29. Chapter – Specialization

6 mins read

The moment you join a combat unit, you pass trough of some conversations with your hierarchy. The first is always the captain, the unit commander. He’s going to ask you a few questions about how you imagine your career in the French Foreign Legion. Before you enter his office, he studies your files and tries to find out on which post you’d be the better. He tells you in which platoon you’re going to work and afterwards you’ll have a short talk with your new chief. This man is generally a young lieutenant or an older NCO. I always preferred to work with NCOs. All of them started as a Legionnaire, so they can better understand your situation.

These interviews are important because they’ll see in which brunch you are going to work later

They don’t propose anything for first, but want to hear your plans and ideas. For example: you want to be a combat medic. Your chief will check some details in your files and if you are good enough, you’ll be on the volunteers’ list. A company doesn’t always need a new combat medic, so you wont go for the training on next Monday. If an older combat medic leaves the company, you could be the next choice.

In my case, I said that I want to work as a radioman. I’ve already spoken with some other guys before knocking on the captain’s door and I decided to ask to work in this specialty. I heard that radiomen have more chance to go on missions (even if it’s mostly in French Guyana). It wasn’t true, beacuse I didn’t do more deployments as my comrades. This was in my case, but I didn’t have a chance. Maybe if you choose this specialty, you’ll have the possibility to do more missions…

I didn’t find the engineer training interesting either. Unfortunately, I didn’t know too much about the functioning of the French Army, so I didn’t have a real idea about military engineering. A bit later I found out, that probably it’s one of the most interesting and useful stuff you can learn during your career in the French Foreign Legion.

If you want to become a radioman

it’s better if you pass the Morse test. For the first time I failed, but the second time I got 20/20. I found an excellent methode on the internet to learn Morse codes. I got a program from another Legionnaire I met in Castel and drilled a few hours before the second test. Once I had the green light from the Signaller Platoon, the first step was okay for the training.

French Foreign Legion specialty

Signallers or radiomen are called “transmetteur” in French. A few weeks later, I discovered that nobody else was interested in this brunch, but a French guy and me.

I was disappointed, because I didn’t think that I’m going to best him. Unfurtonately for him, he failed the Morse test and I became the one and only candidate for the training.
I got the good news during the BAM. My platoon chief told me that he sent my subscription for the training and now I was one of the 5 legionnaires of 2°REG who could participate in the 4 months long radio training back in Castelnaudary. I was happy, because I reached my goal, but I had no idea what was waiting for me in “Castel-Bel-Abbes”*. Right after the mountain training I got a 3 weeks long holiday.

When you join the French Foreign Legion

you have 20 days of holiday in your first year.** You won’t systematically get all of them, but the chiefs try to give as much ass possible to young Legionnaires.
The problem is that you never actually know when you’ll be free. Especially at the beginning. It makes you lose money, because generally the plane ticket is more expensive if you buy it the last minute. I could accept this fact more easily, because I could fly back home basically from each bigger city in France. Sometimes I even went back home for a long weekend. Naturally, 8/10 I didn’t have the official autorization…

*Sidi-Bel-Abbes used to associate with the French Foreign Legion, being the location of its basic training camp and the HQ of the 1st Foreign Regiment. That’s why you can hear some older legionnaires call Castelnaudary as Castel-Bel-Abbes. 
** From the second year you’ll have 45 days, however it’s rare that you can take all of them

20 Comments

  1. Hi thanks for your blog, it’s very nice and useful. I would like to ask you a question that perhaps is difficult to answer, could you say according to your experience which is the best assignment in the legion? what will a legionnaire take on overseas missions and trainings? Thanks for all

    • Hey,

      When you say assignment, you mean specialty or a specific task during an operation?

    • Hi I mean the specialty that is given to him. as the transmitter for you. which assignment is the most interesting to you? in history you said you didn’t know anything about the job of military engineering, what did you find out later? what do they do beautiful? thanks

    • My point of view is that the best specialty is combat medic especially if you like it. You have lot more possibilities in that branch during and even after your contract.

  2. Hey,

    How easy is it to switch between regiments? Is it possible?
    Is it worth switching say after 2 years in a regiment? Or just stay in your original regiment?

    • Switching regiment during the first contract isn’t very easy, except for 3rei. That’s the only regiment where you can “easily” go to, but switching between 2reg and 2rei during the first contract is more complicated.

  3. What are the top 5 regiments, or most popular? Do you get to do extra stuff?

    Also, how would you go home during your first year, if they took your passport during the recruitment?

    • You can get back your passport once you gave your birth certificate. You can accelerate this process by bringing a French version with you when you enlist.

    • Hey,
      Officially you can ask for citizenship after 3 years of service, but you need to have 18 months left from your contract. The problem is that I’ve never seen anyone who got a French passport within 5 years and left right after. The procedure isn’t very difficult, but takes a lot of time and paperwork. I gave my demand as soon as I could and got the passport when I had a bit more than 5 years of service.

  4. Agreed. But, is there the chance that join the groupe de intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale as foreigner or no? The max age limit is 34 years, and need 4 years service in the gendarmerie, the Legion Étrangére looks very good chance to do this, because gives years in the military, and i can learn this job, but i have fear from the language (i now learn two language, so i can’t learn the French good), and the years passing by before i can join the selection of GIGN. Looks impossible dream?

    • It’s not impossible, but you have to plan everything in advance. For example, if you are 20, you quit the FFL at 28 as a French, join directly the GN, have great results then yes. You can ask for the GIGN selection and TRY to join that unit, but that’s a lot of work. You have to speak/write correctly in French and know the country’s history and culture. You aren’t the first dreaming to join the GIGN, but I’ve never heard anyone who really did until now.

    • I crossed them once in Guyana, but they are playing in a different league. Their level is uncomparable with the legion’s.

  5. Would I have a good chance of being selected for combat medic if I am already a civilian paramedic with a good resume, 10 years experience in urban US cities, and a university degree in emergency medicine?
    If so, where can I find info on their specific training?

    • Yes, I thank that would increase your chances, but you also have to speak French at a better level than the others in your platoon. I don’t know if there’s any docs on the internet about this training

  6. Hi, good morning
    It’s me khag bahadur jhedi from nepal. Sir my question is now iam completely 30 years done just start 31 years. so my plan to go France 2021 November so there is any issue about the age in ffl?

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