|A retreat for the well-being of my mind from the insanity of the life that is mine.|
Thursday, May 05, 2005 0 comments
Currently listening to: Office banter
Thought Of The Day: "It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do." - Jerome K. Jerome
So, yeah, nothing to report once again - just the semi-mindless drudgery of uni and work which i will save you from hearing (not that there's much to talk about at any rate). Of course, ever since i stumbled across and did some research for them on the very interesting situation (and growth) of Somalia's telecoms ('free market' is a serious understatement here!) there has been some talk about sending a team of people down there to scope things out for their product... i'm not sure if they're joking but i wouldn't mind going! :)
So yeah, anyhow time for some random links to while the time away...
Oh, wait, i actually stumbled across this pic of my brother doing some 'hands-on tonsil surgery' in Friendster...
Woo! Go Paul!!! ;)
Which brings me to the site he sent me on haloscan the other day (and our site of the day)...
A vos ordres mon Capitaine!
Yup, thats right - the French Foreign Legion!
Or, rather, 'Alternate Lifestyle Plan E' to me, Paul, and Al should we all collectively fail miserably pursuing our goals in 'life' or 'happiness' (I figure 50/50). As such, i figured that i'd take an in-depth look to see if i've got what it takes to make it in the Legion should push come to shove...
Its a great site that is maintained by a British ex-Legionnaire that is a lot more informative than the official one (or the Army one), and lists everything that you may need to know from training (as well as how to physically prepare yourself for service), what the contract is like, the recruiting process, and a detailed look at life in the legion in general while dismissing/clarifying any of the many myths you might have heard.
The website is pretty thorough and everything is well laid out (he even has a copy of the contract you sign). Another nice source is Robert Young Pelton's "Dangerous Places" site (an awesome read in its own right) which is a must-read for anyone who is looking for information on how to survive in numerous specific hot spots from someone who has actually been there (like Chechnya or Somalia... heh) as well as other 'interesting' general information... such as the Legion. For those of you who don't know what the Legion is (how could you not know???) here's his take on it without the official bullshit:
The Legion is, more or less, France's colonial houseworker, oppressing minorities, liberating missionaries and generally keeping the natives from getting too restless. The Legion knows it does France's dirty work and recruits accordingly. They will take all comers, preferably foreigners and men who will not draw too big a funeral procession. The Legion is tough and disposable.
Yup, thats about right - key word being 'disposable' mind you. An awesome idea for politically aggressive governments today since they wouldn't have to worry about any political fallout from war casualties (*koff* U.S. in Iraq *koff*) because no one would really give a damn - they ain't 'French' nationals, and they are in all probability criminals in their own right. Awesome!
Overall there are a few interesting points from all the above sites that i'd like to highlight:
- They are NOT going to pay for your trip to France for recruitment. You have to make your way there yourself, and there is no recompensation for the cost of your trip.
- The days of joining the Legion with 'no questions asked' are not applied any more. All applicants are run through Interpol so if you've murdered someone or had any serious offences DON'T go to the Legion recruitment station. If you're escaping from tax evasion charges or alimony payments, the Legion couldn't care less... (so in some sense they still do take criminals)
- French nationals are not allowed to join (they go to the French Army). However, they still make up around 30% of the legion currently by applying for citizenship elsewhere and then joining and passing themselves of as francophiles (eg. becoming Canadian and then passing themselves of as Quecquois is a popular option).
- Women and married men are not allowed to join. In addition you have to be between 18-40.
- The contract is 5 years, after which you are eligible for French citizenship (most Eastern European recruits sign up for this reason alone - they make up close to 40% of the Legion - and the pay is pretty awesome by Russian or Chinese standards coming in at a basic pay of 975 euros/mth with free medical, etc. Downside is that you have to use a Legion bank account so there is no interest earned). In addition, your criminal record (if you had any minor crimes) are wiped and you are allowed to change your name (prior to joining).
- Speaking French is NOT a requirement.
- The Legion is about 10,000 men strong. Competition is (strangely) fierce to get in since they recruit, on average, 1000 men each year out of approximately 8000 candidates so they can afford to be picky.
- Desertion is the Legion's most serious problem and hundreds do it every year (which is why they initially recruit more than they need, and are selective about who gets in). Just don't get caught, or you'll end up in a French jail for years or worse (aka corporal punishment).
In terms of physical requirements, it is recommended that you be able at least (prior to joining) be able to perform:
- 30 pushups. (hah! Easy!)
- 50 situps. (Also easy)
- Climb a 20 foot rope without using your feet. (Eh? Hrmm... i think i can - never tried though)
- Run 8 kilometres with a 12 kilogram rucksack in less than one hour. (*gulp* Oh shit...)
- 8 chinups with your palms away from you as you grip the bar. (i think i can, never tried with the palms away)
Additional physical requirements also include (once you're in):
- Running as far as you can in 12 minutes. Anything over 2800 metres is a good run.
- A 16-obstacle course that averages from 3 to 5 minutes to complete.
- Climbing a rope without using your feet. You will have to ascend and descend as many times as you can without stopping.
- A 100 metre dash carring a sandbag that weighs approximately 40 kilograms. Strive to complete it in less than 20 seconds.
Mind you, the Legion looooves marching. They march at 88 paces per minute which is kinda slow but bear in mind that your graduation from training involves a 160km march (*bleargh!!!*) in order for you to finally get your white kepi. That said, once you get in an actual combat regiment the physical requirements get harder, not easier, and be ready for more regular 160km hikes... o_O
Right! Gotta leave the office now (gotta go gym and salsa dancing) so i'll just leave you all with some random pics of the Legion (click [on some] to enlarge) in action. In addition, you couldn't do much worse than read Martin Gilmour's story about his life in the Legion when he joined in 1982 including why he joined and how he turned out...
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