45. chapter – “Operating” in Central Africa

5 mins read

For the first time since the beginning of the operation, we had a daily routine. Once everyone has successfully shaved, we put our stuff in one of the classroom of the old school building.

As we went on a patrol next morning, we worked during the whole afternoon to rearrange the materiel and equipment in the truck. We also built a shower from bastion walls next to a tree where we could hang up the solar shower. This allowed everyone to take a 20 seconds long bath every night until we stayed in Bambari.

As I was still (or finally) a 1st class Legionnaire and we were only five in the platoon, it was obvious that we took guard between midnight and 6am. The corporals took all the easy turns from 9pm to midnight and we got the rest until next morning. This stayed exactly like this until the end of the mission.

Next week’s program was always the same

Patrol in the village until lunch and reinforcing the protection and guard of the temporary base during the afternoon.

The patrols in Bambari were interesting for the first time. I couldn’t get bored of the landscape and it was exciting to see a completely different lifestyle I knew back home.

A week later

we didn’t need a map anymore to patrol in the city we saw two men on a scooter with 4 AK-47. We have already met members of the Central African army, but they mostly guarded the gates outside of Bambari. I prepared my FAMAS while driving and asked the lieutenant if we are supposed to engage them or what should we do.

During a patrol

When I didn’t get any concrete answer, I turned to him and I saw my own perplexity on his face. He warned the rest of the platoon on the radio and we let the two guys riding away on their scooter. The ROE (rules of engagement) were extremely complicated in the country. As our main mission was to disarm both militias in Central Africa, we didn’t have a traditional enemy. This situation has repeated several times until the end of the mandate. We knew that we aren’t supposed to shoot at first, but I found frustrating to just stay there and not do anything.

A fascinating mission

Approaching to middle of April, we got a new mission from the commandment. In order to supply the battlegroup, a Hercule was going to land on an airfield near to Bambari.

The f*** plane landing on the f*** airfield

The only problem was that the aircraft was much bigger than the airfield. So as we were the only engineer team in the zone, we had to make place for the plane. As a group of my platoon stayed in the capital, we were only around 18 to fulfill this mission. We got a week to cut trees on an area, which 20 meters wide and 2km long.

Before joining the French Foreign Legion, I had no clue what’s the difference between infantry, cavalry and engineer units. However, during Operation Sangaris I learned on my own skin what it means to make part of an engineer unit. Until the guys from the infantry units were just patrolling and guarding the temporary bases, we were cutting trees and removing stones from an airfield in the middle of nothing. The funniest fact in this situation was that we had to work in our full combat gear. Aat the end of the day the two groups were KO.

I have to admit that those days didn’t make the night guard any easier.

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2 Comments

  1. Hello Aron!

    A quick question – I rarely see soldiers in the FFL wearing earpro(hearing protection).
    Is that because it is not allowed?

    And during training and shooting in the beginning(the farm etc.) are you allowed to use hearing protection? Or is the attitude in the FFL that you are a “wimp” if you want to take care of your hearing?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hey,

      No, it’s actually mandatory to use ear protection. It’s hard to spot because it has the color of the skin and are very little.

      Thanks for your comment!

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