Documentary: Achieving the Black képi

For the very first time in history, a documentary covering the French Foreign Legion course for future sergeants was released in early December 2020, by the RMC Story, a French independent TV television channel. Directed by Pierre-Stéphane Fort, the documentary called La Légion étrangère : Objectif képi noir (Foreign Legion: Achieving the Black képi) shows the four-month course that changes the ordinary legionnaires into future non-commissioned officers. The course takes place within the 4th Foreign Regiment (4e RE) of Castelnaudary, southern France.

The Sergeant course is organized by the green-labeled Team Leader Training Company (CIC), 4e RE. In the documentary, we meet William, a Brazilian and the youngest member of the group (22 ys; he joined in 2015 in his 17); Eugene, a 35-year Ukrainian engineer-metallurgist and the oldest member of the group, who left in 2015 the war-troubled Donbass for the Legion; and Vlad, a Russian member of the Foreign Legion Music band from a musical family, who joined the Legion in 2013. They are supervised by Adjudant Sebastien, 20 years of service, a former chuteur opérationnel (High-altitude military paratrooper).

In the very beginning, the candidates have to pass a 8 km run with 11 kg in the backpack (in less than 55 min) to be qualified to start the course. One candidate failed, a cavalryman from the 1er REC. That fact made angry Staff Sergeant Valera (Belarussian, almost 19 years of service, a former paratrooper from 2e REP). The CIC’s captain, a former head of the CEFE Jungle training center of the 3e REI with 20+ years of service, who had started his military career in his 17 as a simple legionnaire, sent him back to his regiment with no excuse.

The second day, tests in the swimming pool. For those who are not friendly with the water, it bacomes difficult. The real characters appear when facing danger. “You, you wanted to drown me… But that’s ok, I am not paid for being liked,” says Adjudant.

Thereafter, a firing and urban warfare exercises at Camp Des Garrigues near Nimes, garrison town of the 2e REI, the home regiment of William. The future sergeants have to handle all weapons used by legionnaires during combat operations. “We face a number of activities, always something new. That’s what I like much… I can learn many things here”, describes the Legion Eugene from 1er REC.

After more than a month, the group have to go through a renowned group-reserved obstacle course of the 8e RIMa (Infantry Marine Regiment). They will teach that an NCO has to be able to command the other men and keep a cool head under all circumstances.

Finally, for the fourth month of the course, the platoon moved to Farm Bertrandou, the farm of the CIC located nearby Castelnaudary. Here, the future sergeants give lessons to young legionnaires, teach the pedagogy and get rankings. The entire course is finished by a joint obstacle course “to keep nice memories”. Out of original 50 legionnaires, 46 of them accomplished the training and became Sergeants.

See the difficult way from the White képi to the Black one (in five parts).

Related posts:
3e REI: 2020 Jungle Assistant Course
13e DBLE: 2020 Documentary
4e RE: Remise de Képis blancs at Les Baux-de-Provence
New Documentary 2019: Creation of a legionnaire – an American in the Legion