52. Chapter – The first day off

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Since we arrived in Central Africa, the rhythm was quite intense. We were working sometimes around 14 hours a day and most of the times, I was on guard for an hour during the night.

As we arrived to Bouar, the platoon chief decided to give us a day off. Everyone was happy because we were waiting for this day since a while. I woke up around 8am, arranged my stuff and took my time to transform an MRE into something eatable. The four months we passed in CAR taught the whole team how to get the maximum out of those conserves. Everyone knew the composition of each menu and the meals the others didn’t like, so switching stuff became automatic.

Mastering MRE made the difference

The mission in Bouar

Even if in Bouar we had regular working hours, this was the period I enjoyed the least during the mandate. Our job focused mainly on building combat post and reinforcing the protection of the FOB. While we did patrols on a daily basis in other cities at the beginning of the mission, in Bouar we only went out for a couple of times.

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We didn’t do anything special during these operations… However, there were still much more interesting the ones I did in Mali a few years later. The main difference between the two mandates was that in CAR we could go out with 2 or 3 vehicles. In Mali, during the biggest operation I participated in, we had 74 engines in the convoy.

As before joining the Legion, I didn’t have a clear idea about how things are going in the army in general, I always found strange that NCOs and officers didn’t do physical jobs with soldiers. Naturally, I understood the fact that their main work is to plan and organize the correct course of tasks, but still. In CAR, many times we found ourselves in a situation where we would have needed one more hand to do a job. But NCOs (I don’t even talk about officers) didn’t move a finger to help us out even if they didn’t have anything else to do.

The shittiest job ever

However, in Bouar it was a bit different

I’m quite sure that it was only because the platoon chief saw a guy from our platoon imitating them with a pair of white gloves on his hands. He didn’t hide for a second his intention to save some of these moments for the Christmas sketch at the end of the year. So probably the lieutenant (who was just finishing his first year in the Legion) briefed the NCOs in the platoon to change a little bit on their attitude.

Eating local stuff

So, that’s how I found myself building a combat post on a container with the platoon chief and the platoon sergeant.

Beloko

At the beginning of the briefing we assisted to before going up to Beloko for 4 days, I thought that we were finally going to do something interesting.

The tactical situation in Beloko was quite tense. A unit from 2REP was stationing at the border of CAR-Cameroon and we had to go up to reinforce them. The problem is that I probably misunderstood the half of the things the platoon chief said because we ended up reinforcing their FOB, especially their shower. We patrolled once during that short trip and the only interesting thing was when a militia member from the ex-seleka chop a man’s hand off on the marketplace while he was buying something. The head elements of the patrol tried to catch the committer without success.

Back to Bangui

The time we passed in Bouar allowed the team to slow down a bit after more than 70 workdays in a row. I could do some sport again, watched a couple of films before going to sleep and sometimes I just chilled while sitting in a camp chair in the warm of the Central African night.

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