If you found my blog, probably you’ve already heard some interesting, occasionally amazing myths of the French Foreign Legion. Before I joined, it was difficult to find people, who could have told me how life is really going in the FFL. So, I just started to ask around or swing conversations in this direction. I wanted to gather as much information as possible to build my project. I still remember the wildest anecdotes and myths I heard about the French Foreign Legion. So, I decided to share them with you for the following reasons:
- It makes me laugh
- It could help you to make the difference between lie and truth
- Give you a better view on the French Foreign Legion
So let’s see the most interesting myths and legends I heard about the notorious French Foreign Legion
Legionnaires are soulless criminals who only care about money
I wouldn’t say that I’m soulless, but I don’t know how to prove it. I’m surely not a criminal and I don’t only care about money. I think this myth could come from people who mix the FFL with the Blackwater private military company, called Academi nowadays.
The Legion still accepts people, who committed small crimes. However, the background checks are stringent and
the French Foreign Legion don’t take rapists, drug dealers or murderers
So in a nutshell, I can certainly say, that the legion isn’t a bunch of criminals fleeing their homeland.
Legionnaires go to Black Africa to kill people and cut their tongues out to prove the kill to their chiefs
Even nowadays, I still have people in my entourage who think this is how I passed my time in the French Foreign Legion. Perhaps the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard about the FFL.
The French Foreign Legion makes part of the French Army and represents the interests of the French government. Cutting people’s tongues out doesn’t fit in this picture.
Legionnaires once went to Djibouti and they buried themselves into the sand to wait for the enemy
That’s not a mode of action used by the French Foreign Legion, but by the Special Forces. More particularly the 13th Dragon Parachutist Regiment uses this kind of tactic.
From my point of view, the best thing you can do in the FFL is to join the GCP (Group Commando Parachutist) of 2°REP. They are trained for a jump type called HAHO (High Opening High Altitude). This allows a commando group to infiltrate furtively behind enemy lines, but this fact doesn’t transform them into member of the Delta Force. People shouldn’t mix any conventional unit with the Special Forces, because it’s not the same level.
Legionnaires got crazy during their service and can’t retake a civil life
This is a more sensible and serious subject than the other I previously evoked. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. It’s like if you got back in the same situation you went through during an operation. You don’t have to be in a combat situation to get PTSD.
Sometimes it’s enough to see a cadaver
I met Legionnaires who got this disorder and it’s very hard to prove if someone is lying about.
So, to answer this myth. Yes, I can imagine that someone find difficult to retake a civil lifestyle, but this kind of person usually can’t continue as a soldier either. However, these cases are very rare. It happens probably with less than 1% of the serving Legionnaires.
The farm is the hardest military training in the world
That’s completely false. I read this kind of phrases on forums and heard from people pretending to know a lot about the FFL. The farm is difficult, because you don’t know what you are going to do during 4 weeks. You don’t understand the language and you aren’t in your comfort zone. You don’t eat when you want and you do what your instructors tell you to do. That’s all. People doing the farm aren’t soldiers.
They are civilians selected to become soldiers in the future
That’s why you can hear or read myths about this part of the basic trainings, because that’s how they live those moments. I found difficult when I was there, because I didn’t have any life experience. I had everything I needed back home and a few weeks later I was in a foreign country doing things I only saw on YouTube. That’s the difficult part.
I also heard once, that the instructors use real bullets during training to put new Legionnaires in real combat situation. It’s hard to decide which is the stupidest myth. The one with the tongues or this one…
You can’t see your friends and family life is impossible during the first 5 years
You can see your friends during holidays or weekends. However, family life is pretty difficult during the first 5 years. Even if some rules changed in January 2020 in favor of Legionnaires having less than 5 years of service, life didn’t become extremely comfortable. If you regularized your military situation, got your real name back and passed corporal, then you can buy a car after 3 years of service. But, you can’t officially rent or buy an apartment during the first 5 years.
That’s why I chose to do the NCO course as quickly as possible
because you can do whatever you want as a sergeant. Whatever… You still can’t get married during the first 5 years without having an authorizations from the Ministry of Armies (called Ministry of Defense before 2017).
Life takes a 180° turn when you finish your first contract. It becomes more like a civilian job. I wake up at 5.45 AM in the morning, get in my car at 6.45 and go to the regiment. At 7.45 AM I do my sport alone or take a group for running and at the end of the day, at 5.45 PM I go back home.
Thank you very much for reading my article. If you want to know more about the French Foreign Legion, here is where my story begins.