Author Topic: French Foreign Legion  (Read 81656 times)

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Offline Scott

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #100 on: April 17, 2012, 19:11:35 »
I work with two guys who are former FFL. One who went Legion first then into the Royal Marines, the other reversed the process. They are doing back to back rotas in Chad right now and all of their security team are former FFL, and the pers include a lot of guys that these two served with. Oil and gas seems to be a popular stopover once done Legion life - either as private security or exploration/production.

One boy has told me a few stories, all humorous and all with a cautionary not (taken by me, not implied) I don't press for any more details. Both guys would be considered "touched" by most...

You will learn French before your DS learn patience. You will do what you're told. And if you're the type to quibble of head dress in a vehicle or socks in the mess then you likely shouldn't apply, it'll only make it hurt that much more.

Edit: damned autocorrect
« Last Edit: April 17, 2012, 19:24:24 by Scott »
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #101 on: July 12, 2012, 20:12:32 »
An interesting article about what the FFL is doing in South America these days:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/news/deep-in-the-jungle-with-the-french-foreign-legion-10487410?click=pm_news

Quote
Deep in the Jungle With the French Foreign Legion
PM goes to South America to find France's elite jungle warriors readying for a deadly new phase of a hidden conflict. Their targets: black market gold miners who have killed French officers.
By Joe Pappalardo

Marco Di Lauro, Getty for PM

July 9, 2012 1:00 PM

Kourou, French Guiana—The truck lurches to a halt at the encampment, knocking over the FAMAS assault rifle leaning on the dashboard. Foulques De Samie, first lieutenant of the 1st platoon, 2nd company of the French Foreign Legion, grips it and gestures with his chin to open the door and dismount.

His platoon is lounging among the ruins of a sounding rocket site in French Guiana. Around the soliders are wrecked buildings overgrown with vegetation, piles of bent tubes of massive rocket bodies, and the ever-present hum and buzz of the jungle. Four officers are seated on metal chairs around a table, eating prepackaged military meals. A few legionnaires lie in hammocks, flipping through lad magazines. Handfuls of men sit in circles, perched on abandoned buckets. In one such group, a Chinese legionnaire is carefully slicing garlic with a knife and depositing it into the open mouth of a ring-top metal can of pasta.

The platoon's mission for the next few days is to protect the launch of an Ariane 5 rocket that carries hundreds of millions of dollars worth of satellite payload in its tip. The soldiers do this by patrolling the jungle outside the spaceport in BV-206 tracked vehicles and, if needed, by fast-roping from helicopters to intercept intruders. But their minds are elsewhere. "Protecting the launch area is not so interesting," De Samie says. "We do it because it's our job and our responsibility. But we prefer the other part of our mission, deeper in the jungle."

The Legion is spoiling for a fight. In the weeks ahead, their jungle warfare skills will be tested in an escalating battle between illegal gold miners and French authorities. Last week a gang of these miners (garimpeiros) killed two French military noncommissioned officers during a raid near the isolated jungle town of Dorlin. The operation to disband the miners was met with violence from the start. First, a helicopter was peppered with bullets from below as it flew over the camp. The subsequent raid on the ground was met with a well-coordinated attack; in addition to the two soliders killed, another two were seriously wounded. The attackers fled toward nearby Suriname as French forces sought to seal off the border. As of this writing they have not been found.

The specifics of the attack worry the upper and lower ranks. The miners were not armed with the typical shotgun and pistol—they had assault rifles. "Normally [garimpeiros] just run or give up," says one legionnaire on patrol outside Kourou, who declined to give a name. "So the problem is not necessarily their weapons, but that they want to kill us."

"We were not ready for such an attack here," says another legionnaire, this one from Belarus.

"Most people in the forest don't know how to fight," says Lt. Col. Nic Dufour, who's in charge of operations for the regiment. "But last week, they were more disciplined. It was an ambush." Dufour smiles without mirth and adds: "We'll get them."

Here in French Guiana, where mining and space launches are the only two current industries (oil drilling may begin soon following the discovery of 1.4 billion barrels offshore), the struggle is over taxes and ecology.

First, taxes: The vast unoccupied stretches of jungle enable contraband shipment, illegal immigrant smuggling, and large-scale illegal gold mining. One legionnaire, of Polish–British pedigree, said he took part in a raid that netted hundreds of miners. These black market miners are particularly well-organized; they take gold across the rivers that define national boundaries here and smuggle it out of airports positioned just on the other side. It's a festering diplomatic sore in this patch of eastern South America.

The garimpeiros are hard on the environment, too. One of the hallmarks of the illegal gold mining operations here is the use of mercury to separate the gold from the rock. "They are poisoning the forest, the water, they don't care," the Polish–British legionnaire says. "They try to say the mercury they carry is drinking water but when we pick up the bottles they're too heavy. Then we know we got them."

One perhaps surprising trait of the legionnaires in Guiana is their respect for this environment. They camp in the jungle more than 200 days of the year. One training exercise places them in the depths of the sauvage, with limited supplies, for up to seven weeks. "It's dangerous, and it's difficult," he says. "But we love the jungle, we have become comfortable here."

The respect and fondness for the jungle and thick forests here is a refrain that is repeated by many legionnaire officers and the rank-and-file, uncoached and independent of one another. They may not consider themselves environmentalists, but they are fierce protectors of their turf. It enrages them that intruders can come and destroy it. Not one cites the lack of tax collection as a reason to fight.

The Pole–Brit says he wants to open an eco-tourism operation here after his service is complete. "Look at the animals here," he says, sitting on top of a BV-206 during a spaceport patrol. One hand (complete with a legion tattoo at the base of his thumb) grips a metal bar, the thick muscles in his forearm bunching. "If we weren't here they'd be killed and eaten by now. The turtles can breed without someone coming and digging up their eggs. It's brilliant." He smiles, showing strong but slightly crooked teeth. "We love it here."

Not every legionnaire wants to make a permanent home of the jungle, of course. Over whiskey-spiked tea, one wanted to know where the best places are to live in the United States. He ruled out the hot areas of the south and hot oceanfront areas and, after a round of inquiries, decided that the sparsely populated mountains of Montana would suit him best.

France created the foreign legion in 1831 to swell its military with foreign-born troops that could handle unsavory and difficult assignments. Foreign-born legionnaires can become French citizens at the end of their service, but only French-born can become officers.

The idea that they are a corps of violent criminals is antiquated. Murderers and other violent felons are not allowed in. The legionnaires are tough men with pasts worth fleeing, though. New crops of recruits come from wherever there is strife and a lack of opportunity. "In the 1990s we had many recruits from Eastern Europe," Dufour says. "Now we have more from Latin America and Asia. In this regiment we have legionnaires from 60 nationalities."

The legion is famed for its legacy of tough fights across the 20th century. The 21st century has witnessed them in modern hot spots: At least half of the men in Dufour's battalion have combat experience in Afghanistan. They are counted among the world's elite warriors, often given the toughest jobs in the worst places.

But in French Guiana, the rules of engagement are tricky for legionnaires. Legally, this colony is French soil, not a South American war zone. The legionnaires have no power to arrest here; they serve as tactical muscle that back up police (gendarmes). "We are here to help them," Dufour says. "They tell us what to do."

Yet even before the ambush last week, the men of the French Foreign Legion were often first into the line of fire during raids. If French air force aircraft or satellites spot a mining camp, legionnaires can drop in from helicopter-mounted ropes through the jungle canopy, securing prisoners for the gendarmes to arrest.

Their combat experience and military prowess are needed now more than ever, with garimpeiros on the ground carrying assault weapons and going out of the way to kill authorities. The legionnaires are expert soldiers, but they acknowledge that both sides can operate in the dense, dangerous environment where dehydration, cloying heat, poisonous insects, and even blood-sucking, disease-carrying bats pose dangers on par with armed gunmen.

"Everything is difficult in the forest," De Saime says. "Everything is dangerous. You have to know yourself very well to survive here." Asked if he's expecting a tough campaign to follow the attacks, he nods grimly. The legionnaires know they'll need to put up a show of force in the coming months to deter better-armed gangs from operating in this area. It's a campaign few will notice besides the combatants.

For today and tomorrow—until the rocket launches from this equatorial spaceport—the platoon is on routine protection duty. That means rolling around the perimeter of the launchpad in armored vehicles, trekking on extended foot patrols and operating antiaircraft missile batteries. After the sat reaches orbit, the troops here will be ready to join the others to take the fight to the enemy of their adopted military and their adopted home—the jungles of French Guiana.

Read more: Deep in the Jungle With the French Foreign Legion - Popular Mechanics
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #102 on: July 13, 2012, 16:06:45 »
An interesting article about what the FFL is doing in South America these days:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military/news/deep-in-the-jungle-with-the-french-foreign-legion-10487410?click=pm_news

"Everything is difficult in the forest," De Saime says. "Everything is dangerous. You have to know yourself very well to survive here." Asked if he's expecting a tough campaign to follow the attacks, he nods grimly. The legionnaires know they'll need to put up a show of force in the coming months to deter better-armed gangs from operating in this area. It's a campaign few will notice besides the combatants.

Rubbish... the Jungle is neutral, and this guy is a drama Queen  ;D
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Offline Blackadder1916

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #103 on: July 16, 2012, 14:51:32 »
"Everything is difficult in the forest," De Saime says. "Everything is dangerous. You have to know yourself very well to survive here . . . ." . . .

Rubbish... the Jungle is neutral, and this guy is a drama Queen  ;D

Maybe not a "drama Queen"

Quote
Foulques De Samie, first lieutenant of the 1st platoon, 2nd company of the French Foreign Legion,

But he does sound like a typical new lieutenant with his brand new platoon command.  Dreams of glory and fantasies of having his wooden hand (head?) in the museum.
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Offline Rifleman62

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #104 on: July 17, 2012, 20:51:16 »
The Jungle is Neutral: a very good book that proves your point.

The story of Chapman's Malayan jungle adventure can be found in The Jungle is Neutral, Frederick Spencer Chapman, Lyon Press, ISBN 1-59228-107-9, also in the book Jungle Soldier by Brian Moynahan, Quercus History, ISBN 978-1-84916-076-6

A remarkable fellow: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freddie_Spencer_Chapman
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Offline Jungle

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #105 on: July 18, 2012, 16:49:07 »
I did that course in French Guyana with the FFL, and been in the jungle in Australia and Indonesia. The jungle in South America was much worse than anything I have seen anywhere else.

The terrain is rough, the climate is tough and the wildlife is dangerous. That forest is unforgiving.

3e REI at the time were sending out platoon-size patrols to the Brazilian border for 60 days at a time; the Regt was losing on average one man every month just by drowning.
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Offline Colin P

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #106 on: July 20, 2012, 11:14:17 »
Not by any means a “jungle expert” but I noticed that touring the Ecuadorian  Amazon, working in Venezuela (helping my brother with geophysics stuff) and touring around in Malaysia (peninsula not Sarawak) that jungles come in many flavours, Malaysia is mountainous terrain covered in thick foliage and rocky,  Amazon is much flatter, thicker vegetation, far more mud and gumbo. Venezuela is generally hilly with mud a lot of swamp in-between the hills.
Also a lot of the action in the Malay emergency happened in the plantations, with the CT’s using the jungle to hide in and transit from place to place.     

Venezuela, the wasps were considered the most dangerous thing in the jungle.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #107 on: July 20, 2012, 11:48:32 »
I did that course in French Guyana with the FFL, and been in the jungle in Australia and Indonesia. The jungle in South America was much worse than anything I have seen anywhere else.

The terrain is rough, the climate is tough and the wildlife is dangerous. That forest is unforgiving.

3e REI at the time were sending out platoon-size patrols to the Brazilian border for 60 days at a time; the Regt was losing on average one man every month just by drowning.

Coming from a guy whose Army.ca name is 'jungle', I'll believe you. ;D
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Danjanou

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #108 on: July 20, 2012, 11:51:58 »

I'm with Colin, by no means an SME like Jungle is,  I have spent a fair bit of time in rain forests and jungles in Thailand, the Philippines and Central and South America. The stuff in southern Panama and Colombia near the Panama border ( Darien Gap) was just brutal. I can't see Guyana being much different.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #109 on: July 20, 2012, 11:55:55 »
This is a pretty good program. Those guys don't seem to have too much fun though....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQJyBqT2qPY
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Jungle

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #110 on: July 21, 2012, 08:23:49 »
Guys, I certainly do not claim to be an expert on the jungle; I have done the trg and served in tropical areas, but did not spend enough time there to claim expert status.
Some of the instructors from 3e REI were the real deal, guys who loved the forest and looked the part, with leishmaniasis scars and everything... but when we invited them to come and experience the arctic, they sent an Alpine Infantry unit instead...  >:D
"I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind."
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Offline Jungle

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #111 on: August 01, 2012, 10:55:11 »
Here's an interesting blog from an Irish kid who went for the Légion:

http://bankstobattlefields.blogspot.ie/
"I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind."
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #112 on: August 01, 2012, 11:35:15 »
Here's an interesting blog from an Irish kid who went for the Légion:

http://bankstobattlefields.blogspot.ie/

Nice to see that the glamour endures!  :sarcasm:
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #113 on: September 12, 2015, 21:51:36 »
Vanity Fair explores the mystique of the French Foreign Legion.

http://www.vanityfair.com/unchanged/2012/12/french-foreign-legion-expendables

Offline jollyjacktar

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #114 on: September 12, 2015, 23:26:36 »
Excellent read, T6.  Jives with stories friends who spent time with them.
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Offline George Wallace

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #115 on: November 13, 2015, 12:39:26 »
There are still 10 Legionnaires in Strasbourg manning Recruiting on Rue D'Ostende.  It is the only building on the street.   :camo:
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Offline Humphrey Bogart

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #116 on: November 13, 2015, 12:46:14 »
There are still 10 Legionnaires in Strasbourg manning Recruiting on Rue D'Ostende.  It is the only building on the street.   :camo:

They will be very busy over the next few months.  France has brought 13DBLE back from the UAE and is reactivating them as a full strength Regiment.  They are also supposed to add an additional Company to each Legion Regiment. 

The Legion is going to grow by something like 1000 legionnaires so anyone looking to join, now would be a good time to do so.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #117 on: November 13, 2015, 12:48:00 »
There are still 10 Legionnaires in Strasbourg manning Recruiting on Rue D'Ostende.  It is the only building on the street.   :camo:

And I bet you won't see any of them wearing high vis belts or flak jackets :)
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Danjanou

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #118 on: November 13, 2015, 14:52:48 »
There are still 10 Legionnaires in Strasbourg manning Recruiting on Rue D'Ostende.  It is the only building on the street.   :camo:

Hey looks like they finally repainted it since 1980  8)
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Offline Humphrey Bogart

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #119 on: November 13, 2015, 15:12:52 »
And I bet you won't see any of them wearing high vis belts or flak jackets :)



Short Shorts and Prison Tats are a must though  ;D

One thing though, I've never seen a fat Legionnaire.

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: French Foreign Legion
« Reply #120 on: November 12, 2017, 23:20:53 »
Article about an American in the FFL and how its tough for Americans to join the Legion. Learning French is the big hurdle. To join the recruit must learn 400 words. With the poor state of our educational system its hardly a shock.

https://www.stripes.com/news/europe/americans-struggle-to-meet-the-french-foreign-legion-s-high-bar-1.497591

CAMP DE CARPIAGNE, France — For almost 200 years, the French Foreign Legion has prided itself on offering a haven for men yearning for adventure and a new start in life.

It was just what “Edward,” a 24-year-old Californian, was looking for after he was booted out of the U.S. Marine Corps in 2015 for a disciplinary infraction.

“I can’t go into too much detail about what I did, but I was young and very stupid, and that’s why I’m no longer in the Marines,” Edward said.

Edward — who has a new identity given to him by the Legion — is now an anti-tank missile operator in the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment based near Marseille on the Mediterranean coast.