Military courses

Joseph Cosgrove

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#21
Alright, fut fut it is.
I’m going to get accused of blowing my own trumpet at the end of this, but it’s got to be told the way it was.
A little background in order to understand how I fitted in to what they were looking for, at the time. I’ve mentioned before that I joined the ACC (catering corps) at 16. Chas has told me that it doesn’t exist anymore and has been replaced by civvies. At the time I was really gung ho and would train most nights, either running or working out in the mulitgym.
At the end of my 2 years apprentice, one week catering and one week military, we were to be affected to our new regiments. Against the rules, I went to the regiment’s offices to speak to the affectation officer. He was surprised to see me but let it pass and I asked him if there were any places for the Paras or commandos.
At the time there wasn’t but he gave me a letter to copy asking to be affected to one of them on the next available affectation, on condition of completing its course. I think that he was impressed with my brashness and said that there was another posting with the AMF which meant going overseas quite a lot.
Allied commander of Europe’s Mobile Force, consisted of a quick reaction Force of several countries to slow down the enemy’s advance whilst NATO got its act together. They were leaving in a month’s time for Norway on a four month tour. ‘I’ll take it.’

So I get to 10 RAOC in Devices, Wiltshire. I must be precise here as there are those who know or can check up, Prince Maurice Barracks. I’m going to speed things up here. The next month I did my 4 month tour. Then we went to Turkey for three weeks and then Belgium for two. The next year back to Norway. Whilst in Norway my All Arms Commando Course came through, 2 months after we returned.
So I’m training like mad for this. My brother and I went to the USA for a holiday and drove up to Canada. We had a car accident and my legs were cut pretty bad but nothing major except for the stitches. We were camping out but for the following ten days I can’t do any running. BUT, there was a traction bar, a set of dip bars and a rope with a car tyre. I’m sure everyone thought I was just trying to show off.

I do the AACC and pass it, much to the surprise of the cadre as they said that they didn’t get many cooks on the course. I didn’t want to correct them saying that I was a chef. Back to 10 RAOC which had moved to Salisbury plains, to await my affectation. A couple of months later it came through and sure enough, early January off to Norway to do arctic warfare training, again.

I’m proofing this on word in case it gets wiped off on the Cervens and have completed nearly a page and haven’t even got to Aubagne yet.

So instead of rejoining my regiment in Condor barracks Arbroath in Scotland, I’m knocking on the big brown gates of FdeN (perhaps not as dramatic as that). Fast track to Aubagne. In those days no-one really had a clue what the shoulder patch color scheme stood for. Then one day a group of us were called out and we exchanged our blue patches for red. The next day we were told to get into gym kit. Everything was army issue including the gym shoes. None of your go faster Nyke or your light as air reeboks, no sir, white plimsols.

For the older hands, they will remember the gymnasium where the vehicle parking lot is today. Nowadays it is short sprints and pull ups. Back then it was the rope, sit ups, squats, squat thrust, pressups and tractions. The next day was the Cooper, 12 minutes around the track.
For those who are thinking, I wish he’d get to the point, that was the start of getting myself noticed. You’ve got to remember that I’ve done my commando training, Royal marine style and just come back from Arctic Warfare training commando style and I’m full of beans.
We get sent to Castel and a week after getting settled in, we have the tests again. By then I have gotten over my bacon and eggs, toast and sausages and am used to a bowl of horrible coffee, bread, butter and jam (although still full of beans). Enough said.

Shooting. Let’s be honest, if you can shoot one rifle after a lesson you can shoot any rifle. There is a major difference between the good old SLR and the FAMAS When you shoot the SLR they take what is called the LH, i.e. the height and length. So the first time I shot the FAMAS over 200 meters I was disappointed that my 20 rounds were rather spread out. The cadre couldn’t get enough of it, first time shooting and I get 20 out of 20.
I must point out at this stage that I said that I was previously a landscape gardener before joining. So getting towards the end of basic, we have the raid march and then tests. The 8 KM test, running around the canal with your backpack, rifle and helmet as fast as you can. Shooting, the gym tests and then NBC, trans, weapons etc. Plus the appreciation of the cadre.

I can’t remember if I came 2nd or 3rd overall, but I do remember who came 1st, a French ex-para who was an NCO instructor. The guy was switched on as sh*t. Really modest about it too. He went to the REP and shot up through the ranks. He was asked if he wanted to stay on as a fut fut, but declined. Myself and Malcolm McMillan who either came 2nd or 3rd were talked into staying.
Now a word about Mac. He was ex-TA para and a really switched on guy. After fut fut he went on to the REP 2 CIE and then CRAP. It’s best to give these details because if he should pop his nose on the forum, he can back it up.

So when you have been picked to go on the fut fut course, you go across to the CIC (remember this is quartier Lapasset) Compagnie d’instruction des cadres. You are not going to be thrown in at the deep end and go straight away on your corporal’s course. First you sepnd 2 months on your PPCME Preperation Peleton Certificate Militaire Elemantaire.
This consists of sport, weapons training, drill and FRENCH. Stacks of French. Not too interesting for the Francophones, but a must for us mortals. However, we have just finished basic training are considered the Crème de la Crème (at least by ourselves). So the whole of the PPCME is to go on a military sports freefall course in Agen. We stayed for a week at the ecole des sous-officiers de transmissions. But before that we had to have another medical. This idiot of an aspirant (officer but lower than a 2nd LT) doctor, equivalent to an intern I guess, put me down as being inapt para. I just watched from the ground with another good for nothing inapt. Being inapt jumping and landing like a pansy, also made me inapt REP.

Mac and I met two CCHs whilst we were at the barracks. We were in the foyer one night with the Sch who was in charge of us was sh*tfaced. He started throwing bottles at the regulars and then smashing them on the floor. Someone called the officier de permenance who took one look at the chef and said the foyer was closed. I swear he could have beat Usain Bolt to the door. These two ladies stayed behind to clean up the mess. Enough on that.
Next we went to Mont Louis attached to the CM2 who had to get some qualification. Mont Louis is Europe’s biggest commando training center. We spent 10 days there, going over the obstacles and going on exercises.

Then we started the corporal’s course. There was a load of Anglophones on the course. Quite a few from the REP, because they had just come back from Tchad and had to get new corporals. I fitted in with them and didn’t get/take any crap.
Then it was back to basic training with the EVs. I joined a section which was already half way through their training. At first I was a bit lost (no point in lying) but then when the next section came along it was “fingers in ze noseâ€￾ as the French say. Until a couple of weeks before the end of their basic. The section had to peel potatoes behind the kitchen. One of the legionnaires said he had a convocation for the hospital the next day and he had to iron his walking out uniform. After half an hour I went to check up on him. He walks in the room with a bag of goodies from the foyer…
30 days jail, for me. I’m out sweeping the road and the section comes in from town on their last night before being sent to their regiment. The little runt had the nerve to come up to me to shake my hand. Everyone was watching to see my reaction – including the garde punis. I thought it best to shake his hand or spend another thirty days in jail.
And I’ve still got another section to do before going to my regiment.


So the REP is out. As far as I was concerned the 3 REI was as good or the next best thing. When I got to 3 REI, I came across a few people whom I did their basic and word soon got around (good or bad I don’t know). But no problems.
After my 2 years, I was asked which regiment I wanted to go to. I said REP. the doctor did all his checks and said OK, REP. In those days you went to the dreaded CAPLE and only knew where you were going to after your leave was over. Another medical and another OK for the REP.
When I got to the REP, I come across a few of the CPLs I did my course with and a couple who were real high flyers and already SGTs. Mac was just going on his. I have to say that even after he got his gold stripes his attitude never changed.
Now the question is: after being a fut fut and then going to another regiment before turning up at the REP, remembering in those days you were expected to ‘start’ your career in the REP, did I fit in? Well I managed to stick it out as a garde punis and then in a combat company for 6/7 years before having an accident and having to go overseas, because I was inapt Para !
 

voltigeur

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#26
Hey Joseph, I think you mentioned you were a fut-fut? It'd be interesting to hear about the Caporal's course, especially from someone who did it straight out of basic. Any insights into life as a fut-fut (and how to be one without ending up universally hated) would be pretty good read too, I imagine.
I really don't get why there is such an aversion about fut-futs, usually these guys were offered the course because they had/have something to offer, like previous military experience along with leadership skills, or a higher level of education that could qualify them at a later date to become an officer.
My guess is that the nay-sayers are either jealous or have a low self esteem.
I don't remember if our fut futs were disliked as it seems to be in today's Legion.
 

Joseph Cosgrove

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#27
Cos,

Your posts here are the best I've seen in a long time. During what years were you in Castel? I'd like to know if our paths ever crossed.
For example, did you ever know of a Cpt. Peron, S/C Papka or Sgt. Arquero?
By the way, "www.legionnaire-joe-of-the-french-foreign-legion.com’s server DNS address could not be found."
.
Hi jwaltos, I was in Castel from May '84 to Jan '86, This included basic. Cpt Peron was the CDU. A guy on here "greyman" set the site up for me but when he got turned away from Aubagne, he joined the kiwi army and did not keep it up.
 
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#28
In university I took electrical engineering, computer science and math.

Did you mention this at selection? If I’m reading your post correctly, you did and it may have helped you get the corporal's course.

From the accounts of guys who have tried for selection more recently, it sounds like having qualifications like this nowadays would get you sent home for having “too many optionsâ€￾.
 

dusaboss

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#29
I really don't get why there is such an aversion about fut-futs, usually these guys were offered the course because they had/have something to offer, like previous military experience along with leadership skills, or a higher level of education that could qualify them at a later date to become an officer.
My guess is that the nay-sayers are either jealous or have a low self esteem.
I don't remember if our fut futs were disliked as it seems to be in today's Legion.
Of course, I prefer to judge every man individually, but what I think that happens with that story of legionnaires don't liking fut-futs is all had to be something with lack of experience.

That notion of lack of experience also influence fut-futs them self so they become insecure with their abilities and then try to compensate that with being strict and ruthless towards legionars.

I don't know if that is true in legion, but I seen that story again and again wherever is hierarchical structure.

Of course ain't all fut futs like that. I'm sure our Joe was good one. But he also had previous army experience so he had some confidence in its own abilities and he also isn't that kind of man who gone be dickhead towards lower ranks.
 

Cernunnos

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#30
Isn't there a similar animosity in the British Army towards, some, Second Lieutenants due to them joining at a higher rank than the enlisted rather than earning it through service?
 
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#32
Isn't there a similar animosity in the British Army towards, some, Second Lieutenants due to them joining at a higher rank than the enlisted rather than earning it through service?
In my day there was a certain animosity towards Army 2Lts' especially if they were arrogant and failed to listen to their Pln Sgts. Basically they are on a learning curve and should heed the advice of SNCOs'.

In the RMs' the men and officers undertake their training at the same establishment. Young Officers are seen 'warts and all'. The men can see their officers suffering the same indignities as them. I after Mons OCS run by the Foot Guards then survived the same treatment, since the Corps did that to all short servicemen. Location ITCRM Now Short Service and Long service would be officers are all trained together at CTCRM.

The Commando Course tests taken by young officers have to be completed in faster times than the men. People can Google this.

I was lucky to have spent two and one half years in the ranks prior to officer selection. A sensible officer is modest, listens to his SNCOs' and learns his trade accordingly.

In my day a RM Lt equated to an Army Captain and the remuneration was equal. It was in the 1990's that ranks were restructured and evened out with the Army. When I served it often took 8 years to make Captain. To become a Sgt some 10/12. Promotion was slow and there were just under 14.000 RMs'. Now 8000.
 
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Joseph Cosgrove

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#33
Here's another of my ramblings about courses,
The initiation to the Jungle in 3 REI:

Stage Brousse 3 REI

Or Bush course 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment.

When you first arrive in French Guiana, your first obstacle is to get acclimatized to the hot sticky climate. That is of course if it isn’t p*ssing down, if it is add ‘wet’ to the first obstacle list. You are after all in South America, with Surinam to the east and Brazil to the south and the North Atlantic ocean covering the rest of it.

So that’s the borders. Inside there is the Ariane Space launching center… and jungle. Now the legion is known for throwing people in the deep end but not so with 3 REI. You will be given a lecture on the Regiment’s history and a condensed lecture on the origins of the lanyards. You are then told to learn the chant of the 3 REI, Anne-Marie du 3:


Maybe that’s where it gets its Nick Name 3ème Reich. Next you are taken to the stores and issued with your jungle kit, which consists of :

Hammock, nylon cord, plastic sheet, coupe coupe (or machete in the form of a sabre) light weight sleeping bag, water proofs…

And a list of things to buy in the foyer. Not to mention the things that the Mafia Anglaise will also tell you to take with you, starting with buying a proper machete and a sharpening steel. The next day you are lined up on the parade square and given a welcome talking to by someone high up. Then you are loaded onto the trucks and go to visit the ‘farm’. It’s actually a zoo and run by an ex legion sergeant. Or at least was back then.

There is a huge amount of snakes, spiders, scorpions, monkeys and big cats that have all been caught in Guyane. There are fer de lance snakes, one of the most deadliest snakes in the world and false fer de lance snakes, which are meant to frighten off predators by looking like the real McCoy. One bright spark asked the ex SGT how to tell the difference? I thought, what a stupid question !

Once we’ve been shown what we can possibly come across over the next two years, he took us outside. He’s got a live chicken under his arm. At the end of the yard is a large swamp like lake. About 3 meters from the edge he gets the chicken by the feet and starts banging it on the ground. Next thing a huge caiman slowly crawls out of the water. Then like in some Disney cartoon a few eyes pop up on the surface. The Sgt throws the chicken at the first caiman who snatches it out of the air. I’m watching the other caimans coming out of the water and look around at the Zoo keeper wondering what we should do now. He’s running like f*ck with half the detachment on his heels.

We get back in the truck and then get dropped off to start a three hour march. We have this huge rope with us which has to be passed around because it’s so heavy. The rope will be for the river crossing on the 3rd day, which we don't know about yet. After a little over three hours, the instructor a Sergeant Chef says we still have another hours marching to go as we are not going fast enough.

The whole of the detachment has to do stage brousse and not everyone is fit, straight out of Castel. When we get to the bivouac zone we are shown how to put our hammocks and how to make sure that no ants or scorpions can use the rope to invade our hammocks ( p*ss around the base of the tree and shaving foam on the rope). To cut sticks or small trees to put our rangers upside down so nothing can crawl inside them...

Next how to make a fire and a lecture on hygiene in the jungle. Then it’s time for bed. Believe me there are few things worse than being woken up at 1 in the morning, sticky and hot and tired to try and keep awake for another hour before you wake the next man.

The next day the instructor and his assistant could not decide which route we were to take. The idea is to get us used to cutting our way through the jungle. Then the heavens opened up and the instructor actually looked pleased. He gave the chef de détchement a bearing to follow for 7 Ks. That would be it for the day.

Now I was nobody’s fool and guessed that 7 Ks through dense jungle wasn’t going to be the same as 7 Ks long the canal at Castelnaudary. So how would we know when we had done 7 Ks when maps are virtually useless and Ariane is still in its early stages (no GPS)? By using a Topofil. This is 5 Km bobbins of thin but strong thread carried in a plastic box. It clicks at every 100 metres. As long as the person in front with the long stick keeps going straight, the topofil will tell you how far you have gone. And when you have gone for 7 Kms through the Amazon jungle in the rain, you will know that you’ve done you 7 clicks.

The lesson at the end of the day, which is around 4pm, was how to build a lean to with branches and vines and how to make a stretcher, it was the latter that had me worried. Then before we could call it a night everyone had to make his own fire.

The next day the instructor gave out the direction and we set out. We had not gone half an hour when the instructor stops us and asked if anyone had seen his corporal assistant. I had and saw him walking off the other way as we left the bivouac area. I knew what was coming…

So we go back and low and behold the Cpl is injured and of course the stretcher is longer there. Our chef de detachment has the original idea to use the rope to make the bedding of the stretcher. Quick and easy, he even looks across at the instructor who looks impressed at his initiative.

It’s alright me saying now, I knew we had brought the rope along for another reason other than for making a stretcher out of it. I mean it’s screaming -logic. After an hour’s chopping and hacking we come to a river. Carrying the injured corporal and the heat that replaced the rain was taking its toll.

The instructor says that someone has to swim across the river with a length of nylon cord and pull the rope across. The chef de D picks me. All that I had going through my mind at that moment was the chicken and the ex-Sgt running like f*ck in the opposite direction.

I strip off and I am sure that I broke one of Johnny Weissmuller’s records. The only thing is I’m now on the other side in my undies and the others are building another stretcher the way the instructor had shown us. By the end of the day we had everyone across and were getting lectures on jungle orienteering and first aid.

The next day was just marching until mid-afternoon. When we got back to camp, everyone was worn out, but the legion being the legion, it was kit first and then a meal and then the foyer.
 
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#36
I did. In 1986, à CTE APC / certificat technique élémentaire armement petit calibre / small weapons repair ( 5.56 to canon 20 mm )
Was at Châteauroux and lasted 2 months
Dudes from REI REC RIMA RPIMA and i was the only non francophone amongst the stage
At that time, if you failed, you got jailed
I passed, global note 13 /20 and a mention,"bien "
Returned to regiment, feeling chuffed
Passed rapport. ..chef de section, he is happy
Passed captain, he is happy
Passed Colonel, he is not happy
BSLE (gestapo ) refused my, " habilitation "/autherisation, to work in that domaine
No reason was giving, not even to the colonel
I find out, that am not allowed transmission /courses
Colonel, saying, in a pissed off tone. .."if i knew this, i would of sent some one else "
BSLE, probally refused me autherisation, because of my Marxiste, Leninist, Stalinist, Trotskiste, Maoïste, Castro, Che Guvarrian attitude !
 

SnafuSmite

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#39
I did. In 1986, à CTE APC / certificat technique élémentaire armement petit calibre / small weapons repair ( 5.56 to canon 20 mm )
Was at Châteauroux and lasted 2 months
Dudes from REI REC RIMA RPIMA and i was the only non francophone amongst the stage
At that time, if you failed, you got jailed
I passed, global note 13 /20 and a mention,"bien "
Returned to regiment, feeling chuffed
Passed rapport. ..chef de section, he is happy
Passed captain, he is happy
Passed Colonel, he is not happy
BSLE (gestapo ) refused my, " habilitation "/autherisation, to work in that domaine
No reason was giving, not even to the colonel
I find out, that am not allowed transmission /courses
Colonel, saying, in a pissed off tone. .."if i knew this, i would of sent some one else "
BSLE, probally refused me autherisation, because of my Marxiste, Leninist, Stalinist, Trotskiste, Maoïste, Castro, Che Guvarrian attitude !
LP Cpl could you tell us more about the small weapons repair stage? Its the direction I'd like to go with if the Legion decides its alright.
 
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#40
@ Snafu : as I knew it then
1 level : C.T.E. open to low ranks
2. level : C.T.1 ((having a CT 1 will help a lot in re engagement and will pay a bit more, when you get your pension (how much, i have no idea and if you get that far )
Both these levels can and are used at regiment /company /section
Open to lower ranks and nco
3. level : C.T. 2.
Usually for higher nco and mostly at regimental level
4. level : EMAT ( Establishment matériel de l armée de terre. ..techniciens, mainly high qualified civilians under army command
Only them can declare a weapon beyond repair. ..same for véhicules, radios etc .
Will post more later but now am needing a kit kat
 

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