting without being able to do any sport and just sit and wait for 18 hours a day in uncomfortable conditions?
Also I deceive you when I say breakfast, lunch and dinner. You may eat but unless you are a squirrel it is not even close to enough especially if you are a larger muscular person. You will starve and grow weaker by the day. It is all part of their process. I came in doing 25 pull-ups and left struggling to do half as many.
Your body starts deteriorating and burning muscle the second you walk through the gates.
So you are waiting for 18+ hours a day for 4 days some for more and a few get lucky and get away with 3. You can optimize your chances by coming in on a Monday morning or a Sunday evening.
If you come in late in the week then you will be spending your weekend doing corvee before you even get to do your medical.
The best part of the waiting game is that you immediately begin building strong relationships with your comrades. By the end of day 4 I had developed relationships that will last a lifetime. These unfriendly conditions leave you picking each other up when your mind starts playing tricks on you and believe me everyone there at one point or another asks themselves, what the hell am I doing here. Every day is like a rollercoaster. You have your good moments and then you have your moments of doubt. They usually come when your stomach is in knots and you are sitting there contemplating chewing sticks and rocks.
The Medical: I was a bit terrified of the medical as those who have mentored me on here over the last several months know I had injured my ankle, torn ligaments and the whole nine. I wouldn’t of been able to go through those gates a day earlier than I did I mean I really pushed my luck.
That being said I did successfully pass MEPS (US MILITARY MEDICAL) two years prior but I was very concerned about failing because it’s not like you think. That goes for the entire Legion. It is not necessarily performance based. If someone doesn’t like you, they will fail you. I witnessed this during the medical. The Doctor who is a very hands on type gentleman and also a high ranking officer holds your key to the Legion.
I saw two slightly chunky guys go in and one got sent home because he was too fat. The funny thing is he was skinnier than the other guy who made it in. You have to be respectful and keep your mouth shut “silance” when you are sitting there bored as hell for hours staring at the wall. SHUT THE HELL UP. I can’t stress this enough.
It could cost you everything! The medical is pretty nerve racking. The day after I went 14 guys went to get there medical and only four passed. It’s common that if the doctor hears a pop or crack or just suspects there is a problem then you will get a paper and you are out until you return with that paper and another medical professional’s opinion.
The good news is I saw 6 people leave with papers and come back either the same or the next day. It’s not the end of the world if you get one just get it checked out at the hospital and come back.
The Sport Test: Ok so I must have been reading some old documentation because I over trained like a mofo. I was climbing rope and running 2800 meters in like 12 minutes trying to prepare for the test. What I should have been doing is the beep test and a couple of lousy pull-ups.
As for me though I sort of dropped the ball on the beep test. My sport test was the first time I ever ran a beep test. Let me touch on a couple of things about the Legion Sport Test.
Depending on your Corporal Chef in charge of the test is going to determine how well your group does. For instance, the Corporal Chef in charge of my groups test made us run both feet past the line. My group made levels 8 and 9. However the next day’s group had a different Corporal Chef and they only had to put one foot past the line.
This is about 2 to 3 meters shorter than the way we did it and their group all made 9 to 10 levels. The same thing with the pull-ups, some Corporal Chefs let you kip a bit and others are exceptionally strict.
This I think is a big issue that they should sort out because their controls aren’t the same so their results are flawed IMO. Other than that the test was ridiculously easy. I regret not practicing the beep test prior, I feel that better technique could have resulted in a bump up in levels. Be sure to practice. You do the pull-ups immediately following the beep test so practice as such.
First let me say that no two experiences are identical during preselection. The procedures change daily and nothing that you read can actually prepare you for the experience. Also, preparation is not indicative of your success. I will elaborate on my experience and hopefully assist future EV’s in one form or another.
The Contract: Sometimes you will sign it the evening of the sport test and if you are like me you wait a whole extra day and sign it the following day. They take pictures of your scars and tattoos then you sign a contract and become an official EV. Up until you sign that contract you are nothing. You are Civil. Now you are official and you feel a remarkable pride. You are also issued your blues, your super comfortable and not tight at all underwear and are issued your Blue kit. This is when the fun really starts. I loved every single minute including the 1 minute showers!
Being Blue: The next steps you will take will be the following.
Aptitude Tests: 1 ½ hours
Psychiatrist: 1 hour
Medical #2: 1 hour
Gestapo: 1 hour
A day as a Blue: You wake up, make your bed, clean your dorm, hit a quick workout outside, run, formation, run to breakfast, eat your petit dejeuner (piece of bread), run, formation, repose, run, formation, repose, corvee, formation, repose, workout in the yard, formation, repose, corvee, run to lunch, formation, repose, corvee, run, formation, repose. Your shoulders will hurt, your feet will go numb and you will learn to love it.
I chose to always be in the front row as close to my Corporal Chefs as possible. A siren goes off at any given time and you sprint into formation.
My thoughts were first to the front, they will remember my face. The back rows have it much easier especially if you are standing there for hours. They can stretch their arms and cheat quite a bit but if you are in the front you lead by example and remember all eyes are on you.
I did my best to be noticed and stand as still and upright as possible. I was under the impression that the Corporal Chefs had total power of my future and I wanted to set a good example for the younger guys as well.
Back to a day as a blue. Formation, pull-ups, formation, repose, corvee, formation, dinner, formation, pull-ups, wait, maybe if you are lucky the Foyer would open up and when it does the little things in life really turn a shite day into a true treasure.
A Cola and a candy bar really boost morale especially because you are still starving 90% of the time. Finally Formation, Appel, Dorm assignment, Make bed, 1 minute shower, inspection, wash clothes in the sink and last sleep.
You hope that your name is towards the rear of the column so that you can run your ass off and get one of the single beds instead of the bunks. When you are a big guy you will really appreciate this. That about concludes a day as a blue. Now just repeat 7 to 10 times and viola if you are lucky you go rouge. & yes luck has a bit to do with it.
Aptitude tests: That’s what they are. There are more questions that anyone except Einstein can answer in the amount of time allotted. You figure out the rest that’s all I’m saying on that topic. Do some spatial reasoning and math puzzles if you want to practice. That will help.
Corvee is sometimes a test and there is also a great deal of favoritism and discrimination involving some duties.
The discrimination lies mostly within the kitchen. My Russian buddies would get to corvee in the kitchen because they could speak the language. They also would come back bragging on how they ate all day and feel like they are going to pop from being so full.
This is painful to hear when you are starving and they have the same complaints every day. There were a couple of guys who actually put on weight while we were there. I found this hilarious and upsetting in the same sentence.
It isn't just the kitchen though. There are other places where countrymen stick with and lookout for fellow countrymen. However if you are an American you can just suck it up and forget about all of that countrymen shite because you are all alone brother. You will have to out work and out starve many of your comrades.
I didn't mind it that much because it toughens you up quick and doesn't give you the false security blanket that mommy usually packs for you.
The other side of the corvee is when you go and work for other Corporal Chefs.
These are tests and you should always attack the duties vigorously and passionately although don't expect it to mean a damn thing in the end. Just do what you are told and don't expect a cookie or a good job. You might be lucky enough to get a punch in the gut which you should wear like a badge of honor.
Ok so this is the most important interview that you will have in my opinion. Again everyone’s experiences are different but here’s how mine went.
There are 3-5 different shrinks there at any given time. Some are more likeable than others. It’s just my luck that I was travelling to the other side of the earth to sit down with such a loveable character.
Here is the problem with this interview. This guy or girl if you are lucky sit down with you for 1 hour and their words hold more weight than the Corporal Chefs who are with you all day every day.
Basically your Corporal Chefs can love you and tell the Officer in charge of the commission that you are the model recruit after observing you for weeks, watching how you wake up, take orders, corvee, but none of their words can trump the LT or the ADJ who sit with you for an hour.
It was my luck that I had sat with a shrink right before lunch and the shrink was clearly grumpy and agitated with me before I even opened my mouth. To add insult to injury I come strolling in totally unrehearsed and chipper so excited that I’m here and experiencing all of this beautiful camaraderie. I was under the legions spell.
It all started to go wrong when we were talking about my job and how I make 6,000 bucks a month back in the US (meanwhile the shrink makes like 2,500 a month). I was told that I have it all a car, a job and why would anyone in their right mind come here to the Legion where life is hard and food is scarce.
My explanation was simple. For the discipline and the camaraderie. I explained that I had originally planned on joining the Army in the US but I lost my father and by the time that was all over with I had already reached the age limit.
I had brought with me letters of recommendation from a LT COL and all sorts of documentation and accolades I received as a Gov’t contractor.
I believe that all of these things hindered me more than helped me for it showed them that I was not desperate and that I had someplace to go. Unlike many of my friends who were there as a last resort or for the money.
I was actually there on principal by choice which in hindsight was clearly a mistake. I should of came desperate and in need of the Legion not as I did. The shrink was very snooty and Psst at every answer that I gave. I left actually feeling good like I answered every question to the best of my ability and I was excited to take the next step.
Again everyone’s experience is different. Some guys said they got thrown against the wall while I was just asked the same questions that I was asked by the shrink but by a really nice and relaxed guy. I was in and out in an hour and felt great about the way things went.
They all seemed to focus on different questions and when I tried to go into detail many times I was cut off and we moved on. I would do a few things differently if I was able to do the interview again.
When I was rushed onto the next questions I would have him slow down and go back.
If there is lack of clarity or your answers do not match exactly then they consider you untruthful or so I think and I know that when we were talking about my immediate families medical history and focusing on my father I had failed to mention my brothers diabetes and my grandmothers cancer.
These same questions were asked during my medical but in more depth directed towards any of my family members. It’s these discrepancies which haunt me and I wish I would have corrected.
Also, my juvenile record which they don’t have access to was rushed through when I tried to explain it in further detail I was just blown off but it’s what they see on paper that they use as tools to decide whether or not you’ve been honest.
Just remember be thorough and be precise with your answers. Always answer the same. Do not get diarrhea of the mouth is advice that I should of took a bit more seriously.
Medical 2: It was a hearing test. The guy messes with you leaving long breaks in between the beeps. Only push the button when you hear beeps. It’s easy. I get ringing in my ears sometimes from all of the shooting that I do and the harder you try to hear something the more they ring. Just relax and don’t over think it. It’s really easy.
You say your goodbyes, then get called into formation. Some names get called and others don’t. It’s really luck of the draw.
I watched guys who Corporal Chefs in charge of Corvee wanted to see sent home make it and guys who the Drill Corporal Chefs thought were solid candidates and endorsed go home (like me). I found out after I “went civil” which is what happens if you are not called to go rouge.
I was told as I was driving to the bus station by my Corporal Chef he said “I don’t know who you pissed off but I was endorsing you as an exceptional candidate.”
He told me that I was exactly what they were looking for, although on paper I’m a 36 year old with no military background and apparently a crappy review from the shrink on my motive for being there which is extremely important, but then again who really knows after all it is the Legion and the Legion does things the Legion way.
It may not be the best way, it may not make any sense to you but it is the Legion way and there is a reason it is so.
My three weeks in the Legion by Mercator.
I hope this proves valuable to some. So after 1½ year of dreaming of the Legion, ½ year of preparation, I finally tried. It turned out that “my profile does not correspond to the needs of the Legion.”
My physical condition half a year ago was abysmal : 107kg for 1,78cm, not a single pull-up, barely 3 on the shuttle test (Luc-Léger) !
I started by getting my nutrition in line, no more junk food, lots of fruits and vegetables (salads became most of my meals) and a very tight calorie budget.
With training added to the mix, I lost 20kg in four months. I also added protein supplements to avoid loosing too much muscle mass.
My typical daily diet started with a cup of milk with a protein scoop (chocolate flavored whey) with a chocolate bar (my little sugar rush for the day) for breakfast; and a big salad (tomatoes, cucumber, salad, carrots, tuna, eggs, cheese...) for dinner. I drank a lot of water, so much that my bladder was always full.
I joined a gym for three months. I had been procrastinating for so long. Paying the monthly subscription gave me the incentive I needed.
First month :
I did 10 minutes of cross-trainer for warm-up then did weight training. One day for Pecs and Shoulders, one for the Back and one for Quads. Core muscles and calves I trained every day.
I chose heavy weights, so that I would be able to do only 3 to 6 reps per set. Always looking for the point where the muscle fails to deliver what you're asking it to. That's what makes it grow and improve.
Second month :
I started to run on the treadmill 12min at a constant speed. Started at 8km/h then kept slowly increasing, reaching all the way to 14km/h by the end of the third month. I also added an inclination of 1° to simulate air resistance. I kept training with weights all the same. Increasing the weights as I grew stronger.
I started training for pull-ups. I did 4 sets of 8 negative pull-ups, as I couldn't do a regular pull-up. You just jump up and hang for a second, then slowly lower yourself to the ground all the way till your arm extend fully. Then I followed with pull-downs and other back exercises.
Third month :
I started running outdoors. I did 6km in 45min the first day. Then started running 8km a day. At the end I could run it in 42min. Then I started running 20km in 2h, every two or three days, as it takes a toll on your joints, especially at first.
After the run, I'd go to the gym and run on the treadmill. 12min. I'd start at 9,5km/h with a 1°incline and add 0,5km/h every minute. Then I4d do my weight training.
For the pull-ups, I did as many as I could, then followed with negative pull-ups, pull-downs and other back exercises.
By the end, I could do 6 pull-ups, and run 2800m in 12min.
Psycho-technical test :
I didn't need to prepare for this one, but I've seen so many people fail this ! Do a lot of IQ test puzzles before you attempt to join. There are tons of them online.
Pre-selection in Fort de Nogent
I joined in Bordeaux. They sent me the next day to Fort de Nogent in Paris. There I did the following things :
- entry test : a pull-up test (3 minimum) and a mini psycho-technical test (12 questions in 12 minutes, 8/12 good answers minimum)
- incorporation :
they create your file, measure your weight and height, take away your phone, any written phone numbers, any money exceeding 50€ (you get it back later), USB sticks, any cards you have in your wallet...
You keep all your stuff with you for now. You are given a uniform to wear and clean sheets for your bed.
You should bring a watch, sandals, soap/shampoo, towel, shaving tools, cigarettes and lighter if you smoke and a good pair of running shoes. You shouldn't bring SIM cards or credit cards (or hide them well in your bag before joining, cause they destroy them when you go red).
- psycho-technical test:
a test on the computer. Three categories : numerical, spatial and non-verbal. About 20 minutes each, 20 or 30 questions. Failing this one in Paris, doesn't get you thrown out. Consider it training. The real official one takes place later in Aubagne, during selection (the one in Paris however will apparently become official soon, so beware).
- medical test:
you fill a form with your medical history then they test your eyesight, your urine (for drugs, diabetes...), your heart, your blood pressure, your weight, your hearing, then you see a doctor who checks your breathing, your heart, your footprint and your balls (lol !).
If you need glasses bring them. If your teeth are screwed up, fixed them first. If you have had a surgery, bring any documents you have for it. Be prepared for the possibility that they may send you do some tests in a nearby hospital if need be (broken bones, crooked spine, problem with the urine or hearing results...)
- security/motivation interview:
a brief interview about your reasons for joining the Legion, your desired regiment, your history, potential problems with the Justice...
- sports tests:
a shuttle test (Luc-Léger). As already describe before by others, you run between two lines, 20m apart. You have to reach the line before every beep. The beep frequency increase every minute.
You have to reach Level 7 (7 minutes) minimum. Then comes the pull-up test : you have to do 3 at least.
I did Level 11 on the shuttle test and 7 pull-ups (I'd say you should do 10 or more to maximize your chances, some did 20+).
If you've made it to this point. You sign a bunch of papers and are sent to Aubagne (groups leave every Tuesday and Thursday). Every day from this point on earn you about 30€ that you receive at the end of the selection period.
Selection in Aubagne
I was sent to Aubagne on December 31st. Arrived there, we became ‘bleus’ (blues). The steps here were as follows:
this time all our clothes and backpacks were taken and put in storage. You get issued a small backpack with everything from socks, underwear to razors, shaving cream and a roll of toilet paper. You also get a uniform. We wore a camouflage "Parka". It looked cool as hell.
- psycho-technical test:
this time it's the real deal, same as the one in Paris, except this one counts. Three tests (spatial 20 questions, numerical 36 questions, non-verbal 36 questions), 20 minutes each. If you fail this one, you're out.
- personality test:
on the computer, like the previous test. You are given a list of qualities or weaknesses, you are asked to rate them according to how close they apply to you. The psychologist will later use your answers for his interview.
- Medical test:
you get an injection in your forearm. It's a Tuberculosis test (thanks for the info a1b2c3). It gets checked after 48 hours. If you have a swelling/redness bigger than 3cm, you're out. I didn't get any redness at all, some did, but no one failed this one. You also have an interview with a doctor, but it's of no consequence, just going over what you did already in Paris.
- Psychology interview:
you get an interview (30min-1h) with a psychologist about your personality, your past, your reasons for joining.
- ‘Gestapo’ interview:
they take your prints and a urine sample then they ask you about your past, any problems you my have had with the law, your history and your reasons for joining (last 1h-2h)
After you've done all this, your file goes in front of the Selection Commission which will decide your fate (it meets every Thursday).
If you're lucky, you get to have your head shaved, become ‘rouge’ (red) and get to wear a military uniform in which you spend a week while you wait to be sent to Castelnaudary for training.
If you're like me, you get your stuff back and some money for the days you spent in Aubagne. If you've made it all the way to the Commission, you'll get rejected permanently.
If you've failed a test like sports or psycho-technical, you usually get only a temporary rejection (3-18 months).
If you make it to Rouge, you're basically in. You get the money you've earned so far, you start earning a bit more as Rouge (about 45€ a day), start learning the Code d'Honneur, learning to count in French, learning to march...
Twice a week, you go for a run in a nearby forest, 13km or so. You also do some further medical tests (x-rays of your lungs and teeth) and receive some vaccine shots.
I learned that after a month in Castelnaudary, you are indeed allowed to make phone calls and even go out in the city on Wednesday afternoons if you've been a good boy.
From my experience, I learned that
- being French
- speaking French
- having prior military experience improve your chances while
- having a criminal history
- being oldlower your chances, especially the last one.
I think I was rejected because I had an asshole psychologist, he was angry through the whole interview, I don't think he liked me one bit. He asked me the bare minimum questions, with sarcastic remarks here and there.
He didn't give me a hard time about one particular thing, I think it is mainly about his first impression.
I was sent on corvée that afternoon by mistake, instead of being told to wait for the interview.
When he called my name and didn't find me waiting He went mental.
They brought me back from where I was in a rush, but I guess he was already too pissed off by then. I'm not even sure I was rejected because of that, but that's all I could think of.
Still, it was a great experience over all. Met a lot of friends in there. I wish I was able to pursue it further, but it wasn't meant to be.
If you get in, expect to work your ass off every day, all day, either you're doing a test, or you're doing a ‘corvée’ (cleaning floors, setting up tables, helping in the kitchen, gardening, cleaning showers/toilets, washing dishes...). I did not mind working. What I hated was when we had nothing to do.
This forum helped answer a lot of my questions. Sharing my experience is my way of giving back to the community. I hope people find value in this. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. I'll be answering questions for as long as I can. I can't answer questions about whether the Legion is the right thing for you or not, you'll have to find that out for yourselves.
And I wish good luck to all the wannabes !
Post from ransac
By forum member ransac
Posted March 2011 by ransac on de Cervens legion forum.
My Experience in the Selection of the French Foreign Legion.
By Member "ransac" of the forum http://www.cervens.net/legionbbs123/forum.php
9th February 2011 16:25 - I'm in Aubagne
Just arrived at Aubagne this evening (9 Feb) from Paris.
Will hit the gate in the morning. I've prepared for this so long. The gate of the Legion is suddenly in front of me.
I haven't posted much at this forum but have been wisely use the search button to get the updated info I need. Thanks everyone who has contributed to this forum. No matter what the result I will have, I will try to post what I have experienced and gone through here in the future for other's reference.
Frankly I am nervous and a bit hesitate now.... I won't possess too much and high expectation tomorrow as I know that the Legion will get what it really wants. I will just frankly expose myself to them for choosing. Nonetheless, I will do my best in every tests and interviews.
Only a wanna-be steps into the gate will know what's going on and the reality of this place. I know that since I enter the gate, my life has changed.
Best wishes to you and other wanna-bes.
At the beginning of Feb I left a message here saying that I would hit the gate of the Foreign Legion in Aubagne.
My selection is over and I didn't make it. I'm now back to my country safely and recollect myself the things happened in Aubagne.
Before I joined, I said I would post my experience of the selection here for others' reference in the future. I honor my words and have started to write. I intent to put down my experience into different sections and post them in various threads. I will edit this post from time to time and update the links to each section.
Your experience in the selection could be different from mine but these are my personal account. Things could be changed there, but at least this post could give you some idea on what is going to happen in the weeks of selection.
Enjoy reading and good luck!
#1 Legion's Gate in Aubagne
There are some good posts in this forum describing in details how to get to France and the different stations of the Legion in France. You can use the search button to find them so I don’t repeat here.
My story started at the Legion’s gate in Aubagne. If you join in other stations in France, ultimately you will be sent in group to Aubagne.
If you can afford the additional travel expense, I advise you to hit the gate at Aubagne directly, since I heard from others that they had to wait in Paris or other recruiting stations for up to a week or two before being sent to Aubagne.
I arrived at the Legion’s gate and told the guard that I want to become a legionnaire (in French). He checked my passport briefly and asked me to wait, as it was lunch time (1200-1400). Couple of guys arrived after. There’s a notice showing what to bring to the selection, including toiletries, slippers, underwears, sport shoes and clothes. It’s good to have a look and make sure that you don’t bring less than the required. But try not to bring too many belongings, including valuable items, as this is not boy-scout camp.
At around 1430 a caporal-chef (1 gold and 2 green chevrons on the shoulder) came and asked if we wanted to join the Legion. He checked and collected our passport. There was a guy from a European country with only driving license and citizen card and he was rejected by the caporal-chef.
We followed the caporal-chef and entered the gate. There were 7 of us at that time and later a few of them became my good friends there.
I was excited as it’s my first time to enter the Legion’s camp where the selection was held. Nothing is more exciting than realizing the dream for long time. We passed the big parade ground in front of the gate, with a statue of 4 soldiers in the middle and the words “Legio Nostra Patria” on the wall in the end. We also passed a place called “Centre de Sélection et d'Incorporation” (Center of selection and incorporation), where you will spend weeks or months there to know if you will become ‘Rouge’.
Always bring a VALID passport, which means it is not expired at the time you present yourself to the Legion, no fallen pages and is intact.
We were brought to an office and were asked to put all our belongings on the table. The caporal-chef came and made a checklist of items one by one. Keep your items tidy and in group, which can ease the work of the caporal-chef. He also searched our body and see if there’s any prohibited items. He retained the valuable items e.g. mp3 players, wallet, cell phone, etc. You can’t bring any papers in too. All these items will be put in a separated envelop with your name in it. If you are lucky enough you will see them after 5 years.
We were asked to fill in some forms in another room. These forms include the personal info, parent, emergency contact, the reason you join the Legion, etc. The caporal-chef then asked us a couple of questions like personal information, how we came to France, previous employment, education, etc. and type into the computer. He also counted the cash I had in the wallet and returned me around 80 euros. The rest were put back into the envelop. Then we had to sign some forms written in French (one of them is the check list of our belongings) and left our bags in a locker.
We were asked to stay in an area outside the office, where there’s a tent and a room with TV and some old movies (I call this the ‘civilian camp’). There were some Képi Blanc magazines in the room too. We met some other guys in the room who had been there earlier. We saw some guys wearing blue sportwear (I call them blues) in another side of the fence. We were not allowed to talk to them. We were still civilian at that time, though our passports were retained by the Legion.
All we had to do was waiting. Try getting used to ‘waiting’ as it is the major part of life in the selection process. There was another Caporal-Chef in charge of our living there. Our area of staying is outside the window of his office. We kept an eye on the window and when the caporal-chef showed up in the window, we lined up quickly in front of him for his order.
We ate in the same mess hall with other Legionnaires and blues. There was not much time to eat. But we always get the food earlier than the rest. You can see so many races of legionnaires and blues in the mess hall! If you are lucky you can find some people from your country there.
At night we were assigned in group to get the bag back and take shower. We slept in a room with bunk beds in the ground floor of the office building.
Initial Medical Examination
In the next morning after breakfast, the Carporal Chef called several guys out, me included, and headed for the medical center. We were asked to strip off the clothes until underpants and stayed in a room. We waited for 2 hours until the doctor (I think he’s an adjudant) came and started to do some medical tests, like measuring weight, height, blood pressure, heart rate, eye sight and color blindness.
We also needed to complete a form with more than 50 questions of your medical history, declaration of any illnesses, whether you do regular exercise and the frequency of doing so. The form is printed in several languages and the adjudant will give you one you understand. We also had to sign a consensus of receiving vaccination if we are accepted to the Legion.
Then we had to wait outside of another room again. We saw other legionnaires coming and had medical consultation and the new Rouges for extracting blood samples. We were called one by one into the room to meet another doctor for checking the teeth, joints, movement of arms and legs, and the balls – I don’t know if the size of the balls matters but I passed the medical anyway. The doctor also asks if you smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs.
The whole medical examination took over 3 hours. Again waiting took most of the time. After the examination the doctors found some problems in 2 of the guys. They were given a letter stating the problems and were asked to have medical check-up in the civilian hospitals before coming back again. They were sent away immediately in that afternoon.
Later I learned that the Legion keeps certain number of blues in the selection camp. The day before I did the medical examination some blues were sent away and that’s why they put us to blue the next day.
When we came back to the civilian camp, some more new guys arrived in the morning. Some of them joined in Marseille and other locations and were sent to here. There were over 20 civilians.
After the lunch, I and other guys who passed the medical exam were called out. We knew that we would become blue in the afternoon. We got our bags and were brought to a building in another side of the parade ground. After waiting in the corridor of the building for another hour, we were called one by one to see the Commandant (4 gold stripes). My file had already been presented on the table of the Commandant. He asked again your reason of joining the Legion. He knew I could speak a little French and asked some more questions about my home. Then he asked me seriously if I wanted to become legionnaire, and the contract lasted 5 years. I replied “Oui commandant!”, and signed on the contract.
Then the Carporal brought us to the “Centre de Selection et Incorporation”. We went to the cellar of the center and already there were some blues waiting for us and ready to give us clothes to change. We stripped off all the clothes.
They rationed the following items: 2 underpants, 2 pairs of white socks, a black t-shirt, a blue sport jacket and pants, a bag of toiletries including tooth-paste, tooth-brush, shaving cream, razor and a bar of soap, a pair of slippers, a roll of toilet papers, and a green backpack for putting all the things in.
These are all your possession during the selection and if it’s lost, it’s hard to get re-issuing. We put on the clothes they gave and our own sport shoes. We were allowed to keep only our cash and all our belongings and the civilian clothes were locked up in the store room. When it’s done, we were discharged to the open area next to the center, where it is surrounded by fence, and met other blues there.
The life of blue started.
The Life of Blue
Let me explain these words clearly before going on.
Blue: Candidates for the selection to be the legionnaire. The blues wear two types of T-shirt – Black T-shirt and Green T-shirt, depending on the stages of selection they have gone through.
Black T-Shirt: represents new blues (just came from civilian camp) and those who have completed the Psychotechnical test.
Green T-Shirt: those who have completed the Sports tests and awaiting for the remaining parts of the selection process.
Rouge: The guys who have passed the selection and have been selected in the weekly ‘Commission’. Officially they are called ‘Engagé Voluntaire’. They wear combat uniform but without rank slides, or sometimes green track suit and white t-shirt. If you see guys with combat uniform cleaning toilet or floor, guarding in the gate of the center, or walking around and repeating the code of honor, he must be Rouge. Rouges usually stay in the Center for one week before going to the 4th regiment for the basic training. Some francophone Rouges can stay in Aubagne for more than a month to help training other new Rouges or doing other duties in the office.
When you become ‘blue’, you say good bye to the civilian world. You will have punishment from Carporal or other officers in the center if you are dumb enough to make mistakes. You are not technically the legionnaire so the punishment is not quite hard on you. But if you mess up, the Rogue suffers, and you won’t have a good time there as well. So behave yourself or you will be sent away before the Commission.
The common question asked by the blues there is, when will I have my Security Interview (Gestapo)/Commission?
While the official recruitment website tells that it takes around 10 days to finish all the tests, interviews and selection, the actual time for each one can be different. I saw a guy who had been blue for over 1 month and still waiting for the Gestapo. Another guy became Rouge within 2 weeks. Some guys who came later than me finished everything and waited for the final result from the Commission, while I still didn’t know the time for the Gestapo.
The bottleneck could be in the Gestapo. There can be over 30 new blues coming in a day, but on each day at most 10 to 12 guys will be lucky enough to be called to have the Gestapo. Once you go through the Gestapo, you know it is a long but important process to the Legion. There’s reason for it to be slow. I will talk about the Gestapo in the later section.
Be sure that you can stay in France for a period of time without trouble in your home country if the selection goes longer.
The sequence of tests and stages of selection are
Civilian > Initial Medical Exam -> Blue (Black T-shirt) -> Psychotechnical Test + Personality Test -> Sports Tests -> Blue (Green T-shirt) -> Medical check-up -> First Interview -> Second Interview -> Security Interview (Gestapo) -> Commission (every Thursday) -> Rouge
The following is the schedule from Monday to Friday in the Center.
0445 wake up, get dressed, room cleaning, make bed.
0530 assembly, head count and breakfast
After breakfast, assembly again. The Carporal/Carporal Chef asks “Qui veut partir civil… who wants to go home, papa, mama, playstation…”
0530 – 0800 free time
0800 assembly. Assignment of work (corvee). Call out for tests and interviews.
0800 – 1100/1130 work in different location in the camp
1130 assembly and lunch
1200 – 1400 free time
1400 assembly. Assignment of work (corvee). Call out for tests and interviews. Announcement of the blues who fail in the test of the day and go civil in the afternoon.
1400 – 1700/1730 work in different location in the camp
1730 assembly and dinner
1800 – 2000/2030 free time, the foyer (cantina) will be opened for selling cigarette, chocolates and soda.
2030 assembly and head count. Room assignment for new blues and other blues who spend the night outside the camp for work.
2030 – 2130/2200 shower, room cleaning, make bed, room inspection by Carporal or Carporal Chef
2200 Light out and sleep
For Saturday, Sunday and public holiday in France, you can sleep until 0530 or 0600 and have breakfast slightly later. The schedule for the rest of the day does not change.
Psychotechnical Test, Sports Tests and Medical Test
You need to pass three tests in the following sequence: Psychotechnical, Physical and Medical. No test is done during public holiday, Saturday and Sunday.
The test is usually done in the morning and occasionally afternoon. It has 3 parts, each of which lasts for 20 min with different types of question. The test is done in front of the computer. Before entering the test room, the Carporal in-charge will give you some sample questions of the 3 parts with explanation written in your own language. (And DO NOT fold the sample questions…) Before the start of each part the Carporal will demonstrate how to use the computer to do the tests, and give you chance for questions.
DON’T ask me what the questions are. You will know it from other blues there or you will find it out yourself in the test room.
You never know the passing mark of the test. But you must know whether you pass it or not. If you can’t make it you will be called out in the assembly after lunch and will be sent away in the afternoon on the same day. If you do the test in the afternoon but is not called for the Sports Tests in the next morning, you probably fail and will go home in the next afternoon. You can come back 18 months after if you fail this test.
I don’t think there’s way to prepare for the test but if you are afraid of failing, get some education (I mean schooling) before you come. Most people passed. But I did see some blues who failed the test in the first time and came back. Some of them passed the second time, and some failed again…
The test has only pull-up and luc leger. I haven’t seen any rope climbing and sit-up. The test is done every morning except Saturday, Sunday and public holiday. An Adjudant conducts the test. The size of the group doing the test can vary, from 4 or 5 blues to a large group of 12 or 13, depending on how many blues (black t-shirt) passing the psychotechnical test the day before.
1. Luc Leger
There’s a speaker playing the tape of the beep test. The ‘beep’ sound is very clear but the announcement of the number of level (palier) is a bit hard to catch. I can’t remember how many ‘shuttles’ were there in each level. You have to run faster and faster between the beeps when the level goes up. Many people consider level 7 to be the passing line. But there’s no guarantee for that. Run as many levels as you can.
Tip of the test
Get a pair of running shoes with good grip to the ground. When I was in Aubagne it was spring and it rained sometimes in the early morning. The test was still carried on even the ground was wet. I saw many guys wearing the running shoes provided by the Legion. It’s the same as the one rationed to the Rouge. I have no idea on its quality.
Be sure to step on the yellow line at each end before the beep sound. You could be stopped by the Adjundant if he thinks you cannot make it. Find the old post and download the sample beep sound track and get some practice before you go.
You will be called for the test in the assembly after the breakfast and wait in the foyer. The test normally begins at 0800 so you have plenty of time for digestion, hydration and toilet. So do have breakfast before the test.
2. Pull Up
Soon after you finish the luc leger, the pull up test begins. There are three pull-up bars with different heights. If the group is large two blues will do the test at the same time.
Tip of the test
Make sure your hands are straight when you are in the low position; otherwise the Adjundant will press on your shoulder to lower down.
The pull-up starts immediately after running. Your arms could be numb as your heart is still pumping fast and the blood circulates to the lower body. You may do less pull-up than normal. Again, practice before going.
If you fail the Sports tests, you can come back 3 months after. Please train yourself before coming. I never heard about the passing mark of each test there. But the Carporal will tell you whether you pass or fail. Some said it’s comparative of your performance with others in the same group. I can’t comment.
Once you finish the test, you will be given time to take (quick) shower and change your black t-shirt to green. This does not mean you pass the test. If you fail you will be called out in the assembly in the afternoon and go home.
Soon after you finish the physical test in the morning, and if you are not called out to go home, you will be sent to the medical center for the test in the afternoon. The doctor will inject something to your left forearm and draw a big red circle around the injection area. There will be a red spot coming up in the area 1 or 2 days after. You are told not to scratch or rub it.
You will be back to the medical center after 1 day for re-examination of the area (if you did the test on Friday, it will be the next Monday). The doctor will measure the size of the spot. If the size exceeds the standard, you will be failed and given a list of civilian hospitals in France to conduct the test again at your own expense, and come back anytime with the certification issued by the hospitals.
Upon completion of the tests above, what lies ahead are the 3 interviews. You won’t fail in the interviews as your file will be presented to the Commission for consideration. The decision of the Commission is final and permanent so if you fail to become Rouge in the Commission, you can never come back.
That’s why some blues (black t-shirt) decide to fail the sports test intentionally once they find that they are not up to the standard. They can prepare again and come back after 3 months. This is not a bad move.
Volunteered Early 2014 • Made It to Final Selection Commissioning but Not Accepted
I volunteered earlier this year (2014) and made it all the way to the final commissioning, but was not selected. I spent about a week in Marseille, and about 2 weeks in Aubagne.
If anyone is thinking about volunteering, and has any questions about what you might experience during selection, go ahead and ask me. I can only share what I personally experienced, anything else is either just my opinion or second hand information.
Please don't ask me about what they are and aren't looking for, as I have no idea, and most currently serving Legionnaires I know have no idea either.
Also PLEASE do not speculate on why you think I may not have been selected I AM NOT asking this question, I am merely providing insights based on my own personal experience of the FFL selection as it was February/March 2014
Thanks for accepting me on your forum.
Originally Posted by D
Any guys with glasses make it in?
Yes, there were guys with glasses who made it in.
Originally Posted by T
The only page on the official recruiting page that won't translate to English for me is the medical one. Are the doctors weary about you having any scars, or just surgical ones? Thanks for taking the time to fill us in.
They seem to be weary of all scars. Everyone that went through the medical in my group that had a scar, including me, got ‘inapte temporaire’ and had to go get them checked out at their own expense.
Originally Posted by P
Thank you for sharing your expirience, good luck in the future! Were there any guys over 30 with you?
Out of the 300 or so guys I met while I was going through selection, there was only 10 that I knew for certain were over 30. EVs don't really walk around asking each other how old they are, and a good amount of the time no one knows what the hell anyone else is saying anyway. Extraordinary experience.
In an attempt to preempt what your next question might be. I only saw one guy, that I knew was over 30, get selected.
For all those private messaging me about what the ‘Tests’ involve, check out the official French Foreign Legion recruitment page.
If you are having trouble navigating the site then:
Check out these links:
For more information on the 'physical' requirements, check out this link:
For more info on the medical requirements check out this link:
They don't check your teeth out until you have made rouge (red), that is if you make rouge.
For more info on the what the ‘psycho-technical’ test covers check out this link:
It is just a test like you would do at school when you are about 15 (in a first world school).
For the ‘motivation’ interviews, just check out this link:
It is just like a job interview.
This links is for the fitness requirements:
Please don't complain to me that it is in French. Use Google Translate or something.
It is the French Foreign Legion, they will only speak to you in French for the most part, so best get used to it.
The most intensive test, if you can even call it that, is the DSPLE (security screening). It's not really a test, it a security screening, but it is more intense than the motivation interview.
You get asked some really strange questions, and you get asked them over and over and over again.
You get asked the same questions multiple different ways too. In a lot of ways it is a bit of a test, one of nerves. The interviewer just sat there eyeballing me a lot of the time. You are asked to do all sorts of things.
Take off all your clothes in under 45 seconds, put them back on in 45 seconds. Stand on one leg. At one point the interviewer walked behind be while I was standing in my underwear on one leg and aggressively kicked over a rubbish bin.
To be honest it is hard not to laugh sometimes. I bet this sort of stuff cracks some guys, I know one kid came out and burst into tears, it looked like he had already being crying for a while.
The interviewer also threw his beret at me out of nowhere. He was a very peculiar German guy which made the nickname the ‘Gestapo’ quite fitting. He sat there making funny noises at one point, constantly staring at me, while wearing this surgical type mask. I think the mask was to stop him from getting sick, all the EVs were really sick while I was there.
Originally Posted by k
Thanks for sharing.
When purchasing a round trip ticket, what time frame would you recommend putting between your arrival and departure from France? I've heard 3 weeks, 5 weeks, buy a one way ticket and bring money so you can buy a return ticket whenever.
What time frame did they gave you to potentially come back and try again? Thanks.
In my humble opinion, because that is all this is, there is no hard and fast answer to this. It depends on where you are planning on volunteering, and when. Personally I bought a return ticket so I would not have any problems getting into the country (or out) in the first place.
I considered the whole one way ticket scenario, but the complications that could have arisen going through customs regarding this did not appeal to me i.e. questions I did not want to answer.
It may have taken some jibber jabber just to get out of my own country on a one way ticket to France. So again in my opinion, unless you are from the EU, I suggest pre-purchasing an ‘exit’ ticket of some form.
If buying an exit ticket I suggest booking it out 3 weeks and paying extra to make it ‘flexible’. However this would only be if you are going to volunteer in Aubagne. If you are going to volunteer in Paris I would book it out 4 weeks. If you are going to volunteer around some ‘significant’ French, or international holiday time, one where the Legion is likely to be ‘preoccupied’ with other things I would add another week. So 4 or 5 weeks respectively.
This is just my my opinion based on what I read on this forum before leaving, and my own observations while I was there. I was there for almost three weeks and I volunteered in Aubagne. Some of the guys arriving from other locations, like Paris, that had volunteered around about the same time as me, still had a week to wait for selection commission (if they got past the DSPLE). So this meant some of those guys (the ones that weren't turfed by the DSPLE) would have been going through the selection process for over three weeks. However some of them went up for the selection commission at the same time. I get the impression the FFL doesn't always run like clockwork. They try their level best, but every EVs situation is unique to him, so some blast through the process, whereas others linger for some time.
The official FFL recruitment page says up to three weeks, so that seems fairly accurate from what I saw. As for the time frame they gave me to ‘potentially come back and try again’, there was none given. I was given ‘inapte définitif’. So that is it for me.
Originally Posted by M
At least you went. Fair Play. Now move on in life young man.
Thanks M. I've already moved on. It turns out not being accepted by the FFL was the best thing that could have happened to me, every cloud has a silver lining I suppose.
I was very unsure of what to do next when I was not accepted into the ranks of the Legion, I had put a lot of time and effort into preparing, and was definitely ready for the challenge. However I only malingered over what to do next after I was not accepted for about two weeks, and then got right the **** on with it. As I said not being accepted seemed to trigger a ‘butterfly effect’ of good things. I was able to turn my life around somewhat in the last few months, and things are going great for me now.
Originally Posted by D
You mention you only “have to do 3 pull-ups” and that some guys even get in with 1. Just about every tale I've heard of people who go to Aubagne has mentioned that right at the front gate they make you do a certain number of push ups (4-6 seems normal) before letting you in. Was that not a thing when you showed up?
No, I was not made to do any push ups at the ‘gate’ (it's a window at Aubagne), or anything like that. I also never heard or saw anyone else having to do this. I did see a big fat guy (and I mean obese) and his skinny mate get turned away when they turned up with just their passports and no kit. I couldn't hear what was being said, but they walked away laughing. If I was turned away like that, without being given a chance, I would have punched the Caporal in the nose, so I think he could just tell they were not serious.
Originally Posted by cu
Does this include burns? I got a burn on my hand about 1 and half CM big from a hot glue gun.
They seem to be weary of all scars. Everyone that went through the medical in my group that had a scar, including me, got ‘inapte temporaire’ and had to go get them checked out at their own expense.
Originally Posted by E-P
They have no basic fitness requirements? Really, or am I reading this wrong?
Being able to do 3 tractions (pull ups) is definitely considered a ‘basic’ fitness requirement. So yes, if you are referring to anything I have written, you are reading it wrong . The basic fitness requirement in order to be ‘eligible’ to pass the ‘fitness’ test during FFL selection, is now set at being able to do trois (three) tractions, and ‘perform’ the Luc-Léger V02 Max test. There is no minimum set to ‘pass’ the Luc-Léger.
You can check this out on the official FFL recruitment page.
While I was there I saw a few guys who were passed only running palier six (level six) on the Luc-Léger, and squeezing out 3 ‘shitty’ tractions. One guy even passed running a palier cinq (5) and squeezing out one shitty traction.
That guy even went on to become a ‘rouge’ candidate.
Of the other guys that only managed palier six on the Luc-Léger I only saw one make it. Most guys who couldn't manage palier sept (7) were failed ‘inapte temporaire’ on the fitness test, regardless of how many tractions they could do.
From my observations they were only really passing people who could run at least parle sept on the Luc-Leger, any less, more often than not, got an inapt temporaire fail. The amount of tractions you can do seems to be meaningless.
Please don't ask me why they let some people through for achieving a much lower fitness 'score' than others, I have my 'theories' but I really don't know the answer. When being administered the fitness tests the Caporal Chef didn't even seem to be paying much attention to us at all, he certainly didn't scrutinise the 'quality' of the tractions, even after taking the time to being very specific about how they should be performed.
Originally Posted by B
... was wondering about if they do any extensive colour-blindness tests and if any colour-blind volontaires made it through?
Also, do you know why you weren't let through?
Yes they do extensive color blindness tests. I have no idea if any color blind volunteers made it through. But why would they? Why administer a color blindness test and then pass anyone who fails it anyway? Makes **** all sense to me, but then again a lot of things don't make sense there. So in short, I don't know the answer to the second part of your question. I don't know of anyone who failed the color blindness test, so I don't know if anyone who failed the test made it through. Logic tells me they wouldn't have.
No I don't know why I was not selected, they don't tell you. I did ask and was told by the Caporal-chef that he did not know and that it was not up to him. What I do know is that roughly 50% of the guys who go up for the final selection commission each week don't make it. I have a hunch that it is largely a numbers thing though because a Caporal-chef gave all the EVs going up for commission in my group (about 40 of us) a big speech about how they would only be taking 20 of us, and that if anyone wanted to quit they should quit now or they would potentially be taking someone else's place.
So that says to me that a lot of it comes down to numbers. They have about 40 guys going up for selection commission each week and only need about 20. So they cut 20 from the mix just because they can't take everyone.
Look at it like this. If you **** up in the DSPLE interview and have ‘serious’ criminal problems you get sent home. I saw this happen. If you have lied about your criminal past, they make you yell out “Oui Caporal-chef!” the next morning, when all the EVs are asked if anyone wants to leave. I think this is to embarrass you in front of your peers. Not sure. One kid came back from the DSPLE in tears. He was quietly escorted out some time later.
All of the guys who make it to the final selection commission are potentially of ‘legionnaire quality’. If they weren't they would have been sent home after the DSPLE interviews, or the ‘motivation’ interview (I saw this happen too). From how it appears to me they just have too many people by the end of the process. ****ed if I know how they choose who they choose, again I have a ‘theory’ but I am not prepared to spell that out publicly on this forum. For the most part, if you make it this far, I believe it comes down to what you say in the motivation interview.
Essentially they need guys who are going to ‘stick around’. So they make their best guess based on the intel they have gathered about you since you volunteered. They definitely don't (can't) get this right all the time though. It takes longer than 2 to 3 weeks to really know someone. There was an EV there who told me he was going to desert right after basic training, and that he was only there to get “ripped” ; he got selected, I did not...
Originally Posted by A
I think that you know for what you are not in, but that's my opinion. Just to mention that from my brother's group in the end of the farm was left only 5 boys. So they really need to pick from these 40 the best ones. On the other side I know few guys , in which was given even possibility to go out and bringing medical notice, which confirms that no have any healthy problems. So they really giving you the chance, other is the question - are you really for the Legion?
I have already mentioned that I have a ‘theory’ why I may not have been selected, not to mention I spelled out that they had 20 guys too many, I'm fairly certain that was a contributing factor. ‘The best’ is subjective, and obviously they are getting it wrong if they only have 5 men left at the end of basic training. I know for a fact that they selected a guy who planned on deserting right after he finished basic training (if he actually completed it at all), because he told me this is what he was going to do.
In regards to your last question. No, not now, but at the time yes, absolutely. I have far too much going for me now (too many positives in my life) and the Legion would think me a fool to be volunteering, I would agree with them.
Part of answer to useless questions:
I actually wrote this thread to answer any questions other guys who are planning on volunteering might have about the selection process, as I experienced it as of February/March 2014. Nothing more, nothing less.
In regards to the guy who told me that he was going to desert right after basic training. Yes I believed him, why the **** else would someone tell you something like that if they weren't going to do it? Whether he was or not, that is a fairly strange ****en thing to go around telling people if you aren't going to do it.
My point is that had that got back to the 'selection committee' I doubt he would have got in. He got in because they didn't know he was planning on doing that, or at least telling some people that this was his intention. I don't think it that odd to believe someone who says they are going to do something like that. Look what Asia_Y wrote above about her brothers 'group'. Only 5 men left after basic out of 40. That is a terrible turn out.
I wouldn't know a good candidate from a bad one as I am not, and will never be, a part of the Legion 'selection committee'. I simply pointed out that some EVs who passed the 'fitness' tests were 'unfit' by international standards, and compared with other military 'minimum requirements'.
The international standards set out for the Luc Legar test, (which the Legion uses as part of their fitness test), for 18 - 35 year olds says that a parle cinq is considered very poor. There was an EV who was selected who only just managed a parle cinq. He was also only able to manage one poor form pull up and was visually overweight.
Another couple of EVs only managed parle six. Again by international standards this is considered 'poor'. Parle six is the equivalent of a 'fairly' fit 40 year old, and parle cinq is the equivalent of a 'fairly' fit 50 year old. You can look it up yourself.
Again most guys were not being passed without at least a parle sept, which is considered 'fair/average'. To give you an even more alarming comparison, FEMALE volunteers of the British Army are required to run at least parle huit virgule un, and the men parle dix virgule deux to pass the fitness test. And that is just the running.
I met some EVs that I would have been very happy to bump shoulders with as a Legionnaire who were selected, conversely I met some that were not selected either. The same goes for 'the others'. I met some guys I was cringing that I might have to bump shoulders with as a Legionnaire who were selected, however a bunch of these guys did not make it in also.
Admittedly the guys who were selected that were 'very unfit', for the most part, were great blokes. There was only one guy who I am certain would have committed suicide one week into basic training, but that is just my opinion.
I believe he was selected because he claimed he was on his sixth try. He claimed he initially failed the medical for being anemic. He returned and failed again for being too anemic. Third time he passed the medical but was failed on the fitness test for parle quatre. Fourth time he was failed for parle cinq. Fifth time he passed the fitness test with parle sept but was failed on the intelligence test. Sixth time, the time I was there he 'passed' the fitness test with parle six, and supposedly passed the intelligence test (he wasn't the brightest spark).
This is why I think he was selected. He just wouldn't ****en give up. However I personally could smell weakness in him and frequently saw him being 'bullied' and 'stood over' by other EVs. While he was rouge I saw him being told by other rouges to stand at attention (gardez vous) and recite the Legion Code of Honour while they sniggered and jeered at him. Like I said, suicide on legs.
Anyway I hope this post brings my other posts back into context. You can read them however you want and draw your own conclusions, however wrong they may be.
Originally Posted by R
So, if I sum it up, you were first declared inapte temporaire during the medical test, because of this scar, and later received an inapte définitif discharge, following the final selection commission. Have I got it right ? If yes, could you detail how you handled the additional medical tests you had to go through?
Which type of tests did you have, in which hospital did you go, how much did it cost, how long did it take, did the Legion suggest some hospitals where to go or were you left on your own, etc. ? I think this would be valuable information for the wannabes here.
Yes. I handled the additional medical tests by going to a medical clinic in Aubagne and having them carried out. I had to have an x-ray of my foot performed where I had a scar from a previous operation (probably a big red cross against my name that may have been a contributing factor in me not being selected).
I can't remember the clinic name, but as you are the second person to ask about this now I will be sure to include the name of it in my blog. (I am going to have to dig out all my paper work for this). I can't remember the exact amount it cost either, but again I will include this in my blog once I have dug out the receipt. It was about 40€. The x-ray procedure in itself only took about 5 to 10 minutes, however I was waiting around for a few hours to have it done.
The Legion suggested nothing, although had I asked I think they would have been obliging, I just chose to head of and get it sorted on my own. So 'technically' yes I was left on my own, don't ask don't get I suppose. I hope this helps any other aspiring Legionnaires who plan on volunteering some time soon, that is the only reason I am here
Originally Posted by ds
Can you go into more detail on this please? Do they give you the address of the clinic (or whatever) where they want you to get checked? Do you get some kind of paper detailing what they want you to get checked? How do you pay for whatever tests you need to do?
The money part is what worries me the most. From what I understand they cut your debit/credit cards in half when you come in and you're not allowed to come in with a lot of cash. So how do you pay for lodging while you're out and about in Marseille?
I'm asking all this because I have a scar from an appendectomy I had when I was 12 years old (with no issues at all), and so I'm sure they're going to send me to get tested.
edit: wow, R had already asked everything I just asked. Sorry for not reading through the thread thoroughly
No, but I did not ask. Yes I was given paper work detailing what they wanted to get checked. I paid for the tests with money.
I would recommend taking at least 200€ with you. The official FFL recruitment page suggests you only take 50€, but if you do and you end up needing to get medical testing done at your own expense you could end up stuffed.
Yes I chose the more expensive option for my testing by going to a private clinic, but that is because I was going to have to potentially wait days going to a 'hospital'. This is what la capitaine (female) who had medically inspected me, (and given me inapte temporaire), told me.
That potentially meant having to pay for a couple of days accommodation somewhere and still having to pay for the test anyway. That just didn't compute with me. It could have ended up costing me the same amount and just delayed my selection process by a few days. So I just got it sorted and went back within a few hours. I was hoping this might help show them that I was serious about joining.
Your understanding of what they do to your debit/credit cards when you arrive is wrong. They do not cut them up when you first arrive, they just confiscate them. They only cut them up if you are selected. Not until then. I only know this as I was explicitly told this by my DSPLE 'interviewer' (a Seargent Chef). So you can cross that off your list of things to worry about.
As for your appendectomy scar, I have one too and they did not ask me to get this tested in any way shape or form, however I did take extensive medical documents with me, although this counted for nothing when it came to my foot.
I would say be prepared. As I mentioned above, I suggest taking at least 200€. I know for a fact that there was an EV who spent 180€ on his medical tests all up. He did not have the money and spent days on the streets contacting home trying to rustle up the funds. In the end he returned only to be failed on the 'fitness' test, and again was returned 'penny less' to the streets of Aubagne.
Moral of the story is be prepared for the unexpected, if you aren't you might end up broke and without shelter on the streets of Aubagne
Originally Posted by tw
Could you elaborate on how your interview processes generally went?
I'm guessing in there lies the key as to why they turned you away, not knocking you at all, but I'm assuming you made it sound like the legion was something you were interested in doing rather than something you had to do because you've no alternatives.
That's just my guess, if your perception of selection was accurate, it seems to me that they primarily take people who are likely to serve the full 5 years because of circumstance.
The interview consisted of them asking me questions and me answering them. Your assumptions are largely correct. First and foremost I volunteered to the Legion to be a legionnaire. Not for the money, not for the French passport (this is what most guys were there for, money and a French passport).
So in my opinion your ‘guess’ is probably spot on. Yes again, as I have already clearly stipulated in this thread many times, they make an ‘educated’ guess at who is most likely to stick it out, and from what I read on this forum from currently serving, and Anciens legionnaires, they get this wrong more often than they get it right.
As A_Y posted earlier, in her brother's group there were only 5 of 40 men left at the end of basic training. That is a horrible turn out. Also, as I have already written, they selected an EV who told me himself that he had every intention of deserting after basic training, and that he was just there to get “ripped for Summer’.
He already had a job and everything lined up for him back home once he had deserted. The Legion selected this guy. So I rest my case.
Originally Posted by ds
Thank you. Just one last question: were the medical documents you took translated to French?
Originally Posted by th
What would be the proper required paper work denoting the scars\burns are not self inflicting or cause from surgery ?
I have a few burn marks and what not from few various accidents but none required any doc attention would I need. Doc saying there not intentional and \none from surgery.
From my experience they don't give any weight to any medical records you take. Unless of course it is negative, i.e. a note from your Doctor saying your foot is good and healed after a surgery does not mean squat to them, but if it says your foot is stilled ****ed -> inapte définitif.
Originally Posted by D
Just noticed, there is no mention of the famed Cooper Test in your post. Did you not have to run around the track for your physical qualifier?
It is not mentioned because they don't use it, and from my understanding, including from the official FFL recruitment website, they have not used it in selection for years. So no we did not have to run around a track, I thought I had been very specific already about what they did and didn't make us do already.
Originally Posted by Le G
Thanks for taking the time to write up your experiences. Useful and interesting stuff.
The instances in which such out-of-shape people pass selection are pretty surprising, or counter-intuitive to say the least. But perhaps this is because they are the exception; so what about the rule? Specifically, what about the candidates on the other side of the spectrum? Do you feel that the men who were in the best physical shape had an advantage over other candidates when it came to final selection?
I'm curious to find out if the 2 or 3 best runners in the Luc-Léger test from your group got selected. I'm getting the impression from some people on here that it doesn't matter at all how fit you are (in terms of getting selected, I know it will make life easier at the farm), so long as you can meet the basic physical requirements.
Out of the top 5 most physically fit men I encountered while I was there, only two were selected. You do the math. Yet they took 3 of the most physically unfit men that were there, including one that was clearly overweight. Being fitter than other EVs seemed to have no impact whatsoever.
My 2 cents: if you can reach level 7 on the Luc-Léger, and manage 3 ‘good form’ tractions. Just ****en go. There is no point malingering. If you have the time to get fitter because your flight is 3 months out, or whatever, then get as fit as you can. Yes I agree that the fitter you are, the less ‘physically’ demanding basic training will be (if you are selected of course). However you still can't prepare ‘mentally’.
Originally Posted by th
Yes none of my scars or burns required medical attention but I do have a rather big burn on u bak from being hit by a car and trapped under it but it was in ya burn so I might just go get a "doctor's note" just to be sure.
If you tell them that, and when they notice it, I would bet a lot of money you will get inapte temporaire (possibly inapte définitif). I would bet even more money that you will be at least asked to go and get x-rays etc. Be prepared for that. That could cost you a couple of hundred €.
My suggestion would be to take your medical records, if you can afford it get them translated into French, but be prepared to have to get these checks mate. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, they don't appear to be too interested in anything you take with you, they almost appear to be insulted by it.
Not many people passed the medical in my group. Only about 20 (40%) from what I witnessed, and that is including the people who were given inapte temporaire (go away, get tested and come back). About 80%, so 16 out of about 20 of us, were rejected initially.
About 8 of us were inaptes temporaires, the rest inaptes définitifs. Of the 8 that were given inapte temporaire, all of us returned (eventually), however out of these 8 only 2 of us made it to blue. 4 of these guys I did the ‘fitness’ test with.
We were merged with another group of 4 to do this (so 8 in total). Only two of us passed that. Numbers get whittled down real fast. I'm not sure what happened to the other 4 guys that I saw return over the next few days, but they did not go blue. It is possible they failed the medical ‘retest’, or failed the fitness test, I didn't see. They may have got inapte definitif in the medical retest, or the may have got inapte temporaire.
If you have had anything ‘serious’ medically ever happen to you, you will be expected to go and get tests to prove that you are no longer ailed by this.
If you have anything remotely wrong with you, you will go under the microscope, if it is something that cannot be easily corrected you will get inapte définitif. For example I got a PM from a guy asking me if they will reject him for having asthma. I had to reply with: “does a bear shit in the woods?” I mean come on... Is is just me that thinks the answer to that should be obvious?
Originally Posted by Ac
Can one bring some form of medical document say from one's own home country stating the scar isn't anything serious, or does the checkup have to happen there after being told to leave and get it checked out in France? Sorry, I'm asking because I'm planning on making the trip from the USA to Aubagne in the near future, maybe in a year.
Thank you in advance!
Like I mentioned earlier. You can take all your previous medical information, or even the results of tests you had specifically carried out prior to volunteering to the Legion, in 'preparation' to 'prove' you are medically fit and healthy. I did. However from what it appeared to me, this means nothing to them as I was still made to go have these tests again in France once I arrived.
Voltigeur mentions getting them translated into French. I was not able to afford to do that, so I didn't. I can't confirm or deny this would make any difference.
The Capitaine the inspected me spoke very good and fluent English, I assume she could read it too, however she still sent me off for tests after reading all my medical information.
Well I assume she read it as she was flicking through it on her desk while 'interviewing' me before inspecting me.
Originally Posted by C
The most intensive test, if you can even call it that, is the DSPLE (security screening). It's not really a test, it a security screening, but it is more intense than the motivation interview. You get asked some really strange questions, and you get asked them over and over and over again. You get asked the same questions multiple different ways too. In a lot of ways it is a bit of a test, one of nerves. The interviewer just sat there eyeballing me a lot of the time. You are asked to do all sorts of things.'
Answer by EE
...remember the interview: a 'walk in the parK' as I told Gestapo the truth from the moment of my conception.........the worst part of it was this little shit NCO walked into the room asked if I'd been to university and struck on top of my melon as I sat down....don't know if the guy was frustrated as he hadn't been to college or whether he was testing my reaction...wanted to thump the LITTLE FOCKER but refrained myself in order not to spoil my chances.....brawling at Gestapo HQ would not have gone down too well: WANNABES SHOW RESTRAINT+PATIENCE AT ALL TIMES AS A PRE-SET MODUS OPERANDI
As I promised R earlier in this thread, here is the specifics of my private visit to a medicale in order to get the checks the Legion requested.
Centre d'Imagerie Médicale Lafond
Dr Cayret - Dr Fields - Dr Fouque
13674 Aubagne Cedex
Tel: +33 (0)4 42 03 13 88
I had an X-Ray carried out on my foot and the cost was precisely 24.30 €. I think that about covers that question now. If I have missed something please let me know.
As for the PMs I am getting regarding how fit you should be. This thread more or less spells it out. However I will add this. I mentioned earlier that if you can run a palier sept (level seven) on the Luc-Léger and perform trois ‘good form’ tractions (pull-ups), you should just go. I would like to retract this and say in my opinion I think you should make sure you can run at least palier neuf (level nine), and perform huit ‘good form’ tractions.
This is my rationale.
When I left New Zealand I was able to perform parlier X on the Luc-Léger, and X amount of tractions. However when I performed the test I was only able to do X minus 2 on the Luc-Léger, and X minus 50% on the tractions.
Call it performance anxiety, call it lack of exercise once arriving in France, call it what you will. However most EVs noted that they were able to run at least two levels more on the Luc-Léger, and perform 100%+ pull-ups when they tested prior to arriving in France. I experienced this also.
Hope this helps somebody. In short, have a buffer.
No problem mate. I suggest taking about 200€ with you too. Either in cash, or on a ‘Debit Visa’ etc., more if you can. Last thing you need is to be stuck in Aubagne with a huge medical inspection cost requirement and no accommodation.
Also they let you keep change (coins) on you during selection, which is great for buying hot chocolates and coffee etc from the vending machine if you go blue.
Yes, la Légion étrangère has a vending machine the bleus and rouges can use to buy all sorts of hot drinks including mocha lattes (or whatever that fancy coffee shit is called), you are actually spoilt for choice, there is about 50 different options to choose from. You can also buy chocolate bars and cans of fizzy drink in the canteen area around midday and in the evenings .
The ole grey mare ain't what she used to be Anciens
Just make sure you don't try and buy shit via the bleus and rouges through the fence before you get to that point. A lot of guys got caught and got told off, not sure whether this counts against you or not, but why risk it.
This I do know, DSPLE is on the top floor and I often saw them watching this sort of stuff taking place. Best not to get involved I think .
Also on the weekend the EVs (blue and red) tend to take a nap.
I SHIT YOU NOT!
There is nothing more amusing than seeing 20 odd blues, and 20 odd rouge sleeping all over the ‘yard’, including in the canteen (foyer) or whatever it's called. Again this didn't seem to stop a lot of guys from getting in, but be warned DSPLE sees all of this from the top floor. I saw them watching.
One other thing that happened while I was there that you might see is people stealing food. EVERYONE does this. I did not. Don't even put any food you have left over after meals in your pockets if you can't eat it all.
YES, they feed you A LOT of food (except breakfast). I saw guys get sent home for getting caught with stolen food. They spot check people. It's just not worth it, but as I say, EVERYONE steals food. You are only supposed to take ONE piece of bread in the morning, but you will gradually see everyone start to take two. I did not.
Eventually the shit hits the fan and culprits are stared at intently (boo hoo), LOL! I was hoping to see some skulls get cracked... didn't happen.
Just for the record, it may appear as though they don't notice this, but they do, eventually. I suppose we all kind of paid for it in the end too as the shitty handed EVs that had taken extra and had been coffing and blowing snot into their hands and rubbing it onto their tracksuits only moments earlier then had to return the extra bread to the sack... on the floor. LOL! We all ate this bread later. Oh good times.
Also keep your spare undies, socks, and bog roll in your pockets (just spread it all out so you don't look like a mong or a fat ****).
EVs steal EVERYTHING, at least they did while I was there. You are only issued 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of undies, and ONE tracksuit. This is to last ALL of selection, and you NEVER wash your clothes.
So be prepared to stink. If you leave your second pair of socks, undies, or your toilet paper in your sac a do someone WILL steal it. So keep them on you at all times.
Also you are only issued ONE roll of toilet paper to last all of selection. I spent the last few days hording paper towels from the kitchen, and trading food for toilet paper (my own food at dinner time). On the very last day I had to scrape my arsehole clean with my fingers.
You might also want to air your soap out at night time because it reeks and you wont want to put it on your body LOL!
Be sure to shave first thing in the morning too, and not at night. A lot of EVs had there faces molested by caporaux-chefs (*) in the morning and had to dry shave on the spot while everyone watched. Nice.
(*) ndlr : in French “caporaux” is the plural form of “caporal”, like chevaux is the plural of cheval (horse), etc.
Originally Posted by S
Thanks for the advice, I'll be bringing around 800 €. And I saved this as a document just to remember in the future hahaha.
S. mate, like Don says, don't go telling people you are carrying around that much cash with you. Don't worry about the Legion doing anything 'dodgy' with it, they aren't like that. In fact they seem nervously pedantic in noting exactly how much you bring and making sure you are certain about how much you are giving them.
When I was there they don't even seem to want to touch it. They make you count it, and confirm how much there is multiple times. They also make you sign a form saying how much you give them. You will get this all back at some point.
If you are sent off to get additional medical tests done you are declared inapte temporaire. This means you have effectively been returned to civil and therefore you are given everything back, and ‘signed out’. So don't worry about the official site saying to only bring 50€. You could turn up with 50,000€ and they will deal with it.
There was one EV who turned up from Japan with 6,000€. The caporal-chef was bemused, but he dealt with it.
Don't go stuffing money in socks or anything, they will just think you are a dork, besides they check everything, empty all pockets, no stone is unturned.
After all, you could be a terrorist, LOL! 50% serious, 50% joking. Anyway if you go to get tests you will have your money returned to you, including any credit cards, debit cards, etc (if you take any). The FFL is modern these days, and the administration is effective.
For me I had prepared to be yelled at and treated like shit. It didn't happen. The administration were top notch guys. There was one big fat Mongolian caporal-chef who walked around on a war path most of the time, but you could tell he had a few ‘confidence’ issues. He had ****en Star Wars and Lord of the Rings figurines on his desk for ****s sake. Generally a bully is being bullied themselves, catch my drift.
As for the guy waffling on about the socks and shit the official FFL page says to take with you. **** all that. I was there. They take ALL this shit off you. You could turn up with a fresh pair of undies and socks for everyday you are envisioning being in selection for, but they take ALL of this from you, so just take the ‘minimum’ suggested, but don't expect to keep any of it.
Also don't worry about anything being stolen from your sac-à-dos PRE stage bleu.
Your bags are locked up securely at all times and anything ‘valuable’ is stored someone where else safe. There were guys turning up with iPhones, iPads, PSPs and all sorts of shit. Everyone who was returned civil with me got all this stuff back, and they are really careful with it.
I think a lot of people have the wrong idea of the FFL administration during selection. You are still kind of civil, and they treat you as such, including your possessions, they are very careful. It is not 1831 anymore, or 1991 for that matter. Respect was noticeable and paramount. I personally received nothing but the utmost respect from most legionnaires, yeah there was the occasional arsehole, but there is a lot of people in this world that meet that description (just take this forum for example, lol ).
So yeah. Personally I suggest just taking one bag of the stuff they recommend on the official page and nothing they suggest you don't bring, aside from the money thing.
I don't think it is a stupid idea to take 800 € with you, in fact I think that is very sensible. However if you have a laptop or a phone etc. that you want to take with you (even though the official site says not to) take it anyway (if you really want to). A lot of guys did, a lot who got in too.
You see a lot of legionnaires walking around texting on the latest iPhones etc (much later gen then the iPhone 3 I took with me that was worth no more than about 30 €, lol). Sometimes you would see them sitting down using Laptops and iPads with swanky separate little keyboards etc.
The Legion I saw is a lot different to the Legion you are often painted by Anciens. They are not trying to ‘trip you up’ things have just changed. I would say they suggest not taking that sort of stuff with you because it creates unnecessary administration work for them, and the potential to provoke theft, but they deal with it.
However be prepared to have the DSPLE go through your laptop and phone etc. if you take that sort of stuff. Make sure you have deleted any photos of you in your snuggie with your favorite teddy bear, otherwise you might have a tough time convincing the DSPLE that you are not a soft cock.
Think that about covers it.
NB: Pour les Anciens. The ole grey mare ain't what she used to be. One of the guys who I met in selection who finished at the top of his section, and was held back to do the accelerated caporal's course before being sent to the 2rep, well he has just posted a whole lot of ‘model’ type pictures of himself on his Facebook page.
Most of them are not of him in uniform, but they are the sort of stuff a budding ‘movie star’ would forward onto their agent , or you might sell to a womens ‘PlayGirl’ magazine.
Times have a changed... drastically. This guy scored 20/20 on the ‘assessment grade’ before being sent to la ferme (don't ask me how I know that ).
Post by L.
As far as laptop and iPhones are concerned, either you don't take any with you and after instruction, when you can use one, you have to ask the permission to buy one (this was my case) and if the request is not written on the proper form, and with all the requested information, it will be denied.
In my case, the Cne in charge decided that my bad form represented a lack of respect for an officer and I was good for 7 days en ‘taule’ and one month consigné au camp, that was already in 2 REP. The other possibility is that you have taken your laptop and/or iPhone with you : it is provisionally confiscated but you get it back AFTER instruction, before you leave for your regiment.
You can then use it without special permission.
Post by C.
Yes. There are pull-up bars, dip stations, push-up things etc. But there is jack shit room to go for a run.
You can do interval training on the concrete slab, but I wouldn't bother. Every time the siren goes off you will be doing a 50 metre sprint (with NO warm up), and that can happen a couple of dozen times a day, sometimes multiple times within 10 minutes.
Everyone races, there is no need to get there first, but you don't really want to just slow poke round. I tried to just stick to the middle of the bunch. That way when you line up you can stand in the middle of the group, not at the front, not at the back. Makes it easier not to get noticed. If you go rouge you will be doing this in BRAND NEW boots, best to rest up while you have the chance.
Be careful not to walk on or through the FFL emblem that is made of painted stones in the yard.
A few people made this mistake and got a stern talking to. Also make sure to never walk over ANY FFL emblems on the ground. They take it VERY seriously and so should you.
For example in the ‘barracks’ where the bleus, rouges, and some Legion staff sleep there is like a main foyer area with a big Legion emblem on the floor. NEVER walk over this. Walk AROUND it.
Oh yeah, try and stay of the grass around the area where you do the Luc-Léger test and tractions. You will know what I mean. You will only have the opportunity to walk on this grass if you go bleu. DON'T. They don't like it. Stick to the concrete.
Also when being taken somewhere by a legionnaire, whether with others or alone, walk behind him, never directly to the side of him or remotely in front of him. Don't walk on the roads within the compound, stick to the footpath. This all might sound like fairly straight forward stuff, but many EVs got told off for this sort of thing. Some of them over and over and over again.
reply by C.
L. mate, don't be mad. It was I who was not selected, not you I agree with your advice in regards to showing respect, humility, and modesty, and that is exactly what I did.
However your advice about ‘standing out’ goes against the advice of EVERY SINGLE MAN I have EVER met that has served and currently served in ANY military EVER, including any advice EVER given on this forum, and even advice given to me by a few Legionnaires while I was going through selection.
I gave it my all where absolutely necessary, I volunteered for everything, but for the most part I tried to BLEND IN. I didn't feel the need to be the first man to arrive by way of sprinting when the siren went off, to look like some hero.
The Legion was perfectly aware of my running attributes. I also didn't feel the need to max out my pushups in front of everybody in the yard like a hero. The Legion has seen how many tractions I could do.
You are the FIRST man to have served that has ever told me to try and ‘stand out’ in a military environment. Very odd comment from you I must say.
Two of the guys that became ‘barman’ while I was there, and stood out to EVERYONE a lot, for what appeared to be the ‘right’ reasons i.e. they seemed to be well respected and ‘stood out’, were both sent home.
Then there were guys who stood out for the ‘wrong’ reasons i.e. never volunteering, being lazy when asked to do tasks, not shaving in the morning etc. etc. A couple of these guys were selected.
There was also more than a few guys who got selected that more or less never spoke, guys that did not stand out to anyone, ever. Conversely there were guys like this who were not selected too.
I think also this trying to guess what the Legion is looking for (or not), is fruitless. You have said so yourself. I also asked for people to stop giving their 2 cents about why I was not selected. That is not what this thread is about, it is NEVER what this thread was about. So why do you persist? You told me yourself to move on and not think about it, which I did some months ago after not getting selected. So why have you brought this up again? I am just trying to help out other 'hopefuls' by volunteering information about what they might experience in selection, and what I experienced. Nothing more nothing less.
You are right about me being transparent though. The Legion knew exactly the competence of my fitness level and intelligence. Because they tested for it. And I gave all the tests, and every task I volunteered for, and was asked to do, 100%. I also performed well in the fitness tests, which I already clearly outlined in the OP. Definitely exceeded the minimum requirements where others struggled to even meet them.
Hello. Brief introduction and huge post about my basic instruction experience.
Hi there and big thanks for the moderators for accepting my registration.
I am Chelu from Romania. This is my first post, but
I have been an avid lurker on this forum for some years before actually going for the real thing.
This is a brief presentation of my Legion instruction experience. I wrote this as a thank you for all the information I got from here before joining. I will not say names. I will try not to judge people or the Legion (but there are a few exceptions). I do not intend to publish this or get money from this story. I wrote it for Cervens BBS only.
I arrived in Paris mid August last year. Spent a week with a friend, an ex-2REI Legionnaire, who insisted on feeding me amazing amounts of food. I gained 5 kgs during that week.
Next Monday around 16.45, I am in front of the main entrance at Fort de Nogent. The guy on guard duty has a Serbian name. He asks me in French why I am there. I say in English that I want to join the Legion.
He keeps speaking French and I keep replying in English. He takes me in and I end up sitting for about half an hour inside one of the offices nearby.
I used to speak very fluent French, like 12 years ago, but now I can only understand what is being said, so I decide to declare myself as non-French speaker.
A Chinese looking CCH comes and asks me to follow him after briefly checking my passport. We go to a different building, I pass the pull-ups test. I do 11, but another CCH, an Australian, counts only 5 of them. He also tells me that I am too old for the Legion (me being 30 at that time) and says that I will only be there for one night.
Some French civilian guy, fills out my forms and checks the contents of my bag.
I came with 3 t-shirts, a pair of jeans, 3 boxers and 3 pairs of socks, an old Nokia phone and my passport.
He gives me a uniform for my stay in Fort de Nogent, a black stinky t-shirt and shorts. He shows me to my bed in one of the rooms, after that I get dinner.
Later I find out that the French guys is a former Armée de Terre soldier who want to join the Legion.
He was one of those that most of us disliked, He was bullying us and when someone slapped him, he would report him to the cadre and the guy got immediately kicked out for violence.
This French guy had also failed his initial medical tests, but later on he went home and came back with some medical papers from a civilian doctor saying that he is fit for army life and he got re-accepted.
He made it all the way to Rouge in Aubagne. There was also another French guy who acted out, but the MPs went after him. It turned out he was a deserter from the French Navy.
My stay at Fort de Nogent lasted about 12 days. I befriended a few Romanians, two Americans, a Finnish guy, a Libyan, a Dutch, a Japanese, a Nepalese, a few French guys, some Brazilians and some other South Americans.
Because we didn’t do shit the entire day, besides sitting in the Foyer and eating, I decided to volunteer for every single thing that came up.
So I did corvée toilets every morning with one of the Brazilians and the Finnish guy.
I also got to wash dishes in the officer’s popote (mess-hall) a few times
Help set the tables for a private party of Parisians, who were celebrating the liberation of Paris, by dressing up as American soldiers and driving American second WW2 vehicles.
That was a funny sight, We, foreigners trying to get in the French Army and them, French, dressing up as Americans.
Anyway, got a few glasses of wine out of it.
We did all kinds of medical tests, the Luc-Léger and the pull-up test. Lots of guys come and lots of guys go.
Some have hearing problems, some have bad teeth, some decide that the army is not for them.
Waking up at 5.30 does help some of them to take the big decision of going home.
Oh, and an amazing amount of guys that can’t do pull-ups, not even one! After passing the tests – I just remember another funny thing – we had a retired army general doing the medical test on us.
He was very meticulous, he ordered each one of us to strip and touched our balls to see with we have the desired amount of two.
The ones that pass all the tests get to go to Aubagne each Tuesday and Thursday. The Finnish and the Libyan leave with the group before mine.
My group leaves on a Tuesday, we have some Brazilians, 6 ******* Arabs who everybody wants to beat the shit out of, obnoxious little ****s that steal from everyone, talk bad to everyone and act like they own the place.
One of the Americans from whom I found that has served in Irak, a few French guys and lots of blacks.
We get to Aubagne around lunch time. Stripping and registration routine again plus photo session. I get my tattoos photoed.
The one in charge is a big Brazilian corporal.
I rejoin my Finnish and Libyan friends and befriend some more Romanians, a Japanese-French guy who is in great shape and a few other guys.
There are also lots of blacks and lots of Arabs.
This is the first page, the entire document has 8 pages. I am going to make separate posts in order to make them easier to follow.
Next day, psycho-technical tests, out of the 30 guys in my group only 12 remain: the initial 6 whites, 5 blacks and one Arab.
During our stay in Fort de Nogent we had enough time to check out a few issues of the Képi Blanc magazine and couldn’t help notice the whites to blacks/Asians ratio. The latter are in minority. Now we found out why... the psycho-technicals.
Before getting to Aubagne I was a bit nervous about my physical aptitudes.
All the Africans and some of the Asians could run like crazy and do amazing amounts of pull-ups. Guys going over 25 pull-ups were the norm and not the exception.
The following days in Aubagne pass very quickly, we do corvée in various places where the Legion needs us and we redo all the medical tests.
I even get sent to the Legion’s leisure hotel in Marseille, La Malmousque. I stay there for 4 days together with a Hungarian, the Arab from my group-a Kabilian who made quite some money out of cigarette traficking and 3 French guys: a French gipsy from Marseille, a juvenile delinquent from Paris and big guy from Haute-Savoie (a department in the French Alps).
We spent 2 hours in the morning cleaning the place, I mean really cleaning the place, than we get to watch the sea until lunch, after lunch we get 2 hours to sleep then corvée again and 2 more hours of looking at the sea like idiots, that was an actual order from the CCH in charge, then dinner, corvée again and sleep.
I ate a lot and managed to become a bit of a super star because
I spent 7 years in Indonesia training silat before coming to the Legion. The guy from Haute-Savoie did a few years of kick-boxing and him, being the bully type, was trying to impress himself on me and the Hungarian. We were the only ones not speaking French. I managed to put him on his ass two times without actually injuring him or his pride and the group gets more homogenous.
After our arrival in Aubagne, most of the French speaking guys find out about my silat experience and come to know me.
I forgot to say that during the three days before Malmousque we went to Marseille for chest and teeth x-rays and we also spent two days sitting like idiots in front of the psychologist’s office waiting for an interview.
At that moment my impression was that this was some kind of test. Now I know that the guys there are a small Mafia within the Legion and don’t really give a **** about the volunteers. Oh, and there is the Foyer, where you can buy, snickers, mars and coke or fanta.
It is actually recommended to buy as you won’t be able to change money to get some coffee from the coffee machine downstairs.
Another thing I forgot to mention was that during one of my corvée I got to be paired with a little French prick. He was 18, came from a rich family, his father was an Ambassador and he really believed that he was the only one that was good for the Legion.
So, he took advantage of being French and got three guys sent home by lying to some of the CCHs and CPLs and saying that the guys either stole something or bullied him.
He tried his luck with me and I managed to got out of it as I understood French. This c*nt eventually made it to Rouge with me, along with the American, the Finnish, the Libian, 3 other Romanians, the Japanese from Nogent, 2 Nepalese, some French and few other guys.
While we were Rouge, we did guard duty and were also on charge of the rest of the bunch, we had to make them clean the dorms, take showers etc.
From our first night as a Rouge group we got into conflict with the Russians, a pretty big and homogenous group including some ex-Russia military: Ukrainians, Bielorussians, Moldovans (these wankers are Romanians, but due to historical circumstances they ended up being part of the former USSR and now they speak both Russian and Romanian but hang with the Romanians only when they need something).
We do get to learn a little bit more about each other, the Finnish guy was a Ltn in his country, the American a staff sergent, one of the Nepalese can’t keep his mouth shut and seems to fall asleep everywhere, even during guard duty.
Our group get also joined by a Chinese raised in Paris and a Malagasy that didn’t go with the previous group.
We all want to beat the French c*nt. We almost do it a few times, but he gets lucky and we postpone it for the farm.
After 6 days of Rouge I know that I am going to get ripped off by various people. We pay 15 euros for sandwiches with cheese and tomatoes-like 3 times more than in other places. We pay 80 euros for 40 euros shoes and can’t even choose the model we want and every time the Brazilian CPL in charge with the Foyer opens it we have to buy cans of juice and Snicker bars. "Bye bye money".
During my stay in Aubagne, I spent around 100 euros just on juice (that I gave away anyway", coffee and snickers.
Then an Italian CPL and a very tall French sergeant came to pick us up to go to Castel.
We are a group of 18 and they call us the first fraction.
3 guys, me included have problems with the rangers(boots) they mercilessly chafe on our feet, tendons and nervs and we are already limping.
The sergeant expertly takes the soles off with the army knife and we get to change the rangers. GOD BLESS YOU!
Twitch, forum join Date: Aug. 2010
When the guy tried to tell you that you were too old at 30, was he really trying to discourage you or just kinda ribbing you? I'll be trying out at age 30 myself.
For each guy they try to find how motivated he is. They always use something that they think is your weak spot. For me it was the age in the beginning and the fact that I could earn a lot more money with my diploma outside the Legion. Also about the age factor, my section average age was 25 and the oldest 3 were the American, a French-speaking African who was the first to ask civil and me.
Mate gotta ask, anyone get rejected due to scars or lack of medical documentation?
Sasa92. you don't need to bring any medical documentation. Just bring a valid id: passport or id card (EU citizens) and if you want to make it easier for you bring a 6 month new and valid birth certificate-it will help later with RSM (Régularisation de Situation Militaire) procedure. As about scars, the guys that got rejected and had scars, either had medical problems (there was a guy with screws in his bones and the scars were from the operations) or he had scars from self-inflicted wounds.
We get to Castel and get in our quarters. There we meet two CPL's for our Section: a 19 year old ‘Fut-Fut’ from Croatia and another ‘Fut-Fut’ from South Africa. We get assigned to our rooms.
I am in the same room as the American, another Romanian, a small Nepalese, the Libyan, a tall French, a black from a former French colony and a Malagasy.
The young CPL is our Caporal de chambre. We spend the next 3 hours running outside to pick up the stuff the South African was throwing out of the window.
It is night and the Libyan loses his beret. We are in shit, the entire Section. Nights become very long as we all get punished for that beret.
I later find clues that the CPLs hated arabs and threw the beret away to make him a victim and get him to desert. Training started and it will not end until mid January.
We found out that the Section is incomplete and that we have to wait for 2 other fractions. That’s two weeks. In this time we take a Cooper test and most of us do at least 3000 M, another Luc-Léger, but around a football field and with different intervals, pull-up test where I score 10 (minimum was 7 and maximum was 25 by an Ukrainian), and rope climbing test where I score 5.18 sec. Best was 5 sec in my Fraction.
We start doing OS (Ordre serré) marching and singing and also montage-démontage (putting together and taking apart) of the FAMAS.
I am grateful to the Italian CPL that gave us so much useful advice and taught us how to handle the FAMAS.
The other 2 Fractions in my Section would finish instruction without the minimal knowledge on montage and démontage.
We are now complete, we realized that we were joined by the exact group of Russians we hate . We were supposed to be 60, but an Ukrainian got postponed, we later saw him in a different Cie, and a Russian got transferred because he told a little French **** that he will sodomise him at the farm . The French complained that he was afraid of being raped by the comorades and he went civil.
Before going to the farm we meet the rest of the CPLs and the NCOs. Bad news, lots of highly decorated former 2REP, 2 REI and 2REG. Our SCH had more medals than the Chef de Corps and we saw him a few times in the Képi Blanc magazine.
Truly amazing person, I learned a lot from his experience.
I don’t want to ruin other guys' farm experience as it is something extraordinary but I will give a few hints: sleep deprivation, food deprivation, a bit of brutality, cold showers.
The farm was from 30 September to 25 October, lots of running, marching and bivouac on top of the hills surrounding the Raisac farm (told you I won’t give names of Cie, section or cadres, but this is for the guys that passed instruction). I ate from the garbage bins, I was praying to get the guard duty to sneak out and steal some apples an figs.
I lost so much weight that it was the first time in my life that I had no fat on my body. I almost feinted a few times, and on top of all, the Képi Blanc march was filmed by TV channel France 3. So we did the whole Cpt Danjou speech in front of his house and we had to pass check points where we were filmed.
First night was at the farm of another CIE. It looked in very good shape compared to the shit where we had spent 4 weeks.
Then march again to the last farm who was a ******* demo version used for parades and shit. The Defense Minister was visiting the Legion and we were chosen to do the whole Képi Blanc ceremony in front of him.
We arrived there around 13.00 having marched since 4 in the morning, almost non stop. We were very happy to have finished and were congratulating each other (8 guys had already quit during the farm). Then came the order, change rangers with rangers for parade and demi-tour droite back 1.5 km.
The assholes from France 3 forgot to film our arrival. We were so demoralised and in pain, I swear, tears would have come out of our eyes if it weren’t for the dehydration.
We did the shit, did the oath, became legionnaires and were waiting behind the building, near the tents with food for a few photos with the minister. Interviews, photos, lots of blabla, but **** we were hungry. And... the food was not for us, it was for the journalists and the Legion vets who had helped with the ceremony.
Some of the guys cracked and stole food.
The entire Section was ordered to hit the floor and we spent half an hour in push up position with the cadres lecturing us.
From then on, this was the norm. During our instruction period the only outcome of any action we took, whether we did great or failed was punishment: down to the floor, pompes Coréennes, Santa Rinas to name but a few.
One time, I did pompes Coréennes for 5 continuous minutes until all my fingers were bleeding, when a Brazilian ex 3REI CPL caught me eating some food given to me by other CPL. I had to lie that it was sugar I stole.
The following week after the képi blanc march would see some of our guys ask to go civil: a short Salvadorian (he actually had a broken knee and did the march with it), a Russian whose feet were one big piece of raw meat pie and his breathing was failing him (me and the American had to carry him through the second day of the képi blanc march while the others in our group had to carry his backpack), an Italian, former mountain ranger or something- who got special attention from the Italian CPL who told him every day that he would desert and a few others I don’t seem to remember.
One night, 3 weeks after the farm, 3 French guys and the Libyan hit the road. Military Police interrogatories followed. The Libyan and one of the French were in my room. 2 weeks later they were back in the Cie, but in a different section. The idiots went straight to Aubagne and complained about brutality and racism.
Another batch of MP interrogatories followed, but this time the CIE SOA was involved. An Adjudand-chef from 2REI made it his personal task to get some of our Sergeants kicked out of the Legion and make a name for himself.
I was the only one in my combat group that didn’t see anything and didn’t hear anything. I wrote it down in an official report and had to suffer the consequences for the next 2 months.
We were between the SOA and our cadres, both sides wanting to use us against each other. I chose our cadres. I am old school and, although I don’t like violence, I understand the Legion methods. Plus, if you are a small **** that throws a grenade, be-it and exercise grenade, and the grenade falls at your feet and 14 Leg plus 2 Cpls plus a Sgt have to jump over the protection wall in full gear, you more than deserve the beating that comes.
We were already into two months of instruction when we were told we have to go to Formiguères,(an ski area in SW France) during the official holiday week.
By this time we already knew that we were special. We were not allowed to talk with anyone outside our Section and everybody got punished if someone was caught doing it, even at the mess hall.
We ran 4 times a week and were the only Section to run on week-ends.
After the farm we had a whopping 12 guys in the infirmary. The number was pretty constant for a while. Some of the guys had severe ligament problems. There were also, a broken ankle, a broken elbow, a broken leg and some pulled muscles.
I did hear the Ltn, a young and very fit French, fresh from the ranks of Saint-Cyr military academy, and the SGTs talking that we are one of the fittest Section they ever had, and that was why we were getting special treatment, it was harder for them to break us with physical training.
Thank you for posting Chelu. I enjoy reading it. You mentioned that the Italian EV got “special treatment” from an Italian Cpl. What do you think? Would it be kind of rule or of a way that Cpls behave if an EV is from their country (sort of prevention on coruption and nepotism) or I'm on the wrong track here? Anyone else from Croatia, beside that fut-fut?
One of the Sergeants was from Croatia. Very good soldier, one of the best shooters I've seen. He also had a very fast technique of dismantling the FAMAS which I tried to emulate. A no bullshit guy.
During the farm and the first part of the basic training most of us got some special treatment.
This Croatian Sergeant for example continuously teased a guy from Slovenia, telling him that he should desert as fast as possible or else. The guy did ask civil after 2 weeks of farm.
Later on, the Brazilians got special treatment from the Brazilian Corporal. But the French, well everybody ****s with the French, even the French in the FFL. It is because if you are French you get promoted faster, that's why they try to make sure the only French that make it are, I quote “boule de feu” .
The Russians though, they get helped. We were all tired an shit after the first two months, but it seemed the Ruskies had no problems. We found out why, some Russian CPL and SGT in our company were giving them extra rations at night.
It did make a huge difference during the temporary tests where the Russians were the only ones that didn't drop that much in fitness level.
As for the Romanians, the SCH who was a Romanian would always request the 6 Romanians, the Moldavian, the American, the Finnish and the small Nepalese to work with him, when there was serious work to do, but he always spoke French and only cuss in Romanian.
I feel sorry for the Slovenian guy (the word Janez was used a lot I bet ). You said a lot of injuries occurred. Any advice on how to avoid them, or keep them to minimum during farm?
Originally Posted by Don Pedro
It happens when the body is reaching the limit of extreme tiredness, in the same time you become an easier victim to infections.****
Exactly. After the farm most of us had infected wounds on our fingers. Frostbite, push-ups on pebbles, polishing rangers and cleaning the FAMAS all add to this condition.
Bring Fastum gel, voltaren or something similar, you will be able to keep it. Do mild stretching every now and then-normally you have stretching session after each running/parcours d'obstacles session, tie your shoe laces properly, brake in your rangers, use two pair of socks during marches (sports and military ones) or/and if they provide you with band aids (our SCH did), use them on your heel and toes.
Always have a full bidon (canteen) of water and drink as much as you can, even if the bidon is a pain in the ass to carry when you are tired. The cadres will make sure you guys drink a lot of water.
Originally Posted by Perun.
Is it possible to receive an injury so severe that it may take months to heal? And if so, would you continue roughly where you left off or would you have to start over again?
Yes and once up and back on feet, back to where it stopped, thus to finish.
Weird, i knew a guy who said he was told he would start over again. Then again, he was full of shit on many subjects.
Chelu, I'm going to Aubagne in a few weeks and I saw that you wrote that you had to buy shoes? How much money should I bring with me? I really doubt that I'm going to have 100 euros.
Originally Posted by denmla
Chelu, I'm going to Aubagne in a few weeks and I saw that you wrote that you had to buy shoes? How much money should I bring with me? I really doubt that I'm going to have 100 euros*****
Running shoes, if I were you, I buy those that you can do road and off road with... there's a name for them... all country I think. Or if you already have a pair of running shoes, that solves the problem.
Cross country they are called, mixed running, roads and off the roads in mother nature.
Originally Posted by MuayThaiGuy
Chelu, would you say the younger you are the better your chances? Ive just turned 18, would they see that as being too young and no experience or an advantage?*****
It is more about the attitude and motivation. From day one, whether you go to Aubagne or Fort de Nogent, it should be just Oui Caporal, Non Caporal and just execute the order as best as you can, even if it seems dumb.
Don't think too much about it.
As about the shoes you are supposed to buy, you will only have to buy them if you make it to Rouge and they will use the money you receive for working there before you become Rouge-roughly one week to 10 days, so in reality you don't touch the money, it's all on paper.
Originally Posted by Loustic.
Remember the three pillars : RESPECT, HUMILITY and MODESTY. Start from day one, first minute first second ! Add to it a doses of "VOLUNTEER" for "corvées" like Chelu did. And don't forget DISCRETION when discussing with non legionnaires or on a forum, what Chelu is also trying to do by hiding all names of places and people.
Originally Posted by Chelu
Sasa92. you don't need to bring any medical documentation. Just bring a valid id: passport or id card (EU citizens) and if you want to make it easier for you bring a 6 month new and valid birth certificate-it will help later with RSM (Régularisation de Situation Militaire) procedure.
As for scars, the guys that got rejected and had scars, either had medical problems (there was a guy with screws in his bones and the scars were from the operations) or he had scars from self-inflicted wounds.
For those asking if I am still in or out, please bear with me after a few more posts.
About Voltaren and band aids, the truth is, in the Legion you have the randomness effect- as I would call it, or luck as others do. If you are lucky good things might happen, like having a tranquil basic training without much going around. Again if you are a different kind of lucky, you will have a good story.
Same with the Voltaren, I had no idea I could bring it in and didn't bother, but others, that had relatives in the Legion brought Voltaren, Ben Gay and more. Again some were lucky and the Brazilian corporal allowed them to keep the stuff, some weren't that lucky.
Here goes part 3:
When we went to Formigueres most of us were in a lousy shape. We had to take some tests before going there and my results were: 2700 in Cooper, down 300 meters, 4 pull-ups, down 6 pull-ups, 7.6 sec climbing the cord and under 20 push-ups. Oh and barely manage to swim 100m.( We swam every week for one hour without resting.
The Cpls would wait at the end of the couloir and step on our fingers if we were resting.)
We got lots of food during our so called week off, but no holiday and we still had the rations for lunch, without bread as the Cpls couldn’t be bothered to send one of us to the kitchen and ask for it.
They also refused it when the chef sent bread the third day.
We worked our assess off, we cleaned 8km of mountain road by joining with a local team from the Mayor House, who cut some of the pine trees on the sides. We were carrying the wood and stashing it on the side.
We also went skiing, that is..we marched all the way to the peak of the mountain so that the Ltn could start skiing downhill, the rest of us, Sgts, Cpls and Legs had to march back-it took us one full day.
We did fun things too, we went caving, it was -6 outside and +12 inside. We wore only the uniform pants and vest and rangers. After 1 km caving through water belly deep we had but 5 minutes to get in the GBC. 20 minutes riding in the back of the truck, wet at -6 is an experience we won’t forget soon.
Another day we went to an amusement park, the one with trees and ropes and difficult obstacles courses. Our cadres made us sing our unofficial anthem S2 S2 boule de feu and decreed that if it isn’t max difficulty it ain’t for us.
Few hours later 4 of our guys were stuck 5 m above the ground. We waited in push up position until the cadres got them down.
Saturday night we went to a restaurant, next morning the entire Section had the shits, Cpls included. It didn’t make any difference, so we ran the 8 km, up the mountain this time at -6 in our black gay french Army approved tights.
I got a severe nose bleed and some of the guys almost shat their pants. A French CCH decided that was insubordination if you had to stop for a dump during running, so we all had to write compt rendues in green and red.
7 days passed like this and when we got back to Castel, we were better fed but more tired than before. I also had a cracked rib. The French CCh hates Romanians and keeps calling all 6 of us gipsies, beggars, scum, vermin and other synonyms.
One day in Fourmigueres we are all lined up to the all waiting to reintegrate some materials.
He runs towards us and slams some of us into the wall. He weighs around 120 kgs. He becomes angry at me and all of a sudden he sandwiches me into the wall. The following 3 weeks I suffer chest pain in the right side, have difficulties breathing while running and swimming and a calcified bump develops above one of the ribs.
After watching so many times the treatment guys get after coming back from Infirmary I decide not to ask to go there.
TO THE DAY I CONSIDER IT ONE OF THE SMART DECISIONS I TOOK WHILE IN INSTRUCTION.
And then the guard duty started. We had spent few nights at the farm ironing the TDF and shit, but that was nothing compared with guard duty. At this moment in time, i could iron a shirt better than my mom or any of my previous girlfriends. We also noticed that our Section was the only Section of the CIE that was doing 24 and EIT. The others were doing mess and cuisine. The SOA was taking good care of us, all of us.
Mid November came and we went to Caylus. Normally each Section does 1 week of it, but we did two as there was an exercise regimentaire.
First week was awesome : shooting all day long, throwing real grenades all day long, exploding stuff all day long-I later found out that we were the only Section that did this.
I have no ******* clue from where did our cadres picked up 200kg of old French explosives, but we had an amazing day.
This and the seminars we had with the Sergent from 2REG made me want to join genie. Initially I opted for 3REI, as I had previous jungle experience having lived for 3 months in Borneo with the Ibans, but that is off-limits for legionnaires nowadays.
We did day shooting, night shooting, even 300m shooting. The Finnish guy used to be in the officer sniper club or something and he taught me how to control the breathing while shooting. Thanks to him I had 100% accuracy on all the shooting tests-even with the crappy lunettes de tir.
Second week was the regimental exercise. We were stationed in the same building with another CIE, actually the guys that left for Castel the week before us. Almost 3 months with my Section have already shaped us. Nobody figured why the food and boiled water of the other Section was never enough. We stole everything, mainly because we were hungry, the CIE was a disorganized shithole and nobody gave a **** about us. Heck, nobody gave a **** about the CPLs and they were more demotivated than us.
Imagine, CPL in a combat regiment is a small king, and in our Section they were a little better than us due to the fight between the SOA and our cadres and because of our Ltn being a freshman.
This week on the exercise with the entire regiment is my best memory so far. The action, live rounds, grenades, anti char rockets, helicopter runs, patrolling duty, assaults, city combat, night combat-tous la totale. And the French 24h rations we were getting. Some of us put on 12 kgs during these two weeks mainly because of the rations.
Back at Castel, a Russian deserted. Cpls didn’t like him and made him desert. It took them a while, the guy had 2 years experience in the Russian army in Tajikistan and other stans, was a tough and violent dude that would occasionally beat up some of the colored guys.
Did I tell you we became racist and homophobic ?. He was a very good camarade, but only to the Russians. He got caught with 24 loaves of bread, 2 for each Russian in our Section. 30 minutes of pompes Coréennes plus few sleepless nights, lots of corvee toilet, ironing and guard duty got him.
Last we heard he was caught at the Spanish border. I have no clue how he got there as he had no money and spoke only 3-4 words in French.
Remember the little French cunt we wanted to beat up? Well, cadres liked him as he was such a good asslicker and he made it through farm untouched and without losing weight-he did corvee cuisine every day.
Later on, when he demanded civil he got transferred to Aubagne and now is part of the Legion Music Section or whatever it is called. He posts Legion pictures and youtube movies on facebook. He is the epitome of French Foreign Legion looking so smart in his TDF.
He didn’t do the raid march with us but he will represent the Legion wherever he goes. We hated him and later on the CPLs regretted not letting us get him.
The only bad memory from Caylus was the trip to and from. Our Section never used busses, only trucks, even for cartier libre. The trip back was the worst, trucks on troop carrying mode.
When we stopped to pee, we didn’t obey the order to get off and pee. We couldn’t move, we were completely frozen. They had to climb in the trucks and start slapping us to get us off the bus. I lost three nails due to frost byte.
After 3 days we got to on rapport with the capitaine and to see the chef de corps on the place d’armes, we are all dressed neatly in our TDF. Again no breakfast, and no sleep the previous night.
At 10 o clock, after 1 hour waiting for the chef de corps, in the rain 2 guys faint. The colonel came dressed half in tenue de sport and half in tenue de combat, with his goretex on. He didn’t even look at us when we did the reglementary maneuvers in front of him and the cadres.
Back at the CIE quarters we waited for the rapport capitaine. I went in first. Major de stage and the captain and lieutenant wanted me to be fut fut, but I had to say no.
These two became bloody furious. It seems no one says no to a FFL captain. The sergeants and CPLs were jubilant and they congratulate me.
There was little respect for the officers in my CIE. I am not going to elaborate on this as it is not my problem, no one knew the true reason of my choice.
One night between Christmas and New Year’s I did manage to call home, I had to be sneaky and call at 3 in the morning.
For 4 months it was forbidden for us to call, use internet at the foyer, buy phones etc.
Even during the few cartier libres we had we couldn’t call as we went to a shoping mall area with no public phones.
I found out that my father had another heart attack and has a pace maker. I never had a good father and son relationship with the old man, and when I heard it, it didn’t bother me that much. But , somehow, I couldn’t sleep anymore.
You see, during all this time, I knew I belonged in the Legion. I went through all the instruction without having a watch. By the way, guys, bring a good watch, with alarm and light as it will be usefull during bivouac nights and guards.
So, with all the mental stress, fatigue and the rest, I had no problems with my sleep. Heck, I slept like a baby. But not anymore. After the Raid I made up my mind to ask civil. The hardest decision of my life.
And the day came when we had to go to Aubagne. 15th january. 4 of our guys are still in infirmary with torn ligaments. 2 more are using crutches, one with a broken ankle and another guy has a hearing problem from firing the FAMAS without the BABs. He didn’t go with us.
We went with the French CCH,the Ltn and 3 CPLs, one from our section and two from another. We get quartered at the CAPLE. The building looked like an Easter European jail.
The CCH forbade us to talk to anyone as they were, I quote merde de la Legion. He went drinking with the Ltn and left us with the CPLs.
We managed speak with some of the guys on our floor, they were either legionnaires with injures that made them inapt or guys that have asked civil during basic training.
They told us that our CIE called and said we were the worst bunch and asked the CPL de jour at CAPLE to put guards in every room without a key so we wouldn’t steal. We also had to have guards in our rooms so these guys wouldn’t steal from us Divide et impera mother****ers.
Early the next morning we passed rapport capitaine again.I went in the first and I asked to go civil, everybody wass taken by surprise. Standing outside the door I did get to hear my captain and the other captain agreeing on me becoming fut fut, even if I was major de stage and theoretical could choose the regiment.
After that, the CCH tried to look angry but he was happy as ****. I told you he hated Romanians and the fact that the first two in the final classification were 2 Romanians really pissed him off. He ordered a CPL to take me away and lock me in a room under guard until the rapport capitaine was finished.
In the end, it was me and another guy, a Czech that had asked civil, both with the same reason, family problems. I knew at least 5 other guys that were talking of going civil but didn’t have the guts.
We said our last good byes, all my friends went to their regiments except the 2REP guys. They have a great night with pizza and beers and slept until lunch, they left after that
. The Czech and memoved to another room with the so called civilians.
After spending 2 weeks with these guys I got to see a different picture of what basic training means. I met guys from the other 2 CIE and from the other section in my CIE.
Some of them had past the farm, some hadn’t. Some were in my situation, having finished instruction and asked to go home. From them I found out that my Section was pitied and also given as an example by the cadres in the other CIEs.
Guys in one of the other CIE didn’t do the Kepi Blanc march, they just took the oath at the end of the farm and went straight to the Caylus regimental exercise.
The exercise was considered to be equivalent with the march. Another company did only 25 kms of raid march out of the standard 120. We did 75 only because orders came from up above to finish instruction 2 weeks earlier and when we did the march there were very few cadres in the CIE.
The Section before mine did 120, but they had good rangers and a lot better food than us, standard 24h French combat rations. We were always picked up for piquet d’honneur for various officials visiting the regiment as it seemed we had the best ironed tenue and discipline.
We were the piquet d’honneur for general de Saint Chamas when he had visited the regiment in december. And also the piquet d’honneur 2 times before for the chef de corps and his guests.
I only spent 2 weeks before becoming civil thanks to a degraded CCH that managed to find out that the capitaine with whom I had passed rapport forgot to write that I have already passed rapport with him and put me and my Czech mate in a loop.
For 2 weeks, we cleaned and repaired the CAPLE building. Although in the beginning nobody was differentiating between EVs and Legionnaires, after seeing us work, the Czech and me ended up not doing corvees and other physical work anymore.
Us two and two more Legionnaires that had finnished basic instruction before us were the only ones that didn’t consider themselves civil and kept the discipline and obeyed the orders. The others just wanted to get the money and get the hell out of there, run as far away as possible from the Legion.
Most of them were the Rambo type that complained about not doing commando like training and having to do stuff like the farm that didn’t make sense.
Imagine a team of French EVs, all arrogant and whining bitches trying to change the neon lights. One of them was a certified electrician. In two hours, they managed to change one and broke a second one.
The other team, me, the Czech, an American EV, a British EV and a Polish EV changed all the couloir neon lights on 3 different floors and in 6 rooms. Similar stories took place every time we had to do something.
My personal conclusions from my experience and what I heard from other Legionnaires/EVs:
-motivation is key
-do take time and prepare yourself for the worst.
Personally, after coming from Indonesia I took 6 months only preparing push ups, pull ups and running-of course after reading this forum. When I got in, I was still taken by surprise.
There is a huge random factor you must anticipate, so always prepare for the worst.
There are 3 basic training Cies: blue first, red second and yellow third, each with 3 different sections. The cadres at these CIEs change periodically, so you might talk to one guy and he will tell you that his CIE was the wors/best experience as in tranquil and when you get in, you might experience the opposite.
Another e.g. in the same CIE, my section starved to death and was literally pushed to the limit during the farm and the next Section with an Ukrainian chef de Section had a totally different experience: they were throwing away food as it was too much and they actually built the body, we destroyed the body and built the mental factor.
After the farm we were a wrecks who could do less than 20 push ups, they could climb the rope 3 consecutive times and told us how cool physical training was and how they got 6 pack and huge biceps.
They never ran more than 5 km and always on the street, we never ran less than 8 and never on the street. We always showered with cold water, them with hot water. And all this took place in the same farm but under different Section.
The other Section, thanks to their chef de section never did corvee toilet or clean the CIE's FAMAS, we did. They also did very little guard time. They were allowed to buy phones and contact families right after the farm. We had to wait 4 months.
-There is always a positive side. With all the shit I've been through, I can tell you that I am grateful to my cadres and what they tried to teach us. We learned things, not from the books but from their experience: basic explosives, both theoretical and practical, basic climbing, city combat, night combat, how to secure and take hostages, how to check hostages for hidden weapons, how to board/get off a helicopter, how to efficiently pack you musette/sack a dos-totally different than the text book etc. All these things are not part of basic training, but we benefit from our Sgts and Cpls experience.
-it is all in the head-up to some point
- it ain't over till it's over, and you ar enot the one to decide when it's over
-FAMAS is never clean. Never ever tell the SGT that you have cleaned your FAMAS-he will always find some dirty place.
-although you pass through the same crossroad a third consecutive time, keep going, no need to bother with the details. Even if you think the SGT/LTN can't read a map and he can't read a map, it is his job to lead not yours. The soldier's life is a very simple life: Oui/ NO.
-this should be first: the order is like this:civilians, legionnaires, engages volontaires, merde=you. The faster you get this the better.
My experience was reminiscent of the old Legion, almost every week I had some anciens telling me that they=the French killed the Legion and I should have come earlier, 5-6 years earlier.
Hearing about my experience I could see a gleam of hope in their eyes. It used to be like this. The norm is different, very PC nowadays.
When some wanker got the Section in trouble over and over again, the Section would physically teach him a lesson and nobody would bat an eye. Now you can't do this and all the violent guys get expelled real quick. Of course pas vu pas pris pas puni still works.
A sad but true thing in my Section: if you give the young generation the choice between a beer and a snickers, they will take the snickers. Even East Europeans. Must be globalization or something.
Real advice from my friends that had served 5-7 years in the Legion before I joined: if you feel that you can't take it for whatever reason, or if you realise it is not what you want, just ask to go civil, but ask civil after the farm or after the raid march, not in between.
Practical reason: if you ask between the farm and the raid march, your papers would be in progress, meaning you will not receive any money, you get your carte bleu aka debit card after minimum 2 months and it might not even work, you might not access the money.
If you leave after farm, at least you could say you have experienced the worst and have done the Kepi Blanc march.
As my Brazilian nut case CPL would say: Never look for comfort, if you want that, just find a job with Renault, Peugeot or any multinational company. This guy is a ******* lunatic, but he had some very valid points. He was king everywhere he went, he was king in my room as well as in the prison. ******* Selva to the bones.
Always listen to the CPLs. I have to thank the Italian CPL for all the advice he has given us, from breaking in the boots to cleaning the kepi with shaving foam, well the Croatian CPL also taught us that.
In the end I can only say I should have went 8 years ago when I finished university. Fear was what kept me from not going.
Then again, I learnt my lessons in Indonesia. Picking grass at 3 o clock in the morning using only your head lamp it's called a Chinese work day. You will do plenty of those. Going uphill to bring the Sgt a leaf, any leaf and being sent back cause you got the wrong leaf is normal. Sleeping and carrying all over the place a huge rock or a sand sack and calling it your girlfriend is also normal . If you think it is stupid, don't waste your time and money, stay at home!
Post from Rifleman who just returned from Aubagne after being turned away.
From a French Foreign Legion Forum : cervens.net
Post from Zanzara
By forum member Zanzara
Posted Nov. 11 2010 by Zanzara on de Cervens legion forum.
Inapte temporaire - going back in 2 weeks
Here's my contribution, tips for EVs and my experience during selection.
I passed all the tests but got inapte temp. (no time frame given) for a medical thing I'll explain later.
I'll go into the details for the wannabes, because I hope this one long post would decrease the number of stupid questions on the board.
Arrived last Tuesday around 10am in Aubagne, found the base but was told they were full and to come back the day after.
In the evening I met a guy at the train station heading to the base, a Morrocan from Italy, so I talked with him.
He said he was told in Nice the post was full and to come to Aubagne. Anyway the night passed quicker but still pretty cold.
The next morning there were around 10 of us, showed our passports to an NCO and were told to wait.
A cch (caporal-chef) came, and told the last four in the line to come to the office and to us others to come back tommorrow.
Thursday we got in, and joined some others on benches below a tent. There's also a heated container with chairs, tables, samples of psycho-test and kepi blanc magazines.
Here as a civilian you wait for an initial interview with a cch. Basic stuff, then you write some of your info and in short why you want to join the Legion.
Then you sign some papers and go back to the tent to wait for your medical. As long as you're here you just sit and eat - btw the food in Aubagne is excellent! I was really pleasantly surprised!
The medical test.
You fill in some papers in the language you ask. If you ever smoked weed don't lie. I ****ed up with one question "do you do any sports", if you train something with a club say so, I misunderstood the question as "do you do any exerscise" so I put in running, which basically I did a bit in the army at the beginning of this year and a bit by myself before coming to Aubagne, but never intensively/with a club. Nothing special.
If you put in running or football and do only 7 and 8 on beep test the "gestapo" will ask you (I'm told) how come you train running and didn't do level 10?
Your height and weight is measured, your heart is checked on some machine.
Now this part is important. The urine test. Use this information. If I knew this back then I'd still be in Aubagne right now doing my motivational and "gestapo" interviews.
You pee, some piece of "paper" is put in it and the paper into a little machine, after a few seconds a little piece of paper with numbers comes out. Sugar, protein level and what not (I didn't know then). Some guys including myself will get strange numbers which make you inapte.
When you do these tests civil YOU DON'T EAT before the tests. In Aubagne you do them after breakfast and lunch. Here you don't drink a lot of water so there's always someone who gets inapte.
I did the test, then did it again. The second time I drank a lot of water and my urine was almost white. I failed the first the second was good, but I didn't know that untill that point.
I thought they were checking THC levels, I got a little freaked since I had marked that I haven't even smoked (which is the truth) but feared I had absorbed some from the smoke of my roomate, eventhough I always close myself in my room when he does his thing.
Anyway, the second test result was ok so I was apte, but both test strips were attached to my file.
So like the cch and adj doctors told me later, watch what you eat (I say don't eat at all) and drink liters of water!
The eye test. I have -0.75 and -0.5 and I could see the smallest letters clearly. Even the smallest letters are quite big, and you look at them from about 5m distance, one eye, then the other eye, and that's it.
You then wait for the colonel (doctor), he checks your body, your breathing, if you can touch your toes and asks some questions like why you want to join the Legion.
If you pass that, you go to a lieutenant and sign a contract, so practically you're not a civilian anymore. They take photos of your face, your scars and your tattoos for the "gestapo".
You move to another building, get into blue sweats, black t-shirt and in this colder period a goretex vest. You'll have this t-shirt untill you pass the psycho-test and the physical.
I call it the panic test, because anyone with normal IQ and above can do it if HE DOESN'T PANIC. My tips...
Always be calm, there's enough time, for the first part more than enough. Don't go jumping out of planes and swimming with crocodiles during the test. The time you see counting towards zero is just to help you manage time and like this calm you down, it's not a death timer.
You'll be shown how to do the test before you start, don't worry. You're doing it on a computer. Remember this - in the first part (20min, 20 questions), if you can't solve figure out a question in 10 seconds, skip it.
I skipped nearly a half and reached the end with 12min left. Then I came back, did all with 7min left. Those I spent on checking everything again. Remember - if you're not 100% that you're right with a question, deselect, otherwise if you're wrong you lose points. I did all questions at in the first part.
Second part is numbers (36q,20min). I think more than a half is relatively easy, just some sequences of adding and multiplying. Unless you really sucked at math, you'll manage it. Spend about up to 15-20sec on each, if it seems too complicated in the first 5sec, skip it. I had enough time to do about 30 if I remember correctly. I had the time to check them and some I just looked at and couldn't figure out. My head hurt heh.
Third part some symbols, simetry, very fun. 36q,20min. Do the same as with the second part.
Remember - remain calm, do not worry.
If you get called for the personality test, it means you've passed the psycho-test. On this last test you can't fail, there are no right and wrong answers. However the caporal's instructions in English had double meaning so I later figured out I did it the wrong way. Basically, with plus you select an adjective that applies to you, and minus that doesn't.
Ehhhh....The minimum is 7 paliers for the beep test and 4 pull-ups. No rope, no abdominals. Easy.
However don't be like me and overestimate your fitness, I was unpleasantly surprised to see I could do only 7 paliers. I passed, because we were 5 in the group with pretty much equal fitness.
In the other full group a guy had 7 and 7 pullups and got inapte 3 months. And watch this, in that same group a guy did 6 paliers and 3 pullups and passed. A guy who did the test the day before me did 5 paliers and passed. It all depends.
Do at least 8,9 to be sure.
If you passed the physical you get a green t-shirt. Go back to the infirmerie and do the ear test. You get in a closed space with a window, put on a pair of headphones and raise your hand when you hear beeps. As soon as you hear the beeps start raising hands, I though it was the cch was just turning on the machine and testing it so I missed the first few beeps.
Then you get a little tuberculosis shot and the adj draws a wide circle around the spot. In 2,3 days you will get checked and if the spot grows beyond the borders of the circle you fail. It basically tests your resistance. I hear Africans fail this in drows, since they don't get the appropriate vaccines when they're young like we from more developed countries do.
Now the called me to do the urine test again. I failed twice, since I drank no water that day and had a big lunch. The colonel then finally told me what's the problem and told me to come back with a medical certificate (translated into french) that I have no diabetes and no kidney problems.
If I had known this before, I would've skipped breakfast and lunch and drank water like crazy, and passed it like i did it a few days before that.
The other Dutch guy had the some problem and we both were given inapte temp (no time frame given). It's silly, I did a urine and blood test last NOV for the army and passed.
A Serbian the week before had the same problem, but when then called him to go out he argued with a couple of cch for a while and then they called him tommorrow to do the test. He ate nothing, drank water and passed. He's been selected rouge yesterday. Good guy!
The Dutch guy went to Marseilles to do the test in the military hospital next week. I decided to go back to Italy and do two weeks of fartlek and some intensive training to add a palier or two to my beep test capabilities. After that I'll go to France and meet a French guy I met in selection (he's the one that did 7paliers and 7 pullups and got inapte). I'll do the diabetes test in Marseilles, have a few beers, sober up, grab the results (sure hope I won't be unpleasantly surprised!) and head for Aubagne.
I won't have to do the psycho-test again because the results remain for 18 months according to a cch. I heard I don't have to do the whole medical either, but I'm not so sure about that.
There's so much I could write about but it's already so long, I only talked about the tests, if you have any questions about this or abour other aspects of selection, shoot. Just don't ask me about the interviews, I haven't done any.
Perdi molte opportunità per stare zitto.
From a French Foreign Legion Forum : cervens.net
Post from Chval
By forum member Chval
The Ultimate EYESIGHT / EYEGLASSES Thread. (once and for all).
Okay: I wear glasses, all the time. I just finished basic training at Castel. I understand how much anxiety people with glasses would have before they go to join la Legion and I also understand how annoying it is seeing stupid threads asking the same question about eyesight over and over again.
So here it is: the frigging ultimate thread about eyeglasses/eyesight and joining+basic training. I will try to tell what I know and experienced and answer the questions if anyone got any (not much freetime during the weekday though).
1.People with glasses can still join. Usually in one rouge section at Aubagne there will be one or two guys wearing glasses, its not unusual. The only disadventage for people with glasses in selection process is probalbly just the "sport aptitude" score (how 'athletic' you look, not how much you can run or pull-up), which is not a big deal. If you can still do running and pull-up, be reasonably intelligent, then its fine.
2.But if your eyesight is horribly bad like more than -8.0 and you need to wear the lens of 2 cm thick then you will fail the medical test in the preselection in the fist time. Other than that its fine. Im -3.5 and could get pass the selection, like lots of other eyeglasses wearing people.
3.Mild color blindness is Okay. as long as you can manage to get pass the color test. A buddy of mine is mildly color blinded, he just got a crappy markmanship score in basic because he couldn't see the orange triangle at the target and thats all.
4.If you wear contacts, bring them to Aubagne, but dont wear them there. Wear your glasses instead. Because in Aubagne you will not have time to wear and take care of them. But later when you're leaving for Castel you can access your civil stuff and take your contacts (along with dictionary and shit) with you to castel. There you will need them.
5.Dont wear fancy glasses. In Aubagne its probalbly fine but in castel you will have to tape you pink-colored glittering playboy eyeglasses with black duct tape for se camouflage. So go find a low-profile dorky glasses one before you leave for Aubagne.
6.If you want high markmanship score, get yourself a prescription glasses with ballistic clip-on (like mine). Because its obligatory to wear protection glasses in the shooting range and the ones they provided in Castel is foggy and shitty, not to mention emcumbering with your prescription ones. So I got my own ballistic clip on in and scored higher than most people with normal eyesight (cuz they got foggy glasses and couldnt see the target). This is very important if you want to choose specific regiment, because shooting score is highly weighted and if youre good at shooting you will get very high placement, hence the first to select the regiment.
7.Forget 2REP and 1REC People with glasses will got "inapte TAP" and "inapte AMX pilote/tireur" branded on there forehead after medical exam in castel. No problem with other regiments.
8.Bring a pair of back up glasses with you. Lots of harsh activity in basic training. Also make sure you have a hard-shell case for your main glasses.
9.You can take your glasses maintenence kit or contacts with you in Aubagne and Castel. Just tell the CPL/CCH that's they are for your glasses/contact.
10.You will get a pair of dorky heavy shitty army-issued glasses at nearly the end of basic training in Castel, along with a pair of insertion for gas mask. I tried them one day and never use them again. (the one for gas mask is neato though)
11.If you have a prescription swimming goggles, bring them along for using later in castel (not in Aubagne). There are some swimming/diving test and some weekend if youre lucky you can go to the swimming pool.
12.A sunglasses clip-on would be nice for your holidays in Pyranee. Not necessary though.
Oh and if you have done eye surgery before you have to wait for at least 1 year. And even then I dont know if you will have problem with REP/DINOP or not. (high/low pressure)
Thats all I can think of now. Post any question if you have and I will answer them when I have a chance.
Post from Phantom 309 on
forum of http://cervens.net/smf/index.php
From a French Foreign Legion Forum : cervens.net
Post from Phantom 309 known as Big Al
My selection and basic.
Ok guys, first off I need to apologize for how long it has taken me to write this.
It's eleven months since I joined up and five since I got back. To be honest it took me a little while to formulate my thoughts and get my annual beer consumption quota up.
More recently I work some crazy hours on a farm.
This account of my time in the Legion is not exhaustive, even as I read it back I think about stuff I've missed out, but at well over 11,000 words it's already groaning under it's own weight, so I'm just going to have to draw a line somewhere and let you judge for yourselves.
Second thing that needs saying is a big thanks to Cpl K. Apart from all the work on the forum, he put himself out to run me to Aubagne, buy me a McDonald's and take me round the museum before I joined (worth a look as you may not get the chance otherwise). Really solid bloke (and got me to thinking about keeping a gas mask in my car).
So here it is, crude yet revealing, of myself as much as the Legion. Don't take the piss.
It's a bit of a moment walking up to the gate in Aubagne to join, scary, exciting and enough to make you question your own sanity.
The guard in full TDF pointed me towards the office where an eastern European caporal-chef met me and asked all the stuff you would expect, like – was this the first time I tried to join the Legion? Any trouble with the police back home? Etc.
He went through my things and changed my name to Stafford (decent English name I thought, thanks God, given some of the stories I've heard) and had me sign the contract before taking me up the hill to the pre-selection building, something you bypass I think if you join in another city.
There is a definite smell on the base in Aubagne. I think it must be the vegetation or something, a sort of sharp almost acrid scent that is the first thing you notice when you wake up in the morning.
The first CCH handed me over to a huge German CCH (who was quite mad) with 15+ years service that looked like a 'roided-up Popeye gone to seed. He took one look at my nice new name and started taking the piss out the first CCH for choosing it. “We can no call you Stafford, that name of dangerous dog. We call you S***, good English name!” Erm, no it's not, I thought. Ok, S*** what? Seeing my acceptable name for the next few years going out the window, “We call you A***** S***.” Oh. Ok Mr Huge German CCH. I mean, what you gonna do?
The mad German showed me to a room where I could dump my stuff and put me in another room with desks and a TV. There was another recruit there, a Brazilian that struck me as a good guy despite our language barrier. We had to hang around in this room watching Legion videos (every language but English it would seem) and after a while a couple of Arabs and a very shifty Frenchman showed up. At about six the CCH took us down to the mess for dinner.
To this day I honestly do not know if what we were served that day was animal or vegetable. If it was meat it was rotten, if it was vegetable it was probably rotten. Oh dear God, what have I just signed up for? I survived the ordeal however and it was back to the selection building where I did my first bit of corvée and dossed about 'till bedtime when the CCH fixed us each with a stern gaze and solemnly issued the order - “No wanking.”
The next day was corvée, breakfast and a quick medical. The Brazilian and the shifty Frog were sent packing and me and the two Arabs were taken down to the recruit selection building where we had everything taken off us (except a watch if you had one and whatever money you had been allowed to keep at the gate, in my case non) and were given a black T-shirt, shorts, socks, some horrendous trainers and a basic wash kit. I also got hit for the first time in the Legion by the big black Brazilian CCH (who was quite mad) that ran the stores. You would think that doing what the French speaking Arabs were doing would be a good idea eh? No.
We were bunged into what I came to think of as general population, all the blues and greens in the yard with the Rouge section loitering on the benches by the entrance like a bunch of White Lightning drinking teenagers on a street corner. You basically hang out in the yard, sticking to the shade and shooting the shit with the other recruits, it's too hot to use the chin up bars or other equipment so you just try and chill out until the siren goes that summons you to the front of the building, where names are read out to go to tests or corvée. The corvée will take up huge chunks of your day, the most common one being working in the kitchen after meals. This can last for a couple of hours to all day long and makes a surprising number of people jack it in and ask to go home when the CCH asks each morning. I remember bursting into laughter mid way through a six hour solo pot scrubbing session, neck swollen in a reaction to the apron I was wearing and sweat dripping into the basin, when “It's a wonderful world” by Louis Armstrong came on the radio in the other room. Yeah Louis, fucking wonderful.
Some of the recruits that show up will blow you mind for one reason or another. I met a crazy German neo-nazi covered with knife scars, middle aged professionals with all sorts of reasons for joining, a Czech guy that seemed amazed by the amount of paperwork he'd had to do in Paris when he showed up with a Browning 9mm. Most if not all of these nutters get dropped one way or another. You have to be careful who you speak to and who might overhear you. One incident that I found very strange involved a 40ish year old black guy that spoke French and some English. I chatted with him a bit but got a bit of a weird vibe off him. Afterwards I was foolishly discussing my undeclared drug using past with a Dutch guy without realising this guy was sitting nearby. No drama. The next day I was at the mansion helping prepare for some wedding reception for the colonel's daughter or something while a CCH (who was quite mad) tried to orchestrate twenty recruits with the sole command of “la-bas!”. Guess who walks by in a full colonel's uniform, yup, our fellow recruit. Weird.
To be honest I can't remember the exact order of the tests that we did but it's not really that important. We did a computer test for numeracy and visio-spacial ability as well as a sort of “are you a psycho” test. It's not the sort of thing you can or need to prepare for, if you managed to make it to France on your own then it should be a breeze. Nevertheless, some people still got binned afterwards, go figure. Bits of it were like the British armies BARB test (or the “What colour is the red bus?” test, as I call it) but overall it was a bit lame I thought. Rigorous psychological testing my arse.
There were a few separate medicals, some just to give you jabs, and others for eyes, hearing etc. A shaven headed CCH (who was quite mad) in the infirmary did our eye test. When it came to my go I walked in, presented and was greeted by a torrent of screamed abuse. Out came the colour-blindness booklet, with numbers in made up of dots. I got to the last one, “Quatre-vingts-huit.” Wrong answer. “Quoi? Est-ce que tu es un putain de mongol?! C'est quel putain de numero, putain mongol debille?!” Erm, well, I thought that to some it could be seen as 86 “Quatre-vingts-six?” Wrong again, this shit continued for the whole test. A few days later when we went back he sat there nice as pie and chatted to us all, me included. I later found out that he has a rep for picking one or two guys a day to just tear the shit out of in order to make his life a bit more interesting, just not my day I suppose. You also get a hearing test and a colonel has an enthusiastically thorough examination of you bollocks. I forget the details, they're not important, there is enough already written on this site about the ins and outs of selection testing and I'm not going to go into it all over again.
The infamous “Gestapo” interview is nothing to worry about. In fact I didn't even realise I was having it until it was over, I just thought I was filling in forms for them to quiz me over. A big Spanish Chef who spoke appalling English had me fill in forms about family history, criminal background, countries I'd visited, all sorts like that. I even had to write about “what I want make in the Legion” - You'd think they could put a bit more effort into this stuff, like getting an English speaker to write the questionnaires. I lied a bit, how the hell were they going to find out? We then went through it and the chef put the info on a computer and fingerprinted me. That was it, no lamp shone in my eyes, no slaps in the face with leather gloves or “Vays of making me talk!” Bit of a let down really.
The tests lasted about two weeks before the rouge commission. Once you have finished all the tests and are just waiting for the commission you will probably be sent for corvée off-base. The day before the commission (my birthday as it happens) I was sent to work at the Maison des Légionnaires, a sort of retirement home for the old boys, others got sent to the vineyard at Puyloubier. It was very strange and to be honest a bit depressing to see the state some of these old boys were in. There were veterans from Algeria and Indochina who had lost the plot or had physically had it and were looked after by their more able bodied comrades. The guys in the kitchen were cool and fed me and this Romanian guy I went with pretty well, including caviar (?!) while the local radio station played Robbie Williams songs with the chorus in English but verses in French. Bit surreal I thought. I made the decision then that if I ever got to that condition in life, Legion vet or not, I'd put a twelve bore in my mouth and meet my maker. Even so it was nice to see that camaraderie can survive the years, without each other these guys would have nothing.
The fact is that all the selection could be done in a much shorter time period if they cracked on with it. I think it drags I order to give people plenty of reflection time on what it is they may be in for. Each day the bearded CCH (who was quite mad) would do the role call and then pause, survey the crowd, and almost whisper “Qui partir civil?” Most days there would be one or two guys that decided to jack it all in who would be made to wait, facing the wall, until the admin guys could be bothered to start the paperwork. I was ecstatic when two or three of the little French shits that were in my room as greens asked for civil the day before the commission, I didn't fancy training with those twats getting us punished all the time. I'd be lying if I said I never had my doubts, the shitty daily grind gives you plenty of time to think “what the **** am I doing here?”. It's difficult to say why you don't just chuck it and say “bollocks, at least I had the guts to come here, now I'm off home”, I suppose my only answer at the time was that I couldn't face the humiliation of showing up at home a week after my grand departure with the explanation that I didn't like the pot washing, that and I knew that in the long term “At least I had to guts to come here....” wouldn't cut the mustard. What changed it all for me was one night when I was still green, we had all just got to bed when the siren went off to call us to assembly. Wtf?! So off we went in our posing pouch Legion issue pants (I believe the Americans would call them banana hammocks, we looked like some very low-rent chip 'n' dales when shower time came round) and flip-flops to the front of the building where the CCH explained some infraction we had committed to do with lights being on after extinction des feux, next thing we were doing knuckle press-ups on the concrete. This is more like it! I thought, This is a bit more Legion! I went to bed with bleeding knuckles and grinning like a spanked chimp. No more doubts, I was there to be a bad ass.
The Polish CCH (who was quite mad) that was in charge of the Rouge section when I was there is probably the hardest looking, hardest acting man I have ever seen. I think he is literally the poster boy for the Legion, I've seen him on a banner or something somewhere. I can't remember his name but he had a face that must have been chiselled out of granite and spoke in three volumes, loud, very loud and a you've-really-fucking-done-it-now loud. My first introduction to him was when I was a green waiting to do an interview with an adjutant, sat in the corridor and I heard apoplectic screaming coming from the direction of the rouge section. Next thing the rouge guys were doing the marche canard up and down the selection building while the CCH gave them shit for something or another. Just stare straight ahead, I thought, Don't make eye contact.
For the commission we were all lined up with our kit in musettes under the glare of the Polish CCH. If our names were called we shouted “Present, mon Adjudant!” as loud as we could and left the rank to join the others that had been selected. Then ensued my first Legion beasting, lots of sprinting up and down, press-ups, sit-ups, marche canard etc until everyone was about to or already had puked up. “Qui partir civil?” the Chef would demand as we did laps of the exercise yard, “Pas moi Chef!” would come the reply as we passed him. When it was all over and no one had quit we were taken to the magazine where we were given our combats and sports gear that defined us as rouge.
The week you spend as rouge is spent learning the code of honour, le Boudin and how to present. One or two guys asked for civil in that time. You also have to sort out the greens and blues at night and pull two hour guard shifts standing in a box or doing laps or the building with an iron spike. Oh, and corvée of course. The CCH was a real hard case but I got the impression that he was like that because he actually gave a shit about how we turned out. The second group that joined us to complete our section at Castel had a different CCH and didn't know the code of honour or anything when they showed up, much to our annoyance. Towards the end of the week we went for a very pleasant run with the CCH and received our green berets and went to the museum to receive our contract from an Adjutant in the hall outside the tomb of Capitaine Danjou. We then sorted out our kit and, very early in the morning, got the train to Castelnaudery.
There was a very different vibe when we reached Castel. No poncing around in Kepis Blanc, everyone wore berets like a combat regiment. We piled off the bus and grabbed our sac-a-dos and other bags before being herded up to the corridor that would be out home for the next few months (the top bloody floor). The eastern euro CPL that had met us in Aubagne started screaming his instructions at us, I'm pretty sure in a calculated “Let's 'shit' them up” kind of way. One of the French guys actually tried to explain what he had been up to and was dropped by a sternum kick by the CPL. Lots of orders were given re getting bags in rooms and before long we were installed in our new gaffs, six per room.
We spent a week in Castel, waiting for the second “fraction” that would make up our section. The time was spent learning the Chant de compagnie and, when we had got that, the chant de section. There was also a ridiculous amount of time devoted to ironing the fourteen razor sharp creases into the chemisette dress uniform before the new Capitaine took over command of the company and we all had a bit of a piss up in his honour. Wake up was at 5:30 am each day, make the bed, corvée chambre, breakfast and then a day of singing or learning basic presentation etc. After a week we were sick of it and couldn't wait for the “new” guys to arrive so we could get on with the whole basic training thing. Having said that, it wasn't without a certain amount of trepidation that we looked forward to the farm. Lets face it, we've all seen the documentaries, read the books, and Legion basic training is never portrayed as a complete cake walk, is it? I spent a fair time sat on the balcony overlooking the parade square talking with my freakishly tall American friend about what was in the pipeline, what might happen to us and what could be in store for us afterwards. Probably the coolest thing that happened in that time was my first real introduction to the Legion marching when, sat on the balcony with my mate, the low bass of a hundred plus men singing began to grow. Within a minute about a hundred and twenty men from the CIC, complete with képi blanc and FAMAS, marched in step across the place d'armes, singing about death and honour in low and serious tones. It was quite a spectacle
After ten days in Castel the other fraction had arrived and we were ready to go. We were all issued with our FAMAS and packed up the kit we needed for one month on the infamous farm (hot tip: even if you a going in the middle of Summer, take your olive green fleece, it gets fucking cold at night on guard duty. I didn't take mine and my god did I regret it).
We loaded up on the bus for the thirty minute drive to the farm of 3eme Compagnie with FAMAS and musette (I triumph of French design, I can't comprehend how much thought must of gone into the design and manufacture of such an inefficient backpack that could cause so much pain and discomfort). We were dropped off in what seemed to be the middle of rural France, at the end of a long drive. We formed up and double timed it the kilometre from the road to the actual farm building, sweating like paedophiles in a playground due to the Summer heat. We checked our rifles into the armoury and were lined up on the small field next to the orchard while the caporaux assessed our ability for perform demi-tour, droite and à droite, droite! etc. We then had to get all the equipment and food we needed for the next month off the lorries and stored away correctly. Food, camp beds, ammunition, targets, tents (for the cadre) etc all of which must of taken at least a couple of hours. It gave me a bit of a chance to look around and get my bearings, I couldn't help but think Fucking hell, I'm actually here. I've seen the documentaries, read the stories but now I'm actually at the fucking farm, **** you lot who didn't believe I'd do it! The farm for the 3eme Compagnie, called Raissec, is in its own little valley surrounded by pitons, most of which had well worn dust tracks running up their steep sides and I thought Yup, we'll be getting to know them pretty well.
Next thing we were assigned our binome and put into groups with our SGT and CPX and set up our beds in one of the three Spartan (ie empty except for the shelves) rooms that made up the EV accommodation. One of the caporaux had an iPod dock that he used to blast out The Prodigy while we got our kit laid out just as the powers that be required it. I don't know if it was because it was the first English music I'd heard in a while or what, but I remember feeling pretty excited at the prospect of what was to come.
When we were finished we were taken outside and guess what? We were introduced to the pitons by the Spanish sgt (who was sous-officier adjunct), who spoke such heavily accented French that I honestly thought he was speaking Spanish for the first week. First off it was Anne-Marie, the steepest and closest to the main building which had a big flaming grenade emblem on the side made of stones and broken glass. This was of course not done fast enough and because we failed to actually say hello to Anne-Marie, we were off again. Next it was Eliane...
The day to day routine of the farm doesn't really change throughout the whole month. Your watches are taken off you on day one so you have no real idea what time it is. You get up early and shave in cold water, blearily staring at yourself in the mirror and wondering what the **** you are doing there. Breakfast (a small bread roll and coffee). Corvée. Rassemblement. Singing or some shit, lessons of some sort. Corvée. Lunch. Corvée. More shit. Dinner. Corvée. More shit. If you're really unlucky it might be your turn to wait on the table for the sous-officiers, running in to take them the next course whenever the belligerent bastards ring the bell. You do this in whatever kit you were wearing when you get called, I was fingered for the job and had to serve lunch in full camo paint with gilet and and assault rifle slung on my back. Once again, weird.
I heard a few different versions of what the farm was like from other recruits in the week we spent in Castel. Some said the biggest problem was the lack of food, others it was daily punishing runs or the freezing cold if they had been there in winter.
Our Chef obviously had a penchant for sleep deprivation. Don't get me wrong, the food was low protein crap in short supply and we all lost a shit load of weight, but the lack of sleep was, in the long term, absolutely crippling.
Not having watches we never knew when we went to bed or got up but there were nights when the moon barely moved between sleep and waking. One night we were woken after what I reckon must have been no more than thirty minutes of sleep to grab our sacs-a-dos and go charging off on a night march. Before a week was through we were like the walking dead. Whenever we had a lesson in the salle de cours there was a bucket of cold water brought in for us to dunk our heads in to wake ourselves up. It took barely an instant after sitting before we all had to stand up to stop us falling asleep in the lesson, and even then I'd catch myself slipping off, knees buckling beneath me. Due to the lack of sleep and the constant standing our legs were knackered through the constant effort. It's not worth getting caught having a cheeky sit down or it'd be tours of the farm with a backpack full of rocks. There is an expression used about crap street fighters in the UK - “He couldn't fight sleep” Anyone that says that has never been as tired as I was at the farm, I even fell asleep while marching along singing and one night on guard was convinced that a Mitsubishi evo 8 with a massive spoiler was parked near the armoury. It turned out to be a bridge. Not hallucinated like that since I was a student.
I remember one night very early one where they kept us going late into the night with a surreal mind-f***. We made camp down in the orchard and they drove in a lorry with a load of lights on to illuminate the scene, it was all a bit clockwork orange. We were running about and doing press-ups for ages, unable to perform any task fast enough or well enough, then we were lined up and shown how to use a fire extinguisher (no explanation given), up to the gare, “demontage FAMAS”, “remontage FAMAS”, sing, back to the FAMAS, break camp, up the piton, make camp, break camp, down the piton, make camp, at least eighteen seconds sleep and then off we go again. A real mind f***.
On the physical side I found it a bit disappointing. Apart from the constant beastings and apperatifs (en position, tout le monde!) we didn't work on our fitness at all. Proper runs were only done once a week, as were marches. The marches were horrible. Whatever farm you might go to pray that you don't get a lunatic 2eme REP man as your SGT. The pace he set was more than a little punishing, I don't think there was a march were my group didn't finish at least twenty minutes before the next one despite never leaving first. Apart from the pace he set he obviously didn't believe we needed water or rest throughout the course of the night and drinking on the march was forbidden. While another group got a SGT from 2eme REI with a bit of pace on him (but were allowed to drink, however) I definitely think we had it the hardest. The marches themselves were all done at night except the first one. Some of them were hellish. When you start you're already tired, you don't know what time it is, how long you've been going, how far there is to go or where you are. Some nights it was so dark you couldn't see more than a few yards in front of you. The disorientation along with the flaming agony in my legs (more on that in a second) sent my mind into some very dark and introspective thoughts. I did however gain a real respect for my sergeant, he struck me as a proper hard case soldier. I'm under no impression he liked any of us, and if he did he'd never show it, but I couldn't help but think that if I could clone him and create an army I'd take over the world no problem. I later found out he'd just got out of prison for hospitalising a recruit from the previous section.
A word on Rangers: The issue boot for the Legion is, in my opinion, absolute complete and utter shit with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. There were times on the farm that my feet looked like they had a flesh eating virus, I got blisters that covered half my foot and after a couple of weeks part of my right heel started to come off. I developed a shin splint and lost most of my toenails, I also had a very weird sort of blood blister on one foot that was invisible until you crinkled the skin up so I was able to hide it from the SGT (probably very stupidly) and avoid going to the infirmary back in Castel, like some guys did. By the end of training I found that by mummifying my feet in elastoplast, wearing two pairs of socks, doing my laces up so tight that it crushed my calves and buying some new insoles from the foyer, I could survive relatively blister free (at the cost of other problems) if still sore. I developed tendinitis up both my Achilles heels which made it painful just to put my boots on, let alone march anywhere. Some guys had no problems (bastards), others had equal or even worse than me. Some of it was probably due to the crap socks we had, some a lack of conditioning, but either way they were fucking shite as far as I was concerned. The training staff all wore boots they'd bought themselves for the march, lucky buggers.
It was about a week before the first guy deserted, a Lithuanian guy that spoke good English. I admit I didn't see it coming. He was hunted down by the staff and we never saw him again. As a result we were made to sleep in the gare, a sort of outdoor hanger that housed the gym equipment. Each night we would carry out our camp beds and sleeping bags (another crap piece of issue kit) and line up by group so the caporal de jour could see and count us in the night. Considering how hot it was in the day it was freezing by night. We weren't allowed to wear anything in bed other than our pants and the Summer sleeping bags were totally useless, as a result there wasn't a night where I didn't wake up shivering at least once with my legs cramping. You had to be careful in the morning as you leapt out of bed because your legs would be so stiff you could easily find yourself crawling on the flaw unable to walk. It was only a few days later that the second guy deserted, a French kid that looked like he was about twelve and I had been expecting to jack it in from the beginning. After that the staff locked our boots and trainers away each night, harder to desert barefoot.
It wasn't just the Ev's that deserted. In an incident I'm not going to elaborate on for various reasons (you never know who might read this) a caporal (who had been drinking, which was common) lost the plot completely, put a carving knife through a Ukrainian recruits arm and deserted. 'Nuff said.
It wasn't all shit though. I have never seen stars as clear or as numerous as one night on guard duty, I remember thinking it must be like that in the desert or out at sea where there is no light pollution. The commando raids we launched at night targeting the sweetest plums I've ever tasted that grew in the orchards. Good memories.
The actual training was basic. Weapons handling, assault course, navigation and some woefully inadequate French lessons. We did some orienteering exercises, learned how to use obsolete radios and got the basics of NBC and laying explosives (a lot of these lessons were done by a large group of guys on their cadre instruction course that were with us for a week or so), we also played in some zodiacs. We got to fire grenades, which resulted in us setting fire to the dry grass by the assault course and having to run around in the choking smoke with beaters trying to put it out. We did night exercises and bivouacked a lot. Tip: For gods sake put your FAMAS in your sleeping bag when you sleep, it's so obvious a thing to do I couldn't believe it when the morning after our first night camping about six guys had had their weapons stolen in the night by the SGT. You don't want to be one of those guys. Never leave your weapon unguarded! I had a little smile the first time I squatted down in the toilet with a rifle propped up against the door.
You also do a shit load of singing on the farm, learning various traditional songs as well as singing le Boudin before each meal. At time you'd think you'd joined a very brutal choir, not an army. Tip: get le Boudin right early or it will cost you a lot of food. We also had nights around the camp fire where we were made to sing songs in our own language, so go equipped with some dirty rugby songs or something. I had non, but still got a resounding round of applause for my rendition of “I am the highway” by Audioslave.
A month to the day after we got to the farm we left on the infamous marche Kepi Blanc. We set off early in the morning with about 20kg of kit on out backs and marched all day, while we were waiting to set off our caporal made us all name our rifles, I called mine Rachel, she was hard and dark and broke my heart...
To start with I quite enjoyed the walk, we climbed up a ridge line and the SGT let us pause to turn around and admire the view of snow capped mountains in the distance while the burning orange of the dawn sun rose over the horizon. In true Legion march fashion though it soon became an exercise in head-down-and-ignore-the-pain.
When we made it to the camp site that evening the huge Finnish guy in my group turned round and high-fived me with a big grin. There was beer, a bit of wine and plenty of terrible food. The next day we set off early and trudged on for about half a day, by which time I was really flagging. Let's face it, the march itself is hardly a feat of super-human endurance but, after a month of the farm and having lost about 10kg in bodyweight it wasn't exactly a walk in the park.
We finished our march at 2eme Compagnie's farm (a holiday resort in comparison to Raissec) in the early afternoon, I couldn't believe it was actually finished, I had been steeling myself mentally for at least another 10 kilometres. I think that enough people were knackered that the Chef thought we'd better stop before they started collapsing.
We showered , ate and got into our tenue parade before hanging around (no sleeping though) waiting for the ceremony.
During this time a load of coaches showed up full of sixteen year old kids that were from a military lycee – a sort of college, that were doing a tour of all things Legion as some sort of field trip I think. When it came time for the ceremony they assembled off to one side of the field to watch us swear the code of honour and don our Kepis.
I'd like to say that receiving the Kepi Blanc was the proudest moment of my life but, to be honest, it wasn't (though now I come to think about it, I'm not sure what is). Once again I had an attack of the Holy fucking shit, I'm here, I'm actually doing this! feeling I had when first at the farm, but I couldn't help but feel it should have been harder to earn in some way, that the mythical bonds of brotherhood forged with your comrades over the course of training should have been a lot stronger than they were. It just wasn't, like so many things in the Legion, as I'd imagined it would be, and as a result it felt somehow cheapened.
The captain gave his speech, ending with “Coiffez vos kepi blanc!” and as one we lifted our kepis in front of us, placed them on our heads and returned our arms to our sides with a perfectly synchronised slap. The eastern euro guy in the middle of the front rank (who was a real twat) strode solemnly towards the captain, saluted, and promised that we would serve “...avec honneur et fidélité!” He returned to the rank and started us off for the code of honour “Legionnaire....!”
As we filed off the field towards the waiting BBQ and beer that we'd set up, the Chinese guy in front of me (who was a real nancy boy) was limping and moaning. A combination of wrecked feet and brand new stiff parade rangers meant that more than a few of us were walking like John Wayne with a bum full of cocks. I growled at him to march properly, he was a legionnaire now after all. Pride at my new found status as a legionnaire? Maybe. Or it could have been because about a hundred sixteen year old French schoolgirls were watching.
I rode back to Castel in the back of a lorry with all our kit in and the CPL telling me stories of his instruction. It was cool, whipping along at night, my new kepi on my head, looking at the lights of the car following us thinking That's right mate, I'm a legionnaire, who the **** are you? Unfortunately, these feelings never last very long.
Life back in Castel is shit. After a week I was wishing we were back at the farm again. We did get a trip to the foyer once and so could phone home and write letters, I found myself writing some very garbled and honest letters to my family begging forgiveness for my life's previous f***-ups. We later got to go into Castel town, not exactly a metropolis but we could see and talk to the first civilians in over two months.
You will spend a couple of days a week performing regimental corvée. These things vary from kitchen and mess duties, corvée generale, corvée matériel, garde 24, EIT etc. The best one is EIT, you basically get to sleep and watch TV all day with the odd patrol thrown in. Or you would if you didn't have my sergeant, who kept shouting “Alarme!” and timing us to get the rifles out, helmet on and gas mask attached. Under forty seconds for me and two of the other guys. When the Slovakian retard that was the bane of our groupes existence took in the region of four minutes for the third time in the day, the sergeant decided he'd had enough and smashed a whole in the wall with the guys helmeted head. I just stared ahead trying not to smile at the fact he was finally getting a taste of what he deserved. Does that make me a bad person?
You will finally go shooting at Castel, though not a lot. When you do it involves the morning down the range where you will fire about twelve rounds and an entire afternoon cleaning your rifle. The instruction is virtually non-existent as well, bad shots result in a “Qu'est-ce que c’est cette merde?!” and a smack in the head. It's generally the same for most areas of instruction.
I grew to hate the routine. Rassemblement umpteen times a day. Singing the chant compagnie on the way to meals, the endless boot polishing and press-ups in the corridor. Oh yeah, and corvée.
We did a few marches back to the farm for training in the field, throwing in night ambushes and raids. We spent a day at the farm doing some cool stuff like learning to take and search prisoners. The mad Russian sergeant from the REP showed us some restraining techniques (do not volunteer for these, they hurt!). He looked at us while standing on another guys ankle and nearly breaking his fingers and said in a thick Russian accent - “Si ca fait mal c'est pas grave. Il est l'ennemi, il est communist.” Brilliant. These exercises normally finished with a bit of a bbq and some beer. Coincidentally I had my first Kronenbourg since the Legion a week or so ago, that taste is always going to be the taste of the Legion for me.
After a month or so of this you go to the Pyrenées to a ski resort town call Formigeur (not too sure on the spelling). This is meant to be a sort of holiday with adventure training, though the word 'holiday' is a bit strong, it is the Legion after all. We got to rock climb, go caving and canyoning.
There is still corvée and shit but there is plenty of food each night and you get a bit more sleep. And some beer. Towards the end of the week we went out on the piss in tenue parade to a bar where we had dinner and got absolutely shit faced. Karaoke was involved and I seem to remember a drunken rendition of “Welcome to the jungle” by Guns 'n' Roses followed by “Highway to Hell” while being propped up by a 6'8'' American. Then “the boy” (as I called a stupid French kid in my groupe) and the Slovakian retard had a punch up and it looked like the night was over.
Not yet. In the lorries and off to a surprisingly good nightclub in the middle of nowhere where I got to see the Chef in the middle of the dance floor doing 'big fish, little fish, cardboard box' dance moves. We crawled out at about 4:30 am, just as I was making progress with a pretty blond girl. When we got back to the chalet the mad Russian dropped the guys who had been fighting with a couple of good slugs in the gut. The next day we slept and nursed hang overs. A night to remember, that one.
The only other major event in training is the weeks combat localité training done at another base not far from Castel. I unfortunately missed it due to a knee injury. I hurt my knee running down a mountain with a backpack on and hadn't had long to recover before the annual regimental half marathon. Mon Lieutenant (who had assumed command of the section after the farm and was a complete twat) had declared that everyone was running and everyone would finish. I did run, and I did finish, though in complete agony and with knackered ligaments in my knee. So how's that for logic? Miss the most intense combat training you get at Castel in order to run a half marathon and make the LT look good. Twat.
A word on French officers: a lot of them are complete dicks. Madame Guillotine obviously wasn't quite efficient enough back in the day as a few too many toffy nosed supercilious arse wipes survived to have descendants that could join the Legion as officers. A German CCH (who was quite mad) in the CP kept referring to the “dirty French pig” officer that was obviously his pet hate. I even saw a young lieutenant salute with his left hand. Dear God. I blame the Scarlet Pimpernel.
By the time the Raid march came about I was totally pissed off with everything. I hated the routine, I hated the caporaux, I hated the way they dangled trips to the foyer in front of us only to take them away and I really hated the fact that I'd begun to be effected by their little games. The first day when we set off I was actually excused from all sport, running and marching due to my knee injury. No-one was aware so I didn't mention it, I felt okay and wasn't going to chicken out when it came to “the big one”.
We carried the same kit as for the Kepi Blanc march and then some. More clothes, camo, ammo, radios and spades, machetes, food, more ammo, helmet, more ammo. I estimate it was about 30+ kg plus FAMAS. It was a hard slog. We'd not had a lot of sleep the night before and off went the sgt at his usual pace. Being a tactical march we all had our areas of observation to adhere to and the sgt and cpl were always watching. Even so we had a good first day, being ambushed and running around firing blanks.
My suspicions about the caporaux were confirmed when, being the last group in the march, we had to move up the column and join the group that had countered an ambush, picking up their sacs-a-dos which they had dropped on the way. I ran up to one which turned out to belong to a caporal and braced myself to lift at least another 20kg onto my chest and trot the half a kilometre to its owner. The thing must have been full of toilet paper it weighed so little. No wonder they never seemed tired. Later in the march a caporal (who was a really nasty piece of work and had a habit of hitting people, myself included, with the butt of his rifle) stole my burner so he could heat his rations up. Way to gain respect there mate.
The second day was much harder. I'd had maybe two hours sleep thanks to guard duty and a late night attack and bug-out mission and was utterly knackered. It was burning hot and by late afternoon my body was on the verge of giving up. I was dehydrated, my knee, shins and feet were killing me and as we approached a long climb up a ridge line my calves and quads just started cramping viciously with every step, so bad that I had to be encouraged to the top by my friend the FAMAS-happy caporal.
It was without doubt the worst few hours of the worst day of my entire life, something I hope to never come even close to again. But as the often misquoted Friedrich Nietszche said “What does not destroy me makes me stronger.” Even with this thought in mind that night I sat alone in my basha with a bottle of Kronenbourg, full of self doubt and fear, thinking Well dad, if only you could see me now. There was one cool moment that day though. We had found the enemy (a few guys in a truck) on the green of some small village and swooped in firing and throwing grenades, much to the bemusement of the locals. I was lying next to a tree, keeping watch up a road when a very English guy with a camera to my left called out “I say, would it be possible for a photo? I'm sorry, I don't speak French.” I turned to him and grinned through two days of camo paint, sweat and mud and said “Sorry mate, no pics, we're the foreign Legion.” before getting up and running to join the rest of the section. The look on his face was priceless.
Fortunately the third day was not so long, though everyone was pretty used up by this stage. The packs weren't any lighter but with the end in sight I managed to find it in myself to keep going. **** watching my sector, it was gritted teeth and head down trying to ignore the pain, redoubling my efforts with every pace. At one stage another caporal lifted up my rucksack and grimaced at the weight, it was obvious that he didn't fancy carrying it. There were just a few ambushes left to get through before the end and a bit of combat simulation, which I think was fairly realistic as it was all running and shouting and I had almost no idea what was going on.
We finished at the farm for the CIC and camped for another three days, doing our final tests on weapons knowledge, NBC etc, all the stuff we'd been doing throughout instruction. It was a bit of an amateur affair to be honest. When it came to the NBC we were asked questions that not only did we not know the answer to but nobody had ever even mentioned in training.
Three weeks were spent at Castel giving back kit, cleaning stuff and, yes you guessed it, corvée. We also did the final assault course, Cooper, shooting, swimming and TAP tests. We passed report with the captain and were told our regiments. It was at this point I told a caporal I was going civil at the end of training as I had plein les couilles. He obviously told a SGT who I presumed told the LT, but nothing was ever said so I thought Okay, it's like that is it? I'll just keep my trap shut and ask in Aubagne.
The CPL in my room said it made no difference so I decided to just tow the line for the time being. Not to say I didn't give it a lot of thought, I admit to allowing romantic notions of Legion life back into my head again, but then such things are easy when the hard parts are over and you're stood around with you mates thinking of the future. To be honest I think I knew deep down not long after the farm that this life was not for me, I think it just took a while for the truth to overcome my pride.
And so we cleared out our armoires, cleaned the section like you wouldn't believe and with what I thought to be some very misplaced nostalgia, bid farewell to the 4ème Régiment Étranger at Castelnaudery to head back to Aubagne and on to whatever awaited us.
We did a detour in Marseille on the way back to go to Malmousque, the Legion's hotel (sort of) for an afternoon of beers and gazing out over the ocean. I felt quite emotional as I talked to my friends and got slowly pissed on Kronenbourg. Despite the disappointment I had made some true friends, unfortunately some of whom I've already lost touch with due to a building in Surrey being demolished and poor internet service in Chad (just don't ask). After a few hours it was back on to Aubagne (the smell was still there) and the C.A.P.L.E building where we were to spend the night. More beer was involved that night and the next morning it was report time in front of a Commandant.
When it came to my turn I entered the office, presented and started chit chat with the officer while my LT sat to my right, grinning at my very English pronunciation of “...a vos ordres, mon Commandant!” We chit chatted for a few minutes, how was instruction? Oh, very hard sir (they don't want to hear that with the odd exception you thought it was shite). I think I was pegged as one of the best French speaking non-francophones. He seemed pleased. And then came the moment. “Donc, tu vas au 1er Régiment Étranger de Cavalerie. C'est un bon régiment avec beaucoup de missions et je pense tu vas faire tres bien la bas. Peut-etre dans trois ans tu peux faire l’ instruction pour cadre. C'est bon?” Erm..... “Malheureusement, mon Commandant j'ai changé ma decision. Je sais la vie de la Légion n'est pas la vie pour moi et je veux partir civil.” The commandant was totally cool, mon lieutenant, not so much. It went down like a fart in a space suit.
So that was me in the dog house and guarding the equipment outside the C.A.P.L.E building while the others went to the museum for a bit. I got talking to an English CPL that was picking up the guys going to the 2eme REG. “So what are you doing?” he asked. Oh shit, time to confess. “I'm going civil mate, just asked the Commandant.” He laughed “Fucking hell, you've got some balls! Good lad, it's fucking shit here, I'm getting out as soon as I can, it's not what it used to be.” We were then joined by another Brit that knew the CPL from Djibouti and was going civil due to injury. He was of the same opinion. They then formulated a plan to steal the hand of Capitaine Danjou and sell it on e-bay with the description “One not-so-careful owner”.
When the others had gone to regiment I was told to load the car that was taking the SGT, CPL and LT back to Aubagne that night. Shit, no week in Aubagne and a quick release. The LT had given me a real ear bashing telling me I'd fucked him and made him look like a twat, which was only fair, 'cos he was. The mad Mexican CPL, who had a real small-man-hard-case complex but who I later got to know and decided was a good bloke, reassured me, explaining that whatever the officer might say it was the caporaux that really dished out the punishments and they weren't going to bother me if I was going civil. We stopped at a service station on the way back and stood at a table eating sandwiches. The LT turned to me, obviously still pissed off and said, in English “Enjoy this last moment of peace.” Erm, okay. Then, in French “Quand tu arrives à Castel, pour toi, c'est enfeu, compris enfeu?” No. “ou habit le diablo.” Ah, gotcha. Did I mention he was a complete twat?
Well, in the end he was all mouth and no trousers. I spent the night back in the old corridor, spookily bereft of the section before a day at the disposal of the bureau de semaine doing corvée. Not sure what to do with me, it was arranged that I would join SIA (Section d'Instruction Adaptée). Prison never happened, despite what the LT said. I was kind of disappointed by this as I wanted to be able to refer to “when I was doing bird in the foreign Legion....”. Thus ensued the best month I spent in the Legion.
SIA was basically formed when the new SCH arrived and saw what happened to all the long term injured guys that had had to leave their sections to recover. Rather than just doing menial corvées like the other companies he formed a section that would actually try and teach you something, despite your injuries, and combat the “instruction de merde” as the chef called it, that we received in training. The Chef himself was a big shaven headed guy who had broken his back in the REP and looked like a rugby league player. He was another proper soldier that had no time for bullshit. One day I had just nodded off on the table by the window when the door burst open and there was the chef, Oh god, I've been caught napping, literally. Prepare for punishment. He then made a series of chopping motions in the air accompanied by Bruce Lee noises before stopping abruptly and fixing us with a stern gaze. “J'ai ai plein les couilles.” He declared before slamming the door behind him. Complete nutter.
Life in SIA was, comparatively, awesome. We still got up at 5:30 am for appel, but, because we were big boys, were sent to breakfast on our own and didn't bother shaving 'till we got back. We did some form of sport every morning, either running, swimming or weights (way more than in section), we had a radio (why is all French music except hip hop utter shite?), could keep food in our lockers and didn't have to strip the bed each morning. The lessons we did were cool as well.
The whole section had clubbed together to buy some airsoft M16's and G36's and we'd go into the woods to practice contact drills or do a parcours de combat. We also did rope work for river crossings, pistol shooting down the ranges (I missed that one, grrrr) and, if there was a lull, pistol disarming. Sometimes we'd set a load of targets up in the building and practice room clearing, much to the jealousy of the regular training sections.
The Chef also showed us videos of him doing commando training in Guyane, complete with interrogation techniques you don't see on the discovery channel or youtube. A combination of us swanning around with M16's and the appearance of being able to do whatever we wanted led to new EV's calling me caporal a couple of times, I guess I had the shouting and swearing in crude French thing down pretty well. Due to the lack of bullshit I had more downtime and learned more actual soldiering skills in one month in SIA than I did in five of official instruction. Despite this the section had a reputation as a bunch of wasters. Not wasters, just taking a sensible approach to everything.
It was also viewed that I was a legionnaire that had finished instruction and so was afforded liberties unheard of in the regular section. The foyer (ie beer, internet and phone) were allowed all weekend and most week nights (hence my previous, now six month old posts). There was another Brit in SIA that had a major injury and had a full years service despite not having finished training. He was ex British army and really knew his shit after tours of Afghan, Bosnia and **** knows where else. He was also, due to the fact he was basically an alcoholic psychopath, a very bad influence, but a very good friend and kept me sane.
Every weekend was spent getting hammered in the bar on crap lager with the CCHs (all quite mad) and SGTs of the English mafia, wearing our sports kit and glaring at the premier class' who assumed we were CCH or something due to our drunken belligerence and lack of visible rank. One night the CPL of SIA, a Latin American (who had broken his back in the REP and was a real solid dude) that preferred to speak English rather than French just looked at me disapprovingly one night as we waited, swaying in the wind of drunkenness, for the sergeant to show up for appel de soir and told me to “stand over there, so the sergeant doesn't smell you.” I spent that night shouting Huweee!! into the big white telephone (that means throwing up in the toilet for you're non English).
I did have one potentially deadly encounter in SIA though. We were all in our room, shooting the shit, when I heard my name being shouted. Opening the door to see who it was I was confronted by my lunatic 2eme REP sergeant. “C'est bon pour les tendors?” Wtf? He obviously wanted me to give him a haircut. Oh, so this is it, this is how it ends for me. I'm going to f*** up the Sgt's hair and he's going to tear my skull apart with his bare hands. I got some clippers and went into a disused room where the Sgt sat down with a towel over his shoulders and started, with what I thought was a slightly over the top air of nonchalance, to read the paper.
No easy skin head, he wanted the classic USMC style fade. I considered making a bit of a joke by taking a swipe with the clippers and then saying “oh merde” under my breath, but decided against it. I also refrained from asking if he would like “quelque-chose pour le weekend”.
In the end I did quite a good job and the Sgt seemed pleased as he got a dustpan and brush to clean up. I stood there utterly confused as he refused to let me clean up and got down on his knees saying “C'est bon, c'est bon merci,” It took a while for my brain to process and accept the image of a sous-officier doing the cleaning. Hard case but good guy. I'd buy that man a beer.
Another thing we did in SIA that I was pleased about was go back to Raissec to do a bit of cleaning while a CCH (who was quite mad) did some redecorating. The place was very different in the winter. Freezing cold with a howling wind constantly blowing. We mooched about and I got some photos on the crappy disposable I'd bought at the foyer though unfortunately they didn't come out well. Bit of nostalgia there. We then defied death again by riding back to base in the back of a lorry driven by the CCH, who had been at the bottle a bit and drove the truck like he'd stolen it. Full on white knuckle.
I was glad of my time in SIA, I got to see a different side to the Legion. We could go to the company club and chat with some CCHs (who were all quite mad) and were generally treated with a bit more respect and friendliness than when we were the lowest of the low trainees. I even got to see a different side to some of my old training caporaux and realised some of them weren't so bad. There are still some nasty bastards there though, if I saw the FAMAS-happy caporal walking down the street of my home town, I'd feed him his teeth.
And then it was over. I was sat in my sports gear waiting for the day to begin when a Sgt of the 2eme Compagnie opened the door and shouted my name. Five minutes later I was on a bus in tenue de sortie with my bags in the hold and heading for the train and Aubagne. A week of make-work jobs in Aubagne ensued (the smell was still there, faint, but still noticeable) and that was it. Me and an itinerant Frenchman found we could buy beer from the CCH bar in another building without anyone batting an eyelid (they obviously didn't care as they were all quite mad). Rock on. I bought a Zippo in the foyer with the code of honour on for my dad and a hip flask for my mate.
I saw the Polish CCH was back, terrorising a new rouge section. We passed report again with the captain of the C.A.P.L.E and the next day were given back our true identities. We packed our bags, gave what was left of our kit back (I managed to keep the black leather gloves, I call them my murdering gloves) and walked down the same steep hill I had walked up six months previously, following the eastern euro CCH up to pre-selection.
We (“we” being the other civils, going for various reasons) got the train to Marseille, walked to La Poste to get our pay and went our separate ways. By eight that evening I was sat in a bar in Nottingham with my mate, drinking a Jack Daniel's and coke and feeling utterly bemused by the English civilians all around me.
So that's it re the Legion. Years of planning for me, months in the execution. So now we have the largely irrelevant (to the reader anyway) and possibly poignant self analysis stage of my story. I've taken the time to write this, you can take the time to indulge me in some “Disney philosophy”.
So what is the moral? What have I learnt? Well, to be honest I'm not sure. Not a day goes by that I don't think of the Legion. What I did well, where I failed myself, how things may of changed me. The biggest question I ask myself is “Did I just bottle it in the end? Am I basically a coward?” I'll let the reader judge, but to be honest I don't give a shit what you think. I've realised that what others think is, in many cases, not important.
There are some strange hangovers from it all - I have found myself saying c'est partir, swearing in French and constantly singing bloody Legion songs! (something I've now largely cured thanks to constantly listening to my iPod at work). I also had what I can only equate to a panic attack not long after getting back. I was sat on a bus and was suddenly consumed by a complete hate and contempt for everyone around me, I wanted to smash everything and everyone to dust. I was so tense across my shoulders and in my arms that my biceps started to cramp up. It passed, thanks God, but I had a window into why people get guns and go on killing sprees. Was it Legion hangover or am I just a fruit loop? I don't know, I mean it's not like a did five years or saw combat or anything. Maybe I'm just a drama queen.
Before I joined I didn't tell many people what I was doing. I suppose I was worried about what they would think. It turns out it doesn't matter, most people know dick shit about the Legion anyway. I had been back for a while before I got messages from family friends and relatives saying “Glad you're back, didn't realise what it was you were doing.” I don't know if they'd just seen a documentary or what. To be honest I've not really talked in depth about it to anyone, not even my best friends or family. I've told them some of what happened but not how it effected me. How do you put soul searching into words?
I certainly don't go around saying I was a legionnaire and to be honest I cringe a bit if friends mention it to strangers. Not because I'm ashamed or embarrassed in any way but because it opens up a whole conversation I just don't want to have with strangers (he said, posting this on a website for all and sundry to read), it just takes some explaining and opens up uneasily answered questions like “Why?”.
I don't think it's changed me much on the outside, but then you'd have to ask those that know me. I know I'm different, for the better I think, on the inside. I have a bit more determination for sure, and focus. I can't go walking with my friends now as I just storm off into the distance. I don't want to come across as melodramatic but as a result of my experiences I've looked deeper into myself than most people ever have cause to. I can't say I liked what I saw but I wasn't completely discouraged either. Of course not everyone will see it like this or have the same experiences, it all depends on where you come from and how you view something like joining the Legion.
Life now ain't perfect. There's still a few things missing, but at least I now know what they are now, or think I do anyway. I'm off to university in September for a shit hot course that I'm looking forward to and who knows where it might lead. I do feel a measure of pride when I look at my Kepi Blanc photos as well.
So why did I leave? Well, the best way I can explain it is that I realised the Legion was not what I was looking for. What am I looking for? I don't know, but I'll know it when I find it, and it wasn't to be found in the Legion.
So to finish, a little practical advice. Wear sunscreen. Okay, seriously. If you want to join the Legion, then you should examine your reasons carefully, figure out what is wrong with your life that makes you want to do it and try and fix them. If you live in the West you do not need to join, you just might think you do. Always bear in mind that, in my experience at least, it's not all it's cracked up to be. The Legion is a highly operational military outfit and it's not there for you to waste its time with your own voyage of self discovery, even if that's what I basically did.
On an even more practical note: learn French!
It will help more than I can say and help keep you from feeling as isolated as many who join without it feel. Also, forget your running times, just learn to march long distances with heavy weights and do five hundred press-ups a day. Some chin-ups and running won't go astray though. One last thing, guard your bog roll, it tends to get stolen.
Maybe the Legion is for you, maybe it's not. I've no regrets about joining and no regrets about leaving. If anything I regret not getting it out of my system years ago. The fact is you won't find out by reading this so get off your arse, turn of your computer and **** off to Aubagne.
There you go, I've nothing more to say. I don't hang around this site anymore but if you have Q's post them or PM me, I'll check in over the next few weeks.
The member formerly known as Big Al
Post from rickyhimalayan on
forum of http://cervens.net/smf/index.php
Topic: Calculate your chances
to join FFL (Read 1036 times)
rickyhimalayan Current or
Calculate your chances to join
FFL Hi wannabe's
First of all, forget about quota
thing. At this time per my knowledge the Legion needs many volunteers.
If they want you, you'll be in, no matter how many other legionnaires
or candidates of the same nationality are already there.
Try to focus on plus points.
Here is a kind of system which can help you assess your chances of
getting in (this is just according to me, what I have noticed)
Every quality you have gives you
a plus, for example :
1. You have driving licence.
2. You have a licence for heavy
vehicles (big trucks).
3. How good can you swim ?
4. Skying, mountaineering,
5. Previous army experience.
6. French language knowledge.
7. How many other languages can
you speak ?
8. Specialisations like :
- computing - cooking -
mechanics - music (can you play some instrument)
9. How good you are in sports ?
10. How motivated you are ?
11. Important item : what are
the risks that you desert and why do you want to join the Legion ?
Don't mention anything negative like "I hate civil life" or anything
superficial like "because of the glory attached to the Legion", stay
12. If you desert, what are the
chances that you will get a good career in civilian life, and before
the Legion how did you perform ? Surprisingly, if you had some sort of
failure you have better chances.
13. Your family : if you've
stayed in touch with them, how strongly are you attached to your
parents ? Does someone else depend on you outside the Legion ? The more
positive the answers are, the lesser are you chances to get in.
14. Main thing you can learn
from marketing or sales guys is how to "sell" yourself in an interview.
This accounts for about 50% of your success or failure to be accepted.
Keep in mind that you need to keep your story the same in all the
interviews. If you are not a good liar stay honest and tell the truth.
From above criteria one can
calculate his chances and improve them before coming to the Legion. One
thing i would like to mention: it's easier to get accepted into the
Legion than staying for a full 5 year contract and becoming a
successful legionnaire, so try to focus on what you want after entering
into the Legion.
Like someone in this forum
said, you can fail anytime here but you can pass this exam only after
five years, correct me if I'm wrong.
What I wrote above is only my
own opinion, formed after what I've observed. I could be wrong.
Regards « Last Edit: June
02, 2007, 02:29:49 AM by Patrick Hervier »
Report to moderator Logged HOPE
4 D BEST
PREPARE 4 D WORST
Post from Mad Jock who just returned from
Aubagne after being turned away.
Post: My brief but fun stay in Aubagne by Mad
24-04-08 12:52 PM -
[Note, I have placed the posts fro M.J.and the
replies to his posts in the order received.
His main post are between the break lines]
1er REGIMENT ETRANGER
CENTRE DE SELECTION ET D'INCORPORATION A
AUBAGNE le, 23/04/2008
DECLARATION-DECHARGE (pour l'interessé)
CE DOCCUMENT N'EST VALABLE POUR AUCUNE
Je soussigné, Engage Volontaire Mad
Déclare n'avoir aucune réclamation à formuler lors
de mon départ
Mes objets de VALEUR
Mes PAPIERS personnels
Mes VETEMENTS civils
que j'avais placés en depot lors de mon
arrivée. Ils m'ont ete restitués intégralement.
Le motif de mon depart m'a ete egalement
RENDU A LA VIE CIVILE POUR LE MOTIF SUIVANT :
INAPTE DEFINITIF: Son profil ne correspond pas
aux besoins de la Légion étrangère.
SIGNATURE conforme a l'acte d'engagement
As you can see I'm back in UK. Did’t get a
chance to get this translated could anyone help?