Part I My Experience at Aubagne

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#1
My Experience at Aubagne

First let me say that no two experiences are identical during preselection. The procedures change daily and nothing that you read can actually prepare you for the experience. Also, preparation is not indicative of your success. I will elaborate on my experience and hopefully assist future EV’s in one form or another.

BIO: 35 year old white male (turned 36 while blue, no cake) with no prior military service (Gov’t Contractor) and in peak physical conditioning.
Pre-Training: Followed Stoengs 3 month training plan, learned Legion Chants, history and memorized the Code of Honor prior walking through the gates.

The walk through the Gates:
On August 28th 2015 I took a taxi from Marseille to the front gates of Aubange. I exited the vehicle, grabbed my bags and was waved in by a tall dark skinned Corporal who was guarding the gate. He looked at my passport and smiled while saying “American ha ha, walk in thereâ€￾ as he pointed towards an open door. I approached the door and stuck my head in as I knocked. The Corporal Chef who was smoking on a cigarette glanced at my passport then waved around the corner and said in broken Anglais “sit next to the other.â€￾ I walked around the corner and saw a few guys sitting on this little red bench. I sat down next to them. It soon became clear that waiting would be a major part of preselection. As I sat on the bench clearly overdressed in black jeans a black shirt and combat boots, the sun slowly crept a little higher by the hour. After about two hours a Corporal Chef exited the door and called me into a little room. My bags were inventoried, my money was counted and my undesirable possessions were tossed out. Lucky for me I came relatively light and the only thing tossed was a first aid kit. Contrary to what I thought prior to entering. Cell phones are inventoried and placed with your other belongings. I happened to send mine back to the US with my Laptop and Driver’s License that very morning (I regretted this later). Once I signed off on the inventory I sat back outside on the little red bench where I continued to wait with about half a dozen other gentlemen most of whom were speaking Spanish. We waited silently for several hours cooking in the sun as I started to question my clothing choice with sweat pooling in every crevasse possible. Finally the Corporal Chef walked out with his bag and or files and told us to debout.
My heart started to race as we walked deeper up a hill and into the installation. I was thinking to myself “yes, all of the preparation and planning has paid off, I am finally here.â€￾ I was extremely happy and confident with my decision. This was day one or so I thought. As we approached a building we were told to wait by the entrance. I was very happy not to be sitting on that little red bench and the adrenaline was pumping. I hardly noticed standing in the sun for 30 min in silence just awaiting our next orders. We were then waved into the building and told “silenceâ€￾ or Silance as it was pronounced by the Corporal Chef. We were led into a room some of us more fortunate than the others by receiving reasonably comfortable chairs while others were handed little metal stools. One by one we were briefly interviewed and asked family questions. Each person sat for about 30 minutes with the Corporal Chef as we were given our new identities. Yet again, some of us were more lucky than the others, it just so happens that I was given the precious name of Michal which might be Mike in Russian but by all other accounts it sounds like Michelle when pronounced by any other of my Corporal Chefs. (Just so you future EV’s understand you will more than likely be answering to a Corporal / Corporal Chef. My experience during Aubange was almost solely dealing with Corporal Chefs. It is in your best interest to learn how to read the ranks and how to address them before walking through the gates) Once I was given my name which you will have no control over unless you are a combat veteran who has earned a couple of medals than if they like you they might let you pick your own name. Regardless don’t count on it. You are who they say you are. I was “Michalâ€￾ and proud of it. Once you are given a name you are then sent outside into for lack of better words the “prison yardâ€￾ this is the case if you came straight to Aubange, the “Prison Yardâ€￾ is not occupied by those who are from Paris or already completed their sport and medical somewhere else.

The “Prision Yardâ€￾ is perhaps the first test for those who have come directly to Aubange. It is an easy but grueling experience and I believe that it may be designed as such. Basically you have four things which must be completed before you make the transition from Civil to an actual EV. The name change, the medical, the sport test and the contract signing. You would hope to knock all of these out in a day or two but during my experience it was one per day. How long do these things take?

Day 1 - Name change: 2 hours
Day 2 - Medical: 5 hours
Day 3 - Sport Test: 15 mins
Day 4 - Contract Signing: 2 Mins

Now you ask well what the hell do I do with the rest of my day while I’m waiting to become an EV. The answer is tres simple. YOU WAIT! Basically your day will go like this. 5:00am wake up then wait, 6:00am eat then wait, 8:00am Test (either medical or sport) then wait. 12:00 Lunch then wait 6:00pm Dinner then wait 10:00pm shower then sleep.
It may sound easy enough but it is truly the first test of the Legion. Are you content with sitting without being able to do any sport and just sit and wait for 18 hours a day in uncomfortable conditions? Also I deceive you when I say breakfast, lunch and dinner. You may eat but unless you are a squirrel it is not even close to enough especially if you are a larger muscular person. You will starve and grow weaker by the day. It is all part of their process. I came in doing 25 pull-ups and left struggling to do half as many. Your body starts deteriorating and burning muscle the second you walk through the gates.
So you are waiting for 18+ hours a day for 4 days some for more and a few get lucky and get away with 3. You can optimize your chances by coming in on a Monday morning or a Sunday evening. If you come in late in the week then you will be spending your weekend doing corvee before you even get to do your medical. The best part of the waiting game is that you immediately begin building strong relationships with your comrades. By the end of day 4 I had developed relationships that will last a lifetime. These unfriendly conditions leave you picking each other up when your mind starts playing tricks on you and believe me everyone there at one point or another asks themselves, what the hell am I doing here. Every day is like a rollercoaster. You have your good moments and then you have your moments of doubt. They usually come when your stomach is in knots and you are sitting there contemplating chewing sticks and rocks.

The Medical: I was a bit terrified of the medical as those who have mentored me on here over the last several months know I had injured my ankle, torn ligaments and the whole nine. I wouldn’t of been able to go through those gates a day earlier than I did I mean I really pushed my luck. That being said I did successfully pass MEPS (US MILITARY MEDICAL) two years prior but I was very concerned about failing because it’s not like you think. That goes for the entire Legion. It is not necessarily performance based. If someone doesn’t like you, they will fail you. I witnessed this during the medical. The Doctor who is a very hands on type gentleman and also a high ranking officer holds your key to the Legion. I saw two slightly chunky guys go in and one got sent home because he was too fat. The funny thing is he was skinnier than the other guy who made it in. You have to be respectful and keep your mouth shut “silanceâ€￾ when you are sitting there bored as hell for hours staring at the wall. SHUT THE HELL UP. I can’t stress this enough. It could cost you everything! The medical is pretty nerve racking. The day after I went 14 guys went to get there medical and only four passed. It’s common that if the doctor hears a pop or crack or just suspects there is a problem then you will get a paper and you are out until you return with that paper and another medical professional’s opinion. The good news is I saw 6 people leave with papers and come back either the same or the next day. It’s not the end of the world if you get one just get it checked out at the hospital and come back.

The Sport Test: Ok so I must have been reading some old documentation because I over trained like a mofo. I was climbing rope and running 2800 meters in like 12 minutes trying to prepare for the test. What I should have been doing is the beep test and a couple of lousy pull-ups. As for me though I sort of dropped the ball on the beep test. My sport test was the first time I ever ran a beep test. Let me touch on a couple of things about the Legion Sport Test. Depending on your Corporal Chef in charge of the test is going to determine how well your group does. For instance, the Corporal Chef in charge of my groups test made us run both feet past the line. My group made levels 8 and 9. However the next day’s group had a different Corporal Chef and they only had to put one foot past the line. This is about 2 to 3 meters shorter than the way we did it and their group all made 9 to 10 levels. The same thing with the pull-ups, some Corporal Chefs let you kip a bit and others are exceptionally strict. This I think is a big issue that they should sort out because their controls aren’t the same so their results are flawed IMO. Other than that the test was ridiculously easy. I regret not practicing the beep test prior, I feel that better technique could have resulted in a bump up in levels. Be sure to practice. You do the pull-ups immediately following the beep test so practice as such.
 
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#2
My Experience at Aubagne

First let me say that no two experiences are identical during preselection. The procedures change daily and nothing that you read can actually prepare you for the experience. Also, preparation is not indicative of your success. I will elaborate on my experience and hopefully assist future EV’s in one form or another.

The Contract: Sometimes you will sign it the evening of the sport test and if you are like me you wait a whole extra day and sign it the following day. They take pictures of your scars and tattoos then you sign a contract and become an official EV. Up until you sign that contract you are nothing. You are Civil. Now you are official and you feel a remarkable pride. You are also issued your blues, your super comfortable and not tight at all underwear and are issued your Blue kit. This is when the fun really starts. I loved every single minute including the 1 minute showers!

Being Blue: The next steps you will take will be the following.
Aptitude Tests: 1 ½ hours
Psychiatrist: 1 hour
Medical #2: 1 hour
Gestapo: 1 hour

A day as a Blue: You wake up, make your bed, clean your dorm, hit a quick workout outside, run, formation, run to breakfast, eat your petit dejeuner (piece of bread), run, formation, repose, run, formation, repose, corvee, formation, repose, workout in the yard, formation, repose, corvee, run to lunch, formation, repose, corvee, run, formation, repose. Your shoulders will hurt, your feet will go numb and you will learn to love it. I chose to always be in the front row as close to my Corporal Chefs as possible. A siren goes off at any given time and you sprint into formation. My thoughts were first to the front, they will remember my face. The back rows have it much easier especially if you are standing there for hours. They can stretch their arms and cheat quite a bit but if you are in the front you lead by example and remember all eyes are on you. I did my best to be noticed and stand as still and upright as possible. I was under the impression that the Corporal Chefs had total power of my future and I wanted to set a good example for the younger guys as well. Back to a day as a blue. Formation, pull-ups, formation, repose, corvee, formation, dinner, formation, pull-ups, wait, maybe if you are lucky the Foyer would open up and when it does the little things in life really turn a shite day into a true treasure. A Cola and a candy bar really boost morale especially because you are still starving 90% of the time. Finally Formation, Appel, Dorm assignment, Make bed, 1 minute shower, inspection, wash clothes in the sink and last sleep. You hope that your name is towards the rear of the column so that you can run your ass off and get one of the single beds instead of the bunks. When you are a big guy you will really appreciate this. That about concludes a day as a blue. Now just repeat 7 to 10 times and viola if you are lucky you go rouge. & yes luck has a bit to do with it.

Aptitude tests: That’s what they are. There are more questions that anyone except Einstein can answer in the amount of time allotted. You figure out the rest that’s all I’m saying on that topic. Do some spatial reasoning and math puzzles if you want to practice. That will help.

Corvee:

Corvee is sometimes a test and there is also a great deal of favoritism and discrimination involving some duties.

The discrimination lies mostly within the kitchen. My Russian buddies would get to corvee in the kitchen because they could speak the language. They also would come back bragging on how they ate all day and feel like they are going to pop from being so full. This is painful to hear when you are starving and they have the same complaints every day. There were a couple of guys who actually put on weight while we were there. I found this hilarious and upsetting in the same sentence. It isn't just the kitchen though. There are other places where countrymen stick with and lookout for fellow countrymen. However if you are an American you can just suck it up and forget about all of that countrymen shite because you are all alone brother. You will have to out work and out starve many of your comrades. I didn't mind it that much because it toughens you up quick and doesn't give you the false security blanket that mommy usually packs for you. The other side of the corvee is when you go and work for other Corporal Chefs. These are tests and you should always attack the duties vigorously and passionately although don't expect it to mean a damn thing in the end. Just do what you are told and don't expect a cookie or a good job. You might be lucky enough to get a punch in the gut which you should wear like a badge of honor.

The Shrink: Ok so this is the most important interview that you will have in my opinion. Again everyone’s experiences are different but here’s how mine went. There are 3-5 different shrinks there at any given time. Some are more likeable than others. It’s just my luck that I was travelling to the other side of the earth to sit down with such a loveable character. Here is the problem with this interview. This guy or girl if you are lucky sit down with you for 1 hour and their words hold more weight than the Corporal Chefs who are with you all day every day. Basically your Corporal Chefs can love you and tell the Officer in charge of the commission that you are the model recruit after observing you for weeks, watching how you wake up, take orders, corvee, but none of their words can trump the LT or the ADJ who sit with you for an hour. It was my luck that I had sat with a shrink right before lunch and the shrink was clearly grumpy and agitated with me before I even opened my mouth. To add insult to injury I come strolling in totally unrehearsed and chipper so excited that I’m here and experiencing all of this beautiful camaraderie. I was under the legions spell. It all started to go wrong when we were talking about my job and how I make 6,000 bucks a month back in the US (meanwhile the shrink makes like 2,500 a month). I was told that I have it all a car, a job and why would anyone in their right mind come here to the Legion where life is hard and food is scarce. My explanation was simple. For the discipline and the camaraderie. I explained that I had originally planned on joining the Army in the US but I lost my father and by the time that was all over with I had already reached the age limit. I had brought with me letters of recommendation from a LT COL and all sorts of documentation and accolades I received as a Gov’t contractor. I believe that all of these things hindered me more than helped me for it showed them that I was not desperate and that I had someplace to go. Unlike many of my friends who were there as a last resort or for the money. I was actually there on principal by choice which in hindsight was clearly a mistake. I should of came desperate and in need of the Legion not as I did. The shrink was very snooty and Psst at every answer that I gave. I left actually feeling good like I answered every question to the best of my ability and I was excited to take the next step.

The Gestapo:
Again everyone’s experience is different. Some guys said they got thrown against the wall while I was just asked the same questions that I was asked by the shrink but by a really nice and relaxed guy. I was in and out in an hour and felt great about the way things went. They all seemed to focus on different questions and when I tried to go into detail many times I was cut off and we moved on. I would do a few things differently if I was able to do the interview again. When I was rushed onto the next questions I would have him slow down and go back. If there is lack of clarity or your answers do not match exactly then they consider you untruthful or so I think and I know that when we were talking about my immediate families medical history and focusing on my father I had failed to mention my brothers diabetes and my grandmothers cancer. These same questions were asked during my medical but in more depth directed towards any of my family members. It’s these discrepancies which haunt me and I wish I would have corrected. Also, my juvenile record which they don’t have access to was rushed through when I tried to explain it in further detail I was just blown off but it’s what they see on paper that they use as tools to decide whether or not you’ve been honest. Just remember be thorough and be precise with your answers. Always answer the same. Do not get diarrhea of the mouth is advice that I should of took a bit more seriously.

Medical 2: It was a hearing test. The guy messes with you leaving long breaks in between the beeps. Only push the button when you hear beeps. It’s easy. I get ringing in my ears sometimes from all of the shooting that I do and the harder you try to hear something the more they ring. Just relax and don’t over think it. It’s really easy.

Selection Day:
You say your goodbyes, then get called into formation. Some names get called and others don’t. It’s really luck of the draw. I watched guys who Corporal Chefs in charge of Corvee wanted to see sent home make it and guys who the Drill Corporal Chefs thought were solid candidates and endorsed go home (like me). I found out after I “went civilâ€￾ which is what happens if you are not called to go rouge. I was told as I was driving to the bus station by my Corporal Chef he said “I don’t know who you pissed off but I was endorsing you as an exceptional candidate.â€￾ He told me that I was exactly what they were looking for, although on paper I’m a 36 year old with no military background and apparently a crappy review from the shrink on my motive for being there which is extremely important but then again who really knows after all it is the Legion and the Legion does things the Legion way. It may not be the best way, it may not make any sense to you but it is the Legion way and there is a reason it is so.
 
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#4
Hansenmann,

Honestly probably not. I gave it everything I had and they didn't want me. It's the Legion's loss IMO but there is no shortage of EV's. The worst part is that I really loved every second and honestly felt at home. I miss my comrades and feel ashamed that I spent 9 months preparing, was top 5 out of 40 and still failed to be selected. It's a pretty humbling experience. I aced my aptitude test, sport and medical but either I made a mistake or was discriminated against because of age, nationality or my ugly face. I'm very disappointed and still dream of Aubagne every night literally. I already wrote my appeal letter and I'm having my French tutor type it up. I will send it out but regardless of the response that I get I'm uncertain that I would try again although I know if the letter was an invite than of course I would. My Corporal Chef told me to and if I'm allowed back he would make sure that I got a different set of eyes on me but I sacrificed a lot to go, fought through injury, gave up my job (80,000 a year), house, credit, car, dogs. I'm currently living in a hotel room with my two dogs trying to get situated again. I will pay for this failure for the next several months. It's a good thing my job loves me and I started working then day after I landed which was last wed the 16th of Sept. Otherwise I'd be flipping burgers! You want fries with that? ;)
 

Surfguy

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#5
Do you think your US salary and lifestyle went against you ? maybe the shrink thought you would get fed up of comparativley shite pay and poor conditions and consequently F.O ?

Maybe they see a non EU eastern European from a poor background would see the Legion as being very well paid and worth putting up the B.S , unlikley to desert especially if theres a very valuble passport at the end ?

Good luck for the future ,if youve earnt $80k before you can do it again.
 

Nickfury

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#6
Thanks, great break down and true, everything you say during the interviews is important and a bad interview with one of the officers or gestapo has an outsized effect on your chances. I had a bit of that problem, too many things to go home to in their view and I made a few errors in how I answered questions in my final motivation interview. But you had the balls to go. I hope you can get your 6000 a month job back, that sounds like a sweet gig. ;) What kind of contract work is that? IT stuff?

Edit, I didn't see your last post, glad your job took you right back. Good news!

I assume you have the address for COMLE? If not let me know.
 
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SLehman

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#7
Sorry that things didn't work out. As unfortunate as the out come was, I truly enjoyed reading it as it was honest and well written. You've provided some great insight into the process which potential EVs should take to heart.

Best of luck with your future endeavours, you had the courage to go through the door so despite the result, you had the endorsement and respect of the Corporal Chef who you probably have more in common with, than the shrink.

Best of luck with your future endeavours. Cheers mate.
 

Troubadour

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#8
I am extremely sad to be reading this, I was pretty sure you were in at this point and was hoping to read something different from you 6 months down the line. I am sorry you got booted. Did you get an Inapte Indefinite? I wasn't aware that you could appeal those. If your appeal is successful, I personally think you should go back. It sounds like you were really happy to be where you were. I probably wouldn't have mentioned how much I made at my previous job or that you had things to go back to. It has been stated many times that is not what they want to hear. I imagine they want to hear that you have nothing to go back to. It seems from reading other posts and stories like their greatest fear is desertion and it makes sense.

Either way, it sounds like you gave it 100% of the effort you had. Don't get caught up on the little minor things, like what you said, or what you didn't say. You gave it 100% and you have nothing to regret.
 
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#12
Do you think your US salary and lifestyle went against you ? maybe the shrink thought you would get fed up of comparativley shite pay and poor conditions and consequently F.O ?

Maybe they see a non EU eastern European from a poor background would see the Legion as being very well paid and worth putting up the B.S , unlikley to desert especially if theres a very valuble passport at the end ?

Good luck for the future ,if youve earnt $80k before you can do it again.
Surfguy,

Thanks for the reply brother and I do think that being desperate works in your favor for sure. Another thing that doesn't help is going there as a group. One day like 10 Italians showed up together. Two days later all but one failed their medicals. There is a method to their madness for sure.

As for my job. I'm very lucky because before I left for a couple of months "vacation/holiday" I asked my bosses permission to do so and they gave me their blessing. I came back to the US Wednesday and was back earning money again on Thursday. I'm just lucky to work for such a great company and the owners have become more like family during my 5 years of employment than anything else.
 
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#14
I am extremely sad to be reading this, I was pretty sure you were in at this point and was hoping to read something different from you 6 months down the line. I am sorry you got booted. Did you get an Inapte Indefinite? I wasn't aware that you could appeal those. If your appeal is successful, I personally think you should go back. It sounds like you were really happy to be where you were. I probably wouldn't have mentioned how much I made at my previous job or that you had things to go back to. It has been stated many times that is not what they want to hear. I imagine they want to hear that you have nothing to go back to. It seems from reading other posts and stories like their greatest fear is desertion and it makes sense.

Either way, it sounds like you gave it 100% of the effort you had. Don't get caught up on the little minor things, like what you said, or what you didn't say. You gave it 100% and you have nothing to regret.
Troubador,

I must admit, it took me a couple of days to be able to get on here and post the outcome. It's an overwhelming feeling of embarrassment to have to admit especially to the guys who mentored me like you did that I came up short for whatever reason). However, as you said I did give it my all and I don't have anything to regret (other than not getting in of course)

As for the appeal, my Corporal Chef was the one who told me to do so. he said. Write a letter, have someone who can type perfect French produce the document. Send the document addressed to the General to the address on the website. Put yourself in his shoes and explain to him why you deserve another chance and you might get another shot. He told me the First in command is the only one who can overturn the Third in commands decision. He said if I do that and get another shot then they will get another set of eyes on me.

Thanks again Troubador. I still struggle to sleep at night thinking about my boys at the farm which is where they are right now and for another 2 weeks. Lucky bastards!
 
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#16
All I can think of is the man in the arena speech. You dared greatly. That alone should give you comfort in time.

If there is a way to try again, take it. Dare greatly again because you just may get a chance.

D
 

DCLXVI

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#17
Well done fellow Yank. if I may just say, I think the 6k a month was not what the doc wanted to hear, i.e., you make double him..But great job man. As for surf guy, maybe one day he will put up and go, until then, we put up with him..

You've done well, better than almost most of them here who haven't even gone yet say they are and will. For me, I have a less than 85 days before I am off for the THIRD attempt. That doesn't mean I leave in exactly 85 days, just less than that. Hope all works out well man, I really do. Shit, you made it that far!. Great job and we all expect to hear about surf guy getting in or not.
 
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#18
EngageVolunteer_AUG52015


In documentary movie, after open the gathes (Aubagne) Legion right now give you clothes and bag is that right or not ?
 

voltigeur

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#20
Since it is a good post to read for future EV's, EngageVolunteer_AUG5201 has agreed to let me post it on my web site as well.
 

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